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6 September 1998 - Full Moon

Stepping off of the train, Draco looks around, expecting someone to meet him, to escort him up to Hogwarts. Instead, the platform is eerily empty, save for a single lamppost that is lit. There is no boat waiting to take him across the lake to the school. There is no carriage waiting to take him up the road through Hogsmeade.

Instead, it is oddly silent, the only sound coming from the cold night wind gusting through the trees.

He waits, for what he does not know, perhaps a burst of inspiration, or for someone, anyone. He can’t Apparate closer to the school, since he doesn’t have an Apparition license, and he can’t fly, having not been given one in the trunk that the ministry kindly packed for him. The only option left to him is to walk.

And so, ten minutes after the train had arrived at the station, he begins to do just that.

His trunk, he levitates, with everything still packed safely inside. Everything he owns, for as long as the Ministry is searching Malfoy Manor and his numerous vaults, is in this trunk. 

He tries not to think about that as he begins the dark walk, but it’s impossible not to. That’s all he has done, for over four months. Think. Think while sitting in absolute solitude.

And then, the Wizengamot had pulled him from his cell and acquitted him. That had been two days earlier, and now, as Draco walks, he can finally think it through.

Acquitted. It doesn’t mean he’s innocent. Innocent implied they recognized that he had done nothing wrong… and Draco has to agree with them. He had made a thousand mistakes along the way, and yet - was there ever another choice? Was there ever another path for him?

But guilty… was Draco guilty of being a Death Eater? He had feared them, hidden from them, been marked as one of them, yes, but he had also been tortured by them. Death Eaters killed and attacked and tortured and destroyed, and what had Draco done?

You’re the reason Dumbledore is dead , he reminds himself.

And that is enough for him. Because of his direct actions, a wizard had died. He may have not been the one to cast the spell, but he was the one that brought them all there.

Acquitted. Neither innocent nor guilty. There was simply no way to prove either way.

I could have shown them the truth , he thinks, remembering the threats, the promises really, of what would happen to his mother if he had failed.

But they didn’t ask for evidence. There wasn’t even a trial. Draco was simply dragged from his cell and placed before the court to hear his sentencing. Acquittal. Probation. A tracker.

After going through what felt like a whirlwind of emotion, from anger and rage to sadness to begging to depression to acceptance of his lack of a future… to hear that he would be allowed his freedom…

Except, it comes at a cost. A cost he is now paying, as he walks alone in the darkness, towards Hogwarts. A cost that, now as he stands, looking towards the castle, illuminated in the distance by the glow of the full moon, feels far too high.

A year at Hogwarts, to complete his final studies. Two years of a Mastery. Two years at the Ministry. And then, he would be a free Wizard.

But at what cost?

Because, within Hogwarts, he knows he’s not safe. Hogwarts is where students had been tortured and attacked by Death Eaters. Where classmates had been killed. Where Crabbe… Where the war and all of the loss and death finally ended.

And just outside of Hogwarts? The village of Hogsmeade, where he’s currently walking. He stops at that thought, a chill running down his spine. While the Headmistress promised that he would be safe at Hogwarts, his past actions forgotten by request of the Ministry… there was no promise made by the village.

What will they do to him, when they see him? It’s late, yes, but not so late that the pub would be empty. It would be impossible for him to slip through the village entirely unseen… particularly after his face had been on the front cover of the paper, detailing the terms of his release.

They’re going to bloody hex me , he realizes, suddenly frozen in fear.

For a brief moment, he considers turning around and taking the path through the Forbidden Forest. Somehow, that feels less dangerous. At least whatever is in the forest, he can possibly outrun, or at least stun.

But a person? The tracker placed on him would surely alert the ministry, and then…

There’s no obvious answer.

He hesitates, turning to look back in the direction where he had come from. Far off, he can just barely make out the glow of the lantern on the platform. And then, further on, is simply darkness.

Hogsmeade Village. At least it’s fully lit, and if he moves quickly enough, he will be in sight of the school within twenty minutes. He just has to hurry.

Still, his hand tightens on his wand, enjoying the familiar feeling of magic flowing through it. It’s one of the only things he has that was his before the war, returned to him after his Acquittal. It feels good, to have an extension of himself in hand, and he whispers a Protego , hoping that it will be enough to stop any of the villagers that attack him.

He makes it to the edge of the village before panic starts to set in. After months of being in a cell, it feels so strange to have such a wide-open path before him, but now, it’s almost too much. He reminds himself, standing there, that this is a future that, up until two days ago, he had not believed he would ever have.

When he had stepped into the courtroom, he had already accepted that his future was destroyed. He had accepted that his fate was already sealed. That he, a boy that had been marked just after his sixteenth birthday, would spend the rest of his life imprisoned. That he would never again know warmth, would always feel hunger, and would go mad from the solitude.

This… the path before him… He has no choice in it. He must return to Hogwarts. He must walk through this village. He must accept things as they come. It’s a future he didn’t know he had. He just has to keep moving.

Swallowing down his fears, Draco begins to walk along the outskirts of the village. The houses are all dark for the night, but the lanterns glow along the street up ahead. It’s more than he had had on the path approaching the village, but he had feared lighting a Lumos , as though it would give away his position.

There’s no hiding once he enters the village.

Swallowing down his fears, he reminds himself of what he had finally decided, while sitting in chains, receiving his final sentence. 

Accepting, but wary. Grateful, but apathetic. Exhausted, but at peace.

So long as he is wary, he can accept the path before him. So long as he doesn’t show too much emotion, he can feel gratitude. And the exhaustion, when it overwhelms him… he simply has to remind himself that the current path he is on, it might lead to peace.

He reaches the edge of the village, and he knows that he must continue up the path towards Hogwarts, but he considers walking around. It would take longer, but it would likely be safer.

No. No. He must continue on. Accepting, so long as he is wary.

He continues walking up the path towards Hogsmeade, his wand held tight in his hand, just in case any of the villagers see him and decide to attack.

And then, he hears the first scream.

Without thought, he’s already taking two steps backward, his wand held aloft, a silent cast of Protego surrounding him. His eyes dart around, seeking out the dark shadows. There’s no flash of lights, no flash of spells, and there are no sounds of casting of spells being thrown, of bodies being tossed about - not even the sounds of doors flying open, people flooding the streets in panic and terror.

A second scream comes, and he turns towards it, seeking it out. Once he actually knows exactly where the scream is coming from, he’ll run in the opposite direction.

Wherever the screams are, that’s exactly where he doesn’t want to be.

His eyes dart towards the woods, lingering along the edge of the village, and then there’s a third scream. It’s soul-piercing, ringing in his ears, never-ending. It’s familiar, in a way that chills every bone in his body. The sound cuts through him, echoing, a haunting harmony that nearly causes him to double over in terror.

It’s the sound of someone being tortured. The sound of someone being ripped apart. It’s the sound of someone begging for their life, or for mercy, or for it to just end. It’s a sound he’s heard over and over again, a sound that he’ll never escape, a sound that will follow him even in death.

It ends just as suddenly as it began. Once more, it’s silent. Absolutely silent.

Draco does not move, his eyes still darting around, looking for the swirl of a cloak, the movement of wizards between houses, even just a single sign of life… but there’s nothing.

He can still feel the prickles on his skin, his ears still ring, and his heart is still pounding. What he heard… they were screams of agony. Surely someone else had to have heard it. He is only a few paces away from the village itself. Someone else had to have heard it. There was simply no other way.

But as he looks around, it clicks, that he truly is the only one that heard anything. That ringing in his ear, the prickles on his skin, his pounding heart in chest… he’s the only one. And, with a sense of horror, he realizes that this is it. The madness that plagued his Aunt Bella, the torture of sitting in solitary for months, the quietness that attacks you when you least expect it…

He had felt comfort while in solitary. Solitary doesn’t attack you. It’s quiet, yes, but it can’t kill you. It doesn’t hex. It doesn’t curse. In solitary, it’s only you and your thoughts. And your thoughts… they can’t kill you.

Or so he had thought. Now, as he stands there on the edge of the village, he realizes that one’s thoughts can kill them if they go mad.

Closing his eyes, Draco tries to calm his heart, his free hand resting over it, pressing down. If he can slow his heart, he can slow his breathing, and then press forward, towards the school. Perhaps he will request a Mindhealer. Surely no one would object to that. 

He opens his eyes as his head tilts back, looking up at the stars. They’re practically glowing, and he takes comfort in the constellations, a sight he had not enjoyed for many months, even before the end of the war. The sky… it brings him comfort. It is familiar. A subject he has studied for many years. It’s a piece of normalcy in a world that no longer makes sense. 

His eyes find the moon, big and bright, and he stares at it for far too long, simply letting his heart slow back to a normal pace as he continues to breathe in and out.

The scream that cuts through the silence surrounds him, envelopes him. There is no denying that sound, that scream, that terror, that agony. He’s heard the sound before. He knows it. He just can’t quite place it, exactly.

He needs to know if he's mad, or if there's something there, and despite his better judgement, he runs, clutching his wand, towards the screams. He waves a protection spell over himself, pressing one hand onto the wall, ready to lob himself over it, towards the screams. There’s a lone building ahead, and he can practically see the walls shaking from the screams, except - as his body goes over the fence, the screaming ends. 

Ends. Completely. It has not died out, nor was it a final cry. It simply ends. Ends as though it is cut off. Muted. Silenced.

He freezes, his body having just hit the ground, and he waits for something. Looking back over his shoulder towards the low stone wall that surrounds the entirety of Hogsmeade, he suddenly flings himself back over - and is met with the screams once more.

Why would… why would someone silence the screams within the town? Why would… Something about this, it doesn’t make sense. 

Draco climbs back over the wall a final time, standing within the edge of Hogsmeade, and he looks towards the other houses. It’s no wonder they don’t hear the screams - they’re silenced. 

And now that he stands within the silence, he finally recognizes where he is, what building it is that is shaking from the screams. The Shrieking Shack.

Awkwardly, he speaks aloud.

“Hello?”

He can hear his own voice, which confuses him further. A proximity silencing spell? Why would someone only go so far as to silence the village? Why not silence the place that it’s coming from? This is like a ward… something specialized, that has to be triggered under special circumstances. It’s an impressive bit of magic, but it doesn’t make sense.

He thinks about looking at the warding, but something tells him not to approach the shack. He can almost see the bit of spellwork around it, likely with runes mixed in… Something about the shack is haunted. And as much as he wants to study it, to look at it all… self-preservation tells him it’s time to move on.

Whatever is happening in that shack… well, there’s no way in, as far as he can tell. Likely, the only person that can do anything about it is the very person he’s on his way to see. He’ll just… have to tell the Headmistress about this, once he reaches Hogwarts.

He knows better, and yet still, he approaches the shack all the same. There are runes and wardings, and as he touches it… he’s allowed in. That’s surprising. 

And then the screaming resumes.

He’s frozen in terror as he hears them, so much louder now. The screams echo as though flesh and bone are being torn apart, muscle is being ripped, and he can feel the torture. Someone in the Shack is dying… or thinks they are. Draco had never believed the Shack was actually haunted, but now… now he understands the rumors. Whatever is happening within the abandoned building… 

Death. Death is the only appropriate word for what is happening here. The screams of death.

It takes everything in him for him to turn his back to the screaming, and step out of the wards. He had half expected that he would be trapped within them, but once he’s free, he quickly returns to where his trunk is still hovering, waiting for him. He doesn’t step outside of the village and instead reaches his hand towards the trunk and summons it.

As he turns and makes his way towards the school, he no longer fears villagers stepping out and attacking him. In truth, he’s not even afraid of what he will find at the school. As he quickly moves along the path through Hogsmeade, and further on up towards the school, it’s the sound of those screams that follow him.

It’s the sound of screams that still ring in his ear as he reaches the front gate, where safety is not… but, whatever is within Hogwarts? It’s better than what’s in that Shack.

Chapter Text

15 September 1998 - 5 Days before the New Moon

Draco’s hands tighten on her hips as she shifts on top of him. She’s close, he can feel it, and he watches her hands move to her breasts, squeezing them. He wants them in his face, to suck at the tips, to pinch and tug at them, but he never gets that far.

Instead, he gets this , with her on top, facing away, practically using him for her own pleasure, or her on her hands and knees, ass in the air, begging him to fuck her into the mattress. He never raises any complaint, nor tries to flip her around - she’s far too strong to allow that.

He doesn’t know her name, doesn’t know her face, but he knows that his whole body is consumed with need for her, this dream girl that brings him to the edge over and over again.

Nothing in his life has ever felt so intense as this, and he groans aloud as he feels her fingers touching at where their bodies meet. He would gladly help get her off, but he’s too busy lifting her body up and down, and keeping her upright. It would be so much easier if she would just let him lay her down and have his way with her, but any time he tries, well...

He knows so little about her. He knows that her hair is dark, and it falls down her back in waves. He knows how good it feels to grip it in his hand, yanking and tugging her backwards onto his prick. He knows that she’s built, stronger than he is, that her legs are thick and her arms toned. He knows that her stomach is taught, and that her hips are wide - in no way is she thin. She is strong. She is defined. She’s a warrior.

And fuck, does he want to know her. He wants to know every inch of her. He wants to know her taste, wants to know every sound, wants to know the look on her face when he pushes her over the edge, wants to watch her eyes roll back in her head, wants to swallow every moan, wants to know her name.

But every time he tries, the dream ends, and he’s left alone, in his bed, achingly hard. It’s better this way, to just enjoy this dream while it lasts.

He’s getting closer, and he can see her legs starting to shake, a sure sign that she’s close. He wants to flip her over, at least onto her stomach, but if he moves her at all, this will end. He has no control, just has to enjoy what she allows him, so instead, he tightens his hold on her hips, and braces his feet in the thickness of the mattress. He’ll fuck her into the ceiling if she’ll let him, fuck her so hard that the bed in his room is forced away from the wall-

He wants a sign that this is real, beyond the hardness of his cock. He wants some mark on him to know that she truly exists, this dream, this vision, this woman that is made for him.

They’re both so close, but he can’t quite reach his peak. Taking a risk, Draco releases her hips and pushes himself up onto his forearm, then wraps his arms around her. The position is awkward, and he doesn’t get as good of a thrust, but he feels so deep in her, it doesn’t matter. All he knees is for her to cum, to tighten around his length, and he’ll surely follow.

One hand wraps around her throat, and she likes that. As much as she likes being in charge, and particularly on top, she also likes this, the feeling of his own strength. His other hand goes to where hers is, rubbing at her clit, and she immediately takes her hand away, allowing him to give her pleasure.

His mouth sucks at her neck, and he pinches his eyes shut, not looking at her as her face turns away from him, her hair seeming to fall to cover it. He wants to cum, not catch a vision of her face- he’ll try after he has finally released this pent up energy.

“Cum for me,” he demands against her throat, and he bites at her shoulder, sucking at the skin. She gasps, her breathing coming out harder, and he rolls his fingers over her clit, trying to push her over the edge so he can follow. “Cum all over me, you can-”

She likes it when he talks, although he never has much to say, but this time, she’s falling over the edge. His grip on her throat tightens as he bites her shoulder, and she lets out a high pitched shriek as her core tightens around his cock. Wave upon wave of her pleasure, and Draco is deep within her, feeling every fluttering of her cunt, tightening and loosening around him, her body shaking in his arms, and he-

Sits up in a cold sweat, his body thrusting up into nothing, and it takes him a moment to realize where he is. He lets out an angry growl immediately, reaching behind his head to grab a pillow, and he throws it, pissed. This is the nineth morning in a row that he has woken up to a sex dream - every morning since he had arrived at Hogwarts.

He had initially thought he had been drugged by this mysterious siren, some girl that wanted access to the Malfoy Fortune perhaps but had not bothered to read the details of his trial and punishment. He had starved himself for two days before accepting that was not the case. His second thought was that it was the school itself playing some sort of magical trick - and he had snuck out onto the grounds to sleep by the Quidditch Pitch. But... he had still woken up rock solid.

But now, as he lays there in his bed, angry and without his pillow, he has to accept the truth.

He’s lost all control, and he’s clearly going mad.

And yet, he can still see her. He can taste her. He knows her body, knows the shape of it, the way she rocks on him, the way she writhes under him, the way she begs for him. He wants her, even if it is a love potion - it’s as though she’s made for him. 

Once again, he recalls who he’s seen since returning to Hogwarts - those he has actually looked at. Pansy… he knows it’s not Pansy. She’s the only girl he has ever had sex with, back in Sixth Year when everything was falling apart and he had needed something, anything to cling to… but no, her body doesn’t match. She barely even looks at him these days anyways.

The Greengrass sisters… neither have hair like that, and are both far too willowy to match the girl in his dreams. Davis had not returned to school. Bulstrode… no. He thinks of the younger students… but none of them even really come to memory. 

No one outside of Slytherin will even acknowledge his existence. He has no idea who it could possibly even be. 

And it’s driving him mad.

Sex dreams! Like a fourth year! Sure, he’s had a rough few years, and more than a few nights where he had had no basic urges, but to lose control of them completely?

Whoever this girl is... 

She doesn’t match. She doesn’t compare. She’s so far above anyone he has ever met. And she’s driving him insane.

His eyes shut as he imagines her once more, imagines her body underneath his. Her breasts are not overly large, and in fact could be called a bit small, but he likes how they feel in his hands, the few times he has been able to run his hands over them. He used to think he enjoyed large breasts… there had been a Hufflepuff Sixth Year when he was a Fourth Year… He couldn’t remember her name, but those had certainly awakened a desire in him...

But this mystery girl… the woman in his dreams… it’s her backside that’s more curved. Her hips spread, and he likes that he can dig his fingers into them, can grip her. He imagines having her on top, but facing him, and digging his fingers into her arse. 

Her waist is so tiny though… And he remembers that he can nearly see her ribs sticking out...

But beautiful. So beautiful. The way her back arches, how her arms grip at him, hold onto him while she uses him…

His hand tightens around his cock, imagining her, imagining fucking her into this mattress. He needs to find her, or find anyone for that matter, and just find his release. He doesn’t stop, pumping himself harder and harder, wanting to groan her name, or any name - 

Instead, he is left in the coldness of his room, his pants pushed down around his knees and his shirt now dirty from his release, and he’s alone. And somehow, he doesn’t feel any more relaxed.

His shoulders remain tense as he goes about his day, trying to disappear, but it seems impossible. Being taller than almost everyone else at eighteen, while wearing Slytherin robes and far too much blonde hair, he sticks out. In fact, he might even draw less attention if he were wearing Death Eater robes and a mask. He wants to think it’s his pretty face that draws so many looks, but he knows the truth - 

They’re looking at him because they blame him. 

All they see, as he walks through the halls of Hogwarts, is a student that had once been like them… a student that had made all of the wrong decisions. He couldn’t blame them for it, but just once… he wished someone would even try to understand. That someone would understand that, at the end of the day, he had no other choice. 

He says nothing as he moves quickly, knowing that if he looks at no one, simply looks ahead, he’s less likely to be drawn into anything. No one’s attacked him yet , which is nearly a miracle, and if he manages to make it two weeks, he’s going to reward himself with… something. He hasn’t thought that far ahead.

In fact, the furthest he can think ahead is to his next class. It’s all he thinks about - reaching his next class. It’s a requirement of his probation, that he attend all of his classes, keep his marks up, do well on his NEWTs so that he will be accepted into a Mastery, make himself a useful member of Wizarding Society…

Being in class means making it there. It means walking, quickly, with his eyes ahead. It means not stopping for anything. It also means that he doesn’t want to be the last in the classroom - that’s an easy way to get cornered. He should know - in his stupider days, he had been the one doing the cornering. He also knows better than to be the first in the classroom - that means all conversation stops when they enter, and it becomes a whisper.

The first one to leave, the last one to enter, and in between, he walks aimlessly, up and down the halls, as though he’s in a rush to get somewhere, when really, he’s going nowhere.

It’s worked for almost two weeks, until today, when there’s a cluster in the hallway. A group of students have stopped, and there’s yelling. For a brief moment, he flashes back to the Carrow twins, and what they had done to students, forced students to do… He swallows hard, then remembers that they’re gone, trapped in Azkaban, and whatever is going on up ahead…

It might be a Slytherin, being attacked. He wants nothing to do with it, and yet, protection of his own wins out. He pushes his way through, jostling students out of the way, but when they see that he’s the one brushing them aside, they move without complaint.

“But, that’s what the Prophet said-” squeaked a small voice.

He’s finally close enough to see what’s happening - three younger students, probably second or third years, are talking to an older Gryffindor - he only sees the tie, and then he’s being jostled by another student, one nearly the size of him. Draco quickly moves to the side, to an alcove, and looks up, his eyes locking with the older Gryffindor, the one that is arguing with the younger students.

It’s Granger, and she’s pissed. Beyond pissed. He’s never seen her hair so large, has never seen her teeth out like she might growl and bite, and her stance, she looks ready to fight, and not with her wand. She looks ready to throw her fists, and like she would win.

“Is that what you all think, then?” she demands, looking towards the crowd of students. “The Prophet lied over and over during the war, but you’re all still just willing to believe everything you read? Next you’ll tell me that you trust the Ministry, and look at what terrible decisions they’ve made.”

Draco feels cold ice running down his spine. The Ministry… he hasn’t read the Prophet, but is the article about him? Is Granger yelling about the Ministry letting him loose?

“The press writes what will sell papers, and the Ministry will do whatever it thinks is best for itself. It’s why there’s still Muggleborns missing from this school. The Ministry still hasn't overturned the laws put in place by a bloody mad man, claiming it's being held up by 'bureaucracy'. Do you realize that Muggleborns still cannot legally use magic? And these are the people who influence the Daily Prophet. These are the wizards that determine what is deemed newsworthy."

He relaxes, slightly, but he’s still confused… she’s clearly going off on a tangent, like she has been pent up and trapped for too long, and has only just now been released.

“I’m… what does that have to do with Ron Weasley?” pipes up a small voice from beside Granger.

Granger whirls around to face the small voice, and grabs the paper from the student’s hand. Draco can’t see what’s on the cover, but it doesn’t matter - he knows what happened to Weasley.

He’d been there. Far from Granger, but he’d seen Greyback come out of nowhere, grab the youngest Weasley son, and -

The instant that Weasley’s neck had been snapped, Granger had screamed. It was so loud, loud enough to cover the sounds of Greyback eating into Weasley’s now dead body, ripping it apart… 

She had kept screaming, even as Greyback dropped the dead body. Screamed as she ran to Weasley, cradling him in her arms. Screamed as the blood covered her as well the stones. She had screamed and screamed until someone had knocked her out, prying Weasley’s mangled body from her arms.

“What about Ron?” she asks, stepping closer to the student. “Who from the Prophet was even there that day? It was us, the students, and our teachers, and the Order… but where was the rest of the Wizarding World? And they dare to pass judgement on us?”

“So he was running?” pipes up the voice of the other student, and Draco can just barely see the blue of their tie.

“Running after Harry!” she hisses at the student. “Running after Harry when he went off to face down Voldemort himself, to save all of you. He refused to let Harry face him alone, even though we knew that Harry had to die. He wasn’t running away . He was a hero!”

She’s crying, but still so angry. Her eyes are glowering, her body stiff, and she’s leaning forward, almost as though she’s ready to pounce, to attack. Her hands are balled up into fists, and the paper seems to crackle under her ire. Someone, anyone, should step in… but they would likely be on the receiving end of her wrath.

Longbottom seems to come out of nowhere, and he pushes his way up to Granger, going to wrap an arm around her in what looks like a hug. Granger instead sends him a glare as he continues to approach, and then she reacts. Within a heartbeat, Longbottom is on the ground, all thanks to Granger having shoved him off. Draco can practically feel his body shake from the thud of it, and a few students gasp.

They’re all looking at Longbottom, but the only person Draco sees is Granger.

Her hands are over her mouth in horror, and suddenly, she seems to deflate. All of the life in her, from her wild hair to her fiery eyes, seems to completely dissipate, and all that’s left is a tiny girl, terrified of her own actions.

“Neville, I’m so-”

She sucks in a breath of air, cutting herself off, then turns and runs.

There’s calls for McGonagall, or Madam Pomphrey, or any adult, but Longbottom is already standing up again, not that Draco really cares to notice. Instead, Draco steps deeper into the shadow of the alcove, wanting to disappear from sight. Better that no one see him now, particularly with everyone’s adrenaline so high.

He closes his eyes, and all he can see is her, her hair wild and untamed, her jaw tense, her chest out, clear defiance in her stance. She had been angry, but also passionate. She had been… a force to be reckoned with. She had been…

Terrifying. Feral. Savage.

She had looked as mad as Bellatrix and Greyback, mixed in one.

 

20 September 1998 - New Moon

Draco’s hand tightens on his cock as he works his hand up and down the shaft, trying to drag himself closer to the edge. It’s a cycle he can’t escape, every single morning, and this particular one, he’s in no mood to deal with the feeling of the high. He just wants it over with, his forearm pressing against the wall as he leans against it, and he groans as he realizes he’s closer to that euphoria.

Two weeks of waking up every morning, hard as a rock, his mystery girl filling his head with impossible dreams. She’s perfect, made for him, but at this point, he has to guess that it’s a mixture of amortentia, two years of pent up energy, and the fact that he finally has a bit of privacy in his own bedroom. 

Whoever she is, that’s not what matters. What matters is that he gets himself off and starts his day, as soon as possible. He can’t spend hours on end living in a fantasy world. He had spent months in that cell, fantasizing about freedom. Now that he had it, he couldn’t waste his time on dreams. And yes, a part of him wants to just enjoy the simpler things like hot showers and orgasms, but…

Honestly, this waking whole thing of up with a raging boner is getting a bit old.

Besides, he rationalizes to himself, as much as he would enjoy a warm body in his bed that he could fuck until he couldn’t move, he knows the truth - no one would sleep with him, and if they did, they wanted one of two things - either to take his fortune, or to kill him when his guard is down. His hand won’t hex him, nor will slice off his own prick. It’s safer this way, to stay with just his hand. 

He can trust himself… and that’s about it. Everyone around him, they look at him like he has Dragon Pox. Actually, that would probably be better than being an acquitted Death Eater…

He pushes all other thoughts away, and just sees her, the girl of his dreams, while he chases after that final release. He can see her, arching her back, her hands on either side of his chest, and she’s rocking herself slow, the head of his cock bumping into the soft spot inside of her that makes her scream every time. 

If she would have just turned her head, he could have kissed her, could have fucked his tongue into her mouth and tasted her… 

But instead, her hair had fallen into his face, keeping him from seeing anything. He had pinched his eyes shut as well, simply enjoying the feeling of her using him, of his fingers rubbing on either side of her clit, of her tightening around his cock, of-

His body jerks as he shoots himself all over the wall of the shower, and he lets himself groan, glad that he had remembered the silencing charm. He doesn’t need anyone walking by the bathroom to guess what he’s doing, even if he is up earlier than the sun. 

He can still see her, even as he catches his breath, as he finishes cleaning himself up. Whoever she is, she’s an angel. He’s pretty much convinced that she isn’t real, but that doesn’t matter. Even though it’s annoying, being woken up with his cock rock solid, he’s still waking up, and with a smile on his face and his heart still racing. He’s doing better than some.

His heart is still racing as he heads down to the Great Hall, but otherwise, everything is completely quiet. He’s always the first one to grab a bite to eat, snagging a few extra bites as well to eat at midday. Dinner is harder, but if he arrives as the last few students are leaving, the elves tend to leave him a plate. He asks nicely enough, and they… well, they seem to pity him.

Unlike everyone else.

Everyone else would hex him in a heartbeat if they could get away with it. According to what he had overheard in the library, McGonagall had sat with each house, reminding them that unity was the future. There were Mind Healers roaming the halls, pulling students out of class, having support groups, all in an effort for that unity.

But not the Slytherins. Slytherins were never grabbed from class. They were never offered Mind Therapy. It seemed that unity only went so far… 

No one knew. No one understood. The reason why the Slytherins barely even looked at one another… it really wasn’t even shame and guilt from what they had done during the war. It was because, at the end of the day, they had all suffered under the regime… The expectations on them, the requirements, the reminders… The reminders from a Pureblood parent was normally accompanied by a Curse.

Two weeks. How has it only been two weeks? And before that… just over four months. His life had been completely different not even five months earlier. He had been living in terror, in fear, in agony…

He’s not completely safe here at Hogwart, but he’s safer. Better here, looking over his shoulder, than in the manor, shaking and hiding in his wardrobe, praying that the wizard the Dark Lord is demanding be brought before him is not himself…

He opens the door to the Great Hall and enters, then has to suddenly pause. This time yesterday, this exact time yesterday, he had been the only one in the room. The morning before that, the same, and the same the day before that, and the day before, sometimes even there before the elves had begun to deliver food, but-

But this morning, there is already someone sitting at a table. They don’t look up when he enters, but he can see the tenseness in their shoulders, enough to know that they’re aware of his presence.

And Draco doesn’t know what to say.

It’s been two weeks at school, and while he has spoken to his professors, and given a few nods at this point to a few Slytherins, he’s not even truly looked at Granger, save for the moment she had gone insane in the hallway. He had half expected to never see her again after she had shoved Longbottom, but she had been in glass the next day.

Draco is always the last to enter the classroom, sitting himself in the desk closest to the back door. When he looks around the room, he always sees Granger settling herself in the back seat closest to the window. It’s always just a glance, an awareness of her presence, but otherwise…

Now, he’s looking at her. Now, he’s unable to glance away. 

His left arm itches slightly, but he resists the urge to reach over and touch where the Dark Mark marrs his skin. He knows, underneath her sweater, that she bears another mark, left by a cursed blade. It’s a Black family speciality, and while it might have been possible to remove the curse while the wound was still bleeding, by now… There’s nothing to be done about it.

She’ll wear that mark, and the others she received that night, for the rest of her life.

She should be surrounded by her friends. That’s the first thought that comes to mind. He knows that Potter didn’t return to school, too intent on tracking down Dark Wizards. Weasley… well, he doesn’t want to think about him. Longbottom, she had quite literally shoved away. And others… the more he thinks about it, not a single other face comes to mind. The only Eighth Years from Gryffindor to return were Granger and Longbottom, and Granger had never really been a popular one.

And now, she sits all alone, practically shrinking into the table, slowly and steadily eating.

That’s the third thing he notices about her, after recognizing her actual presence, and the fact that she’s alone. She’s eating, steadily, as though she’s being forced. Bite after bite, her arm half wrapped around her plate, and she’s more or less bent over it, as though protecting it. 

But still, it looks almost like she wants to disappear, with that plate. A plate that is covered in just meat. He wonders about the greens, or porridge, or even a bit of toast… but then again...

According to the papers, she and Potter had starved for months out in the woods during the war.

She must be growing used to having food again, particularly meat. Meat would have been hard to come by in the woods, unless you were able to trap your own.

But… the longer he looks at her, the more he notices that, she doesn’t look particularly starved. Not with the way her arms seem to… bulge. Her face is still gaunt, but her legs look… no. Something about her is just off. He can’t quite place it, but she looks both thick, and yet gaunt. The weight must be returning to her slowly, awkwardly.

At the final battle, she hadn’t looked as thin, but when his Aunt was torturing her, she had been practically bones, unable to even lift her head while pinned down. 

The girl in front of him looks stronger, even though the way she holds herself practically screams a desire to be tiny.

He jerks himself out of his fascinated stare, and quickly moves to the Slytherin table. A plate appears before him immediately, along with a small paper bag, likely packed with a sandwich, a few apples, and pastries. His lunch.

The coffee is hot and steaming, and he adds cream to it, swallowing it down with every bite of his eggs and toast. He forces himself not to look up at her again, silently cursing himself for sitting on the side of the table that faced hers. It’s a force of habit, to keep his back against the wall, so no one can sneak up on him, but he’d rather be hexed from behind than accidentally be caught staring at her… again.

If he’s caught staring at her, then he’ll have to say something to her, and the only appropriate thing to say would be an apology. He refuses to even try to apologize to most of the student body - he hasn’t personally wronged most of them, but Granger…

With Granger, it has always been personal. He had teased and mocked her for years, first because of her blood status, and then because of anything and everything. Part of it had been childish, but part of it was… vile

But his worst transgressions against her were not even the sort that an apology could fix. It’s not because he actively did anything… but because he simply did nothing. He didn’t help. He didn’t step in. He didn’t end it. He had watched while she was tortured. He had watched while she screamed. He had watched Weasley charge off towards the Forbidden Forest. He had watched her lose everything.

If he had stepped in, even once, how much pain could he have saved her from? How much suffering? If he, even once, had been brave… 

He knows that he is not the one that drew blood… but he also didn’t stop it.

He’s so lost in his thoughts that he suddenly realizes his plate is clear. He drains the last two swallows of his coffee, then picks up the paper sack, intent on returning to his room before any other Slytherins are even in the common room. While he has no need to study or do course work, he doesn’t want to be caught out where anyone might approach him. Better to shut himself away.

He turns to walk out of the Great Hall, when his eyes inevitably are drawn back to Granger. She’s still slumped over her plate, almost as though all of her energy has been dragged out of her, like half her soul has just… evaporated. Her eyes are hanging heavy, and he wonders if nightmares are keeping her awake at night.

The plate is nearly cleared, but she doesn’t stop, just slowly picking up each piece of sausage, putting it into her mouth, chewing, swallowing, then reaching for another. She doesn’t even stop to take a swallow of tea, which is just in front of her, untouched.

Her eyes are unfocused, lost, and she seems to be eating almost mechanically. She looks empty. She looks like one of those that had been tortured to insanity.

The Hermione Granger of a few days earlier had been… big. Larger than life. Grand. Strong. Neurotic and intense, but bold. Her arms had been out, her hair wild, and she had been… a presence.

But now? Now, she is melting into the table, disappearing, practically fading before his eyes. 

The girl he had seen a few days earlier had been filled with anger and rage. She had been terrifying, yes, but also powerful. Draco had practically been able to see the magic in her fingertips. The way she had screamed and shrieked, had shoved Longbottom away… for a brief second, Draco had had a memory of his Aunt Bella, crazy after years of isolation. 

The Granger in front of him? She’s all but disappearing.

He considers saying something, then finally decides against it.

Moving towards the door to the Great Hall, he’s almost out when he suddenly hears a voice behind him. It’s small, and tiny, and almost a whisper, but it’s there. He looks back over his shoulder immediately, but the lost eyes do not meet his. They’re just… staring off again, as she continues to slowly put pieces of bacon in her mouth.

Good Morning, Draco .

The words haunt him for the rest of the day.

Chapter Text

26 September 1998 - 6 Days after the New Moon

Draco’s thoughts are still back at the Shrieking Shack when he sees something approaching from seemingly nowhere. It looks to be… imaginary. There is certainly no way that what he sees is real, and for a brief moment, he accepts that he has finally gone insane.

He has to wonder, would they allow him the comfort of St Mungos, or would he simply be shipped off to Azkaban?

He freezes where he is on the path from Hogsmeade to Hogwarts, and watches as the vision moves closer and closer to him, until eventually, the runner is only a few paces away. He thinks she might stop, even slightly fears it, but instead, she just keeps running, except - to his horror-

She had grinned at him, then thrown him a wink as she ran by. He had been unable to stop himself and his whole body whipped around to watch her. He knows, as he watches her run away, that this cannot possibly be real. Granger had definitely not just winked at him.

His eyes run down her body, barely clad in any fabric at all. What she is wearing has to be entirely Muggle, as he has never seen such things in the Wizarding World before. Her legs are only halfway covered in fabric that is so tight, he can see the entire curve of her backside, and the shoes on her feet are colorful.

His gaze moves up, and he can see her middle, completely bare. So much skin, skin no man should ever be allowed to see, to enjoy…

He notices her hair, finally, and it’s all Granger. It’s twisted into some sort of bun, but the mass of curls is clearly fighting against whatever is holding it up. It doesn’t look like her, without the halo of hair all around, but he can tell, just like her magic, it seems ready to explode.

She reaches the very edge of the Forbidden Forest, and he nearly turns to continue on his walk towards the school, knowing that he will be unable to see her if she continues on. Something tells him to wait, however, and he watches as she runs around the very first tree, back towards him. He is nearly paralyzed, unable to move, just watching as she approaches.

He should have left, when she had passed him earlier. Now, though, she can see that he has not moved, has instead been watching him. There’s no way to just turn and walk away. If he does so, she’ll know that he is avoiding her.

There’s no escape.

He thinks, for a moment, about drawing his wand to defend himself, but it feels as though there is no point - he doesn’t even see a wand on her, but he knows she’s dangerous. Everything about Hermione Granger screams predator. She is the hunter. He would have no chance if she decides to take him out. 

Whatever it is she wants, there’s no running away.

She stops in front of him, and her arms wrap around her middle, almost awkwardly, as she stares him in the eyes… and then slowly smiles.

It’s not creepy… which honestly creeps him out. It’s more… friendly?

“Where are you headed?” she asks, as though it would be perfectly normal for her to ask about his plans.

He blinks, considering the question, not even certain how to answer other than with the truth. “Back to the school.”

She rolls her eyes, but the smile doesn’t leave her lips as one hand moves to hang down at her side. He can’t help but to look at notice which arm it is - it’s covered, entirely, with a long sleeve. The other sleeve is missing. 

“I could have guessed that,” she says, half laughing to herself. “I guess I should have asked, where are you on your way back from?”

He stares at her, trying to understand the game, the play, but her eyes are big and wide, honest. He treats that in kind, giving her the honesty she is freely expressing with her face. 

“I like to walk in the early morning air. There’s no one else out, and afterwards, the Great Hall is empty, so that I might enjoy my breakfast in peace.”

He expects a response, some sort of judgement, or another question, but instead, she simply stares at him. It goes on long enough that he considers counting the seconds, or asking if she is alright. She seems to completely space out for a moment, her mind disconnecting.

He wonders if she is dissociating. Draco has seen his mother do it a few times… particularly when she needed to protect herself.

And then, suddenly, she’s back with him, nodding and smiling. “Of course. That’s why I run. I enjoy the solitude.”

He doesn’t say anything at first, not really certain how to respond. He has no idea what she expects from this conversation… which leaves him grasping for thoughts. 

“Did you run very far?” he asks, immediately mentally cursing himself for such a stupid question.

He had just seen her seeming to appear from nowhere out in the distance, and watched her run by at a speed he doubted he could reach. She’s covered in sweat, dressed in what he can only guess is Muggle workout gear… 

“A fair distance,” she says, looking back over her shoulder towards the Quidditch Pitch. “I started at the Pitch, then ran around until I reached the wall, and then back. I think I can go further, but, I tend to stop because I’m hungry.”

He remembers seeing her at breakfast, not even a full week earlier, idly eating as though it was a chore. Something about that picture in his mind is ringing a bell, but he can’t quite comprehend it.

“I run most mornings,” she says, continuing, drawing him from his thoughts… and then pushing him straight back into them.

“But, last Sunday,” he questions, raising his brow.

A dark cloud immediately passes over her face, and he knows immediately that something about his question had triggered something horrific in her mind. He waits for her to space out again, but instead, she turns away from him, her arms shifting so that she’s wrapping herself up with them, and he realizes what it is - she’s shutting herself off, buying time before she responds.

It’s a Slytherin tactic that he never would have expected from a Gryffindor.

“I was unwell. And now, I’m better.”

It’s a very simple answer that Granger gives him, but he’s not entirely certain that he believes it.

Still, he doesn’t challenge it, and instead, takes a step back, giving her the distance that her body language is clearly demanding. He looks up towards Gryffindor Tower, tall and looming and… and just behind it is the Astronomy Tower.

He quickly darts his eyes back towards the ground, not wanting to look at Granger, but also not wanting to look ahead. In front of him seems to constantly be what he is trying to put behind him. He won’t be able to escape any of it, so long as he remains at the school.

So much wrong… everything constantly seems to go wrong.

He should apologize.

One has been rolling around in his head for days, ever since he saw her at breakfast. He had expected to see her again each morning, but instead, he had been alone in the Great Hall. Of course, the apology was still just awkward bits and pieces, practically just notes, when he truly owed her an essay of them.

He can barely even gather himself to write it all down, all of the wrongs he has done to her, to her personally and not just as a whole, so the thought of trying to voice it… he knows he has to, that he cannot leave until he does, but the words are trapped, and he cannot find a place to even start.

“Have you ever tried running?” she asks suddenly, and he looks up from where his eyes are on the path to see that she’s open again, her body turning towards him, and even her shoulders relaxing. It’s like looking at a completely different person from the girl that was shutting down a few minutes earlier.

Her entire disposition is changed, and without even thinking about it, his eyes start to roam over her body. She’s no longer covering herself in any way, and he can see the entire spanse of her stomach, and he can see her ribs sticking out in an unhealthy way. He doesn’t linger on that, however, his gaze instead rising to look at her chest. The fabric goes from just under her breasts up to her neck, and then down one arm, but still… he can see her more of her now than he ever has before.

The robes she wears are clearly hiding everything underneath.

She’s so small and petite, but so strong. He can see the strength in her arms, her shoulders, and in her stomach as well. This is clearly not the first time she has done any running - he can see a line running down the side of her legs from definition.

The only experience he had with the female body, before this day, was Pansy… and that was two years earlier. Neither of them were fully developed, both were scared, and she never really allowed him to see or touch much.

This is… a display. He knows that he has no right to look at her like this, but something about her is drawing him in, and he’s unable to resist.

“Malfoy,” she snaps suddenly, and he nearly jumps back away from her, startled.

He realizes, rather horrified, that he had been staring at her. Well, more accurately, the way the fabric of what was apparently her shirt was pulled tight over her breasts.

They looked to be the perfect size to fit exactly into his hands.

“What was the question?” he mumbles out, forcing himself to stare into her eyes.

Granger rolls her eyes in response, then turns towards the Quidditch Pitch, walking away. He doesn't know if he should follow or leave himself, until she turns her head towards him, as though he is at her side. “You should really try some running. It could help clear your head.”

She spoke so casually, he knows that it is a conversational response, not a closing statement, and so he is forced to continue on, walking beside her as they head towards the pitch.

If he ran away now… 

“Dressed like that?” he asks, the words slipping past his lips without thought. His words had lacked the usual sneer that she was used to… instead, hey were filled with genuine curiosity.

Particularly because he wants to know if running means he can see her barely dressed again.

She looks down at herself and then grins as she looks back up, and onwards him. “I imagine I must look absurd to a wizard, but these are typical Muggle workout clothes. Tight to the skin, to the fabric doesn’t inhibit your movement or rub awkwardly. I like running in this, far better than jeans in the woods…”

She freezes where she is midstep, and he goes to ask what the matter is, when he suddenly sees it in his head… a memory. Granger, lying on the floor of his Dining Room, being tortured by his Aunt. She had been wearing the rough blueish-gray trousers that so many Muggleborns seemed to enjoy wearing out of uniform.

If he had to guess… he would think that those were called jeans .

“Hey,” he says, and his hand reaches out towards her, to touch her arm, but then he withdraws quickly. He had nearly touched her scarred arm, the one that is now covered in fabric, all the way from her neck down to her wrist. He can see the start of another scar on the opposite shoulder, which is bare.

He wonders just how many scars she has cursed into her skin.

She looks up at him, but she doesn’t move away, instead, she just stares, as though waiting on bated breath for his next words. He has nothing to say, so instead he swallows, then gestures to the entire ensemble, trying to bring her back to the moment… to the topic of running, here and now.

“I just meant, your clothing, it’s different from what I’ve ever seen before.”

Granger nods and swallows, and he can see her chest rising and falling as she takes in a deep breath. That seems to give her pause as well as her eyes glaze over for a moment, and then she takes another step, the moment over.

“Wizards don’t seem to care much about physical fitness, but I do. It helps, with the extra energy. I’m not sure what to do with myself anymore.”

He doesn’t know what extra energy she’s talking about, but the Granger he remembers always knew what to do with extra time, at least - and it wasn’t spent outside, running around. The Granger in his mind is the one that never leaves the library.

This Granger is rambling on, and it’s vaguely familiar, given how many times he has previously heard her ramble out an answer in class, but the way she is gesturing now, talking as though they were close friends rather than two strangers that were recently enemies…

It throws him, completely. All thoughts of an apology are lost. All he can do is watch her as she continues on, explaining her shoes, the fabric, even the cut on the trousers… not that there is much to them.

She eventually falls silent, and he doesn’t understand most of what she had just explained, but still, he responds with a hmm, as though in agreement or acceptance. She seems fine with that, and he takes a glance over his shoulder, back towards the path that he had only just been on. They’re closer to the Quidditch Pitch, now, than they were to the school itself.

For a brief moment, he wonders if she’s leading him away from the school so that she can kill him. Fear runs down his spine, and then, it’s acceptance - but, no. A thought dawns on him just as quickly - if Hermione Granger wanted to kill him in front of the entire school, she could do, and likely receive a round of applause afterwards.

She is not the sort to kill someone away from witnesses. The Granger he remembers believes in justice and trial. She would want him to face his crimes, not be stabbed in the back for them.

When they finally reach the Quidditch Pitch, he sees a jacket laying across a bench, and she walks over and picks it up. Quickly, she has it over her shoulders, and is then tacking it together, with the strange metal binding he often sees on Muggle clothing. It seems to take her a moment, and then the expanse of bare skin is covered, causing him to silently mourn the loss.

And then, she bends over, picking up what appears to be a cup from the ground. Her wand is then suddenly in her hand, but that is not what has his attention. Instead, it is the shape of her arse as she bends over, the curve of it as it leads into her thighs.

He takes in a sharp breath as she stands up straight once more, and he turns himself away from her, hoping that his cloak can remain covering him, lest his lower body, which had received release that morning, betrays him.

He shall have to walk a few paces behind her, for safety, and so that he can grab a few more glances at the way her trousers form of her shape.

“You know, you should probably apologize,” Granger says, and he looks for a response, but is almost immediately distracted. Her hands are up in her hair, tugging at something, and then the curls are falling down out of the messy knot and over her shoulders. He had expected her hair to be big and chaotic, like normal, but instead, the curls almost seem to reform themselves around her, the curls gathering into something big and seductive. As though her hair has some sort of life. Her hair looks… passionate.

He freezes at that thought. Passionate. Passionate . How could one even consider a person’s hair to be passionate, as though the hair had life? And the idea that he would even think such a thing?

Everything in his brain has completely disconnected, and he attempts to remember what it is she had just said, so that he might respond, except…

Then Granger bends over, her hands in her hair while she ruffles it at the root, and his eyes are unable to leave her arse. The trousers, whatever they are made of, they should be considered illegal. No wonder Purebloods were terrified of Muggleborns, for if they all went around wearing trousers such as this… 

“Well?” she asks, straightening herself up.

He has no idea what the question is, but he is willing to say anything, do anything, just to ge another look at her, bent over, just as she had been… particularly if she was no longer wearing the jacket.

His lips part as he searches his brain for the topic of conversation, and at the last moment, he remembers what she had said - an apology - but it seems to be too late.

“Another time, then,” she says with a roll of her eyes.

His brain is finally starting to receive the backflow of blood that had recently been occupied elsewhere, and he nods, taking in a deep breath, processing her words. Granger, planning to speak to him again… he’s not really certain how to interpret that.

And this had been his big chance, his moment, to finally apologize. He doubts he’ll find another one.

“You should run with me tomorrow,” she says, starting the walk back towards the castle. 

He scoffs at the idea of himself running, and quickly replies, following after her, a few steps behind. “I doubt I could keep up.”

I will not look at her arse. I will not look at her…

His eyes drift down, and he can see her arse jiggling in the shorts, even with her walking slowly rather than jogging or running. If he ran with her, he would be ten paces behind the entire time with his cock rock solid in his shorts.

“I can go slow if you need me to,” she says as she turns her head to look at him over her shoulder, a grin on her lips.

He almost grins back, and then he freezes. Something about this is wrong. Something is… off.

He had known it the whole time, deep down, but now, as she’s smiling at him, as he’s about to smile back, it hits him in the face, as though he had just been run over by the Hogwarts Express.

This is not the Hermione Granger he knows. Whoever this is… this is not real.

Or she’s not real. He’s not really certain.

Is this another sign of him slowly going insane?

“Are you alright?” she asks, looking at him, and he swallows and nods, turning to look back towards the pitch. It’s dangerous to turn his back towards her, but he needs to get away from her, now . He doesn’t know if she’s a vision, or a ghost, or a boggart, or even just polyjuice, but it doesn’t matter.

The real Granger would not be walking beside him, laughing and teasing. And that means, he isn’t safe. 

In no way, shape, or form is this Hermione Granger.

“I think I’m going to stay out here for a bit,” he chokes out, looking up towards the Quidditch rings.

She doesn’t ask questions, doesn’t come closer, but he can feel her eyes on him, and it terrifies him. What is she thinking? What does she want? Is she even really there?

He waits for her response, for her acceptance… and it only takes a few moments to have her reply.

“I’ll see you around, Malfoy,” she says. “And don’t forget that apology you owe me.”

He doesn’t turn around to look at her, his eyes remaining upwards, towards the sky. If she’s going to kill him, he doesn’t want to see it coming. He just… wants it over with.

The sound of her steps in the grass start to fade, and when he can no longer hear her, he turns quickly, to see her still walking away. She’s going at an easy pace, and her wand, which he had not previously seen, is out in one hand, being twirled in her fingers.

He doesn’t relax until she’s finally out of sight.

And then, his knees give out on him, and he falls to the ground. 

His body aches from how tense he had been, at the realization that it was an imposter he spoke to, and he starts to run through the entire conversation, mentally, wanting to remember every last detail.

Hermione Granger, Muggleborn, out and about running, when not even a week ago, she had barely been able to sit up straight. And smiling and laughing with him?

He easily runs down the list - she’s no ghost, and no boggart. Not a poltergeist, either.

Either a vision, one from seemingly out of nowhere, or polyjuice, except…

Why would someone want to polyjuice themselves to look like Granger out running first thing in the morning?

A vision, then. It’s the only acceptable answer. He’s going mad. 

Running a hand over his face, Draco pinches his eyes shut, trying to destroy the memory of Granger in barely there clothing. She was still so tiny, much shorter than himself, and her hair was still larger than life, as though filled with her overpowering magic, but her arse… when she had bent over, Draco had nearly lost himself…

Fuck. Fuck .

It’s the dream. That’s what he tells himself as he opens his eyes and stares up at the sky. It’s him and that damn dream, plaguing him, and now he’s having visions of Granger, of all people, and imagining that her arse was actually that thick. It’s not real, of course. Granger had never had much of a figure, save for in her Yule dress… and at Sluggy’s Christmas party… but…

No. No, he knew Granger. She had been skin and bones on the floor of his Dining Room. He can still see her there, and he pinches his eyes shut once more, trying to banish that thought as well.

Granger sitting in the Great Hall, eating, looking as though she might fall over.

There’s no way Granger has such a good arse.

Which means… he is in fact going crazy.

Well, shit. There were worse things to hallucinate about.

Chapter Text

27 September 1998 - 7 Days after the New Moon

Fuck. Fuck . Fuck.

He can’t stop fucking pounding into this mystery girl. His hands dig into her hair, trying to yank her upwards so that he can see her face, but she fights back, refusing to let him pull her up with a strength he didn’t think possible. Her hair keeps slipping through his fingers, which should be impossible given the mess it is, but it does, over and over again.

She won’t let him see her face. Like she knows that he knows who she is.

Fuck .

It’s Granger.

He’s not a fucking idiot. He knew who it was the second that he looked down and saw her arse up in the air. 

He doesn’t know which vision is causing which, but it doesn’t really matter right now - he just wants to fuck her until he can’t move.

The way her body is made for his, how his fingers dig into her hips, how she’s gasping and begging underneath him, whines each time he slaps her arse…

He would give anything, anything , to be able to flip up her skirt before class and see if she has a handprint there.

It would confirm his most recent theory - that none of this is a vision. That this is all real. That it’s some sort of alternate reality that doesn’t make sense, where Granger wants his cock, and he’s allowed to fuck her every night.

… It’s a working theory. Not the best theory, but, most of the blood that should be in his brain is busy elsewhere.

He can figure out the rest of the theory later.

And really, there could also be some strange mixture of insanity, a love potion, or even polyjuice, but at this point, Draco just wants release.

The whole bed shakes as he hammers into this girl, into fucking Granger, and he can’t help himself as he finally reaches the edge, ready to coat the insides of her with his cum. Of all the things to push him over the edge, just the thought that this might be real, that she might be about to spend the rest of the day walking around with him deep inside of her…

“Granger, fuck-”

He sits up in a cold sweat with the mess of his cum inside of his shorts. He doesn’t even remember the high of the actual release, only feels his heart starting to slow down from peaking.

What. The. Fuck. What the absolute bloody fuck?

He’s almost angry as he cleans himself and then rushes downstairs, determined to catch Granger before she enters the Great Hall for breakfast. He has to know if this is real, if any of it is real. He wants to see her skin, to see where he had turned her arse red, wants to know if she can still feel her heart racing. 

He wants to know if she is doing this to him, or if this is something being done to both of them, or if this is all just a figment of his imagination.

However she’s controlling him, controlling his dreams, he doesn’t even care anymore. He just wants it to end… or for him to finally get to finish. 

And maybe… maybe a part of him also wants it to be real. Wants to know the taste of her mouth, of her skin, of her cunt, of her. Maybe… maybe he just wants to demand answers so that he can kiss her out of frustration, out of need…

Or maybe, he’s just going insane. Lust for Hermione Granger is driving him fucking insane.

He bursts into the Great Hall, intent on sitting atop the Gryffindor table to await Granger, when he freezes, seeing she’s already there. If she had only just been in the Gryffindor Dorms, there’s no way she could have even flown to the Great Hall to arrive before him.

And what’s more, she’s not even starting her breakfast - she looks to be nearly done. Her plates are pushed aside, empty, her cup of tea half drunk, and there are a number of books open before her while she works.

Not even five minutes ago, she was naked in his dreams, but now… 

What the fuck.

She looks up at him suddenly, her eyebrow raised, and then she takes a sniff, as though judging him. Quickly, she looks down at her books, almost awkwardly… but it’s not guilt. 

Perhaps it’s embarrassment over…

Running. She had invited him running the day before, and he hadn’t joined her.

Of course he hadn’t. He had instead been dreaming about fucking her.

Is she embarrassed because he didn’t show up? Or… is this even the same Granger he saw yesterday? Is the Granger he saw yesterday the same one he just saw in his dreams, and that Granger is different from this one?

His head feels woozy as he tries to rationalize it all out.

What the fuck is going on?

“Alright there, Malfoy?” she asks, calling out to him.

He feels lightheaded, or as though he might vomit. How does one even begin to process all of the information flying at him. It’s Granger, but it’s not. None of them are behaving in a way he would have expected of her. She’s not the girl from Sixth Year, nor even the one that had lost everything at the final battle.

Then again, he’s also not the boy that he was in Sixth Year, nor the one that had been taken prisoner on the steps of Hogwarts.

Granger. Not Granger. Angry Granger. Running Granger. Sick Granger. Polite Granger. Naked Granger that haunts his dreams…

There’s too many of them, and they don’t match up.

What would they write in his report? What would they put down for notes in his chart? Finally lost it, full Black style .

“You don’t look so well,” she says, and he blinks to see that she’s standing in front of him, her hands out as though to catch him. She doesn’t reach for him, though. 

He takes a step back.

“Need breakfast,” he finally says, and it’s a complete lie, which she seems to immediately see through. He can see it in the arch of her brow.

“You look… as though you might fall over. Best to eat something with a bit of sugar.”

He doesn’t know what that means, but he gives a nod, stepping around her to go to the Slytherin table. He practically falls onto the bench, and his breakfast appears before him. He doesn’t look up again.

He can hear her, though, hear her gathering her books, slurping down her last bit of tea, and then shoving everything into her bag. She curses a few times, and he wonders exactly how much that bag can hold, but he doesn’t look up again.

“Right, well, feel better,” she says, her words sounding light and dainty… almost caring.

“Thank you,” he grumbles out.

There’s no sound for a few moments, and then she starts to walk away.

He looks up, just in time to see her head turning, looking away from him.

He watches her hair bounce as she walks away.

It’s her. He knows it’s her. He just… doesn’t know how.

Or not her. Maybe it’s Polyjuice.

It would be so much simpler if he was just going insane.

 

28 September 1998 - 7 Days before the Full Moon

He’s fucking her in the shower this morning, and Draco is just allowing himself to enjoy it. He had spent most of the previous day accepting that none of this was real, and that he was just going insane, which means that this morning… he can just enjoy it.

He’s fucking Granger, in his shower, and it’s a sign of his insanity, but she feels so good, so real, he really doesn’t care anymore. He presses her body into the wall, her fingers running over the tile while he fucks her from behind, and she feels so fucking real, he doesn’t even care that he’s completely losing his entire fucking mind.

Is Granger even real? A part of him thinks she might actually be dead. If he’s already losing it, then he can’t trust anything he sees. Even the simple things. Maybe… maybe Granger is dead. Maybe she also died in the final battle. Maybe he’s just fucking a ghost. Maybe… Maybe there’s nothing left, maybe there’s just...

This girl, his dream Granger, she’s the only thing he cares about right now, just enjoying the feeling of her around his cock. It’s the most alive he has felt in days, just being deep inside of her, hearing her gasp as she sinks onto him, and he mouths kisses onto her shoulder, her throat, her ear-

His mouth must have gone too high, because suddenly, he’s awake in his bed. He expects to feel the normal anger and rage at being interrupted, but instead, a feeling of emptiness settles over him.

He wants her. He wants to feel her clinging to him. He wants to lose himself in the deliciousness of her body.

He wants Granger to look at him like she wants him as much as he wants her.

Except… it’s not real. He’s not even sure if she’s real anymore.

And now, he has to get up and face another day of probably slowly losing his mind.

Or quickly. Fantasizing about seeing Granger running around the grounds half dressed in Muggle sportswear is a pretty clear sign of impending zoom.

Fuck.

And his first class of the day is spent with her only one desk away.

If she’s even real at all.

He lazily finishes himself in the shower, imagining that it’s her mouth rather than his hand around his cock, and when he splatters himself on the shower tiles, he’s not even annoyed. Just… accepting.

He has to face this, his slow demise into insanity. Imagining different Grangers, dreaming about her… whatever it is that is going on, he just has to accept it.

Skipping breakfast, Draco heads to his first class of the day, strolling in just before it begins. He’s the last one to enter, and he forces himself to look nowhere other than at the top of his desk. If he looks at her, he might speak to her, and he has no idea what his traitorous tongue might say.

She forces his hand, however, when he hears her retching at her desk. His entire body turns quickly towards her, and he doesn’t know if it’s out of fear of her bile touching him or out of concern, but it doesn’t matter. She’s not spewing out her guts everywhere.

She looks as though she’s choking on it. Whatever it is.

Granger’s hands clap over her mouth, and for a brief terrifying second, their eyes meet. She doesn’t look ill, nor does she look embarrassed. Those would both be normal reactions to nearly spilling your guts in the middle of class.

Instead, she looks terrified .

She rushes from the classroom, leaving behind her bag, books, parchment, quills… his eyes linger on it all, and then he turns to look at the rest of the class, expecting that no one else has even noticed.

After all, if she’s just a vision, another sign of him slowly losing his mind, then no one else will have seen or heard anything.

Except…

Half of the class is frozen, confused, staring at her desk or the door. Longbottom is out of his chair, Thomas beside him, both whispering that they should check on Granger. The Professor calls the class back to attention, stating that Miss Granger would best be cared for by Madam Pomphrey, which is obviously where she is headed.

He remembers, then, seeing Granger yelling at younger students in the hallway, two weeks earlier. He had forgotten that. All of their other encounters, it was always just the two of them.

His mind whirls, and he considers following after her, wanting to ask. He had assumed that it wasn’t real, that this was insanity… but no.

Others see Granger.

She isn’t dead. She isn’t a figment of his imagination.

She’s real, and she’s running and being polite and concerned and yelling at students and retching in the middle of class, and she-

She’s still in his dreams. That part is obviously not real, but… 

Magic is. And magic could place her there.

He had assumed, before, that she had been placing herself there, before he had decided she wasn’t real. Now… he wonders if instead of Granger doing something to him…

What if someone is doing something to Granger?

 

29 September 1998 - 6 Days before the Full Moon

It’s the first morning that Draco has woken up without having one of those dreams. That alone should be a sign that something is horribly wrong. His cock isn’t soft, of course, but without a sex dream dragging him to the edge, he easily ignores it and rises from his bed, pleased to start his day early.

And then, he realizes that the lack of a sex dream to wake him up means that he slept in.

For a split second, he considers rushing through his morning and to class, but instead, he stretches and stares at the ceiling over his bed. 

No sex dream. That has to mean something. Granger… who definitely exists and is not a figment of his imagination and a sign of his impending insanity… he hadn’t seen her after she had rushed from class the morning before. He had walked past the infirmary doors multiple times, but had no real reason to enter.

And so, he had been left to wonder where she was… how she was doing.

If she wasn’t in his dreams…

Perhaps his theory that she was not in control of entering his dreams needed to be revisited. If she was ill, then of course she wouldn’t be in his dreams, except…

She had been in his dreams the morning she had been sitting ill at the table, methodically eating.

He should probably start writing this down, but that would mean he’s actually trying to figure this all out, which would likely be a sign of insanity. Not that he needed another one, but, this is the problem that seems impossible to solve.

This morning, at least, he’ll just let it come as it comes.

For the first time since the start of term, Draco is not the last person to enter the Ancient Runes classroom. A few others walk past, but no one says anything - it’s better that he’s invisible, then.

… Invisible? Is he the ghost?

Can ghosts be insane?

He nearly pulls out a piece of parchment so that he can start writing down his ideas, forgetting the initial plan of letting it come as it comes, when Granger enters the classroom.

He can’t look away from her, as she walks by, and practically sinks into her seat. There’s an empty one between them, but even with the distance, he can see the dark circles under her eyes, the greyness of her skin, the fact that her hands are practically shaking, as though she’s unable to steady herself.

Everything in the air feels off, and he’s on edge as he takes her in.

Beyond her own general appearance, the next thing he notices is her uniform… or lack of it. She’s not wearing her skirt, but is instead in trousers, which is not exactly against the rules, but he hasn’t ever seen Granger wearing them. They’re cinched tightly at her waist. The jumper she wears is not her own, as it’s far too large on her, practically swallowing her. And her tie… she’s missing it.

Anyone else, and he might assume that they just crawled out of someone else’s bed, but Granger looks as though she’s falling apart, practically melting or dissolving or fading or… a plethora of adjectives that all match and yet do not adequately describe the truth - Hermione Granger looks as though she is dying.

Dying, slowly, like a poison is seeping through her veins, sucking the life out of her.

He forces himself to look away from her, and when he glances back over a few minutes later, he sees that her arms are on her desk and her head is laying on top of them, her face towards the window. He cannot see if her eyes are open or closed, but he can tell that she’s breathing slow and deep.

She remains that way for the rest of class.

He considers, at the end, dashing out as he normally does, but the fact that he even considers lingering… well, now that the idea is in his head, he can’t escape it. He takes his time, putting together his notes, and he wordlessly duplicates them, to give him a reason to speak to her.

Not that he really needs one.

She is slow to rise as well, and once the classroom is empty, she finally looks up, her eyes sad, pained. He wants to ask, to question what it is that has her literally fading away…

It scares him, to see her like this. That’s a terrifying thought, that he cares, but she has always held such a presence, even when they were younger. The girl before him now… he’s scared if he blinks, she’ll simply cease to exist.

He offers her the notes, and she stares at his hand, and then takes them, holding them limply by her side.

They’re both quiet, and he knows that he should ask if she is alright, ask if she needs anything, ask about her disappearing from class yesterday… but instead, in true recent fashion, he remains quiet, allowing her to speak first.

“Thank you,” she finally says.

The proper response would be to acknowledge her proper manners, offer her a gruff you’re welcome , but instead, he speaks without thinking.

“You should go to the infirmary, and rest.”

It’s rude to say so… but he’s certainly not wrong.

Granger immediately laughs, and that laughter, it seems to burn the last of her energy, because as she quiets, her hand has to reach out to steady herself on the desk beside her.

“Madam Pomphrey can’t cure what’s wrong with me,” she says, and her lips curl into a smirk. It almost looks, and sounds, self-deprecating. “Some curses can’t be broken.”

He wants to ask, and he can practically feel a thought tickling at the edge of his mind, telling him what it is that is wrong with her, what she’s teasing at… but he can’t quite grasp it. 

“Rest anyways,” he repeats.

He turns and leaves the room, not wanting to linger, fearing that if he remains much longer in her presence, he might say something else. Something dangerous. Something that might lead to more questions.

Or to answers he isn’t quite ready to hear.

 

30 September 1998 - 5 Days before the Full Moon

He hadn’t been able to sleep at all, and when it’s closer to dawn than dusk, he rises from his bed, intent on at least doing something.

Between the nightly sex dreams, concerns about Granger, and finally getting a bit of rest, he had fallen behind on his morning walks to Hogsmeade. This is the first time that he approaches the village when it is still dark. He walks along the wall, traveling around the village rather than through it, and when he finally reaches the Shack, he confirms what he knew all along.

Silence. There’s absolute silence.

He hasn’t bothered to ask anyone about the Shrieking Shack. In fact, since his return, he has spoken to no one at all, save for Granger. It’s not as though anyone has approached him for a light conversation.

He has to ask someone, though, otherwise, whether or not he’s going mad from natural causes will no longer be a concern - fear of the Shack, of what he heard that night, of the possibilities… that will surely drive him crazy.

He heard it. He saw the runes. He knows… something that night was screaming in terror, in pain, in agony. It was there, and it was real… 

It’s so close. Somehow, even though he has no real direction, Draco spends the entire walk back to Hogwarts tossing it around in the back of his mind. It’s just like Granger, and her talking about curses that could not be healed. It’s so close, just there out of reach, but he can’t quite pick up what he’s supposed to be grasping.

Another student would go to the library, would ask a friend, would write home, would even just take notes to piece it all out… but writing it down feels obsessive, as though he has to admit that he’s losing it. 

What was in the Shrieking Shack that first night? Why is Granger a constant in his repetitive sex dreams? And why is she perfectly fine one minute and dying the next?

And why can he not piece it all together?

One step at a time. One piece at a time.

The Granger he saw out running, that’s the anomaly. That’s the one that’s different. She had been happy, full of life and energy… not to be confused with the Granger he saw the first or second week of term. That Granger had been full of life and energy, but also rage. The two had to be separate. 

And then there’s the sick Granger, the one that forces herself to eat, that retches in class, that is slowly dying. The one that he fears he’ll see today, sitting one desk away from him in every other class.

Three Grangers. And then the one in his dreams.

That Granger is something else all together. She’s a dream, a vision, a seductress, a siren. She calls him. She is none of the others, at all, but he still knows it’s her. He recognizes her hands, now, and the curve of her hips, and the hair…

It’s the hair that gives it all away.

Three Grangers, plus one in his dreams. And none of them match up. None of them are the girl he remembers. 

That’s it. That’s the key.

Draco freezes where he is on the path, angry at himself for having nothing to write with, but still, he can piece this together. The girl that he saw on Easter Break, the one his Aunt had tortured, that was the Granger he saw now, the one that was falling apart, the one that was barely eating. The girl that he saw in Sixth Year, angry and hexing Weasley, that was the same girl he saw shove Longbottom aside. And the girl he had seen Sunday… well, that was not Granger at all, or at least, not a version of her he ever saw. That Granger was likely one kept to the Gryffindor girl’s dormitory, all bubbly and smiley.

Three Grangers… two of them copies of Grangers from the past. 

That’s it. It all suddenly clicks.

Three different Grangers, because two of them are polyjuice.

It’s the only thing that makes sense. 

Except… then he has to solve the next problem. Why would someone polyjuice themselves to look like Granger? Was it the fame they wanted? The notoriety? Being Granger looked exhausting. 

He reaches the school when a startling thought goes through his mind - is that why Granger looks like death? Is someone slowly poisoning her while they try to become her?

His newest theory only creates more questions, but it solves the problem of figuring out why every time he sees her, it’s like looking at a new person. It’s the only thing that makes sense, if he isn’t the one that’s actually insane. The insanity idea still makes the most sense, but others can see her, others can see her fading.

… Or was it another student, and he just placed the face of Granger on them?

Perhaps insanity isn’t out quite yet.

He glides through the day, rolling it all around, trying to place it in order, and it has him so out of sorts, he barely pays attention to his own actions. He’s not racing out of the classroom, instead taking his time putting away his things, and as he walks through the hallways, he gives a nod to Theo Nott, who he hasn’t really spoken to since the end of Sixth Year.

Theo walks into a door in response, likely out of shock. The last time they saw one another, Draco had been warning him of what was coming that night, what he had to do, and Theo… he had simply said he knew.

Because of course he did. Leave it to old Thaddeus to get wasted and beat up his son for not being worthy of a task that was actually a death sentence.

Draco doesn’t pause in his steps to check on Theo - Blaise is a step behind him, and if he talks to them, he’ll be forced to ask about Goyle, and asking about Goyle means bringing up Crabbe, and that-

He runs away from it all, heading to the library instead of class, on some sort of strange instinct. He feels called there, almost, and he just goes with it.

Better than sitting in the back row with Theo two seats ahead, constantly turning back to look at him.

When he reaches the library, he allows instinct to lead him… and it takes him deeper and deeper into the back of the library, where he finds Granger slumped over the table, not moving.

No. No, she is moving. She’s shaking, as though cursed by the Cruciatus. He rushes to her without thought and places his hand on her forehead. She’s sweating as though burning from a fever, but her skin is ice cold.

“Granger, come on,” he says without thought, a sense of dread filling him.

“It’s not working,” she mumbles out, half asleep.

“What’s not working?” he asks, his hands leaving her now that she’s giving some response.

She blinks a few times as she looks up at him, and grabs his arm in a death grip. Her hand is so tight, his arm almost immediately begins to ache.

He tries to pull away, but she doesn’t let go. He doesn’t know how she’s so much stronger than him - she’s closer to death than life - but when she doesn’t let go, he gives up and looks at her again, seeing her eyes starting to glaze over.

And then she blinks and they’re wide, open with terror.

“You can’t be around me,” she whispers. “It’s not safe.”

Her grip doesn’t loosen as she stares up at him, as though staring into his soul, and he considers jerking away again, but then her hand falls away and she goes limp, slumping back over the desk.

He doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know how to help, but on nothing more than instinct and fear, he scoops her up into his arms and ignores everyone as he half runs to the infirmary. She doesn’t wake up, even as he lays her onto one of the beds, but when he goes to get Madam Pomphrey from her office, her eyes fly open, wide.

He has seen this look before. It’s the look of one who has just been tortured. Who is speaking their last words before death.

Except, she says nothing, and then her face softens.

“You touched me,” she whispers. “Apology accepted.”

Her eyes close as her head falls to the side, and he can see easily that she’s struggling to breathe. Madam Pomphrey thankfully arrives, and all Draco can mutter out is that he found her in the library. He has nothing else to offer, no proof to what he suspects, so instead of lingering, he leaves quickly.

Her words are still ringing in his ears.

What about her isn’t safe? Why is she so afraid? And what isn’t working?

 

1 October 1998 - 4 Days before the Full Moon

It’s early morning when Draco approaches the infirmary, intent on sneaking in before Madam Pomphrey wakes up. He had been barred from entering the day before by the Matron, but he just has to see her, has to check on her. He has to know that Granger is okay.

He knows that there’s no real reason for it. They’re not friends. They’re not even acquaintances. They haven’t really spoken, save for the day she had been out running, but he still doesn’t think that that’s the same person he carried to the infirmary.

Really, he’s not sure of anything anymore, save for the fact that Granger is dying, and she’s the only person that will talk to him.

He just needs to put eyes on her, verify she’s still living, and then leave. He can’t even really trust his own eyes, but he just has to try it. He has to know.

Turning the last corner, he catches sight of Granger, barely upright and arguing with the Headmistress. He quickly tucks himself into an alcove, performing a listening charm and holding his breath, so he can listen in.

It was an instinct to do so. One he had done often at the Manor over the past year. The only way to be prepared for what is to come, after all, is to be aware of it before it happens.

“You simply cannot continue on like this,” McGonagall says, the concern clear in her tone.

“What else can I do?” Granger asks, and her voice sounds raspy. “There’s no one else to ask. No one else knows anything about this. There’s no one to even go to. I have to do this alone, or-”

“Are you certain you brewed it right?” the older witch asks, her voice almost harsh in contrast to her earlier concern.

There’s silence, and then Granger finally whispers, “I don’t know.”

The silence resumes, and he peeks his head around to see that McGonagall is running her hand over Granger’s hair, her cheek, soothing. The older witch clearly wants to draw the younger one into a hug, but he can see from the tenseness of Granger’s shoulders that she would run away if she could.

“It’s getting worse,” Granger says, and he forces himself to look away, wanting to know what it is. “My body, it’s rejecting it. It’s like… my whole body is fighting back. It wasn’t like this, last time.”

He closes his eyes, running over every word, memorizing them to analyze later. What is it that her body is fighting against? What would she even brew? Granger, screwing up a potion?

“I wish there was something I could-”

“You cannot undo a curse that has no countercurse,” Granger says, her voice stoic. “You cannot undo that which has been made permanent.”

He wants to know. He wants to ask. There’s a teacher involved, he knows that she’s real, that she’s dying, that something is wrong and she’s pushing everyone away, including Longbottom and Potter. He had assumed that her shoving Potter away would have been because of Weasley’s death… but is she creating distance to try to protect him from her own death?

“Get some rest,” the Headmistress says. “I shall see you again next week. Your meals will all be delivered, your notes…”

“I’ll likely just be asleep,” Granger responds, her voice fading, and he realizes they are walking away, thankfully in the other direction. “Thank you, again, for allowing me to…”

Something is killing her. Something she can’t stop.

He sinks to the ground, running through it all, over and over and over again.

Something she has to brew. Something made permanent. Her body rejected… something . The potion? No. The potion would have been a cure. Why would her body reject a cure?

It’s so close, it’s just there at the edge of his brain.

She’s dying… and he’s terrified he might know why.

 

3 October 1998 - 2 Days before the Full Moon

He wakes up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night. In his dream, he had been lost in the middle of nowhere, screams surrounding him. Screams that cut into his soul. There’s begging and pleading for mercy, and he can’t really attach a certain voice to it, can’t attach an owner, but he’s heard it before.

He shakes himself awake, running a hand over his face, and climbs out of his bed, looking out the window. The moon is nearly full, and he looks at the stars around it, the brilliant night sky that once gave him comfort insead filling him with dread. 

He can see Orion’s belt, and within it, Bellatrix, one of the brightest stars.

Bellatrix… the namesake of his Aunt.

It comes out of nowhere, a slap across the face, and all of the previous screams that were jumbled and intertwined clear out, leaving behind just one. The screams of a girl, trapped on the Dining Room floor, screaming that they had just found it, that it wasn’t real, that she didn’t know what his Aunt was talking about.

A cursed blade had been in her hand, cutting into the girl’s skin, marking her, destroying her.

He still doesn’t know what exactly the curse does… but he can take a guess.

After all, there’s someone currently dying from it.

Granger. She had said she was cursed. That it was killing her. That rest couldn’t help. That you cannot cure that which is permanent. The only thing he knows about the blade his Aunt had used… it was a Black family speciality, and it could only be undone by a Black.

Granger is dying… and he might be the only person that can save her.

He turns away from the window and pukes all over the floor.

Chapter Text

5 October 1998 - Full Moon

Draco stares at the stack of books in front of him, each of them completely useless. He had found nothing on Blood Curses when he had searched the normal stacks, which was why he had broken into the Restricted Section. 

Something, surely, had to have details regarding Blood Curses. While the dagger Bellatrix had used on Granger that Easter night was a Black family specialty, anything that would have given him a starting point could have helped.

He had found books on torture methods, on poisons, on various charms that did far more harm than good, and even the spell that Moody or Crouch, whomever it was, had used on him to turn him into a ferret. He knew things he never needed to know, and yet-

Curses of the blood? The way that you could turn someone’s very insides against them? The entire reason that he had spent hours in this library?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

He had already written to his mother through the ministry. He hadn’t spelled out exactly why he needed to know about that dagger, save to say that he suspected a student had been harmed by it. His mother would remember that night, and would soon respond… if the ministry passed on the letter. Technically, he wasn’t allowed to contact her.

He had also sent an owl to his mother’s sister, Andromeda. While he had never met his Aunt, he knew of her. He knew that, while she may have been burned from the family tapestry, she was still a Black.

If anyone knows about the dagger that had cursed Granger… well, they’re the two people alive that would know.. One of them has to have answers.

The problem is, and he knows it, as he returns each book to their place, that Granger doesn’t have time to wait for their replies. She had only just barely been upright when he last saw her outside of the infirmary. One strong breeze, one hex, one jinx, and she would be dead.

It wasn’t working , she had said. Her body was rejecting it .

Whatever she had done, whatever attempts she had made at curing herself, it wasn’t working. She’s dying, and he’s just sitting in the library, doing research. Research that turned out to be pointless.

He wants to scream, to curse, to get angry. It’s the first time in so long that he has actually felt anger.

Until this point, it had been apathy. He was apathetic to his circumstances. Complacent, even. He had accepted his fate, only to be sent to Hogwarts. And, upon arrival, he had simply been moving from one place to another, not really relaxing or establishing himself, simply trying to survive.

But now… Now, he isstuck in one place, unable to do anything. He doesn’t even know why he cares, but it doesn’t matter. Five months ago, he had watched her be tortured. And now… now, he is going to be forced to watch her die.

He can’t, though. He can’t just stand aside and let her die. After everything… he can’t just let it happen.

Something about that thought, about her… the idea of the Wizarding World without her in it… he can’t even face the prospect of it.

He shoves the last book into the shelf, then slips out of the Restricted Section. He’s not even sure what time it is, but something about the library, and even the castle itself, feels far too restrictive. His body aches and he wants a shower, but he has to get out of here, before the walls start closing in.

That’s a new thing, lately. Waking up and feeling like the walls are closing in. Ever since the dreams with Granger had stopped… Well, he misses them, whatever they were. Misses how, even if they weren’t real, and he never really got to finish… They were better than waking up, feeling like he’s choking on ash and everything is pressing in around him, leaving him trapped.

He’s halfway down the path to Hogsmeade before he even realizes he had left the castle all together. He stops and turns around, looking towards where he had come from. How… how had he walked so far without even realizing it? Why would he naturally gravitate down this path? Normally, if he walked to Hogsmeade, he would do so first thing in the morning, but as he turns again and looks up at the sky…

The sun is nearly set, with the moon just barely peeking out on the horizon. It’s a full and heavy moon, bright from where it’s just barely beginning to peak out. He stares at it, knowing that he should return to the castle so he can get some dinner, when a prickle runs up his back.

There’s no wind, which is shocking given that they’re in the Scottish Highlands. In fact, everything is still. Quiet. The birds have long settled, but there are enough creatures in the Forbidden Forest, it was never truly quiet.

Now, though… Now, the air is so thick with tension, he felt as though he would have to cut through it to return to the school.

It’s so quiet, deathly quiet.

He just stands there, waiting for something to happen. Almost as though, in the back of his mind, he knows what’s coming. He knows, even if he doesn’t understand.

Absolute silence.

The scream that cuts through the air seems to stab into his gut, stealing their air from his lungs as he gasps. It’s piercing, it’s painful, and it’s followed by a howl, as though the scream had blended with it.

It’s the same sound that he heard the night he had first arrived… when another full moon had hung in the night sky.

Without thought, Draco takes off towards the village, everything else no longer important. It’s the very scream he had been searching for, each time he approached the village, and now… now, he’s finally going to investigate. He needs to get to the bottom of this.

This… this is one mystery he can solve, and given how hopeless it feels, trying to cure Granger from the curse… he could really use a win.

The screaming howl stops, but Draco doesn’t pause. He knows where he’s going, knows exactly where it’s coming from. He keeps going until he reaches the wall around Hogsmeade, and with one hand reaching up to grab the top, he quickly climbs it, pulling himself over. 

There’s silence, but that’s not concerning, given how the wards had been placed a month earlier. In fact, he doubts he’ll hear anything else until he’s entering the fence around the Shack.

He can feel a sense of dread, something telling him to turn around, that it’s dangerous, that he shouldn’t approach, but he knows, as he grasps the metal gate, that it’s the wards. For anyone that didn’t know about the screams, it would be more than enough to keep a person away.

But Draco is determined. He has a mystery to solve. Someone, or something, is dying inside of the Shrieking Shack, or being tortured, or… he doesn’t really know what exactly it is, but he needs answers. He needs some resolution.

Tugging open the gate, he’s immediately greeted with the sound of another scream, although, this one is on the tail end of dying, starting to fade out. He expects it to go silent, except there’s a quick pause, as though they took a breath, and then the next scream - 

Whoever it is, they’re being ripped apart.

He has no idea how he’s going to save whoever it is, but he has to try. He spent the whole war on the sidelines, just watching as things happened around him, feeling helpless and hopeless. In this moment, right here, he can do something, or at least, try to do something.

He can no longer just stand aside and watch the world go by, watch it fall apart, watch it being torn apart, even. 

He runs around the outside of the Shack, but he sees no way to get in. There’s no doors, nor even a designated front. Just… windows, which are all boarded up.

He tries to climb up the side of a house, but it’s pointless - the boards are coming off the outside, and when he presses his face to the glass, he’s met with more boards.

Blocked, then, from both the inside and out. He runs around, recognizing the space that has to be the back of the house, as there’s no windows at all with just a chimney running up the middle. He considers climbing that, dropping down from within, but that sounds crazy.

He’s not quite that level of crazy just yet.

The last side of the house is boarded up as well, but he still yanks at the old boards, tugging them off. The inside is boarded as well, except-

He can see a bit of movement, and as he presses his face to the glass, he realizes that the boards on the inside don’t go all the way across. The space is only just big enough that his face and part of his hands would be visible from inside, but that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that he can see. And he can.

There’s someone within, something dark, and their back, he thinks, is to him. Bent over, perhaps? Lower to the ground. The window is dirty, and he quickly casts a Scourgify before he presses his face to the glass again.

He considers casting Bombarda , because that would clearly solve the problem. No boards, no windows, nothing between himself and whoever it is that’s in so much pain, but something deep down, in the pit of his stomach, tells him to wait. 

Something about this isn’t right. Something is… off .

He looks back in through the window, trying to take it all in. There’s a bed, a rug, some books? He’s not entirely certain. It looks almost like a cell, all one room, just a place for a person to sleep and walk about in. There isn’t even a fire going in the fireplace. He imagines it has to be cold in there, even with charms, but as his hand presses to the glass, he knows it’s just as cold inside.

He bangs on it, once, wondering if the person will even be able to hear him. Just because sound is coming out doesn’t mean that sound can go in. He bangs a second time, and there’s no response.

“Hey!” he yells, banging again after the word. “Look at me. Come on, just move a little. Tell me how to reach you. I’ll come for you!”

The figure moves, just enough that he suspects they might have heard him, but not enough to really give off signs of life.

And then, the figure stops moving all together. A sense of dread runs down his spine, and he can’t tell if they’re breathing or not. He bangs his fist over and over, trying to jolt them back into moving, to give him a sign, hope, anything…

The lack of screaming is the most concerning part. If they’re in this much pain they can’t even move… Death is closer than he had originally suspected.

He bangs and bangs and bangs on the glass, over and over again, and his wand, he nearly reaches for it - whatever it is that’s telling him not to blow a whole in the side of the house, well, it’s pointless if the person inside is dead.

His face presses to the glass, and he stares straight at the figure, trying to see if there’s any change, any movement-

They jerk up, suddenly, as though hexed or even cursed, being dragged up by their chest from the floor. He’s startled by the sudden movement, but it’s the screams that make him jerk away from the glass. He sits there for a split second, blinking, trying to silence the screams that are rattling in his brain, but he gives up-

The person is still alive. At least, for the moment.

He quickly goes back to the window, pressing his face to it as he bends down, trying to look through the hole, and what he sees…

The robe has fallen aside, revealing the person underneath. They’re still arched back, face pointed towards the ceiling, and he watches, in horror, as a thick black bile spills from their throat, running down their body before hitting the floor. He can see more of it, now that he’s looking for it, in various places throughout the room.

It’s not blood. He knows what black blood looks like. This is… a poison. It’s death coming out of a person, practically being forced from them. 

All he can see is the death that’s spilling onto the floor, and then he looks higher, looks up until he sees who it is.

Granger. Hermione Granger. Her clothing his half ripped, as though clawed off, exposing scars all over her torso, her chest, her arms. There’s a gash running down her forehead, and as he keeps searching her for more injuries, he realizes that her hand is changing.

She screams again, and he watches in horror as claws begin to grow where her fingers should be, the nails elongating, her hand spreading. She screams and screams as though she can feel every break of her bone, every tear of her muscle, the nerve endings demanding a break from the assault.

He can see her face, how her eyes are pinched shut, her mouth wide open as she screams in pain. He wants to reach her, to take it away, to knock her out or give her a pain potion, something or anything. 

He has seen torture before, seen her survive torture, but this… His Aunt had been cruel and dragged it out for hours, pausing and resuming, keeping her target alive until they were begging for death.

What he sees now, this is the sort of the sort of torture that drives a person to complete madness.

“Granger,” he yells, banging on the glass.

She doesn’t respond, which is unsurprising, given how she’s screaming, and when she finally stops, he watches as she collapses onto the ground, this time on her back, with her head turned in his direction. Her eyes are closed, with one hand clutching at her throat, the other one, clawed, reaching out towards the window.

He can see her chest rising and falling with each shaky breath, and it gives him a moment of peace as he just watches her, just takes her in. He doesn’t know exactly what is wrong with her, but he remembers what she had said, outside of the infirmary.

The potion didn’t work, and now, her body is rejecting it.

He still has so many questions, though.

Her eyes open, and she looks directly at him. There’s no hint of recognition, and she doesn’t even respond as he bangs his fist on the glass. 

She’s dying in there, he’s sure of it, and the only way to save her, which he isn’t even sure will work… everything in him is screaming to not cast the spell.

More black blood pours out of her mouth, and she coughs some of it up, then begins to puke. He can’t understand what sort of potion she would take, that would cause her to react like it’s a poison. What had the blood curse done to her? What had happened to her that night?

It comes out of nowhere, like a slap across the face, as he remembers, suddenly, what else had happened that night. Greyback… he had been the one that held onto Granger, whispering into her ear, his claws pressing into her stomach. He had seen it, had watched as she fought against him, had screamed, but his father had shoved him to look at Potter, keeping him from seeing what was happening to her.

When she had been on the ground, underneath his Aunt, she had been bleeding from multiple places - not just her forehead and her arm.

Her stomach, as well, had light cuts, and her shoulder… there had been bleeding on her shoulder, from under her shirt.

Almost as though she had been bitten, except… it was not a full moon that night. Greyback would have been nowhere near the manor, and in particular not out snatching people. She had bitten with human teeth.

Which meant, she hadn’t been turned that night.

But the claws… the claws…

Had she taken wolfsbane? Aconite was poison, technically even to werewolves, but after being brewed into a potion, it was safe for werewolves to take. Well, not exactly safe, but it didn’t kill them. 

What would Wolfsbane do to a person that wasn’t a werewolf? What was it doing to her now? Was she a complete fool, thinking that a werewolf’s touch on a night when he wasn’t turned would in turn change her? A person could only be turned if they were bitten on a full moon. They had even studied this in third year!

What the hell was Granger thinking, drinking Wolfsbane?

He moves back to the glass and bangs on it again, trying to get her attention. She opens her eyes once more, and this time, he knows for a fact that she can hear him, because when he bangs again, her hand lifts just enough, reaching towards him, that he knows she’s reaching for him.

And then she’s screaming again, her body writhing on the ground.

She claws at her own skin, at her face, her hair. She’s bleeding down her cheek. Her claws tangle up in her clothing, tugging at it, as though it might simply rip right off, and eventually it does. He wants to look away, but she’s thankfully still wearing some sort of undergarments on top, and on bottom. 

He almost looks away out of a preservation of decency, but then she’s on her hands and knees once more, her back arching as she dry heaves. Nothing comes out, and when she claws at her throat again, he can see the blood dripping from it, where her nails had cut her.

She collapses onto the ground again, her face turned away from him, so he can’t even see if her eyes are open or if she’s still breathing.

He looks at her back, watching for signs of her lungs expanding, and then lower, trying to see if any part of her is still changing or shifting. Her back is smooth, untouched by scars, but as he looks lower, he suddenly sees it. 

It’s right there on her arse, a werewolf bite, deep into her skin. There’s no  denying it. At some point, Granger had been bitten by a werewolf, and it hadn’t been with human teeth.

Granger is a werewolf, and the Wolfsbane potion she had brewed to help her through the full moon hadn’t worked, and now… now, she is suffering from the poison.

Every natural instinct within him tells him that he should be running as far away as he possibly could, and that he should stop trying to get her attention, but he can’t just leave her in there. She’s dying, and he can’t… 

Weasley is dead, ripped apart by Greyback in front of her.

And Potter… He had been there, the day of Draco’s sentencing. He had looked so detached, so out of it… like he was potioned out of his mind.

Granger is alone right now because she was now alone in life. One of her best friends died in front of her, the other is clearly mental. She had likely brewed her own wolfsbane, and kept this all a secret. No wonder she’s pushing people away like Longbottom, refusing any help.

It all suddenly makes sense.

“Granger,” he calls out again. 

She’s not moving. He watches, hoping, wishing… but he’s scared. He’s scared that if she dies, a part of him will die with her.

“Granger,” he repeats, his hand banging flat on the glass. “Look at me.”

She moves just enough to lift her head off the ground, letting him know she’s still alive, and he bangs his hand again, over and over, trying to awaken her. Werewolf or not, he can’t just leave her like this.

“Granger, it’s going to be okay,” he yells, banging his hand after every word.

He doesn’t believe it, not really, but he has to try.

And the scream that comes from her lips tells him that she doesn’t believe it either.

He can’t look away as her body arches back up, shakes, writhes, flips over, and she starts to thrash about. More bile comes from her throat, and she claws at it, plucking almost at the front. He fears she might actually cut her throat open.

Fears that might be what she’s trying to do.

The screams suddenly stop, and he looks away as she starts to gag, and then he can hear it, a near heavy thud as she pukes something out. He looks back into the room and sees that what must have been the entirety of her stomach is now on the ground in front of her… and he knows she hasn’t been eating.

Her forearm wipes at her mouth, as though to clean it, and then she straightens up, her bones and back seeming to crack. She looks taller, stronger now that the poison is out of her.

And then, she turns and looks at him. 

In an instant, she’s at the glass, her face staring back at him. Everything about her face looks the same, the same nose, the same mouth, the same wild hair and eyebrows and… it’s all Granger, save for her eyes.

Her eyes right now are big and dark, almost entirely black. 

He nearly jumps back from the glass, but then she’s pulling away from it, her back arching as she howls. Moonlight seems to flood the room, and as the howl fades, he can see the difference, see the immediate change in her.

Without the poison, whatever it was… she’s changing faster now. There’s hair growing all over her, and her muscles begin to stretch. He can see the scar on her forearm, where his Aunt had cut, and he expects to see a weeping wound that is cursed, but instead, it’s healed over, just a scar.

Her entire body starts to shake, but it looks to be more like anticipation than pain. She’s nearly dancing as she bathes in the moonlight, twirling, as though free. Free from the Wolfsbane.

He knew, from third year, that Wolfsbane was supposed to make everything easier, to give a werewolf control, but Granger with Wolfsbane in her system had been dying, sobbing, hysterical, screaming. The Granger without… she looks powerful.

And terrifying. Completely and utterly terrifying.

Her eyes flash back to the glass, and he knows immediately that it’s too late to run. There’s no escaping her, if she breaks through the glass. Her fangs are snapping at the glass, her claws scratching at it as well, and he wonders how strong the wards are. 

They have to have been made to contain a werewolf.

She clamors at the glass for another few seconds while he watches, frozen, when she just stops. Her eyes… they’re no longer so black, and then she’s looking at him curiously, the shape of her brow very much Granger.

“Malfoy?” she asks, and her voice is clearly a question. It startles him, to hear her talk after all he has heard is screams and howls. 

She’s half transformed, and yet, all he can see is Granger.

Her hand is on the glass, claws where nails should be, and almost on instinct, his hand presses against hers, palm to palm, fingers matching, even through the glass. He presses his face to the glass, looking at her, and he watches as her face seems to melt.

They’re just… staring at one another through the glass, her half transformed, him terrified.

“Granger,” he breathes out, not moving away.

She screams again, her head falling back as she does so, but her hand doesn’t leave the glass. It’s as though her hand is stuck there, unable to pull away, almost like she’s holding his hand. 

He doesn’t move away. He wants to. He wants to close eyes to all of this and pretend like it’s not real, wants to shove it all away, to make it just stop, but - he knows this isn’t a dream. This isn’t something he can wake up from. This isn’t insanity. This isn’t a vision.

This is real. Hermione Granger is a werewolf, and he’s watching her transform.

Her hand stays on the glass even while her body starts shaking again, and he can see how her body is being twisted and stretched. Her body is being contorted, old scars are ripped open as the thin skin is put under pressure, and she screams louder, the pain clearly becoming too much for her to handle.

Her legs seem to finally give out, half of her body falling out of frame from the window, but her hand remains on the glass. Whatever is connecting them… she isn’t pulling away.

Eventually, though, he has to close his eyes. Enough of her is exposed, he doesn’t feel entitled to see her naked, and when he finally opens them again, it’s no longer a person staring back at him. The creature inside the room is no longer Granger. She’s a werewolf. 

And she’s staring directly at him.

Their hands are still pressed to the glass, his entirely human, hers now the paw of a werewolf, but he doesn’t pull back. It’s dumb hope that keeps him standing there, not running towards the wards tha surrounded the shack, where he can only guess there might be safety.

He just stays there and watches as she stares back at him.

He expects her to attack, as she had done earlier, clawing and snapping at the glass, but instead… instead, her hand, or claw, moves away from the glass, and she presses her face to it. He can almost feel her, the way her snout presses to the palm of his hand, then rubs her cheek over it, as though wanting to be cradled, to be stroked.

He’s seen dogs do that before to their masters, to someone they trusted. He wouldn’t expect this from Granger, even as a werewolf. The trust… 

Draco doesn’t move. He just watches, and waits.

It’s a scream that interrupts them, and she stumbles back away from the window, the scream slowly turning into a howl. It’s almost like she forgets him as she howls again, and he watches as she begins to claw at her own arm, where his Aunt had marked her. It’s as though she wants to cut the flesh from her own body.

In time, she gives up on that spot, and instead, tries to bite at her shoulder. It doesn’t seem to work, so instead, she tries to twist herself towards her arse, where he can still see the werewolf bite through her fur. The strands are shorter there, as though only so much hair can push through the thick tissue. 

Eventually, she seems to give up, sniffs at her own arse, and then howls once more.

She starts pacing, then, back and forth, almost as though searching for something, but she doesn’t seem to find it. He watches, not calling anymore attention to himself, as she begins tossing things aside, looking, searching-

She freezes, then turns and lunges at the window. He jumps back, but it doesn’t seem to be him that she’s interested in - she wants out. 

When she eventually gives that up, she resumes her pacing, scratching at her arms, almost as though irritated, trapped. He knows the look - he had been much the same while in custody at the ministry.

Trapped in a small cage, feeling as though the walls were shutting down, and he couldn’t breathe. She looks exactly like that as she moves about the Shack.

It’s a constant ritual from there, clawing at herself, howling and screaming, pacing, searching, tearing apart the room, clawing at the window, the walls, pacing more and more, until eventually…

Eventually, he’s too tired to watch any longer. Instead, he sits underneath the window.

He knows that he should return to Hogwarts. Should anyone be looking at him, it would be a ticket straight to Azkaban, but…

He can’t physically bring himself to leave her behind. She has no need of him, but the thought of walking away, of leaving her to this pain, this agony, to this destruction…

He can’t do it.

She’s a werewolf, and nothing about anything makes sense, but right now, it doesn’t have to. Besides… he can put together the pieces. He had ignored the obvious before, but now…

He had been dreaming of her, seeing her everywhere, even places that neither of them were meant to be. Every path seemed to lead to Granger. It makes absolutely no sense, and because of that, it makes perfect sense.

She’s a werewolf. And… when she changes back into a human, they’re going to talk about it, and all of the questions, concerns, the weird moments, the dreams, all of it… They’re going to find an explanation.

He falls asleep at that thought, at the knowledge that, come morning, they’ll figure it out. The last thing he hears, before he finally falls asleep from sheer exhaustion, is the sound of her howling at the window, wanting to be free.

 

6 October 1998 - One Day after the Full Moon

When Draco wakes up the next morning, his first thought is that he must be in Azkaban. It’s cold, the wall he’s leaning against is stiff, and he’s wearing old clothes. He hadn’t dreamed, and he felt stiff all over.

But, as he opens his eyes and looks at the clear sky, he remembers where he is, and what he had seen.

Standing up, he quickly turns around and looks through the glass. The room is put entirely back together, almost by magic, as though no one had ever been there. The bed is in place against the wall, the shelf, the rug, everything…

There’s no trace of clothing, no trace of blood or bile, no sign of life at all. The room is entirely empty, no sign of Granger, no sign of a werewolf, no sign of anything.

Had he just…

He steps back and stares at the glass, stares straight at the place where his hand had been. He can see the smudges of his touch, where he had pressed his hand against the outside…

Outlining it is another print, from within. The claw of a werewolf. A sign that someone, something, had pressed their hand against the glass. Against his hand.

It was real. Everything that had happened the night before…

Without thought, Draco scrambles up and starts running back towards the school. He’s winded within a few minutes, physical exercise something he’s still not used to after being locked up for months, but he still runs the whole way. The sun is barely in the sky, which means that Granger has only just transformed within the past hour. 

He can catch her, can figure out how she got into the Shack from the school, can ask her about what had happened, what he had seen…

What she had done.

He runs until he can run no longer, and yet, he stills keeps going. He doesn’t even know where to look, save to run towards the infirmary. After all, where else would she go to get her wounds cleaned? 

He’s nearly there, nearly to the infirmary, and there’s no sign of her. Perhaps he had beat her back? Perhaps… perhaps he would catch her before she went in.

But, as he approaches the infirmary door, he watches from the same alcove he had hovered in before, as a blanket-wrapped girl enters with the Headmistress just behind her. 

Granger.

Without a thought of reason, Draco chases after them, reaching the Infirmary doors just after they close. He tugs on the handle, but it does not budge.

Locked…

“Alohamora,” he whispers, unlocking the door.

And yet… it still does not budge.

He thinks about banging on the door, but he doesn’t have a valid excuse for being there, save for wanting to see Granger. In fact, he had broken curfew, been out all night, and had seen something he clearly wasn’t allowed to know.

Yes, he has questions… but now is not the time or place to have them answered.

He considers waiting outside of the infirmary until Granger leaves, but instead, he knows where her next destination will be, once she’s well again. She had missed so many classes, and if he remembered correctly after the previous full moon, she had been in class every day, full of energy… but also anger.

He’ll have to bide his time. To wait. To watch, and pay attention to her moods. A calendar. He should probably find one of those as well, and start taking notes.

He’s halfway to the library before he realizes he should probably change clothes… and take parchment with him.

He has research to do. Research will give answers. Answers that he desperately needs, about werewolves, and dreams, and creatures, and…

He needs to write to his mother again. Because clearly, the curse on her arm was still bothering her if she was clawing at it in werewolf form. He doesn’t know how to say what he needs to, to get the letter past the Ministry, but he has to try.

Whatever is going on with Granger… he has no real explanation for it.

But he’s tied to it, somehow. And he plans to find out.

Before it slaps him in the face again.

 

Chapter Text

7 October 1998 - Two Days after the Full Moon

Draco rocks his hips into hers slowly, just glad to have her in his arms. This is slower than before, than any of the previous times they’ve fucked in his dreams, but he doesn’t care. Something about feeling Granger alive, feeling her strong… it’s such a contrast to the girl he has seen dying over the past week.

He isn’t even in a rush at this point. Normally, he just wants to fuck hard and fast in an attempt to get as much feeling as he can before he inevitably wakes up, but right now, every movement of their bodies is deliberate.

They’re laying on their sides, her back pressed to his chest, and his cock inside of her. His bottom arm is wrapped tight around her middle, holding her to him, and his free hand is rolling at her clit in time with his thrusts, trying to give her just as much pleasure as he feels.

Maybe that’s the secret - he has to get her off before he can cum with her.

Her hair is down and free and wild, and even it shows the difference between a week ago and today. Her hair had been limp all weak, a sign of how sick she had been, but now it’s a mess of curls, getting in his face and mouth as he tries to press kisses to her throat.

He doesn’t care, though. It just feels good to have Granger back in his dreams.

His hold on her relaxes as he feels her body tense up, and he buries himself deep inside as his fingers roll around and around, determined to give her a release. She needs it, deserves it, after the hell she had gone through during the Full Moon. He wants to take away her pain, but he can’t do that. The least he can do is give her a little pleasure.

“Right there,” he murmurs into her skin. “Cum for me, good girl. Cum on my cock.”

She’s like a complete dream, orgasming on command, melting underneath his praise. Of course Granger would have a praise kink. He can feel her tighten around him, and he feels his balls tighten, pleasure starting to shoot through his body-

And then he feels the warmth on his stomach, his cock still hard and pulsing, his release making his shorts sticky against his skin. Draco groans, not even moving to sit up and clean himself.

He doesn’t know what it means, that she’s back in his dreams, but he can take a guess. He hasn’t dreamed of her since she started getting sick, since, according to a calendar, she had started taking Wolfsbane Potion. Clearly, the potion had poisoned her, and she hadn’t been strong enough to be in his dreams… or perhaps she wasn’t sleeping, or perhaps she was sleeping too deeply-

He doesn’t know, but it doesn’t matter. The fact that Granger is in his dreams again, that he can hold her, feel her…

Two days after the Full Moon. The first time he had seen her after the Final Battle had been five days after the Full Moon in September, when she had been so angry, she had shoved Longbottom. Aggression. Strength. Riding off of the high of the Full Moon.

He had skipped his first classes the day before, knowing she wouldn’t be there, and had instead spent most of the morning pulling every book he could find on werewolves. He wanted journals, personal details from those that had once shifted, more than just fear mongering, as there was in their textbooks. 

He had yet to find anything written by a primary source, but some of what he had found… well, a lot of it was theoretical. Ideas formed by a witch that had lived near a werewolf over two hundred years earlier. She had been older, and had theorized that her neighbor was a werewolf, and had taken notes on him.

The fact that she later died to a werewolf attack was enough proof for Draco that she was likely at least semi-correct.

Of course, the book was in the restricted section, and had been referenced in another guide. A pity, that old Lupin had died during the war. He had heard that a Weasley had also been attacked by Greyback on the night in the Astronomy Tower, one of the older ones of the brood, but that night had not been a Full Moon.

In truth, the only werewolves that Draco knew of were Greyback and Granger… and the first, he wouldn’t be caught dead going near, if the old wolf could even be found. He doubted the werewolf would have gone peacefully after the Battle was lost, and Draco never saw his body.

Breaking into the restricted section two days in a row was too much for Draco, which meant that he had simply spent the evening collecting notes on everything he knew… 

Given that it is a Wednesday, Draco knows he has to go to class. After all, if Granger is feeling strong enough to fuck him in his dreams, then she’ll surely be in class.

And she is. Sitting primply in her chair, not a hair out of place, it almost makes Draco wonder if he had imagined it all. Everything about her is so… normal. Her hair is still wild, but it’s free and running down her back, not slicked with sweat and blood. Her eyes are big and wide, no tears falling from them. Her hands are not shaky, there’s no blood under her nails, and her teeth are perfect.

Everything about Granger looks… perfect. Perfectly normal. Not perfect. Just… she looks like Granger. Like how he expected. Like, what he would have assumed before returning to school. Nothing about her says that she’s a werewolf, that he had watched her transform, that she had nearly died. Nothing about her hints at the truth.

For a brief moment, Draco considers that all of this had been in his head. That Granger transforming in the shack had all been in his head. That he had imagined following the sounds of screams, that he had even seen her ill the week before… except…

She keeps rubbing at her shoulder, where Greyback’s human teeth had sunk into her while she was still human herself. He had never known for a fact, while watching her be tortured, what had caused that bleeding. It wasn’t until the Full Moon, when he saw the scar, that he knew the truth. In fact, that night at his home, it could have been anyone’s blood on her shoulder. He only knows she has an old injury there because he’s seen it.

She can’t stop rubbing at it, over and over again, almost like it’s a dull memory.

Maybe he is insane. Maybe he’s completely losing it.

But she is definitely a werewolf.

 

11 October 1998 - Six Days after the Full Moon

Granger is bent over a desk in the library, and it’s the hottest fucking thing he has seen in her life.

The back of her skirt is flipped up, revealing that she’s wearing no knickers underneath, just stockings that end with pretty lace, likely held up with a charm. She’s wearing the rest of her uniform as well, and Draco can’t help but to groan as he unbuttons his trousers so that he can free his cock.

The best thing about these dreams? He can’t kiss her, and he can’t really get off, but he can certainly live out his favorite fantasies. Next time, he hopes it’s on Snape’s old desk.

Having her in the library is a dream he never could have imagined on his own. This has to be her desire, her secret kink, although, Draco is certainly going to add this to his own personal list. Maybe… maybe he can fuck her against the stacks next time.

Maybe…

“Malfoy,” he hears, her voice coming from nowhere. It shocks him to hear it. She’s never said his voice before, only just moaned and gasped. This is the first word.

“Yes, yes,” he says, urging her on, wanting her to speak again.

“Draco,” she says this time, and it’s not a moan, which it should be, given how tight she is around his length, how she’s arching back against him. His hand moves from her hip to her back, and he presses her down onto the table, his hand going higher and higher until it’s in her hair.

He can’t run his fingers through it, but he doesn’t care. It’s fucking perfect, having her bent over for him, gasping and begging, her name on his lips, his name on hers, and his hand is in her hair, holding her down while he makes her shake and shudder under him.

Fuck, he wants her just like this, for real. He wants to slam her against the stacks, run his hands over her body, press her down into the floor, the wall, every surface - he wants her to ride him in a desk chair, wants to watch as she comes apart, over and over again.

He wants to feel her bite and suck on his neck, and fuck, where did that come from, but still-

“Malfoy!” calls the voice again, and he practically shoots awake, standing up quickly from where he had been awkwardly bent over a tome, still in the library. The sun is only just starting to peek in through the windows, telling him it’s early morning, and there’s no other sounds around them, not even Madam Pince hushing Granger for yelling at him.

She’s standing, in front of him, wearing a sweater and those denim trousers that Muggleborns favored. Not the uniform she was just in in his dreams.

He can feel his cock raging hard in his trousers, and he knows it’s rather obvious, when he awkwardly clasps his hands together in front of himself, but he doesn’t need Granger to see… well… anything.

She’s staring at him oddly, one brow raised, and he’s not even certain what to say.

“Did you sleep in here all night?” she asks, looking from him to the research he had been doing.

He doesn’t even remember what he had been researching last, so he looks with her, towards the stacks.

Right, dreams. Dreams and… bondings.

Great.

Things he certainly needed to discuss with her, but not this early on a Sunday, and not when he is fresh from one of their shared dreams, although… given how presentable she looks at present, he’s starting to doubt they’re actually shared.

He knows he should answer, but it’s a rather obvious one. He doesn’t want to snap at her, but his first instinct is to sneer, and point out how observant she is.

“Must have,” he says gruffly, his voice sounding rough, given how he had only just woken up. 

She stares at him for a moment longer, then nods, looking over at the books again.

“Are you taking Divination?” she asks, her gaze not leaving the table.

He looks at them as well, stalling for time, or… anything.

She hadn’t taken Divination since Third Year, as far as he could remember. They had never shared the class since she had marched out.

He’s taking it again this year, but only because they’re studying the stars. 

Would she know that? Would she, not being in the class, not even believing in Divination, know what they were studying?

She had asked the question, so he just went with it.

“Yes,” he says, knowing it wasn’t a lie, of course, but… it could lead to questions that he would have to lie in response to.

He’s lucky, though, because she doesn’t ask anything else about it as he closes the books, trying to remember what in all he had researched the night before.

Where were his notes? Had she seen them? Did she know what in all he was researching, or did she simply assume that it was Divination, hence her question.

When he turns back around, she’s still looking at him, studying him. She looks as though to be figuring out a puzzle, one which she isn’t certain how to begin, and he feels awkward with her gaze on him. His hand moves up into his hair, jostling it slightly, and he watches her nostrils flare.

Did he smell terrible? Likely, given that he had slept in the library, and hadn’t showered.

“Are you feeling better?” Draco asks out of nowhere.

She blinks at him, once, twice, and he watches as it happens, slowly. Her shoulders roll back, her chin lifts, and she takes a step back away from him. Defensive. Her body language, her posture, even the way her lips curl slightly… she’s set to defend herself.

“Yes,” she says curtly. “My stomach. It’s still unused to having so much food, I often make myself sick.”

It’s a lie, a complete and total lie. While he doesn’t doubt that she’s still growing used to having regular meals, particularly those prepared by house elves, he knows that what happened in the last week… even if he had completely imagined the shack, there was no denying the fact that she had been poisoned.

Why would she lie? She had seen him there, had even recognized him through the windows.

She had called out his name, had pressed her hand to his.

Why would she lie?

“Of course,” Draco says, picking up his notes and shoving them into his bag. “But… you looked… you looked like you were poisoned.”

Granger says nothing, and he looks up again to see her eyes slowly dilating. He remembers, then, that they’re still coming off the Full Moon, and they’re closer to that than the New Moon, when she had practically been catatonic. She’s a werewolf losing her strength by the day, and right now, she looks scared.

“I was just worried it was your arm,” he says quickly, which is the truth, and yet, he also knows that it’s not the culprit. Not anymore, at least. 

“My arm?” she asks quickly, her voice high pitched, and her hand goes to her forearm, touching it quickly, where the mark is.

He nods his head, and rubs at his own forearm, where his own mark is.

“I just… it was a cursed blade,” he says awkwardly.

She’s silent for so long, he almost thinks she won’t respond at all, and then her shoulders lower, and the snarl on her lips fades. She’s no longer a wolf backed into a corner. She’s just a girl. A girl with scars.

“Oh.”

He wants to ask to see it, but seeing one scar could lead to another, and he doubts that’s something she wants to talk about, particularly if they’re currently pretending that they hadn’t seen one another through the window. If she wants to be in denial, to act as though it hadn’t happened, to even ignore the dreams, and the way he seems to always be led to her…

Fine then.

But, she had been the one to approach him in the library. It’s a first step, or maybe a second, or just…

He should say something. Anything.

“Granger, about that night-”

“I don’t want to talk about night,” she says quickly, cutting him off.

“I do,” he insists, and he takes a step towards her.

Both of her hands are suddenly up, fingers curved, as though she might claw at him. He notes the lack of wand in her hands, that she isn’t even curling her fingers into a fist. She looks ready to fight, but more like an animal than like a witch.

“I don’t want to discuss it,” she repeats.

“I owe you an apology,” he insists, taking another step.

She doesn’t step back this time, her jaw simply dropping, as though speechless. It’s not an invitation, but he doubts he’ll get one at all. Better to take advantage of it now.

“Granger, I should have stopped her. What she did to you, it was cruel, and-”

“And nothing,” Granger said, cutting him off. She took a step towards him, her hands dropping as she did so, but he noticed that both were now curling into fists. “She was mad, you were trapped, and we were caught. If you had interfered, you would be dead.”

Granger isn’t wrong, but… he still should apologize…

“You should apologize for everything else,” Granger says, lifting her chin.

“Like what?” he asks, tilting his head to the side.

“Like… calling me a slur,” she says with a toss of her head. “And insulting the Weasleys. And being a prat for years.”

Draco blinks at her words, and takes a step back. That’s what she… that’s…

“You want me to apologize for being a prat?” he asks, trying to clarify what exactly she expects from him.

“And for believing in blood purity.”

He can’t help but to laugh. It seems so absurd, after fighting a war, that she would be upset over him behaving in the manner he had been raised, for believing in the only thing he had ever known. He knew better now, of course he did - he had seen her bleed on the floor, knew it wasn’t mud, knew she had just as much a right to magic as many Purebloods, but-

“I won’t apologize for the way I was raised,” Draco says, stepping forward and looking down at her. She always appeared so big, and she even had a few moments earlier, with her claws raised at him, but now… now she just looks… tiny. “And I won’t apologize for not understanding things that had never been explained to me.”

She blinks up at him, so he continues.

“But I will apologize for not coming to you sooner, once I knew, once I understood. It was all I ever knew, but sometime in Third Year, it just… clicked. I knew it wasn’t your fault that you had magic, and I knew you were better at it than most Purebloods.”

She’s still looking up at him with wide eyes, so he finishes his thought, which is more a stream of consciousness, given he has never really voiced it out loud, but… it feels good to say what’s on his mind.

“Are there people out there that don’t deserve magic? Yes. But you, and other Muggleborns that want to learn? You deserve it. You deserve your wand. And no one should take it away from you. You can’t choose who you’re born to, and you can’t choose how you were raised. All you can decide is what you’re going to do with it, and you chose to save the world.”

He believes every word coming from his lips, and he considers taking another step forward, but there’s fear in her eyes, or perhaps awe? Or maybe just terror.

She stares up at him for so long, he wonders if she’s even breathing, and as he finally moves to take another step forward, to reach for her arm, she suddenly turns and practically runs away, leaving Draco standing there alone, deep in the library, a table filled with books for research about her, and the scent of her in the air.

He wants to chase after it, but there’s a sudden throb in his pants, and he realizes that he’s hard again, having never really lost the semi from earlier.

He groans as he moves back to the table, sitting down hard, his back aching slightly from the action.

Fuck. What the bloody hell was he doing?

 

16 October 1998 - Four Days before the New Moon

It’s late at night in the library, and Draco is determined not to fall asleep over books as he had the previous Friday evening, but still, he doesn’t plan on returning to the library again until he has every ingredient.

Most of them are kept in the ingredient stores, which makes it rather easy to steal them. As an Eighth Year, he has free reign of the space, particularly on the weekend, and he knows that he can brew it up to four days in advance before she begins taking it, which falls over the weekend.

The problem is, a few of the ingredients have to be freshly dried, and one in particular… well, aconite did grow on school grounds, but not within the greenhouses. It meant he would have to travel into the Forbidden Forest. 

He doesn’t know what happened with Granger’s last batch of Wolfsbane, but it had nearly killed her. This month… well, he did have a fair hand at potion making, and his skin wouldn’t burn if it touched Aconite, as hers would. After all of his research, he had to guess that that had caused the problem.

Too much Wolfsbane.

Of course, it should have killed her. Should have, but had not. Somewhere else in the potion, she had bungled it, which he knows is an absurd idea, that Granger would ever do something less than perfect, but less than perfect it had been.

It’s because she had screwed it up that she was still alive. And Draco… he plans to make this batch perfectly, so she never has to go through that again.

He doesn’t think he could live with himself, knowing she’s screaming and writhing in the shack. Wolfsbane is supposed to subdue the werewolf. Hopefully, if he brews it properly, after properly gathering the ingredients, it will do just that.

The Wolfsbane Potion research had begun after he had had to give up on his bonding research. He couldn’t find any answers. Everything about werewolves was written either with the assumption that they were creatures, not humans, and was often filled with fear mongering.

Even a fool could look at Granger and see that, while she was a bit more wild than she had once been, she was still a powerful and brilliant witch. Four years ago, he would have sneered, called her a half breed, and demanded that she be caged.

The man he was now, however, after all he had seen, all he had known, all he had learned about life and death and fate and how the world worked… He just wanted her to be free. He wanted everything that was crushing her to be lifted.

He wanted to see her wild, untamed. He wanted to see the werewolf meld with the witch.

But first… first, he had to talk to her. And to talk to her, he needed an opening. And the perfect opening… would be to brew her the perfect Wolfsbane potion.

Because only she had the answers to why he had been researching bonding.

He sees her everywhere. She’s always there, just hovering, just outside of reach. He can’t help but to always look towards her during class. She fills his dreams every night. He had been led to that shack, twice now.

He sees her in a way that no one else does - he’s checked! No one else even glances when Granger moves through the school. No one else pays her attention. He has to assume it’s fear, the natural recognition that there is a predator in their midst, so they avoid it.

But not him. For all that he knows about werewolves, having lived with one, and even though he knows for a fact that she had tried to attack him that night… he’s not afraid. Not of her, at least. Hermione without Wolfsbane had been terrifying, and he isn’t an idiot, but Granger… 

Everyone else is afraid, but he is being pulled towards her, more and more, every day.

He has to know, he has to-

He has to make this potion, so that he can approach her, give it to her, tell her that he knows what she is, that he…

He has to come up with a better apology than trying to excuse it all away based on the fact that it was how he had been raised.

So many other Slytherins had been raised the same way, and yet, they were not actively seeking out Muggleborns to call them slurs. Sure, they had laughed, or even muttered it under their breath, but Draco…

He had been cruel. And the sad thing is, looking back now, he knows that what he had said to her… it wasn’t even because she was a Muggleborn. It was because of Potter.

She had never done anything wrong, and he had been cruel and vicious. And even if he had hated her, or at least hated her kind… he owed her an apology for that much.

Because… how can he talk to her about the fact that she’s a werewolf, that she’s now considered a creature by Wizarding Law, not even a witch any longer, that the laws his side had put into place would cage her… How can he convince her that he doesn’t agree with any of it, when she still thinks he hates her, despises her, over something as simple and uncontrollable as blood status.

Neither of them could choose their parents. What they could choose, now, is what they’re going to do with their own lives.

And his choice? It’s simple. Without question. Granger is stuck living in a hell, and through a few hours of work, he can make her transition easier. It’s so small in comparison to all she has suffered, but, it’s a form of repayment, for everything he has ever done. It might not matter to anyone else, but for Granger, it could truly help to heal old wounds. 

He groans as his head hits the desk in front of him, knowing that stressing over the apology won’t help the brew to be made. He has to… go to bed. He knows where to find the ingredients he needs, and given that a trip to the forest would take an entire day, and the brewing two days, he has to gather them tomorrow.

Which means he needs to sleep tonight.

Rising from the desk, he quickly begins to return his books to the stacks, not wanting anyone to know what in all he had been researching. Of course, potion books and herbology books went hand in hand, but… still.

It’s not his secret. It’s her secret, which means he has to protect it, even more than if it was his own.

 

18 October 1998 - Two Days before the New Moon

His entire body aches as he heads into the extra potions storage, having just spent the entire previous day out in the Forbidden Forest. He almost wants to regret his adventure, but - he had found it. Wolfsbane. Aconite. Monkshood. It had been plentiful within the forest, but he needed perfectly bloomed flowers that had only just begun to curl backwards, a lot of them. He had plucked three times the number he needed, not wanting to run out, and had carefully placed all of the flowers under a stasis charm.

The walk back had been the problem.

He had become lost.

And so, Draco had only just returned to the school late, so late that he had to keep the flowers under stasis until he could reach the lab. The drying process was hard, each one needing to be individually hung and dried, just enough that the leaves were tough rather than soft, but not brittle. This would also take him all day… 

It’s a good thing he isn’t allergic to the touch of them. For a werewolf, even just the brush of them against your skin could cause a terrible reaction.

No wonder Granger had struggled in making her brew. She likely had to wear gloves for every step of this process, which would be bulky in comparison to the fragile flowers. The number required would mean spending twice as long trying to preserve them.

Why hadn’t she asked for help? Why not reach out to her friends? Yes, he knows that Granger is keeping it all a secret, but surely… the Headmistress knows, obviously, as does the Matron. But, who else?

Surely she had someone else that knew.

It couldn’t be healthy, to be facing such a thing alone. Even at the worst of it… well, Crabbe and Goyle had tried, as had Blaise, Theo, and even Pansy. They hadn’t really understood, but they had tried.

And his mother… she knew his fear. The fear of losing one another… He had always had someone that knew what was happening to him.

And Granger had no one… She had to have no one.

Because… no friend of his would let him burn his hands, over and over again, just trying to dry a stupid flower. No friend of his would let him spend an entire night violently transforming alone. Even at the worst of it… he had never been alone. Even when it felt like it.

Not like this. Not like Granger.

He takes extra care, even after he’s finished with the first half, knowing that he won’t need this many. It doesn’t matter. Good practice, he tells himself.

As though he’s going to be doing this over and over and over again.

When each flower is hung up to dry, he carefully casts a disillusionment charm over them. He doubts any would bother them, but it’s worth the risk.

The cost would be too high, after all.

After, he heads to his room, his forearms and shoulders sore from having stood there for hours, working. He nearly heads to the Great Hall for dinner, but in truth, the food tastes like ash, every time he thinks about what he has to do.

He has to brew a perfect Wolfsbane potion. He has to go to Granger and apologize. He has to let her go to the shack alone, to transform in pain. And then, he has to force her hand, to find answers.

Because he has to know.

Why is she haunting his dreams? And… why is he so obsessed with her?

Chapter Text

20 October 1998 - New Moon

When Draco wakes up, he feels… exhausted. He knows the likely answer is the fact that he had tossed and turned the entire night, unable to relax, unable to sleep, knowing what he had to do when he woke up. He had been carefully checking charts and the calendar, wanting to be certain that he remembered exactly which morning it was, the previous month, that he had found Granger sitting in the Great Hall, struggling to eat.

The New Moon.

It made sense, of course. What little bit of research he trusted, in regards to magical creatures in general, said that the phases of the moon, the alignment of the stars, it could all change a creature’s strength, their magic. It’s why Arithmancy is such a heavy subject, why he takes Divination and Astronomy. Because, really, intense and powerful magic is from nature. Nature is controlled by the cosmos. Everything fluctuates based on the season and the time.

He knows this, and he knows, after watching Granger for the past two weeks, after reflecting on the four weeks before that, that the New Moon is the best time to approach her.

She’s at her lowest. Her weakest. It’s the least likely time she would attack.

And he knows, given what he has to say… she’s probably going to attack.

They have to talk about this.

For over a week, he had obsessed over their conversation in the library. The careful way she talked about being ill. How she had mentioned him being concerned. The way she had spoken about it, it gave the impression that she obviously has a secret, but Draco isn’t privy to it, except…

Except, they had seen one another through the glass. Yes, of course the werewolf had seen him, whatever that form was as she transitioned, but she, Granger, had looked directly at him, said his name… She, the girl, had seen him through the glass. She knew that he knew.

So why had she been so careful about her words? They were alone in the library. Okay, so she didn’t want to say it outloud, but… 

She had lied. She had lied, even though he knew, and she knew he knew.

They have to talk about it, before the Full Moon. Before the week before, in fact, so that he can give her the Wolfsbane Potion, and she won’t panic.

They have to talk about this.

He rises thirty minutes before breakfast is even being served, but it doesn’t matter - he wants to be there when she arrives. He knows, based on his research, that she’ll be utterly weak, feeling the furthest from her werewolf tendencies, which means she would likely be struggling to eat. He had been watching, carefully, all week as her energy went from high to low, and in class the day before, she had looked exhausted, struggling to stay awake.

Others might brush it off as Granger spending too much time studying or in the library, but he knows the truth. He knows that she’s fading. And he knows, come tomorrow, she’ll begin regaining her strength once more.

It has to be today. He has to talk to her today.

Still… he doesn’t rush down. Instead, he takes the time, for the first time in a while, to carefully dress, comb out his hair, and retrieve his bag for the day. He doesn’t want to appear rushed… when he sits down across from Granger, he’s going to just… lay it all out.

He knows she’s a werewolf. He knows that she’s struggling. He knows that she is alone. And, he’s brewing Wolfsbane, so she never has to go through that horrific shift again.

And then… then, he has to ask the question he fears most. Did she do it on purpose. Did she screw up the potion on purpose, knowing that too much aconite would kill her?

If he can get through all of that… he has to apologize as well, because… she’s right. He knows she’s right. He had always been cruel, he had always been rude, and he had been her tormentor. Had he not once antagonized her? Wishing her dead?

And now, here he was, trying to save her. He has to apologize, before they can move forward.

Move forward with what , exactly… he isn’t really sure.

He doesn’t want to put a name on whatever is going on. Putting a name on it would change it. It would mean they would have to face it, whatever this connection was between them.

And there is a connection. He knows it. Even if, after all the research, he can’t find anything about it.

When he arrives at the Great Hall, the doors are still shut, and leaning against them is Granger. She looks exhausted where she stands, as though she had been up all night. He knows the feeling.

Approaching, he reaches for the door opposite the one she is leaning against, and holds it open for her. Her eyes open slowly, and she looks up at him, confused, as he just stands there, waiting for her to enter.

Had no one held a door open for her before, or was she just confused that he would help her like this?

After a few minutes, she pushes herself off the door, and enters the Great Hall, Draco just a step behind her.

It only takes a few paces before she turns to look back at him, brow raised once more. He knows she’s asking a question, but… once they sit down, it should become more clear.

He wants to offer her his arm, to help her along, but he doesn’t want to touch her, just in case… well, touching just sounds like it might be a bad idea. A really bad idea. A terrible one.

And now, he has the sudden urge to just reach out and touch her hair. 

Clearly, he is completely fucking losing it.

She doesn’t say anything as she finally sits at the table, and he sits down across from her. Across, not beside, which instinct had told him to do, and he nearly had, without thinking. As he stares at her across from the table, though, he’s grateful for the distance. He needs it, for his own safety. Also, his sanity.

She doesn’t look up at him, instead just stares at the place in front of her, which is empty. He watches as a plate suddenly appears, thanks to the Hogwarts House Elves, and then another before himself. 

His meal is typical - toast, eggs, coffee, fruit, and a brown sack packed for later. Hers is just as he had seen on the New Moon a month prior… covered in sausage, bacon, potatoes, eggs… all things needed for someone struggling to gain weight, to gain strength.

They both have coffee.

He lets her take a few bites before he begins his own food, quietly. He keeps his eyes on her the whole time, watching and waiting, knowing that at some point, she has to look up at him. She has to look again, except…

His plate is eventually clear, but she is still eating, methodically, staring at her plate.

His plate disappears, and he waits for her to look up, to acknowledge him, something…

She just keeps eating.

“Granger,” he says, his voice soft.

She doesn’t look up at him. Doesn’t even stop in her chewing.

“Granger,” he says again, watching for a reaction, a sign, anything to show that she had heard him.

Nothing. Not a flinch. Not a blink. Not a catch of her breath. Nothing.

“Granger, look at me,” he demands sharply, half considering banging on the table between them to startle her.

She doesn’t jump, but her eyes do flick up to look at him. They look… empty. Detached. As though her body is there, but her brain, her mind… it’s too tired to respond.

He expects her to stay silent, remembers how he had likely imagined her speaking last time, except-

“What do you want?” she asks politely, calmly, cooly, almost… methodically. Just like her eating. Just like everything else about her today.

Like… she’s just going through the motions. Not really living.

“Granger, we have to talk about this,” he says, his voice softening some from the sharpness before. His hand flattens on the table, no longer intent on banging on it, and he stares at her, watches as she politely returns her hands to her lap, hiding them from him.

He wishes her hands had stayed on the table, so he could watch for claws, or fists… or her wand.

“What do we have to talk about?” she asks, lifting her chin.

It sounds so detached. So cold. She… sounds as though she is speaking to a complete stranger. No passion, no warmth, nothing… nothing that made her Granger.

“All of it,” he says loudly, suddenly finding himself angry.

Angry because she’s detached. Angry because she’s not responding as expected. Angry because she’s lying to herself, or to him, or in denial, or something. Something! Something is going on between them, and she… she’s just so… ah!

Why is she making him spell it out? It’s her secret to share! She already knew that he knew, so why not just… say it!

“You should start with an apology,” she says, her hands returning to her plate, picking up another sausage. He notes that she’s eating with her bare hands, something he has rarely seen before - always with a fork, so she wouldn’t actually get food stains on her precious books.

There’s no books on the table now.

For a half of a second, he considers his old theory that this is not Granger, that this is some stranger, some polyjuice, just something or someone that isn’t the girl he had always known… but no. She barely had the ability to stay awake in class around the New Moon. Reading and eating at the same time?

“Well?” she asks, and he blinks, suddenly deflating.

An apology. Right. Because… he owes her one. He knows that. He just… hadn’t expected to start there. He had assumed, of course, that it would happen organically. They would discuss her curse, discuss what he had seen, discuss what had happened to her, discuss the fact that he had already started preparing to brew her potion, and when she expressed gratitude, he would just… apologize. 

He swallows, wishing that his cup was not empty, and gave a nod, trying to find a place to start.

He finds nothing.

“If you are not willing to apologize, then-”

“I am,” he says, cutting her off. 

Her eyes flick up from her plate, as though in surprise, and he stares into them, hoping… searching for a place… anything.

“Granger, I’m…”

He keeps staring at her eyes, then flashes back, suddenly, to another time she had stared into his eyes. She had been scared, terrified even, screaming and screaming, begging, pleading for mercy, for-

He swallows down his own terror and sits back on the bench, further away from her, as far away as he can manage. 

An apology… He can’t even try to offer one. How much more pathetic could he possibly be.

She’s still staring at him, her hands at her plate, but she’s not eating. She’s just… waiting. Letting him find the words. Not rushing, not teasing, just… waiting. As though she has already waited a lifetime for him to speak, and a few minutes longer were nothing.

“That night,” he says softly, still remembering the terror in her eyes. The fear of the unknown. The fear of death. “Granger, I should have done something.”

He watches as she picks up a napkin and daintily taps at her lips, then sets it back down. She doesn’t speak, so he knows she expects more. Of course. Because there was more.

“It doesn’t matter how I was raised. I chose to be cruel to you. I wished for your death, to your face. I treated you less than human. I have no excuse for it. My upbringing taught me to ignore you, but I instead sought you out, to antagonize you, to insult you, to demoralize you, over and over again. I was a cruel boy, acting out because I wanted to feel superior.”

He finally looks away from her, down at the table. There’s so many other things he should apologize for… for not reaching out for help in sixth year, for the taunts in fourth year, for the Inquisitorial Squad in fifth year, for the teasing in third year, for wishing her dead in second, for…

The list was so long, he didn’t even know where to start. How could he even begin to list a lifetime of cruelty out? How could he even apologize for all of it? How could he even beg for forgiveness, when he deserved none?

“Granger, I’m so-” His voice cracks on the last word, and he looks up at her, to see her just staring. She looks detached, completely separate from the situation, almost as though… as though she’s not even hearing him. She’s just… there. Staring. He stares back, then finally finishes with a single soft word. “Sorry.”

She blinks, and just like that, her eyes soften, as though the apology is enough to bring her out of whatever trance she was in, bringing her into the moment once more. Her lips move a touch, so tiny he almost thinks he imagines it, and then, he sees it.

It’s small, so tiny, so unlike Granger, and yet, it’s real. Not forced. It’s just for him. 

A smile.

And then, like that, it disappears.

“Did you mean it, when you said Muggleborns deserve magic?” she asks, her voice soft like a whisper.

He remembers saying something about that in the library, and he doesn’t remember the exact wording he had used, but he doesn’t mind repeating himself. He wants it to be clear - no one should ever take her wand from her.

“If you can use magic, you should have a wand,” he says. “It doesn’t matter who your parents are. You’re a better witch than anyone I know. Anyone that tried to say you don’t deserve magic is a fool.”

She’s detached again, her eyes glazing over, and he watches as she begins picking up pieces of food once more, feeding herself.

He doesn’t move, however.

He doesn’t know if he’s done. He doesn’t know if she’s done with him.

The thought of leaving before she’s done… well, she is a werewolf. She might lash out at him, and he… he wouldn’t know what to do if she did that.

So he waits. Waits for her to finish. Waits for her to look at him. Waits for her to speak.

Her plate is just about empty before she finally reacts again, picking up her cup and emptying it. The plate disappears, and the cup does as well, as soon as it touches the table.

She blinks at it, then looks up at him.

“You’re still here,” she says, her head tilting to the side slightly, as though analyzing him.

He speaks without thinking. “I wasn’t sure if I had said enough.”

She blinks again, twice, then nods her head and slowly pushes herself to stand. She’s moving slowly, so slowly he nearly leaps over the table to help her, but instead, he simply rises as well.

“I forgave you a long time ago,” Granger says as he stands up fully, startling him. He hadn’t expected her to speak again, let alone to say such a thing.

“You did?” he asks, sounding confused. He hadn’t asked forgiveness, not really, until today. How long ago was long ago?

“I think you should probably learn to forgive yourself.”

Her words are so soft, but he knows she spoke them. He watched her lips move. Watched her look at him as she passed by, and then, her head turned as she continued to the doors of the Great Hall.

He watches as she pushes against them, and they open enough for her to slip out, leaving him standing there alone.

It’s not until he finally reaches the doors to the Great Hall himself that he realizes he had forgotten something. In fact, he had forgotten a great number of somethings.

For example… reminding her of the fact that he had seen her that night, at the Shrieking Shack. Telling her that… he knows her secret, and that he intends to keep it. Informing her that, since he knows she had poisoned herself accidentally the previous Full Moon, he is working on brewing his own batch for her. And… most importantly, asking if he could be her confidant, since he knew her secret.

How the bloody hell did he forget all of that? He had only been working up to it for days, and now…

He has to catch her, because come tomorrow, as the moon begins to reappear in the sky, she’ll get stronger with each passing day, until eventually, she is back at her full strength, and he, a mere wizard, wouldn’t stand a chance.

He breaks off in a run, but within minutes, it’s obvious he won’t be able to find her.

She had barely been able to walk, before the meal, and now, she had just… disappeared.

As though she didn’t want to be found.

“Dammit,” he says, standing at the bottom of the staircase. He can hear students up above, making their way down to breakfast, and he knows he has to return to his room, lest he be caught out in the corridor with nowhere to go to avoid others.

How had he bungled this up? All of this waiting, all of this time planning for this discussion, so that he could open a dialogue, reach out to her at her weakest, when she would be least likely to attack…

Tonight. He’ll tell her after their last class. Or tomorrow, first thing. Just…

He has to tell her. He has one week to tell her, and then -

She has to take the Wolfsbane Potion. He can’t let her poison herself again. 

He isn’t strong enough to survive those screams again.

Chapter Text

27 October 1998 - Eight Days before the New Moon

Draco knows he fucked up. That had been abundantly clear within five minutes of speaking to Granger, and completely forgetting to inform her that he is aware of the fact that she’s a werewolf. He had known, in that moment, that he had screwed up, and yet… and yet, he had waited seven days to say anything. Waited, as though some other opportunity would present itself.

It hadn’t. And now… Now, he knows that tomorrow, she’s likely going to take a botched Wolfsbane Potion, made with inferior ingredients or by someone inept at potion making, which would then poison her, meaning Draco will once again be forced to watch through a window as she destroys herself.

Wolfsbane Potion was supposed to subdue the wolf, make them tired, relaxed, calm. Not… not, whatever he had seen. She had been tortured, ripped apart, and the transformation… she had fought against it, once the poison was out of her, and he-

He can’t forget the screams. Even when he wakes up with his cock in his hand, fresh from having yet another sex dream where he can’t see her face, but he can feel her all around him… he can’t forget the screams.

She has to take the potion, the one he spent all weekend brewing. She has to take it, because otherwise… Otherwise, he’ll have to listen to the screams again.

And yes, he knows he can just… ignore it all, sit in his room, knowing she’s alone, but he-

How many times had he sat alone at Malfoy Manor, staring out the window, hoping his friends were okay, hoping that Potter was still alive so he could kill the bastard, hoping that his parents didn’t do anything to upset the Dark Lord, hoping - hoping it would all just end.

A part of Draco fears that she had brewed the potion to poison herself on purpose. And if that’s the case…

He’ll force his Wolfsbane Potion down her throat if he has to. She might be a werewolf, but he can’t go back to that. He can’t go back to listening to the screams. He just… he has to have peace. 

Except… he knows he waited too long. 

Tomorrow morning, early, she’ll have to take her first dose of Wolfsbane Potion. It’s a bit off, given that the moon would be full in the morning of the fourth of November, but that means the night of the third, she’ll be in the shack. He did extensive research, to know exactly when she had to take the potion… Her final dose needed to be 24 hours before the moon was full, which meant…

If he waited until breakfast in the morning, she would have already taken her first dose.

He watches as she rises from her seat in the library, stacking up the books, and he knows… he knows, if she leaves the library, he won’t be able to catch her, which means…

It would be for nothing. It would all have been for nothing.

“Granger,” he says, forcing the word past his lips.

She looks up from her books, and he glances around quickly, glad that no one else is nearby. Most of the younger years had already gone to bed, and it was mostly the older students that were still doing final edits before class the next morning.

She looks at him cautiously, and he can feel the vials in his robe pocket, the weight heavy. He has to do this, he has to-

“Can I speak with you privately?” he asks, the words a bit rushed out.

She looks him over, and he thinks she might be reaching for her wand, but instead - 

Instead, she simply picks up her books, and pushes in her chair.

“Can this wait until morning?” she asks carefully, and he realizes that she is likely off to finish brewing her own Wolfsbane Potion. He has no idea where she had been brewing, as he hasn’t seen her in the potion labs, but she has to be brewing somewhere.

“It can’t,” he confesses, grabbing the door to the library, and following her out. “Granger, it has to be now.”

She pauses in her steps and takes in a deep breath, then turns to look at him.

“If this is about your apology, and my forgiveness-”

“It’s not,” he says, cutting her off. He watches as her nostrils flare slightly, and he’s reminded, again, as to why he had wanted to speak to her when she was at her weakest.

“Then what is it?” she asks, tossing her hair back over her shoulder.

He swallows down his fears, and then takes a deep breath. 

“I know about the potion,” he says simply.

She blinks, and her brow furrows. “What potion?”

She’s very clearly confused, and he knows that he’s likely not hinting at it properly, but… he doesn’t want to just come out and say it. This is why he had just requested they speak in private.

“The potion you are working on. For your problem.”

She stares at him for a moment, longer, and for a brief second, Draco doubts himself.

What if he had imagined it all? What if he had imagined the shack and the screams and the transformation and the moon cycles and-

What if this isn’t real? What if he’s actually in a cell in Azkaban, losing it? What if he-

“What do you know about my problem?” she asks, her voice sounding exceptionally high pitched.

He watches as her eyes seem to flare to life, big and wide, the fear clear. Her shoulders draw back, and he watches a hand curl - she’s scared.

And he knows… he knows he hadn’t imagined it.

“Granger-”

“What. Do. You. Know.”

Each word is punctured with a step towards him, and he backs up, away from her. He knows, knows that what is about to happen cannot occur out in the hallways, where anyone might see, and he quickly looks over his shoulder, towards the trophy room.

He knows better than to run from a predator, but he does it anyway, knowing she’ll chase after him. He darts down the hall, into the trophy room, and then deeper still, past the portraits, until they can whisper alone.

His back hits the wall as her hand grasps his shoulder, turning him around, and he knows… well, he had known all along not to upset a wolf rising in strength.

“What do you know?” she demands, and he expects to see a wand in her hand, but instead, she’s raising a fist.

“I saw you there,” he rushes out. “At the shack. I saw you there last month. You saw me as well. You said my name, you-”

She jerks away from him, her eyes wide, and then she turns as though to run, and he-

“I brewed a potion,” he calls out, taking a few steps after her. “I know that you bungled up the last one. Likely the aconite, right? It would burn your skin. I went and picked the flowers myself, dried them, brewed it properly. I have a full dosage for you.”

She hadn’t stopped walking away from him until his final words, and she whirls around, the wand now out in her hand.

“What do you want from me?” she demands, her voice raised. “To blackmail me? To have me grant you ministry favors? A favor with Harry? A favor from the Headmistress?”

He blinks, startled, and shakes his head, his feet moving forward, but she levels the wand at him again, stopping him in his tracks.

“The screams,” he says honestly, knowing that… honesty is all he really has. “I heard your screams. I can’t- Granger, I hear your screams in my head every night, and knowing you’re out there-”

“So it’s pity then?” she asks, half shrieking at him, and he watches as she starts to fall apart, her arm swinging slightly with each word she speaks. “All pity. You pity poor Granger, brewed her a potion she should have been able to brew since Second Year, and what, you want to make yourself a hero?”

“I want you to live!” he stammers out, because it’s the truth, and yet, it sounds fake. He just… he wouldn’t know what to do if she died.

“You care about my life?” she asks, her voice cracking with bursts of laughter. “You didn’t care when your Aunt was torturing.”

“I cared,” he says, shrugging his arms. “But she was mad, and would have killed us all.”

“Be honest with me,” Granger demands, and she walks straight towards him, her wand still pointed at his throat. “Why do you care if I live? Why do you care if I take the potion? Why do you care if I poison myself?”

He swallows down hard all of his fears, and speaks honestly.

“I don’t know.”

She stares at him, and then slowly, her wand lowers, and she tucks it back away before turning and taking a few steps away from him.

“Who else knows?” she asks, her back still towards him.

“No one,” he says honestly.

“No one?” she repeats, a question.

“I speak to no one else. I’m a pariah, Granger. The Death Eater that got away with it. No one speaks to me, and I speak to no one.”

She doesn’t turn back around, and he waits… 

The vials are still in his pocket, and he’s not leaving until she accepts them.

“Did you poison yourself on purpose?” he asks, taking a step towards her.

She whirls around, anger in her eyes, likely to defend herself - and then, suddenly, he sees the girl from the New Moon. He sees the one that lost track of everything in just a blink. He sees the girl that he remembers, from after his Aunt was finished torturing her.

“I don’t…”

He doesn’t know what to say. He hadn’t really thought…

“I don’t think so,” she says, looking up at him slowly. “I just… I thought I could make it better. You’re right, the aconite does burn. I thought, if I used fresh, then-”

“You poisoned yourself,” he says, reaching into his pocket and pulling out the bag of vials. “You’re lucky that you bungled it up elsewhere.”

“I did no such-”

“It should have killed you,” he says, cutting her excuses off. “And yet, you’re still alive.”

She licks her lips as her eyes go to the bag, and then she reaches out, grabbing it from him.

“How do I know this isn’t poison?” she asks quietly.

He gives a shrug of his shoulders, then takes a step backwards. “How do you know you brewed your own potion properly?”

Her cheeks color slightly, and she looks out the window, the bag still in her hand, and he fears she might drop it - and then she tucks it away, carefully, within her bag.

“I didn’t brew any this month,” she says, still not looking at him. “I thought to go at it the old way.”

“Take the damn potion, Granger,” he says, approaching her. “Give yourself a break. You can’t… you’re falling apart, even now. I know others might not see it, but I don’t need a lunar calendar to know how far away the Full Moon is. It’s written all over your face.”

She stares at him in horror, taking a step back, and he shakes his head before she can even ask.

“No. No one else notices. I watch them all. You’re practically invisible to them. Like they don’t even recognize you anymore.”

“Good,” she says, keeping him from continuing. “I pushed them all away for a reason. I let them think it’s because of last year, because of what we had to do, because of what Harry had to do, because Ron-”

She cuts herself off, and he watches her, wondering...

Was Weasley the reason she was a werewolf? Was his death the catalyst?

“So you let them think you’re pushing them all away, when really, you’re trying to protect them,” he says, filling in the blank, trying to pull her back from the edge.

Because, she looks to be very much on the edge.

She stares at him for a moment, and then she gives him a nod.

“Thank you for the potions,” she says, lifting her chin and turning to leave the room. “We will not speak on this again.”

“We’ll speak the night before the Full Moon,” he says, stopping her in her tracks. “I plan to be there again, to watch.”

“Why?” she asks, turning in place, staring at him.

He goes with honesty. It’s the simplest answer.

“Because you shouldn’t be alone.”

She looks uncertain, but doesn’t argue, instead turning and walking away.

 

28 October 1998 - Seven Days before the Full Moon

He tries to act cool, as he stands outside of the Great Hall, but it’s impossible. Students have begun to come down for breakfast, and Granger was not one of them.

She had to have taken the potion by now. The Full Moon would be at its fullest before breakfast, which meant that she had to have woken up early to take it. From his reading, the Potion should make the werewolf a bit ill, best to be taken with food.

If she had taken the potion… he would have seen her.

He even risked being approached by other students, standing around outside of the Great Hall.

He doesn’t see her, and so, he has to go to his first class. She’s not there either.

Nor their second class. Nor lunch, which he… well, he doesn’t enter the Great Hall, but he does wait for her.

Eventually, on a hunch, he heads up towards the infirmary. Had he brewed it wrong? Had he… done something off? Had she thrown it out all together? He had followed the instructions, so she should be well. If she hadn’t taken it, she would have been in class. If she was dead… everyone would know.

But for her to simply be missing?

He’s nearly to the infirmary when he sees her exiting. He nearly dips into an alcove, except, he sees that she’s alone, and her eyes are straight on him.

He waits, frozen in the middle of the corridor, watching as she approaches, her steps… well, she doesn’t look exceptionally stronger than yesterday, but she also doesn’t look ill, unable to move, as she had during the previous month.

“Did you take it?” he asks, needing to know.

She stops a few paces away, far enough back that it almost feels awkward, but he doesn’t move forward. She takes in a breath, then looks down at the floor, as though she’s unable to look at him.

“I took it,” she says after a moment. 

“And?” he asks, still looking, searching, wondering why she… why she had missed class, why she was in the infirmary, why… why she had taken it, when she didn’t trust him.

“And, I feel… fine.”

Fine is not an answer he had expected. Fine is not how she should feel. She should feel… tired, slightly. A bit foggy, as the Wolfsbane Potion began to slowly tamper down her werewolf side. She should be feeling more human, although she likely had no idea what that felt like anymore.

Fine is not a word he would accept.

“Fine?” he asks, taking a step closer.

“Stay away from me,” she says, stepping backwards, her hand going up between them.

He doesn’t move closer, but he does wonder - the night before, she had grabbed him, thrown him against a wall, pointed a wand at his throat, been in his face… 

Why would she fear him stepping closer now?

“You feel fine?” he questions her, trying to bring her back to the proper topic.

“I feel fine,” she insists.

She stomps around him, keeping a very clearly wide berth, and he is left to turn and watch her walk away, still wondering - why the distance? Why… why.

Why had she taken it, when she didn’t trust him?

Chapter Text

31 October 1998 - Four Days before the Full Moon

While most were celebrating Halloween, or Samhain in the Slytherin common room, Draco had decided to spend the evening in the library. He had no real reason, but something told him… to just be sitting in a back corner chair reading, flipping through books…

He knows researching bonds and binding and blood magic is pointless. What he wants, what he’s likely searching for, is most probably in the Restricted Section, and he had been quite unable to get back there again.

So instead, he flips through the Astronomy books, as though he doesn’t already know the constellations. Still, there’s something comforting in rereading that which he already knows.

It feels… constant. Steadfast. Something about it… there’s so many things he just doesn’t even know. This, sitting here reading this… it feels simple. A time far away. Back when… he wasn’t a pariah. When he wasn’t the bad guy. When his family had honor, power, and prestige.

Back when Granger wasn’t a werewolf, and he wasn’t having constant dreams of her.

The dreams were all still the same. The same thing on repeat. Granger, or the mystery girl, whatever he wants to call her… she’s on top of him, facing away, or she’s on her hands and knees, or she’s pressed against a wall, or-

It’s the same thing, over and over. A body, a warm body that has no real marking he can see - and he had looked - with hair wild and curling.

The more he thinks about it…

He can’t see her shoulder, where he knows there’s a scar from the night at Malfoy Manor. He knows there’s a scar on her arse and hip, which had turned her into a werewolf. He knows about her arm, the blood curse that has somehow healed.

And yet, when he goes to look, he can never see them in the dream.

Is she blocking it, somehow? Or is his mind… he doesn’t know anymore.

All he knows is her body, arching back against his, the way they fit together perfectly, her hair…

It’s always her hair. It’s the constant. It’s the thing he knows, he sees. It’s big and full, the curls a riot, full of life… it’s her hair that tells him it’s her. He would know that hair anywhere.

Even when he had mocked it back in first year… he had always known it. The way it had a life of its own. The way her hair was an extension of her magic, of her personality, of her knowledge. The way her hair…

The way he wants to tangle his fingers in it, knowing he can’t run them through, instead just wanting to cling to her, to hold onto her, to hold her close, to kiss her-

He wants to just… kiss her.

In the dream. Not for real.

She would probably kill him.

His eyes fall off of the page of the book, and for a brief moment, he can’t help but to imagine it. To really, truly imagine it. Not just… not just in his dreams, with his cock in his hand when he wakes up. He imagines it… for real.

He imagines her, walking towards him, likely in the library. He imagines her hair, bigger than life, part of it pinned up, or perhaps half braided, but falling out. He imagines her wearing those Muggle clothes, the stiff denim that Muggleborns prefer, and a soft sweater, too large for her, so likely stolen from Weasley or Potter. 

He imagines her sitting across from him, then coming to look at what he’s reading, and then…

Him, being brave enough to pull her into his lap. Him, being brave enough to run his hands into her hair. Him, being brave enough to kiss her.

He imagines kissing her would be like catching on fire, violent and rough, needy, demanding. He imagines her kissing like she argues, like she fights, like she researches, like she - like how she throws herself into everything. All of her, thrown into kissing him.

He imagines just having her, tasting her. Imagines-

She sits down across him, and he blinks, staring at her. Without thought, he blurts out- “Is this a dream?”

She looks startled, perhaps even horrified, and he realizes, in his own horror, that not only had he just spoken that out loud, that this was most certainly not a dream, and Granger is actually sitting across from him in the library, his book having fallen down into his lap, thankfully covering the fact that he’s hard within his trousers.

“A dream?” she asks, her voice cracking. “Don’t be- don’t be absurd. No one would dream about me.”

He wants to correct her, wants to tell her about his dreams, except… her cheeks are very clearly blushed, and he remembers… well, those dreams. They had to be shared, right? She’s always there, like magic, even though sometimes he wakes and she has clearly not been asleep, but… 

Dreams. The dreams. They’re…

He wants to ask. Wants to tell her about his dreams, but…

But what if she has no idea what he’s talking about?

And… and, he’s still gaining her trust. 

It doesn’t feel right, to bring up the dreams, even though he desperately wants to. Even though that blush gives him all the hints that, possibly, she has the dreams too. 

So instead, he doesn’t respond, and instead sets the book back on the table while leaning forward.

“How are you feeling?” he asks. They haven’t spoken since the morning of the first dose, outside of the infirmary. “And don’t say fine.”

Her lips part, likely to speak that very word, and then she closes them, shifting in her seat slightly. She thinks on it, he can tell by the way her head tilts, and then she takes in a breath before responding.

“Scared,” she says honestly. “I know you don’t want to hear the word, but… I feel fine . I feel…”

She shakes her head, and he wonders if fine… if fine is even really an option.

The memory of his fears, his previous concerns of the blood curse… he wonders if that’s interacting with the potion. He still hasn’t heard back from his mother or his Aunt, despite repeated letters sent, so he still doesn’t know what the curse could have done to Granger.

He doesn’t really know what to expect.

“I’ve never really talked about this,” Granger says, sitting back in her chair and crossing her arms across her chest.

Correction, not across her chest. Underneath her breasts. Her arms are crossed underneath her breasts, pushing them upwards, towards the v of her jumper. He can see the swell of them now, can see the cleavage, can see…

Had he really previously considered her breasts to be too small? They look plump, the perfect size for his hands. 

He coughs, clearing his throat and his mind, then nods, sitting forward further so he can set his forearms on the table, his fingers interlocking in front of him.

“Who else knows?” he asks.

She looks uncomfortable, staring at the table, and he thinks he shouldn’t have asked, but… well, it’s a valid question. He knows others have to know. Did Potter know? Is that why they’re no longer friends.

“Obviously, Madam Pomphrey knows,” Draco says, listing off the few people he’s aware of. “And the Headmistress.”

Granger nods after both, then shifts in her seat, one leg crossing over the other while her body reclines back, as though trying to get comfortable in the stiff library chairs.

“Bill Weasley,” she finally says. “And his wife, Fleur. He was with me when…”

Her voice trails off, but Draco wants to know. He shouldn’t push, he knows that, but he has so many questions, and clearly… clearly, if that’s all that knows, then… she has to tell someone. 

“When you were attacked by Greyback,” Draco says, filling in the blank.

There’s a curl on Granger’s lip, and he realizes, almost immediately, that she’s smirking. Not just smirking - she’s pleased with herself. Downright delighted. Amused. Proud. What had he… where had he gotten this wrong?

“When I killed Greyback,” she corrects, lifting her chin.

Draco stares at her, his mind going blank. When she had… when she had killed Greyback? How had… Greyback had been one of the oldest werewolves on the Island. One of the oldest in all of Europe. His ferocity was well known, his kill count enormous, and she had-

“He’s still listed as missing,” Draco says, his voice sounding a bit dumbfounded.

“His body is still missing,” she says idly, pulling one hand out from the fold, inspecting her nails. They look long and sharp… almost like claws. “At least, from the ministry. I doubt they’ll find him.”

The words escape him before he can stop himself. “Granger, are you being bloody serious right now?”

She looks up at him, still smirking, and just stares back at him. He’s not sure if he wants the answer. What he gets… is somehow worse.

“Are you afraid of me?”

He doesn’t know the answer to that.

“You should be. You should be very afraid of me. But, you’re not. Why is that?”

He knows he should be afraid, without question. And he had been, in the past. Afraid of what was happening, afraid of her in the moment, but right now… right now, he is the very opposite of afraid.

Granger, killing Greyback… sure, he had clearly gotten a bite in, and she was mad for going after him on a Full Moon, but Granger killing Greyback… bloody hell, that’s…

His heart is racing, and his blood pumping, but what he feels is definitely not fear.

“You like that,” she says, leaning forward, her feet planting on the ground as her hands move to the edge of the desk. She starts standing up, towering over him, even from across the table, and he can do nothing but look up at her.

Powerful. She looks… powerful. Strong. Defiant. Demanding. Passionate. Alive.

He looks like the Granger from his dreams. The one that could devour man, after making him beg for it.

Fuck…

They’re caught in a stalemate, her smirking while standing over him, him looking up at her in awe, when suddenly, something clicks.

The smirk disappears, the power fades, and Granger is stepping back away from the table. No, not stepping - jerking back, half running away, putting distance between them.

“What was that?” he blurts out, confused at the sudden shift.

She stares back at him in horror, her hand going to her mouth, and she shakes her head.

“You can’t tell anyone,” she breathes out, her body starting to shake.

“What-” He blinks, trying to understand what he’s not supposed to tell. Greyback? He didn’t care that the wolf was dead. He just wanted to know.

“You can’t tell anyone,” she insists, stepping back towards him, offering a hand. “Swear it. Swear you won’t tell anyone.”

There’s no way to make an oath, not without a third party, but he swears it anyways, grabbing her hand. 

The girl in front of him now is no longer the predator he had just seen. Now, she looks like prey, terrified and skittish. A lone wolf, afraid of what might happen if she’s caught.

“I won’t tell anyone, I swear it,” he says, still trying to catch his breath from the whirlwind of what was happening.

“I have to go,” she says, looking around, turning, almost frantic.

“Granger, stop,” he says, reaching out, grabbing her shoulder-

She whirls on him immediately, her nails scratching at the back of his hand. They’re simply nails, not claws, but he-

He freezes, looking at where the skin is raised, looking for any fleck of blood. She stares at it as well, her mouth open in horror.

“Draco, I-”

“It’s okay,” he says quickly, not seeing any blood- not that it should matter. It shouldn’t. “I’m okay.”

She shakes her head, taking a few steps back from him, her eyes wide. “I’m not safe.”

He doesn’t have a chance to say anything else - she bolts out of the library, leaving him standing there, hand a bit… sore, but - 

He looks, and sees no blood raised to the surface, just a bit of a mark as though the skin is raised slightly. He’s fine. He’s perfectly fine.

He looks up towards where she had disappeared, replaying what had just happened-

Draco. She had called him Draco.

Just like that first morning in the Great Hall, unless he had imagined it. Just like at the Shrieking Shack, not that she remembered. Just like in his dream, which her voice had woken him from.

This is the first time he knows, for a fact, that she has used his name.

His heart is still racing as he retrieves his books, and he feels the blood rushing through his head. 

It’s not fear he had felt, in her presence. It was lust. Desire. Excitement.

Fuck. Only he could be crazy enough to want to fuck a werewolf.

 

3 November 1998 - One Day before the Full Moon

The days are getting shorter, which means that Granger won’t be in her last class of the day. By the time class is over, twilight will have begun, and while the Full Moon doesn’t properly strike until very late in the night, he knows that she’ll be at the Shack long before the sun sets.

He doesn’t plan on attending his last class either.

Instead, he waits until their next to last class, and follows her out, a few steps behind her up the stairs, towards the Gryffindor common room. He knows that she’ll be returning her books, before heading off, and he…

He has to talk to her first.

He has to.

He follows her until they’re on the fifth floor, and then she whirls around, pointing her wand at him.

“You should know better than to follow me, particularly today,” she says, lifting her chin.

“I have to talk to you,” he insists, stepping close enough that the wand touches his skin.

“Why?” she asks.

“I’m going with you.”

He says it so simply, without question, and she immediately laughs.

“You’re not going with me,” she says, rolling her eyes.

“Why not?” he asks. “If the potion worked, then-”

“Then I’ll be tired, and fall sleep,” she says. “It doesn’t mean I won’t still be…”

There’s no one around, but he knows that portraits listen…

“On the outside,” he says. “I’ll be looking in through the window. There’s boards over the windows, and they’re dirty. When you get there, before you shift, pull them off, clean it.”

“Why should I?” she asks, her voice sounding… questioning. Almost as though she doesn’t trust him.

“Because I plan to be there, and I want to make sure you’re okay,” he says honestly.

She stares at him for a long moment, then pulls back the wand while stepping closer.

“You never answered my questions,” she says, not looking away.

He doesn’t pull back, just stares down at her. “You ask a lot of them.”

There’s a moment, for just a breath, where he thinks he might kiss her. She looks… scared, and yet, defiant. She’s about to go through a terrible ordeal, and here he is, offering to stay with her, but she still questions him.

He admires that about her, but they’re running out of time.

“I’ll be with you the whole time,” he says. “Until morning. Meet me outside of the infirmary.”

She doesn’t say anything, doesn’t confirm or deny, just looks up at him, almost searching his eyes, his face, for something he doesn’t know.

“Outside of the infirmary,” she says with a nod of her head, then takes a step back. “If I survive.”

He doesn’t like the sound of that, but… there’s not really anything he can do, but wait.

Chapter Text

3 November 1998 - One Day before the Full Moon

Draco wastes no time in starting preparations once he arrives at the Shrieking Shack. The sun had already been going down long before he had arrived, and now that he’s here, the last of the warmth of the late fall sun is starting to fade.

He doesn’t know how this is supposed to work… in September, her screams had made it sound agonizing. The Full Moon had been at its peak in midday. By the time he had arrived, she had been screaming and howling, but that was long after nightfall. In October, the Full Moon had reached its peak only a few hours after Sunset. He has to guess that that is why she had transformed so fast, so violently.

Tonight, the Full Moon wouldn’t reach its peak until the late hours, nearly morning, only a half hour before the sun would begin to rise. Does that mean that her transformation will be slower? Does that mean it would be more agonizing, drawn out? He really doesn’t understand how everything about werewolves works.

He sort of doubts Granger understands it either.

So all he can do is just… wait.

He conjures himself an armchair, a charm he had seen his father perform a number of times as a powermove, to show that only his own chair was the best for him. It had seemed stupid in his youth, but now as Draco settles into the chair, he’s grateful for it.

He also brought with him a blanket to stay warm and food, given how he has skipped dinner and intends to stay all night. A Disillusionment charm completes his efforts, so that he can simply sit beside the window, keeping Granger company, watching her transition.

A crazy part of himself wishes he could be within, but he knows that isn’t possible. Knows that wouldn’t be safe. Obviously.

She is, after all, a werewolf about to transform on the full moon.

His side of the window is clean by the time she arrives, not that he really knows exactly when she arrives. He just knows that the sun is going down, and he can see a slight bit of movement from within.

The first board comes off, and then another, until eventually, Granger has every board pulled down from the window. A quick Scourgify has the window cleaned, and he can see her, as though there’s nothing separating them.

He knows there’s glass, and certainly some containment charms, given how she hadn’t broken through the previous month… 

“You’re here,” she says, staring back at him.

He can see her hands starting to shake, the stress lines across her forehead, the way she’s rubbing at her forearms… the sun is almost fully set, and he can see her reacting to it.

“I said I would be,” he confirms, speaking loudly, wanting to be certain she could hear him.

She stares at him, her head tilting to the side before she speaks. “Did you truly bring a chair and a blanket?”

“I conjured the chair,” he says defensively. “But yes, I brought a blanket to stay warm, and food. I was rather cold and uncomfortable last month.”

She scoffs, crossing her arms underneath her breasts. “I told you, you don’t need to be here. I can do this by myself.”

“I don’t need to be here, but I can’t sit up at the castle, knowing you’re here by yourself,” he challenges.

“Why do you care?” she asks, rushing towards the window, her nose nearly touching it.

He almost jumps back, but doesn’t. She’s close to the full moon, and the effects are obvious. She’s jumpy and anxious, even with the potion in her.

“Why does it matter?” he answers calmly.

She doesn’t respond, instead stepping away from the window, and begins to pace. He watches as she kicks off her shoes, her sweater, peels off layer after layer, even turns her back towards him, and he turns his face away as he realizes what she’s doing - undressing. In a way.

When he looks back, she’s wearing comfortable looking worn joggers and a loose shirt.

His gaze goes to the horizon, watching as the last bit of sunlight begins to fade. He turns to look for the moon - it’s only just beginning to rise itself, not full. Not yet. Almost. He can’t really tell the difference, but according to the books, creatures can. Creatures like werewolves.

“Do you feel it?” he asks, looking at her.

She nods her head, and then shakes it.

“It’s different than last month,” she says, stating the obvious.

“Well of course it does. You were dying,” he says, rolling his eyes.

She stares back at him through the glass, then walks away, resuming her pacing.

He gives her a few moments before asking, “What was it like, the time before. September?” 

She doesn’t pause in her steps, and he can tell, it’s like she’s a predator on the prowl, looking for her target.

“Like July,” she responds. 

He wishes he had brought his notes with him, but if he had to guess, July must have also had a Full Moon that reached its peak in the daytime.

“So, the time the moon reaches its full strength mat-”

“Of course it matters,” she snaps at him. Her hand almost immediately goes over her mouth, as though to apologize, but he waves her off with his hand. 

“What happened in September?” he asks, regretting not bringing a notebook.

She doesn’t stop in her steps as she begins to talk. “I felt… overwhelmed at midday, but no transformation. As soon as the sun fell and darkness began, it was like… I was trapped, and then escaped all at once. The transformation was fast. Very fast. Like… it had been waiting.”

He wants to ask her about June, but he suspects, if she had transformed in July, that she had either been bitten in May or June… and he doesn’t want to bring that up yet.

“What about August?”

She rolls her shoulders as she walks, swinging her arms slightly.

“Slowly, I guess. It was a constant build. The moon reached it’s full strength in the very middle of the night. I roamed that night. It was… different.”

He wants to ask where she roamed, but he doubts that she would answer.

“And tonight?” he asks. “Do you think… what do you think will happen?”

She shakes her head, not having an answer, and jostles her hands a bit, as though overwhelmed with nervous energy.

“To be honest… I have half a mind to not leave the Shack tomorrow… or to at least return tomorrow night.”

He doesn’t think that’s a terrible idea… but he hadn’t exactly packed for that.

He looks up again, and sees that the sun is fully gone, while the moon… it’s rising higher and higher.

And yet… she has not begun to transform.

“Do you still feel fine?” he asks.

She doesn’t look at him as she continues the pacing, back and forth, back and forth. She rolls her shoulders as she paces now, as though stretching out her body.

“If you mean the potion, I feel… more tired that I should?” She sounds uncertain, but he doesn’t question her further. “I just feel nervous. Like… I’m going to transform, and then just… not turn back.”

He also hadn’t planned for that possibility.

“Is this your first time taking Wolfsbane Potion?” he asks.

The way she looks at him tells him that it was a stupid question.

“Of course not,” she says, rolling her eyes. “I’ve always taken Wolfsbane Potion. It can help with the transition, with the pain, with… everything.”

“And last month?” he asks, still wondering about what had happened that she had been poisoned.

She doesn’t answer.

He gives her a few minutes, watches as she begins to stretch, before he asks something that has been… bothering him. Worrying him, really. He could so very clearly remember her looking at him, the previous Full Moon, saying his name. He could remember her touching the glass, her look very human, her eyes wide and aware.

She had known him. She hadn’t turned. She was still Granger.

And yet, when he had brought it up later… well, they hadn’t exactly discussed it, but she was clearly shocked that he knew she was a werewolf… obviously… So…

“Are you going to remember this?” he asks.

She stops in her pacing, finally, and looks at him.

“Last month,” he says, clearing his throat before continuing. “You saw me through the glass. You said my name. Our hands, they…”

“I don’t know,” she says quickly, cutting him off. A little… too quickly. 

“You don’t know?” he asks, not really believing her.

She doesn’t meet his eyes, and instead resumes pacing.

He lets it go, for now.

An hour later, she’s still pacing, although verbally going over notes from class, as though revising. He had offered his own input a time or two, but it had become pretty clear, rather quickly, that she was distracting herself.

And so, he instead eats, and watches the moon rise higher and higher and higher.

A bit of moonlight comes above the trees, and it suddenly happens.

She lets out a shriek, and he jumps from the chair. Through the window, he watches as she falls to her knees, starting to transform. The light of the moon… it seemed to have begun her transition.

Lifting his arms up, Draco uses the blanket, trying to block out the light, but he still watches in horror as she lets out another scream. It’s as though, now that the light had touched her, her body had begun to react, and there was no stopping it.

“Don’t watch,” she gasps out. “Please, don’t watch.”

He wants to respect her wishes. He does. A part of him is fully aware that the transformation… it’s something personal. She’s at her most vulnerable. He has seen her tortured before, knows something about having eyes on you… he had experienced it as well, when everyone had watched when the Dark Lord had marked him.

The problem is, he can’t look away.

He can’t pull his eyes from her as she starts to transform. She’s shaking and rolls over onto her back, and he can do nothing but watch as she looks over at him, her eyes wide.

He can’t look away. All he wants to do is reach forward and grasp her hand, to hold it.

It’s a curse, being a werewolf. He knows that, has always known that, but to see it happen… even with a perfectly brewed Wolfsbane Potion in her, it looks… horrifically painful.

It’s the sound of her first scream that finally pushes him to look away. He sits in the chair, forcing his eyes onto his lap, but out of the corner of his eye… he can still see.

He watches as her body shifts and pulls, slower than it had the month before, but it’s almost as though her body is reshaping, shifting, almost lengthening and turning. Before, it had seemed as though her body ripped and tore, but this is different. Entirely different.

He hopes it’s the Wolfsbane Potion that causes this… and not the fact that it will be hours until the moon is at its Full point.

Eventually, the moans stop, the screaming fades, and when he looks in, she’s laying on her back. She’s almost… frozen in her transition, but when her eyes look to him, he sees that it’s still her… for the moment.

“Told you not to watch,” she says, each word coming out with a breath.

“Told you I wasn’t leaving you,” he insists, rising and going to the window.

His hand presses to it, and she reaches her hand out as well, from where she lays on the floor… but she doesn’t move.

“It’s… it’s going to get worse,” she gasps out, her body arching slightly.

“Close?” he asks, casting a tempus charm. Nearly midnight. She still has five hours until the moon is at its peak.

“The Potion,” she gasps. “I feel… tired.”

He hopes that the potion will help her sleep. After all, that is half the point of it.

He hopes that this… that it’s nearing the end. That she’ll finish her transformation, and then sleep. After all, that’s what the books say should happen. Transformation with the Full Moon, but then the werewolf would be too tired to anything but sleep it off.

She should just… transform and sleep. No more screaming. No more pain.

He’s wrong.

The next two hours are the worst yet. She screams with every pull of her body, as though a thousand hands were dragging at her, tossing her about, pulling her this way and that. He knows she’s alone, and yet, she’s being picked up, lifted, arched, flipped, over and over, until she’s left gasping for air.

He forces himself to not leave the chair, but he has pulled it closer, so that he’s leaning his head against it, his hand pressed to the glass.

She doesn’t try to reach for it, as she had that night, a month earlier.

Has it truly only been a month?

He hopes that the werewolf inside of her, the one that had taken over, the one that smirks, that teases about killing Greyback, that pressed its face to the glass… he hopes that side of her takes over soon.

He doesn’t think she’s fighting it, but this transformation is taking far longer than the last one.

He just… wants it to end. He just wants her pain to end.

Eventually, and he has no idea how long it has been, the moans and the groans stop. The shrieks and screams have already long faded, and when he eventually opens his eyes, weary and drained from the long night, he sees a wolf staring back at him.

It’s different from last month - last month, the wolf had been biting and howling at the glass, trying to get to him.

This month, the wolf simply stares.

He doesn’t move, just watches as it’s paw presses to his through the glass.

Granger… even shifted into a werewolf, trapped in a curse… she’s still in there.

They sit there for a while, his head leaning against the glass, her snout pressing back, until eventually, the wolf seems to shift enough that she’s finally laying down underneath the window. He can’t see her, but he knows that she’s… well, she’s no longer in pain.

Looking through the glass, he searches for signs of injury, for any blood. There’s a little on the floor, but nothing like the previous month. While she had certainly been in pain, it had been much less… eruptive.

He hopes it’s the Wolfsbane Potion, but dreads the thought that that had been the reason it took so long. He’ll have to take notes, and compare it to next month.

His eyes eventually close, his head still resting against the window, and he hopes that, come morning, she’ll leave the shack, not as bloody and beaten as she had been the month before.

 

4 November 1998 - Full Moon

When his eyes open next, it’s to the sound of gasps, heavy breathing, even… soft cries?

The sun is just barely peeking out, and he quickly moves to the window, looking inside.

Granger is there, covered in a blanket, but he can tell enough that she’s shifting back to human form… quickly. Very quickly. Quicker than she had shifted into werewolf form back the previous month.

It’s the time, he has to guess. She must have reached her full werewolf form when the moon reached its fullest point, and then, as the sun rose, she was forced to transition back to human form.

He wants to help her, but can’t. Instead, he has to watch as the sun finally crests on the horizon. She’s human once more, gasping for air, as though the wind had been knocked out of her.

“Granger,” he says loudly, banging his flat hand on the glass.

She turns her head and looks at him, her eyes wide, but doesn’t say anything.

She looks… terrified. Scared. Shaken.

“I’ll meet you up at the school? In the corridor leading up to the Infirmary?”

She doesn’t say anything, her lips pressing together, and she looks ready to shake her head no, but then finally gives him a single nod.

He doesn’t know what to make of that, but-

He replaces the boards on the window, both giving Granger privacy and keeping others from seeing inside, then vanishes the armchair. He packs up the rest of his things - the blanket, his tossed aside robe, and begins the walk back up to the school.

Notes. He’ll have to take notes soon.

After he speaks to Granger. He knows she’s alright, knows that she survived, but looking at her through the glass, it doesn’t feel enough. He needs to… see her. To verify that she’s alright.

When he nears the infirmary, he simply… waits. He doesn’t know how exactly she travels from within the school to the shack that has no entryway, but he knows that she has to pass this way to go to the infirmary, where she will likely be most of the day.

Blood replenishing potions, pain potions, sleep potions… He doesn’t know what in all she might need after a long night.

Eventually, she appears, looking weary and moving slow. He wants to check her over, to look for any injuries, but he doesn’t dare go near her.

Instead, he simply stands there, hands in his pockets, feeling awkward.

“Do you remember last night?” he asks, wondering how much she remembered.

“Some?” she asks, sounding certain. “I don’t really know what I might have forgotten…”

… Well then. He’s an idiot. Of course. Of course she remembered something from last night, but all of it…

“We’ll take notes next time,” he says, shrugging. “To check your-”

“Next time?” she asks, taking a step back. “Notes? I’m not… I’m not an experiment.”

His mouth opens and closes, and he tries to find the right answer. Nothing comes to mind, so instead, he steps closer, trying to calm her down. “Granger, you like research, right? Well, there’s no accurate books in the library, so I thought-”

“You thought you would write a book about me?” she asks, tears filling her eyes.

He hadn’t really considered that, just…

“No, of course not.” he insists, still moving closer to her. “Tell me, how are you feeling?”

“Why?” she asks, her eyes wide and her breathing growing panicked. “So you can write about it in your book? Or are you simply planning to send it into the paper?”

He can tell a panic attack when he sees one, and he moves closer, grasping her by the upper arms. He needs her attention entirely on him, so he can force her breathing to smooth out - it’s what his mother and father often did, when they were terrified of what was happening around them.

“I just want to know how to make your transitions easier,” he insists. “Research.”

“Why do you care?” she asks, and he can tell she’s on the verge of tears.

The stupid idea to kiss her crosses his mind, but he thankfully ignores it. 

“I don’t know,” he insists. “But I do. I care, Granger. I can’t just stand by and watch you go mad.”

She’s crying, and he finally releases her, taking a few steps away. Almost immediately, her arms wrap around her torso, as though trying to hug herself.

“Granger, I-”

“Can’t you just say my name?” she asks, her voice sounding like a shriek. “Granger this, Granger that - I have a name, you know.”

He knows that, but… he didn’t think it mattered.

What the bloody hell… 

“Hermione-” he tests out, the name sounding foreign on his lips.

“Oh, nevermind,” she snaps, stomping past him.

He lets her, still confused about what had just happened. She’s all over the place, and he’s having a bit of a hard time keeping track. Did she not want to study her own condition? Did she, the girl that loved research, not want to know? Or did she already know, and didn’t want to admit it? Or-

They need to talk.

“We have to talk about this,” he demands, calling after her.

“About what?” she asks, whirling around, her hair flying through the air. “The fact that you’re obsessed with me, or the fact that you’re treating me like an assignment for Care of Magical Creatures?”

Whirling back around, Granger stomped off, her hair bouncing with each step, until she reached the infirmary doors. She flung them open, leaving him outside… and he knows he’s not allowed in.

Instead, he’s left standing there, contemplating her accusation.

He doesn’t have an answer for it. She’s not exactly wrong.

Chapter Text

4 November 1998 - Full Moon

Draco isn’t expecting to see Granger again for at least the rest of the day, if not the next week. She had been furious with him, and whatever conversation they needed to have had clearly been postponed.

His reasons were perfectly logical, and they all made sense in his mind, but discussing such things with a werewolf only an hour from shifting... well, no one had ever really called him smart.

He would just have to bring this up again as they neared the New Moon. He knows her cycle well enough to gauge at what point it would be safe to be near her again, and until then, he would be avoiding her - he has no urge to be attacked by a werewolf, particularly on the actual date of a Full Moon.

Of course, that doesn't change the fact that he wants to know how she's feeling the entire day. With the Full Moon reaching it's apex only a half hour or so before the rise of the sun, he had expected that she might even spend the entire day shifted, and yet... Well, notes.

He needed to put together some sort of journal to start taking notes, and soon.

That way, he would be able to figure out what to expect, and what not to expect. The Full Moon at the start of December would be during the day, as it had been previously in September, so he knows she has experience with that, but-

He feels completely in the dark, and he knows it's not his business, that he's not a werewolf, but something about Granger, something about everything happening to her, something about the dreams, the desire, it-

There has to be a reason, an explanation, a-

Something pulls him, from out of nowhere, into a classroom, and he knows that this hallway should be empty, that all of them were unused and damaged from the previous school year, which is why he often uses this hallway to get around the school, so-

He stumbles a few steps as the hand that grips his arm releases him, and as he straightens up, brushing at his robes casually while secretly withdrawing his wand, he turns to see Granger standing there, no wand in sight, but claws...

She has claws. Werewolf claws. And teeth. They should most certainly not be that sharp.

A glance out the classroom window tells him the sun is down, so if she was going to transform further, she would have already done so, but-

The Full Moon is not visible, but he knows that it's at almost full strength. She had only been at her full power for a short while, and she had mentioned expecting a leftover response, but...

She had mentioned, before, that she was planning to return to the shack. Clearly, that plan had been abandoned, given that she is now standing in a classroom with him, her back to the door that is now shut.

He looks from the door, back to the window, and then to Granger. He can tell, in just a glance, that she's struggling with control, struggling with anger, or...

Or, she's just a werewolf about to completely lose it on him, and all he has is his books from Transfiguration and his wand. Great.

"Granger," he says casually, trying to gauge exactly how much of her is still... aware.

After all, she hadn't attacked him in the hallway, had clearly been waiting for him, and had pulled him into a classroom. Even Granger wouldn't have that much intelligence if fully transformed.

"Malfoy," she spits out, still staring at him. "I should have gone to the Shrieking Shack."

Her statement, because that's what it is, a statement, is so clearly obvious, he doesn't even know how to respond, other than to shrug and say, "Yeah."

Her eyes don't leave him, and he watches as she takes two steps towards the door, her back to him, and he considers casting - but hesitates. She's still a witch, and he... 

In all honesty, being attacked by a werewolf still sounds better than being sent to Azkaban.

"Except, I didn't," Granger continues, as though he had not even spoken.

He just watches her as she seems to struggle to find words, or... he honestly doesn't know anymore. It feels like he has no idea of anything going on around him, and really, probably, the sooner he accepts that... well, that would probably be for the best.

He has no control of his punishment for the war, no control of his future, of his letters to his mother, of his schooling and education, no control of his dreams, or even his cock at this point... Why not just accept that he also can't control the bloody werewolf that has him locked in a classroom with her a few hours after the Full bloody Moon .

The next time someone asks him if he wants to join a club, the answer is no.

"Granger," he says again, trying to catch her attention.

She doesn't even flinch.

"I was going to the Shrieking Shack, but the only thing I could smell was you. I kept... following you around, all day. All day long! I would reach a classroom door, and know you were inside, but I couldn't go in - I knew not to. And then I would just... follow around, over and over. I nearly caught you over lunch, but-"

He had missed breakfast, and had instead gone to the kitchens over lunch so that he could get something to eat while also avoiding the rest of the students. He had thought someone was following him, but that was pretty normal - as school progressed, more and more students were feeling comfortable, as though they might approach him. 

He knew that sooner or later, they would attack.

He hadn't even suspected it might be Granger.

How the fuck did he survive the war? Honestly, he didn't even deserve to live if he would just be this much of an idiot regarding his own safety and recognizing people around him.

A bloody werewolf had been stalking him all day, and he hadn't even noticed .

Generations of careful breeding and pure blood, all leading to this - an idiot.

"Anyways," Granger continues, still walking around. "I thought about going, of course I did, because that makes the most logical sense, except, I knew you wouldn't be there, which... why would you be? It's not a Full Moon, and you-"

"We can go to the Shack now," he offers, thinking that might be the problem.

"What?" Granger asks, finally, as though she actually realizes he's there, and has been speaking. "No, I don't... I don't need to go to the Shack. I mean, I did, but-"

"What do you mean?" he asks, confused, trying to figure out what exactly she's even trying to say.

"I don't know!" she roars, and he realizes, then, his mistake.

Cutting off a werewolf, trying to rush her - she's clearly struggling with her instincts versus her brain, and he... 

"Why were you following me?" he asks, trying to redirect her.

"I don't know," she says honestly.

"What's happening to you now, with the claws and the teeth?"

"I don't know," she repeats again, sounding exhausted.

"Do you know... anything of what's going on?" he finally asks, not knowing what else to say.

She just stares at him, the look in her eyes terrified, and then - it's like a light flips, and she's suddenly across the room to him. Her hand is around his throat, and he can feel the prickle of her claws against the back of his neck, but he's not afraid. She's testing him, he thinks... If she wanted to kill him, she wouldn't do it by strangulation.

She would actually pierce his skin with the claws, or bite out his throat with her fangs.

"Why aren't you afraid?" she demands.

He doesn't have an answer, and just shakes his head.

His blood is pumping in his veins, his heart racing, but he's not afraid. Instead, he feels alive for the first time in so long. He wants to kiss her, to hit her, to-

"Are you..." her brow furrows, and he watches as she leans forward, smelling him, his throat, then down his chest, then lower, until she-

Her hand releases him and she backpedals a few steps. She doesn't look disgusted, but she does look... nervous?

"Are you seriously bloody aroused right now?" she asks, waving her hand, claws?, about. 

He realizes, then, that this is Granger - this is the Granger he remembers.

"I can't exactly control it," he says awkwardly, wishing that his cock would calm down in his pants.

"I have fangs ," she says, enunciating the word. "And I have claws . It's not the Full Moon, and yet, my body has shifted form! And! And, and this is... this is the terrifying bit, the bit that you... you are just too stupid to understand, Malfoy."

He waits, his breathe held, to hear what it is that he's too stupid to understand, to hear what it is that she... she's keeping something from him, he thinks. She has to know... is it about the dreams? About the fact that she's stalking him? What is it? What is he too stupid to realize? What is it, that he can't see right in front of him.

"I want to do terrible things to you right now," she hisses at him. "I want to rip the blood out of your veins and rub it all over myself. I want to bathe myself in the scent of you. I want to get lost in every second of it, without a care in the world about how it hurts you."

He should be terrified, and yet, for the first time in so long, he feels on fire as he watches her, watches as her hair seems to glow, as power seems to stream from her, a mix of magic and the Full Moon, and she looks... fuck. Fucking bloody fucking hell, is he absolutely mental, but he thinks he might be in love.

"And you're horny ?"

The way she says the last word is so judgmental, the power fading, returning to just... Granger.  She had worked herself up while speaking, and then, just like that, she had dropped him.

He stares at her, not even certain what to say, other than-

"I don't know."

She lets out an exasperated sigh and throws her hands up in the air, pacing back and forth. She's more witch than werewolf now, and he relaxes as he watches her, waiting to be dismissed, or released, or-

"I should kill you," she says as she turns and looks at him, pointing a finger at him. "I should just kill you, and then they would imprison me, and both of us would be free from the hell that is whatever is going on."

While she isn't wrong... he's pretty sure he would regret dying without fucking her at least once.

"Stop with the bloody hormones!" she snaps, her eyes wide as she stares at him. "Seriously, do you only think with your cock?"

He opens his mouth to answer, when she puts up a hand, pausing him.

"Seriously, do not answer that."

He doesn't want to piss her off further, so he does as told, closing his mouth, and reclining back against the nearest desk.

She moves across the room, back and forth a few more times, before she seems to finally reach a decision. Turning where she is, she walks to him, closer, and closer, and closer, until eventually... he could touch her, without moving his arms, if he moved forward enough.

She's tiny like this, so short in front of him, and while she's not a stick, she looks so petite, so delicate. 

His Aunt Bellatrix had been this tiny, and yet, he knows the power that had been inside her crazed mind. Granger is tiny, but he knows, she's likely the most dangerous person in the Wizarding World... particularly now that Greyback is dead.

"You really killed Greyback, didn't you?" he asks without thought.

She stares up at him, and then gives a single nod.

"That's really impressive," he says, trying for a compliment. She still has the fangs in her mouth, and the claws on her fingers, but as she looks at him... more and more of the witch is there, the anger and the rage having faded.

"Yes, well..." she finally responds, but then, her voice trails off.

"You did it because of Weasley, didn't you?" Draco asks, careful to say the boy's last name, and not the nickname he had given his childhood rival. He was dead now - being cruel, particularly to a werewolf, would serve no purpose.

"It was more than that, and yet, it was simply that," Granger said as she continued to stare up at him. "Others... For as wrong as the Death Eaters were, they had a cause, a reason. Greyback... his entire purpose was to cause harm. He should have been killed long ago. I put him out of his misery. No one else could have tracked him like Bill and I could. After Malfoy Manor..."

Her voice trails off, and he remembers the bite mark on her shoulder.

"He bit you that night, didn't he?" Draco says, his eyes moving to her covered skin.

Her hand goes there, confirming it, and she finally looks away from him.

She's so close, he thinks he could reach out and just tug her to him.

"He didn't turn me that night, obviously," she says. "But, it made me something else, something more. I was more like Bill, and I could feel the moon, and I could sense him. When we went after him, we didn't mean to catch him on the Full Moon, but he came for us, knew we were tracking him, and he..."

It's so slow, he almost misses it. The witch in front of him, so uncertain, reliving old memories... her gaze off to one side, and her lips pursed, paused in her thoughts, and then... they start to curl, her eyes crinkling, and she turns to look up at him.

She had looked tiny a few seconds before, but now, as she lifts her chin and straightens her shoulders, he might be taller than her, but she is clearly the one in charge in this room.

"Do you understand the strength I have now?" she asks, her head tilting to the side. "It's so overpowering, so overwhelming, I can barely contain it. It's part of me, telling me to act on instinct rather than logic. And the thing is, I want to listen."

He stares down at her, not breathing, not moving before he finally whispers... "And what is instinct telling you to do?"

She just stares at him, her hand lifting between them, the nails clear, and her hand goes to his chest, flat, the tips of her claws touching his robes. He doesn't look at it, though. He just looks at her.

Instinct. It's a part of her, this power, whatever it is that had happened when she had become a werewolf, and the instinct... what does it all mean? Are the instincts those of a wolf, or were they the wants and desires of the witch? Is there a part of her that is a duality, or are they simply blended? Has she simply become a more animalistic Granger? Or is it two people fighting within, struggling for domination.

He doesn't know. He doesn't care. He just wants to kiss her.

Without thought, he bends down and closes the distance between them, his lips pressing to hers. It's insane, how one simple touch - he can taste the power, the strength, the way her claws curl into the front of his robes, the tips teasing at his skin as they through his shirt, and he can feel the way she pushes back against him, her lips, her body, pushing him into the desk behind him as though she's ready to crawl into his lap, to have him, to-

She wants him. Desperately. He can feel it in the way she presses herself to him, how she clings to him, and his hands go to her hair, to deepen the kiss without thought or concern or worry. All he wants is her. All he needs is her.

His lips part without thought, as do hers, and his tongue... they brush against her teeth, and he feels it - a cut. Just enough that he can taste copper-

And Granger jerks herself away, as though prying herself, flinging herself from him. She stumbles as she runs to the door, grabbing at it, as though fighting with herself to maintain distance.

"What is bloody wrong with you?" she gasps, her free hand covering her mouth in shock.

He blinks and doesn't know what to say, just- "Well, you kissed me back!"

Her eyes are wide in horror, and her arms gesture about, as though filling in the blanks, but he doesn't... she had kissed him back!

"What is bloody wrong with you?!" she shrieks again. "I'm a werewolf! A werewolf, Malfoy! And you just... you can't-"

"You're still a witch," he says awkwardly, his blood still pumping in his veins.

"A Muggleborn witch," she hisses. "But that's not the point! It's a Full Moon, and you just-"

"It wasn't a bite," he says, looking out the window. The Full Moon isn't even there, and - how did it even work.

"My teeth touched your tongue!" she gasps in horror. "What if you-"

"You didn't," he insists again, taking a step towards her.

She looks at him, eyes wide, terrified.

"Stay away from me," she whispers. "Before you get yourself killed."

He doesn't have a chance to say anything else - she just tugs open the door, and disappears through it, still wearing claws and fangs.

He can still taste the copper in his mouth, but he isn't worried. There's no way that would turn him into a werewolf, right?

What the fuck had he been-

The door yanks open again, and Granger is standing there, staring at him, her mouth opening and closing. He just... waits. He had already fucked this up enough, somehow.

"We should probably do research," she finally snaps. "And take notes."

He blinks, not answer... had that not been the very thing they had argued about this morning? She had accused him of turning her into an experiment. He has half a mind to be a little shit, and speaks without thought.

"Yeah. That would probably be a good idea."

She blinks, then scoffs, rolling her eyes. 

"You're a terrible bloody person," Granger says, turning and leaving the room.

He stands there, in silence, watching and waiting for her to return again. She had just gotten the last word, but witches were confusing, and werewolves apparently even more so.

The room remains quiet, however. 

He doubts she can hear him, but still, he says the word.

"Sorry."

Chapter Text

 8 November 1998 - 4 Days After the Full Moon

"Mr Malfoy."

The voice rings out loud and clear, and he freezes in his steps. He didn't often walk this corridor, as it brought him close to Ravenclaw Tower, but on nights where he had Astronomy, he had few choices. There's no one else around, and he knows which office he is near... he had lingered outside of it far too often in Sixth Year.

This whole corridor, in fact, brings back a number of horrid memories.

"Headmistress," he says, turning to look at Professor McGonagall.

He had been expecting this, but the longer he had gone under the radar... well, he had honestly assumed that she had simply washed her hands of him, not really caring that he was skipping class, skipping meals, just... going through the motions.

It's long overdue, this talk between them, except... well, he knows that she knows about Granger. What he doesn't know... is whether or not she knows that he knows.

It's an exhausting thought, and he's ready to talk to someone about it. He can't get over the idea that she might have poisoned herself on purpose.

And the kiss - well...

The sex dreams had become something... more. Ever since that kiss, she was more active in the dreams, climbing atop him, her nails raking down his back, her body arching and begging, and he... he never saw her face, but it was Granger, and he-

"Mr Malfoy!" calls the Headmistress again, trying to snap his attention back onto her.

Almost immediately, his blood runs cold as he realizes, in horror, that he has once again lost himself in thought about Granger, naked in his bed... and this time, while the Headmistress is staring at him.

"Yes?" he finally says, approaching her and trying to get his heart to stop racing.

"I have been looking for you at meal times," she says, looking down at him.

He gives her a shrug and nothing more. Anyone that had been paying attention should have long ago noticed that he was never in the Great Hall when others were. Always the first in for breakfast, always the last in for dinner. Never lunch. It was too hard, given how many different schedules there were.

"Do not tell me that a growing boy such as you is skipping meals along with their classes," she says, as though actually concerned.

"According to the Ministry, I'm no longer a boy, Headmistress, but no worries, I'm growing just fine," he says with a roll of his eyes-

The look she fixes him tells him that she'll take none of his shit.

"Very well then, Mr. Malfoy. If you would like to be treated like a grown man, then, step into my office. We need to discuss your recent attendance, unless you would like to continue your probation behind bars."

A part of him wants to say yes - wouldn't it be easier? At least in Azkaban... well, the dementors were gone, at least, and he could sit in silence, no longer wondering what's going to kill him next, except... it would mean leaving Granger, and that... scares him, for some odd reason.

"Mr Malfoy!" she snaps.

He jumps forward, following after her, certainly looking more like a scolded boy rather than a man, but - he doesn't have to tell anyone about this.

He sits down across from the desk once in the Headmistress's office, determined to not look at the wall of portraits. He had been in the office a few times during the previous year, before he had been kept back at the Manor. He knew what was behind him. He knew what he didn't want, or need, to see.

"Now then, according to your probation, you are required to attend classes and pass them, along with taking your NEWTs, so that you may find a place after your time at Hogwarts."

He knows what find a place really means - it means working at the Ministry, under someone's thumb, until they can either turn him into a good little Wizard, or he acts up enough they can lock him away.

Problem is, he doubts anyone would want him in their department.

"I am attending my classes," he says, settling his arms on the arms of the chair, his fingers curling at the end, gripping it as he often saw his father do. "And passing them."

"You miss entire days at times," the McGonagall says, taking her glasses from her nose as she does so.

"Some days I'm not feeling well," he says with a shrug. 

"You're going off to the Forbidden Forest, spending time in the lab, and venturing out to Hogsmeade, which is against your probation."

Draco just stares at her. She's a smart witch. If she bothered to look at the dates...

"If I look here at the dates, you missed..."

She's looking at a calendar, tracking them, and he watches as it seems to click. Her eyes go along, back and forth, and then she looks up at him, calculating, analyzing. His face gives away nothing, and he waits until she looks up once more, staring at him, questioning...

He decides to just clear the air. He doubts she would actually betray Granger, but if he gives a little...

"I was in the Forbidden Forest gathering potion ingredients. I was in the labs brewing a special potion. And I've been in Hogsmeade, monitoring that the potion works."

They stare at one another for a long time, and Draco knows that she knows that he knows, except... she still says nothing. Just stares.

She stares long enough, he ends up speaking again.

"I trust that you would... encourage me to continue in this?" he asks, raising a brow.

McGonagall just stares at him for a moment longer, and he... well, he is just a boy, so he cracks first.

"Granger obviously bungled up the potion for October, but I think the results of last week prove that my brewing was superior. She did have that little bit of trouble, but-"

"What trouble?" McGonagall asks.

He realizes, then, that Granger might have not told her about the classroom... about the fangs and the claws. Most certainly, obviously, not about the kiss.

So he lies, by telling the truth.

"About how long it took for her to transform. I've been monitoring the phases of the moon, watching, and-"

McGonagall begins to rise from her seat, practically hovering over him, and suddenly he realizes... he may have made a mistake. He had thought, by playing his hand, that McGonagall would be grateful - hadn't she tried to insist that Granger needed help? And now, she had her wand in her hand.

"You can't Obliviate this from me," he says quickly. "I've known for months. I was there, when Greyback bit her the first time. This isn't something you can just take away."

She's still staring at him, wand in hand, but she doesn't move.

"I want an Oath from you, that you won't reveal her secrets."

Draco just stares at her, lifting his chin. There's no third in the room, but it feels similar to the library, with Granger, when he swore to never tell a soul.

"I would never betray her like that," he snaps.

The Headmistress settles back into her seat, still staring at him, and he waits for her to say something more, but then, she settles her glasses back on her face, sets down her wand, and picks up her quill.

"You've clearly been unwell. Remnants of curses and hexes from the war. I imagine it was not peaceful, living with Voldemort in your house," she says idly, as though giving him an excuse.

She even says it as though she doesn't think he had actually suffered at all.

Funny, how the light imagined things.Did she think he was taking tea with the madman every day, discussing the lives of Muggles while enjoying biscuits?

"And the ministry?" Draco asks, wanting to be certain that the ministry would not find out that he had been skipping his classes.

"Do not get caught off of school grounds," the Headmistress says, not looking up at him. "I will not provide you with an excuse for it. If the ministry was to find out-"

"What, that I was brewing wolfsbane, monitoring a werewolf?"

She does look up at him at that, and he watches as her eyes thin, as she contemplates her response.

"Do you know what would happen to her, what laws were changed during the war? They could simply drag her off, put her in a cage, and leave her there. She has no rights, and is considered a creature. They would take her wand."

He gives no response, just stares at the Headmistress, his face entirely blank. He had previously guessed that Granger feared the ministry, and why wouldn't she? So many had stood by, silent, while the Dark Lord took power... and while so many of the laws would soon be overturned, at present... she has no rights.

In fact, Muggleborns are still not even technically allowed to have wands...

"I know what you think of me," Draco finally says, rising from his seat. "And, in fact, I know what you think of all Slytherins, of most Purebloods for that matter. You think that we all blindly supported him, that we all wish Potter had lost. You put the other Slytherins in the dungeon while a battle raged on... I know what you think of Slytherins."

"Mr Malfoy, I-"

Any other time, Draco would have held his tongue. He knows that she holds the keys to his freedom, knows that she could easily have him sent to Azkaban, but now... now he has a bit of leverage. She fears what will happen to Granger, fears what will happen if the ministry finds out that she's a werewolf.

He won't betray Granger... ever. His fate is, without question, tied to hers. The thought of her locked up in a cage, screaming, without her magic... He would never betray her.

But McGonagall doesn't know that, and for the first time in a long time... he's going to just be honest.

"You are wrong," he says, cutting the old woman off. "You have no idea how we were raised. You cannot even contemplate what we have endured. The fear. We all knew long before the rest of you what life had in store for us - my mother. He threatened to kill my mother. It wasn't just my life. And Professor Snape knew. I've been told that he was on the side of the light in the end - Snape knew what we all went through, which means the old Headmaster knew as well... and yet, you continue to treat us as though we spent the war laughing while you all bled."

He slams his hand on the desk, and shoves up his shirt sleeve to show the mark, the one he hates, the one he refuses to look at.

"Did you hear about what happened when I gained this? My father was imprisoned, and I was dragged before the Dark Lord, a wand held to my mother's throat. She begged them to not do it, but he did it anyways, told me I was chosen, but I knew the truth - it was a suicide mission, a punishment. Either I died killing Dumbledore, or my mother died for my failure. There was no other choice for me."

Her eyes are wide as she stares at it, not responding, and he pushes it one step further, just... 

"Do you know about Theo's mom? Do you know about Blaise's brothers? Do you know about Pansy's little sister? Do you even care? Do you care what happened to us? Or are we just the forgotten ones, the ones that have to suffer. It's easy to pick up that the Slytherins are being left to handle their own... make it more obvious that you hate us, why don't you? We are not our parents, and yet, we are paying for their crimes. The Dark Lord made us pay for our parents, our grandparents even. And you... you think you're so much better? What other choice did we have? What other choice did I have?"

He waits... waits for her to say something... to say anything. But she does not.

Instead, she takes off her glasses once more, and rests her hands on the desk, staring at them. Eventually, he takes a step back, and returns to his seat, shoving his shirt sleeve back down.

"Tom Riddle was once a boy," she finally says, her voice sounding far off. "Your father was once a boy. All of you, children once, were raised in this school. I sometimes wonder if the sorting... I wonder if it does more harm than good. Keeping us all separate... I've heard it said that no one from Gryffindor ever turned evil, and yet, Peter Pettigrew turned on his friends. I've heard it said that no one from Slytherin cares about the light, but Andromeda Tonks... bless her... She married a Muggleborn."

He watches as she rubs at her face, a sigh leaving her lips, and he waits for the point of it all. Waits for an apology, or...

"What is it, that you think the Slytherins need?" she finally asks, looking up at him.

His lips part, and he - he has no answer.

"You should ask the Eighth Years," he finally says. "They're the ones helping the younger years move about the halls safely."

She raises a brow, then asks, "Do you not count as one of them?"

He looks down at his arm, swallows, then shakes his head.

He hasn't spoken to any of his housemates. He's too afraid. He knows... he knows that some of them blame him, he knows that some of them hate him, and he knows that some... they want answers he cannot give.

"You are never at mealtimes, you are often lurking the hallways moving about quickly, and I have been informed that you do not speak to other students. Why is that?"

He doesn't give an answer at first, but... she seems... not accusatory. Helpful, perhaps? Not... just... if she wants to help the Slytherins... He doesn't want to use Granger's freedom as a bargaining chip, but at the moment, her well-being is the only thing that he and the Headmistress have in common. The only goal that they share. The only thing that can unite them.

For Granger... he'll take a risk.

"We all know I'm going back to Azkaban eventually," Draco says, looking up at her. "They sent me here on probation because I had only just turned 16 when I was marked, technically still a child. The requirements they have on me, however... I know that students follow me about, wanting to catch me alone so they can attack me. What happens when I cast an offensive spell rather than a defensive one? I'm no longer considered a child. Or, when I leave Hogwarts, and they still have my manor and my vaults, and I am required to report to the ministry, what will happen when I try to walk the streets of Diagon Alley? They have set me up for failure."

He stares at her, watching as she lets out another sigh, her shoulders slumping as she nods. "And, anyone you speak to..."

"I'm the only one from my year marked," Draco says, finishing the thought. "The rest of them... They can say they knew nothing, but I sat at the table. He was in my home. I have no defense. The rest of my life, I am a marked man, Professor. And... I know where I will end up. Locked up, in Azkaban. But, until then..."

He thinks of her. Of Granger. Hermione Granger. He thinks about her screams inside of the shack, of her pressing her face to the glass, of their hands touching through it. He thinks about her pressing him to the wall, he thinks about the dreams, about the library, about her being alone, about their kiss, about-

"Is this about Miss Granger?" she asks softly.

He swallows down the desire to snap the word no at her, and instead gives a nod of his head.

"I worry about her," the Headmistress confesses, her words still gentle. "She has pushed everyone away, deliberately. Blaming the other students, blaming Mr Potter..."

"What?" he asks, looking up at her, confused.

She shakes her head, as though just remembering, and moves about the papers on her desk, as though to busy herself. "The third morning of classes, students were trying to congregate around Miss Granger, to ask her about the war, and she..."

He does the math in his head, counting the days. The third of September would be two days before the Full Moon. She would have been agitated, riled up, struggling to contain herself.

"She blamed them all for what happened during the war. Called them all weak for hiding out in the school. She blamed them for the death of Mr Weasley, the deaths of the Lupins, the deaths of... Well, she blamed them all for being weak, and their parents as well. Mr Longbottom and Miss Weasley both tried to calm her, but she-"

He watches as a single tear rolls down the woman's face, and she gently blots at it with a handkerchief. 

"She did much the same to Mr Potter, or so she told me. She blamed him for the death of their friend. Blamed him for... everything."

He stares at her, confused, not understanding. Why would Granger, who seemed to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders, blame her friends, blame everyone else around her, for what had happened in the war? She had been so forgiving to him, she had accepted his terrible apologies, she had...

"She did it on purpose," he says without thought, staring at the woman.

"She pushed everyone away," she confirms. "To keep them safe. If they all thought she blamed them for things outside of their control-"

"Then they would keep their distance... Oh Granger, you idiot," he breathes out, shaking his head.

It all makes sense, now, why she goes through the Full Moon alone, why Potter isn't beside her, why she eats alone, studies alone, why she- why no one looks at her.

She blames them all, or so they think, and there was nothing they could do to change her mind. Of course they would avoid her, hoping that she, in time, became more...

"She's ruining her friendships to protect them from her?" he asks, although he doesn't have to.

He gets it now. He understands all of it. Is that not the reason he avoids his friends as well? Because he doesn't have an explanation? Because... he doesn't even know what to say?

"I'm glad that she is speaking to you," the Headmistress gives in answer. "And, while I wish you were in class more often, I will excuse any absences, so long as your coursework is all turned in on time, and your marks remain acceptable."

He nods his head and rises from the seat, gathering up his books so that he may go to class. "Thank you, Headmistress."

He's nearly to the door when she calls out one last thing. "And Mr Malfoy... let's keep this conversation between us. I do not think Miss Granger would be pleased to know that I am aware of your friendship."

He wants to tell her that it's not a friendship, wants to ask why she thinks Granger would care, but...

He is running late to class, and he...

He has a lot to think about.

Like, what are Granger's hopes for the future, if she's simply pushing everyone else away? And... how does she expect to get through life if she's hiding out, and hiding her friendships from the few people she is still talking to, and-

How could Potter accept this? How could Potter simply... How could he just leave Granger behind, knowing she's hurting. What could she have possibly said that would end such a friendship?

He doesn't have any of the answers, but just thinking about it...

He has to talk to her. A sit down conversation, a real conversation, that doesn't just end in one of them running away, particularly her. She can't keep running from this, from being a werewolf, from her friendships, from him and whatever connection is between them.

They have to talk about this. Because... it's not going away. And in time... it's going to get worse.

Chapter Text

11 November 1998 - 7 Days after the Full Moon

For one week, Draco allows Hermione to keep her distance, allows her to come to terms with what is going on and what is happening between them, to her, around her... She clearly has no grasp on any of it, and he can imagine that it must be overwhelming, but... at some point, they have to talk about it.

And today is the day.

The previous month, he had attempted to have a conversation on the New Moon, and that had resulted in.... him getting absolutely nowhere. And then, he had been forced to wait until a week before the Full Moon. She had nearly killed him.

This month, he has a new approach. While it's still seven days from the Full Moon, this time around, she's losing strength rather than gaining it. He's been watching her all week, watching as she slows down in her steps, as her body sags a little, no longer so tense, and he knows from his research that this is perhaps as human as she will ever feel.

When he sees her in the library, he makes his move.

Sitting down across from her, he quickly mutters a silencing charm, so that no eavesdroppers can listen in. He wants to speak freely, perhaps for the first time ever. No more dodging around what is going on between them, no more careful words and glances around. No more of these side-long glances they've been having all week.

He has to talk to her, and is has to be today, if for no other reason than stopping the bloody dreams.

All week, all week they’ve been...

He blames it on his blood, the single drop of blood, from his tongue to her mouth. He had been able to taste the copper afterwards, but there had been no more blood after that first drop. She had been worried, that night, that he might have accidentally triggered a shift in himself from the single cut, but... he hadn't felt any more hunger, his body hadn't been wracked with fever or chills. There had been no signs that he had been affected by the cut.

But the dreams...

Perhaps it's the connection between them. It would make sense. A drop of blood to seal it, or something? He doesn't know. He doesn't know anything about werewolves and their connections and...

All he knows is that the dreams are driving him insane.

He can taste her now, taste the sweat on her skin, and he can feel her. With his eyes closed, Draco thinks he could know her just by touch, by scent, by taste, all thanks to those stupid dreams. They've been ramped up to a ten in intensity, in how real they feel, in-

And that kiss. He can still taste that kiss. He wants it again. He wants to kiss her again.

Clearly, madness has overtaken him.

She doesn't even look up from her book when he sits down and casts the spell, but before his mouth is even open, she's speaking. 

"How are you feeling?" she asks idly, as though speaking about the weather. She might not say it explicitly, but he knows what she really wants to know. Does he think she bit him hard enough, or cut him enough, that he's turning.

"No sign of fever or chills. I had my dinner disgustingly well cooked. It was atrocious, by the way, but better than the bloody meat I had attempted to eat the day before. No signs of any sort of transformation or affliction."

Almost immediately, he can feel a shift, like a cold breeze brushes over him, and he watches as her eyes stop on the page, then flick up to him. For a brief second, they stare at one another, and then her eyes are back on the page of the book, although he doesn't think they are moving, reading. 

"Is that what you think this is?" she asks, her words sounding... careful. "An affliction?"

He doesn't know what else to call it, and for a brief moment, he wonders if Muggles have a different definition for the word. He can't imagine so, but... well... "Well, yes. I have seen you suffer for long hours. Would you not call it pain and suffering?"

She's still not reading, but she's also not looking up at him. He watches as she chews at her bottom lip, as though biting off the skin from it, and he wants to reach over, take it from between her teeth, and suck it between his own lips.

Fuck. How is he supposed to have a conversation with her, about the insane sex dreams, when all he can do while talking to her is dream about having sex with her?

"What are you thinking about?" she asks, jerking him out of his thoughts.

"Why?" he hurriedly asks, worrying that she might.,. How much of her senses does she still retain? Greyback had always said he could smell fear... Could she smell desire?

"Your face," she says, moving a hand from the book to gesture around her own. "You look in pain."

He can feel his face drop at her words. In pain? He looked in pain, while thinking about her... in bed with... 

How is it every conversation with her so quickly goes off track?

"You didn't answer my question," he says, shifting in the seat and setting his forearms on the table between them, his fingers interlocking. "I was thinking about the Shack. About you... Granger, I don't think I'll ever be able to forget that first night."

She smirks for a brief moment, her eyes definitely on his hands, and then it falls. He wants to ask what is on her mind, but he remains silent.

"An affliction is an apt word," she finally says, her brow wrinkling as she thinks about it. "I've also heard it described as a curse. A punishment. A torture... And I know that... What you saw, it was the worst of it, that night. Well, after I was bitten was..."

Her voice trails off, and he watches her blanch, likely at the memory, before she begins speaking once more.

"It's not all bad. I'm just still new. I think I struggle with it more than others, because, allowing myself to just... let go and trust my instincts... it goes against the core of who I am. I'm fighting it."

It makes sense, that she struggles because she's fighting it, fighting back, but that doesn't really answer his question. If it isn't an affliction, then what is it? What about being a werewolf isn't so bad?

He waits for her to answer that question, but he can tell with one glance that she's lost in thought, her gaze on the table, likely thinking about what she has just said. He wants to help her... he wants to help himself, but helping her... If he can help her become more in tune with being a werewolf, then maybe...

Maybe whatever is happening to the two of them, between the two of them... 

"Then how do we get you to stop fighting it?" he asks, staring at her.

Her eyes flick up to his, she blinks, and then - she recoils. The open book in her lap gets pressed to her chest, her arms across over it, and he can tell that she's... terrified of something. What has he done wrong this time?

"Hermione?" he asks.

"Don't call me that," she snaps.

He pulls back from the table, hands in the air, trying to calm her down. The last thing he needs right now is for an angry werewolf to attack him in the middle of the library. Silencing charm or no, people would notice.

"You were the one that told me to use your name," he reminds her.

"Yes, when I was... don't call me that."

He hears what she says. He knows that a boundary has been placed. He can see her discomfort, and yet... he can't help himself. He just... has to play with death. Spit in his face, so to speak.

"Why not?" he asks, hands gripping the edge of the table as he leans forward. "Why are you pushing everyone away? You pushed away Longbottom, quite literally. You hold the Headmistress at a distance. Why, I heard even Potter-"

"Have you been spying on me?" she asks, standing from her seat. "Asking around about me? Are you trying to draw attention to me?"

Draco laughs, standing up from the table as well, trying to use his height to his advantage. 

"You're pushing everyone away, Granger. You're pushing them away, because you're treating this like a project, like an assignment. You think that you can just research, practice, perfect, and then move forward with your life, but you don't... this is why you're struggling! You're treating this like something you have to do once, without accepting that this is your life. Why are you the one out collecting the ingredients for your potion? Longbottom seems to excel at Herbology. And, while I'm good at potions, wasn't Potter old Sluggy's perfect student? You should be doing this with your friends, but instead, you're pushing everyone away, and you're trying to do the same to me."

She stares at him, her jaw dropped, eyes wide, and he expects her to run, or to lash out, but instead, she simply freezes. She stares at him, just stares and stares, and he waits for her to say something, but it's like her brain has just... broken. She has no response. 

"Tell me I'm wrong," he finally demands, leaning forward over the table towards her. "Tell me you're not trying to push me away, Hermione."

He enunciates every syllable of her name, and then watches, in horror, as a single tear slides down her cheek.

He wants to take it back, take it all back, but... he's right. He knows that he's right. He has McGonagall's confirmation that he's right. She's shoving everyone away, including him. Pretty soon, she would have no one else, and then what? And then what would happen to her?

"Why do you even care?" she whispers, still standing there, staring at him, not even brushing at the tear that hangs from her jaw. He watches as a second one joins it, falling down the other side of her face.

He doesn't have an answer. Not a real one. Not one he hasn't supplied before. He wants to mention the dreams, he knows he should, but it feels wrong to talk about sex dreams when she's crying.

"What does it matter why I care?" he finally asks, stepping around the table and approaching her. There's no students in vision, as far as he can tell, and really... he doesn't care what anyone else thinks.

He reaches her, and his hand goes out, touching her shoulder. She doesn't pull away, just looks at it, then looks up at him, her eyes wide and full of fear.

"It shouldn't matter why I care. I do. You're going at this all alone, shoving everyone away... well here I am. I'm still standing. And, I want to help you. You shouldn't be doing this alone. Whatever you need, whatever I can do to help you... I'm with you, Hermione."

"Please don't say my name," she whispers, her voice cracking. "I can't... it's too familiar, it's..."

He wants to ask what about her first name is too familiar, but he thinks about who else has used her first name... her parents... her friends... Does her parents even know about her being turned?

"Granger," he says, trying to soothe her, to calm her down. "Okay. Okay, then. Not too familiar, but... you have to stop pushing me away."

She won't meet him in the eye, instead looking at the floor, trying to avoid his gaze. He wants to hug her, or just hold her, or something, before she falls apart.

"I'm going to kill you," she whispers.

It's not a threat. He knows threats. It's a warning, but not one that she wants to follow through with. She's scared. Scared of herself. Scared of what she can do.

"You're not going to kill me," he says with a bit of a grin, even though she's not looking at him. He wants to tell her that it wouldn't matter if she did, as he has no life, no future, but he keeps that to himself.

"You've seen what werewolves can do. He was there, in your home. I know... I know you probably know what happens when a werewolf catches their prey." Her voice is now a mere whisper, and he leans in closer to hear her. "What happens when I catch you?"

He doesn't have an answer for that. He knows, if she wants to chase him, she'll win. She's stronger, faster, more powerful than he could ever imagine to be, and yet... he's not afraid of her. Even when shifted, he's never afraid.

"I know what werewolves do to their prey," he whispers back, his voice just as soft. "I've seen it. But, you are missing one key difference between you and Greyback."

She looks up at him, finally, as though it's the thing she has longed to hear - what makes her so different from the man, the wolf, the creature that had bitten her, that had terrorized a generation, that had killed one of her best friends.

"Greyback... he didn't need to be a werewolf to be a terrible person. He enjoyed killing people, he enjoyed torturing them, and he enjoyed destroying lives. Being a werewolf? It just made him better at it. But you? You care about people. You care about people so much, you would rather push your friends away than risk harming them."

Her eyes are still on his, and she looks... scared. Even after his words, she's still scared.

"Do you know what my impulses tell me to do?" she breathes out, her eyes still locked with his. "Do you not understand why I can't listen to them?"

He can feel it, can sense it, can taste it. A bit of honesty, and not honesty dragged from her because she's angry. A bit of honesty, because she might actually trust him, because he wants to help her, and she... she clearly needs the help.

"Tell me," he begs, his hand on her arm loosening, drawing back to give her space. 

Her eyes are still locked on his, and he waits for them to shift, for her to smirk, something that looks more wolfish than human.. but she remains human, remains scared. And that... concerns him.

"I want to destroy you," she whispers. "I see you, and everything in me tells me to rip you apart piece by piece, until I can understand you. And, it doesn't make sense, and it terrifies me. I'm not pushing you away because I'm scared. I'm pushing you away to save your life."

He doesn't even care. He knows he should. He knows that he should be terrified. She just confessed to him that she wants to destroy him, that the part of herself she's fighting with wants to destroy him, and he...

He responds to honesty with honesty.

"I have no future when I leave this place," he whispers, his hand lifting up to touch her cheek. "They're going to send me straight back to Azkaban. So go ahead. Destroy me. I'm already done for."

Her eyes close at his touch, and he waits, watches, feels her touch leaning into him. She's so warm, and she leans into him, as though she hasn't felt touch in so long, and he...

"Destroy me if you need to, Granger... but I need you to survive. I need you to move on. You're the best of us. Of all of us. You gave up everything to save the world, and in the end... you're alone."

"That's how the world works," she says, opening her eyes to look at him. "It's cruel, and it's broken, and it's-"

"I don't care," he says, cutting her off. "I dream... I dream of..."

He wants to tell her. He wants to tell her desperately. If she wants to destroy him, so be it, but they're connected, he knows it. Whether through their loneliness or because of his blood or because of the curse, or the fact that she's a werewolf, he doesn't know or care anymore.

She's fighting this, fighting who she is, fighting back against accepting it, and he... he needs her to be alright.

Because he won't be. He knows there's nothing out there for him. No future. No happiness.

He needs her to be okay. Above everyone else... he needs her to survive.

He doesn't tell her about the dreams. 

"I'll think about what I need next," she promises, taking a step back from him, swallowing. "I don't... It's not like there's a guide to this. There's no voice telling me what to do. There's just... instinct. And as I approach the New Moon, the instinct sort of quiets... and then it gets louder again, over and over, until instinct is second nature. I lash out, and I hurt people."

"I survived a year with the Dark Lord and his army in my house," he says confidently. "Greyback roamed my family property. Whatever you need, whatever instinct tells you.... we should listen to it."

She's quiet, and then whispers a single word. "We?"

He just stares back and gives a nod. He's with her, until she accepts who she is, what she is, and he... until he can come to terms with what's between them.

Because there's definitely something between them. A bond that he can't escape. A bond that he doesn't really want to escape.

Chapter Text

15 November 1998 - 4 Days Before the New Moon

When the letter arrives, Draco is just about to leave the breakfast table. He has every intention of taking the letter and reading it in privacy, but first, he takes a glance at the envelope, and finds that his legs cannot move.

The ink is not the proper script of the Ministry, nor is it his mother's hand. It is fine penmanship, but written in the top corner is a single word. A last name. A name he has never met, and yet, has been eagerly awaiting to hear from. 

Tonks .

How long ago was it that he had written to his Aunt? He can't even remember. Weeks, surely, perhaps even a month? Somehow, time is beginning to blend together, even with how diligently he takes notes about each day - he takes notes about Granger, about how much she pays attention in class, how agitated she is, about whether or not she looks at him...

He'll have to go back and look and see how long it has been since he wrote to her. Since before the October Full Moon, he realizes as he flips it over to open.

In all that time, he still hasn't heard from his mother. Whether it's because she refuses to write to him, because the ministry will not forward his letter to her, or they will not forward her letter to him, he does not know, but so long without hearing from the woman that had risked her life to save him...

With the seal broken, he lays the parchment flat, and begins to read.

Draco,

I never expected to hear from you, although, upon reading your letter, I can understand why you would reach out now. I have often wondered whether you were more like your mother or your father, but your care and compassion for another makes that distinction rather clear.

I know the blade that you have written of, and yet, it cannot be the same one. Your friend, whomever they are, the one that was cursed with it, should be long dead by now. The curse within the blade is connected by blood, poisoning it, burning out every trace. Watching it manifest is... I wish I had never seen it occur. It takes time, so much time, more than weeks, but not longer than three months.

Whomever it is that you think is cursed by the blade, it must be another.

I wish I could be more help.

If you are able to speak to your mother, please extend my sympathies to her in regards to her husband being imprisoned. He was a terrible person that destroyed so many lives, but no witch should ever lose her wizard.

Please, continue correspondence if you so desire. I have a grandson with no other family, and I would like to one day meet you.

With kind regards,

Andromeda Black Tonks

"Ministry?" asks a voice from across from him.

Draco looks up to see Theodore Nott sitting there, eyeing him. He still hasn't spoken to his classmates, but... 

"My Aunt," Draco says carefully.

Nott stares at him across from the table, likely running through the family trees that had been beaten into him, but drawing a blank. Of course, because... Andromeda had been burned from the family tree. 

"Andromeda," Draco supplies, carefully folding up the letter and slipping it into his pocket. "She was burned from the family tree when she married a Muggleborn."

He can feel Nott's stare on him, and he looks up, waiting for a hint as to Nott's own feelings on the matter of a Pureblood marrying a Muggleborn. Nott’s face is completely passive, giving away absolutely nothing. They had never really discussed it, any of them, although everyone knew that Draco had been raised to consider Muggles as absolute filth. They all had been, but Draco had always been rather vocal about it.

"She wrote to you, or you wrote to her?" Nott asks carefully, beginning to pick at his breakfast.

Draco considers getting up and leaving, ending this conversation, but... it's nice. For the first time in a long time, he's speaking to someone, and it's not Granger, and it's not McGonagall. It's someone from before . Someone that has known him for years. Someone that Draco, the old Draco, would have trusted, at least mildly.

"I wrote to her initially," Draco says as he picks up his empty tea cup. He refills it, and casually relaxes at the table. He'll stay as long as he has tea... and Nott doesn't make him want to murder him. "I had questions about a family heirloom."

Nott is silent at first, and Draco thinks that it might be done, but...

"If she was burned from the family tree, why did you call her your Aunt?" Nott asks, looking up from his plate.

Well. He didn't really have a response. Not one previously prepared, at least, but... 

Eventually, someone is going to see him with Granger. Someone is going to catch them in the library, or see them roaming the halls, or see him outside of the infirmary doors while she is within. Eventually, someone is going to figure it out. Granger is quite literally THE Muggleborn of the Wizarding War. His Aunt... 

"Because she is family," Draco said casually. "And I have a cousin. I don't think it really matters who she married. Family is everything, and I am sorely lacking it these days."

There's no judgement on Nott's face, but he is contemplating something, that much, Draco can tell. He sips at his tea, trying to remain calm, waiting for whatever piece it is that Nott is planning to drop.

"Did you know that her daughter married our old Defense Professor. Professor Lupin. They both died in the battle."

He didn't know that. He didn't know any of that. So his cousin, Andromeda's daughter, married a werewolf? Then that would mean... the cousin he had just mentioned... He was half werewolf? How would that even work? Would he have the tendencies like the oldest Weasley, wanting rare meat, or would he be like Granger, fully shifting?

He stares at Nott, and then... something in the back of his mind... clicks.

"You acted as though you didn't know who my Aunt is," Draco says, setting his cup down on the table.

"Most don't recognize their family members by title after they've been burned from the family, but I remember my father talking about her, how she would have made a suitable wife," Nott says with a shrug... but... Draco can tell that he has Nott caught.

"You even knew that she had a daughter, and she had married our professor," Draco accuses, standing up from the table slowly. "And... you didn't call him a half-breed. You didn't even point out that he was a werewolf. You just called him our Professor."

Theo carefully sets down his cup, and looks up at him, waiting...

Draco doesn't budge.

"Do you want to tell me why I've seen you and Granger going at it multiple times in the library?" Theo finally asks.

Draco sits down slowly at the table, and watches as Nott resumes his breakfast.

Nott. Theo. He doesn't even know. Is this a friend? An enemy? He knows that Theo, his old friend, hated his father. What his feelings were otherwise... Draco doesn't know.

"Have you been spying on me?" Draco asks, staring at his old friend.

Nott just laughs. "Sorry, but you're not that important to me. However, most are terrified of both you and Granger - she's become violent, and you're a Death Eater. Former. I don't really know. So, most avoid even looking at the two of you. But not me. Well, no, Granger is terrifying, but you... you don't scare me."

Draco isn't sure how he feels about that. He doesn't really want to terrify anyone, but... being scary does give him a bit of privilege. A privilege he needs if he's going to protect Granger.

"Very well then," Draco says, picking up his cup once more. "All cards on the table."

Nott stares back, and sets down his utensils, picking up his own cup, then gives a nod of agreement.

"I think blood purity is shit," Draco says with a shrug. "There are some complete idiots walking around with wands, all because their parents had them. Meanwhile, Muggleborns with nothing walk around this school ten times more powerful. And... I don't give a shit about my Aunt, to be honest, but she does have knowledge I need. And Granger, she's bloody terrifying, but she's the only person here that knows what I went through. I'm the only person that knows..."

He swallows, not intending to reveal her secret, but... he knows some of the tortures she went through... He knows things...

"At the manor. I know there are rumors about what happened, when they were Snatched. I was there. I don't think either of us will forget what happened that night."

He says it ominously, but... he doesn't want to discuss it. Not with Nott, not with anyone. 

His cards are on the table, and he gives another nod then takes a sip of his tea.

Theo just grins.

"Good. Blood purity is shit. Look at Crabbe and Goyle, they-"

Draco's face blanches at the memory of Crabbe, at the memory of Goyle. Crabbe, burned in the flames, and Goyle... he had killed a student during the battle. He was in Azkaban for it.

"Yeah, well," Draco says with a shrug. "Guess I came to the conclusion a bit late."

Nott takes a sip of his tea, then sets it down carefully before finally saying...

"Well, yeah. Your father told you to think that way. Both of our fathers did, but... Lucius, he wasn't a tosser. He was a good father, actually. Loved you. Loved you so much he ran into the battle looking for you. Do you know what my father did during the battle?"

Draco doesn't know. He doesn't know anything about what happened to most anyone else at the battle. He only knew about Goyle because he had seen it happen, had seen him throw the Killing Curse, and Draco knows that the fact he never actually killed anyone had saved him the same fate that met Goyle.

"Tried to kill me. Said now was a prime time to get rid of me."

Draco's mouth goes dry as he stares across the table at Theo, not even sure what to say. His own father trying to kill him... 

"Well, he's dead now, and I never threw a single curse at the final battle, only tried to protect the injured. So now, he's dead, your father is gone, and we're still sitting here, because clearly, while the ministry tried to get you, they couldn't actually find you had done anything other than be a prat. Now I see you lurking around with Granger and not caring about blood purity."

Draco says nothing, just stares at Nott as he casually speaks, picking at his food, before taking a bite.

There's silence between them, Draco not moving.

"It's about time," Nott finally says. "Now, will you stop lurking the hallways and come sit with the rest of us?"

His tea cup is empty, but he sets it down, and with a grin, refills it just as more students begin to walk into the Great Hall.

 

16 November 1998 - 3 Days Before the New Moon

The letter has been burning a hole in his pocket since he slipped it in there, and now that he's alone, finally...

Theo had spent the entire day a step behind Draco - they chatted between classes, Blaise still ominously silent as they did so, and for the first time in a long time, Draco felt he could relax. There had been no target on Theo - he had proved himself during the Battle of Hogwarts in regards to whose side he was on. As for Blaise, he had been in Italy, far away from the fighting, waiting for the final results. These two, at least, were safe.

They wouldn't be ruined by proximity to him.

When he had gone to bed the night before, after staying up late chatting with Theo by the fire, he had forgotten about the letter, but the next morning, when he woke early... 

Now, he's left sitting at his desk, staring at it.

He needs to respond. He has to respond. He wants to respond, but what is there to even say?

She says that the blade should kill... well, Granger is still alive. Could it be that her turning into a werewolf saved her? Is there any chance that the bond between them is related to the cursed blade?

He doesn't want to tell his Aunt Granger's secret, even in search of answers, and yet... he wishes he could talk to the woman, drag Granger with him. There's no other werewolves Draco knows of, but his Aunt is raising the child of one. Perhaps she would know... something?

Anything.

But, it's Granger's secret, and to even bring up his Aunt would mean bringing up the scar on her arm.

It's healed, fully, but the word, it's still there. He can tell, during the full moon, that it irritates her - she always scratches at it, scratches so hard, he fears she might claw it off. Could that be the lingering curse? Has it simply been slowed because of now being a werewolf? Is she still destined to die?

He has no answers with a thousand questions, and so, he sits staring at a blank piece of parchment. He has to respond, he wants to, he does...

He wants to meet this cousin. For some reason... it matters to him. Truly, he actually... cares. They're the only two heirs to the House of Black, and he wants to know about his cousin, the child of a half-blood and a werewolf. 

He doesn't even really care about either of those facts. He just wants... family.

The parchment sits blank for the longest of times, even past the normal hour that he would head down to the Great Hall, until a knock comes at his door. Theo pokes his head in - uninvited - and Draco finally pens a few words before going to join them for breakfast. He'll send the letter from there.

They survived, but the wound still bothers them. Would lycanthropy stop the curse from killing?

 

Chapter Text

19 November 1998 - New Moon

When Draco arrives early to breakfast, he expects to see Granger sitting there, eating. He had been unable to find an excuse for Theo, who had practically attached himself to Draco's side, and had simply not told the other Snake that he had plans for breakfast - he would simply move to the Slytherin table once Granger had finished.

All of his plans, his easy nature, the relaxation he feels upon finding friendship once more... it all disappears when he reaches the Great Hall, and finds the tables empty.

He knows what day it is - he keeps explicit track of everything now, wanting to keep his notes organized, and he knows what day it is. The New Moon. She should be at her lowest, and in class the previous day, she had struggled to keep her eyes open - he had taken extra notes for her and given them to her quietly after class. 

He knows she should be here, because she has to keep up her energy. He has a theory about it, about why she craves protein the most at the New Moon, but it's unproven, and unimportant, because right now, she should be at the Gryffindor table, slowly eating her way through tall plate of sausages and bacon, and yet... she's nowhere to be seen.

All he can do is... freeze. He racks his brain, trying to think, where else could she be? If she were not sitting in the Great Hall... where would she be?

His first thought is that, somewhere along the way, on her way to breakfast, she must have fallen, too weak to stand on her own. He breaks off in a sprint, running up the flights towards Gryffindor Tower, looking for her, not calling out her name, but... he looks everywhere along the path, along whatever route she might have taken. 

When he asks the portraits, they all kindly explain that she had left earlier in the morning.

If she's not within Gryffindor Tower, and she's not in the Great Hall, and she's not along the way between the two-

He bangs on the door to the infirmary. When Madam Pomphrey opens, she sniffs at him, as though she smells something foul.

"Granger," he says in a rush, breathing hard. "Hermione Granger. Please tell me she's here."

The Matron stares at him, as though considering answering...

"Please!" he says in a rush. "I know that you know. She is not in the Great Hall, nor is she in Gryffindor Tower. She was seen leaving by the portraits, and I cannot find her. It's important."

She seems to soften slightly, and then shakes her head.

"You may want to check with the Headmistress," she offers, closing the door behind her.

It's not a terrible idea, but when he reaches the door, he gets no answer when he bangs on it.

Perhaps Granger would have gone to the Staff Dormitories? Although, he does not know where they are. Snape's own had been near to the Slytherin Common Room, while Slughorn... Draco has no idea.

Where would she be? Where would Granger be?

He heads towards the library, not knowing where else to look, when a sudden thought comes to him. It's absurd, really, and he should honestly check the library first, or even the Great Hall, as there could be a chance she has since made her way there, but...

Instead, he heads out to the Courtyard. It's still dark, early in the morning, but something inside of him leads him out there. He looks around every column, around the fountain, looks in each little nook, until, far in the back, looking towards the forest, he sees her. Well, her hair. It's blowing wild in the wind, her cloak wrapped around her, and he rushes over, terrified of what he might find.

She's cold to the couch, but her eyes are wide open, and he can tell that she's breathing.

"What are you doing out here?" he demands, wanting to shake her, but instead, whispering a warming charm over her. Her hands, sitting on her knees, are cold to the touch. 

Without thought, he picks them up, and begins rubbing them between his own.

His eyes are still on her, but her gaze is off towards the forest, and he turns, looking to see what has caught her gaze.

Nothing. He sees nothing.

"That's where the moon should be," she says, her voice sounding faint, like a whisper. "I can feel her calling to me, but I cannot see her. Like, a thread between us, and I want to go to her, I want to free myself with her, but she's gone."

It sounds like poetry, beautiful agonizing poetry. Her gaze turns towards him, and he's unable to look away, their eyes caught.

"Have you ever felt that? Felt as though something is drawing you towards it, and you cannot stop yourself. You are simply... trapped within it's hold, but you do not even care, do not want to stop it. Do you understand what it means, to feel like you belong to something else?"

He can't look away. He just stares at her.

You , he wants to whisper, wants to confess. You make me feel that way .

"We have to go inside, get you warm," he says instead.

When he goes to pick her up, it's like trying to move the heaviest weight. He knows he can't use a feather charm on her, but there has to be a way...

"I want to stay here," she whispers. "I feel closer to her here."

"Why not up at the tower," he groans, giving up on lifting her, and instead taking off his robe to wrap around her. It's bloody chilly, but he grits his teeth against it and casts a warming charm around himself.

"I want to be out with her," she says softly. "No enchantments around us, no glass pane. I just wanted to be free."

He doesn't understand the connection that she must feel with the moon, but he understand that. He understands feeling trapped, wanting something, wanting to be free to have it.

It's too cold to stay out there, but he can't carry her inside if she refuses to cooperate, and he can't leave her behind.

"Next time you feel this way, let me know so I can bring blankets," he demands, rubbing his hands together. "You truly won't go in?"

She finally looks away from the moon and instead looks at him, her eyes looking him up and down. She seems to be thinking about something long and hard, before she finally asks... "Next time, would you join me in the Astronomy Tower?"

He thinks about her question. She doesn't know that he's taking Astronomy, that he has been back in the very tower where it all ended for him, or perhaps where it all began for the rest of them, but... she's asking him something that she thinks would upset him. Asking him to trust her, to take a risk.

"If that's where you want to go next time, then I will be there," he promises. "Here, shift forward. Let me sit with you."

She leans forward just enough that he can swing a leg over the wall and lean back against the column. Her body leans back against his, and he hikes his feet up onto the wall, knees bent, cradling her within his hold. It's not until her hair is in his face that he realizes what he has done, the intimate hold they're in. 

He wraps one arm, and then another around her, underneath his cloak, but over hers. He feels warmer from the charms, but also warm because of her.

And then, together, they stare at where the moon should be, but is not.

He wants to ask what's on her mind, wants to ask what she's thinking about, but for some reason, the thought of it terrifies him. Something deep down tells him not to ask... Tells him that he isn't ready to hear the answer.

He asks anyway.

"What are you thinking about?" he murmurs against her ear.

She's quiet, and he realizes that she's not even breathing. He waits, and waits, and then her chest moves just a touch, and her head turns. He can feel her forehead pressing against the side of his neck, and it's so intimate, holding her in his arms, her teeth no longer chattering, her hands no longer shaking... 

He shouldn't have asked. He knows, now, that he's not ready for the answer.

"Do you ever think about how big the world is?" she asks softly, her voice a mere murmur.

He hasn't. Or, he has. He's thought about the Wizarding World in Britain... he's thought about how his actions have caused so much death. But the world itself...

"Did you know I'm the only werewolf left in Britain? The few that survived the battle of Hogwarts, they were either sent to Azkaban or to the continent. Any others that were not on the side of Voldemort were gathered up after the creature legislation during the war. They didn't survive. The Ministry thinks that Fenrir is the only one left, or that he'll be able to lead them to others, but he's dead, which leaves just me."

He doesn't want to ask how she knows that, doesn't want to know how it's even possible, but...

"I'm the only one. Completely alone. And sometimes, I just think... wouldn't it be better if there were no werewolves left at all?"

His body freezes at the thought. Would she leave? Would she truly leave Britain? Would he... would he be able to follow her?

"Where would you go?" he asks, his voice sounding thick and rough.

"Go?" she asks, her voice filled with confusion.

It strikes him harder than he ever would have expected.

She doesn't mean leave Britain. She doesn't mean go somewhere else, like the continent. She doesn't mean free herself of the Wizarding World. She means...

"You can't leave," he says, ignoring the tears that well up in his eyes, and he wants to scream, to throw things, to rage and destroy, but he... he just holds her tighter, not letting go.

"Malfoy," she says, her voice trailing off.

"It's Draco," he corrects. "You should call me Draco."

His eyes are still where the moon should be, but he can feel her shifting in his arms, her hands tucked to her chest, her body curved into his, and he feels her lashes flutter against his skin before her eyes close. He knows she needs to eat, knows that she can't stay out here, but he...

He can't move. He can't even feel his arms and legs. All he knows is the feeling of her heart beating against his chest, the warmth of her breath against his skin, and he... he holds her tighter.

She doesn't mean leave. She means... ending it. Ending the pain and the suffering.

He can't even think, can't process the thought. He can't... he can't lose her. Not when he only just found her. Not when there's so much between them that they haven't said, not when there's something between them they haven't explored.

She can't. He won't... he won't let her.

His lips quiver as he finally looks away from the sky, and down towards her. Her breathing has slowed, and he... he presses a kiss to the crown of her head, her thick curls soft against his lips. 

"You can't do this to me, Granger," he breathes out against her. "I can't... what am I going to do if they lock me up? What am I going to do, knowing you're out here, all alone?"

What would he do if he was locked up, and heard the news that Hermione Granger had-

He needs help. He's known that for a while, known that he can't do this by himself, that she needs people, that she needs friends, and he...

Look at how much better he's felt the past few days, just because of his renewed friendship with Theo.

He needs help... and so does she.

As soon as they move from this spot, he's writing to Potter... and talking to Longbottom. A real herbologist working on the ingredients? Plus, an old friend.

And Andromeda. He hasn't heard back yet from the letter he sent, but... She could keep a secret. She could keep Granger's secret.

He needs help, before he loses her all together.

It's not something he ever thought he would have to be worried about. At least, not like this.

Apparently... he's wrong.

 

20 November 1998 - 1 Day After the New Moon

He sits up from his bed, a cold chill running down his spine. 

He's known, all along, that they were connected, but this...

In the dream...

They had been in the forest. For the first time ever, it's not in his bed, not in a shower, it's just them, racing through, his hand held tight in hers as she leads him through.

She had looked back at him, their eyes locking, and she had smiled, happy, laughed...

Eventually, she had stopped, backing up against a tree, and he had kissed her, kissed her without thought.

It's a dream, a fantasy, it's... he knows that they're on the Malfoy Estate, and it's nowhere Granger should know, but he knows it - it's his dream, his desire.

And then it shifts. It shifts to Granger, in the Dining Room at Malfoy Manor, screaming. Screaming, except...

It's not her laying on the floor. It's him, with a werewolf leaning over him. 

From his fantasy to her worst nightmare-

His heart is still pounding in his chest, and he looks down at his forearm, at where the Dark Mark is starting to fade. The werewolf had been biting into his arm, slashing at it, as though trying to cut it off.

They're connected, he's known that for some time, but now...

He doesn't know what it is. Whether it's because he watched as she nearly died, or because his family bloody curse has been running through her veins for months, or because it's some sort of destiny, or even just the desires of a teenage boy coming to life - he doesn't know what it is that's happening between them.

The books on werewolves, on dreams, on bonds... they're all empty. Nothing can explain what's going on between them. There's no one else he can ask, save his Aunt, and he won't do that via letter, and he can't leave Hogwarts, and he can't tell Granger he's asking his Aunt about her, but it doesn't matter.

He doesn't need a book or a person to tell him what he knows.

He's bound to her. He's bound to Hermione Granger. 

And, for months... they've been dancing around, dodging it, but he's done with it.

He has to know. He has to know what it is that's between them. He has to have answers.

His life is bound to hers, he knows it. He just... he doesn't know how to ask. Doesn't know what to say.

But he has to know.

Chapter Text

21 November 1998 - 2 Days After the New Moon

Draco needs answers - it's no longer a confusion, no longer a distraction, not even just a pesky nagging thing in the back of his mind. He needs answers. He has to have them. At this point... it's no longer just his own sanity on the line.

What if Granger had frozen to death out there? She, a werewolf, had been ice cold as she sat out in the early morning, ice on the ground, wearing nothing but her night clothes. What will happen next month, when it’s colder, or worse, in January... what will happen to her when there’s snow on the ground, and she stands in it for hours, lost in a haze, lost as the moon goes beyond her reach.

What will happen to him? What will happen to their connection?

How will he be able to live with himself?

This has to be stopped.

She’s ignoring her very nature, all because she’s scared of her intuition and what she can do, and in turn, it’s making everything all the more difficult. He doesn’t know many werewolves, but the way that Granger is struggling to come to terms with it, struggling to settle into herself..

Greyback had always been so sure of himself, half werewolf half wizard. He had been settled. He had blended the two together. 

Granger is... falling apart.

Is this simply how it has to be? Two separate beings, fighting for control, both struggling, both lacking, both... 

In a moment of horrifying clarity, Draco stops where he is, realizing... normally, on the New Moon, Granger would have been eating, trying to sustain herself. And then, the very next New Moon, after he had told her to listen to intuition, to do as her werewolf nature desired... she had sat out staring at the New Moon.

Is this all his fault? Surely, werewolves were not supposed to sit out staring at where the moon should have been, freezing to death.

They need... research. They need studies. They need... a source. Someone that knows more than them.

There has to be someone that knows more than them.

What he wouldn't give to sit down with his Aunt.

She has not written back, yet, but he's already planning to send another letter, this time asking if she could meet him for tea, in Hogsmeade. A sit down with a woman that had more knowledge than the rest... he considers writing to Bill Weasley as well. The only other person, really, that knows about Granger... the only other person with any experience about werewolves... Of course, he isn't one himself, but he knows more.

More than Draco does, at least.

Standing in the middle of the forest, Draco blinks, and realizes where he is. While he still has enough aconite for this month's brew, he's running low on other supplies... and, given the coming snow and ice, he wants to prepare as much aconite as he can. Drying takes time, but with a properly placed stasis charm at the right moment, he could keep it through winter.

Perhaps, one day, he'll be able to keep all of the potion ingredients required for Wolfsbane on the grounds at Malfoy Manor. It's not a terrible idea - there are greenhouses and house elves and his mother...

Then again, he doubts he'll ever see the Manor again. All of it, the estate, the vaults... it's all still in the hands of the ministry.

And besides, why is he even bothering to worry about Wolfsbane Potion eight months from then? The way Granger is functioning... she’ll be lucky to make it to Yule.

That's why this potion has to be perfect. With a daytime Full Moon, it means her transformation will be fast, very fast. In fact, she had even previously described a daytime transformation as fine.

He already knows he won't be in class that day - she'll be far too out of it, which means he'll be far too distracted. What if she comes searching for him, as she had after the last full moon - what if she comes into class, with fangs and claws, searching for him.

And that... he still doesn't have an answer for any of that.

He needs an expert, but with no werewolves left in Britain, and no contacts on the continent, or at least, none of his own...

Help comes in the form of... the mother-in-law of a deceased werewolf, a half-werewolf, which, does that even count, and books that treated werewolves as though they were mindless beasts, and not witches and wizards that have been cursed.

Cursed.

Probably not the word he should use for it any longer.

He needs to just hurry up with the supplies, and get back to the school. He's pushing it for time - the brewing will take all weekend long, and he has a late start. In the future, he'll have to be much more prepared.

If there is a future.

The trek back to the school is slow, the forest slippery with fallen leaves on the ground that are icy from the morning chill, but he eventually makes it to the edge, to the line between the Forbidden Forest and the school grounds.

Standing there, wrapped tight in a cloak with the hood up and mittens on her hands, is Granger.

He forgets the basket of herbs, forgets the stasis charms on the aconite, forgets his supplies - he drops the bags and rushes to her, taking off a glove before checking her forehead, her cheeks. They're still warm, and she looks startled at his close proximity to her.

"What are you doing out here?" he asks in a rush, pulling back on his gloves and rubbing her upper arms, trying to make certain she's  warm. Why doesn't she have at least a warming charm around her? And this cloak - she needs something thicker and sturdier against the cold winds.

"What are you doing out here?" she questions back, still looking a bit confused as he tries to warm her up.

"I needed supplies," he explains, not that he owes her an explanation. "More aconite, before the snows come and freeze the stalks, and moonwort seeds, and-"

She shakes her head, cutting him off, and he pauses in his movements, his hands still wrapped around her upper arms, holding her close.

"Why?" she asks, looking up at him confused.

He blinks, not even certain how to respond. Why... What even is the question?

"Why, today?" he asks, trying to clarify. "Because it's the weekend, and I have the time."

"No, why are you gathering potion ingredients?" she asks.

... For the love of bloody hell, if it comes out, suddenly, that he has just been imagining that Hermione Granger is a werewolf... forget St Mungo's. Forget Azkaban. He's going to just jump into the lake with the giant squid.

"Because I need more ingredients for your potion," he says slowly, almost uncertain. "The stores were running a bit low, and-"

"Why do you care?" she asks, looking up at him. "And... gathering them yourself?"

... How could she even ask such a question?

"It's not as though I have the money to simply purchase the ingredients, or even the potion itself," he says awkwardly, stepping away from her to pick up the supplies. "The ministry still has possession of everything."

"If you need more supplies, I can go out there," she says quickly, as though.. why would she... "I'm not an invalid. I know that the potion is difficult, and that I cannot properly brew it with the gloves, but I can at least-"

"Granger, you're struggling to stay warm, you're struggling to walk, struggling to move from one end of the castle to another."

"I am not!" she exclaims, sounding offended. "I can help-"

"You can help by staying warm," he insists, stepping back in front of her, once again carrying the supplies. "I worry about you, even now while out in the forest."

"You worry about me?" she asks again, once again confused.

"Of course I do," he fumbles out, still not understanding. "Why wouldn't I?"

She just... stares at him. Stares, so confused.

What the... 

How...

No. This has to end.

"It's you and I now," he says awkwardly, trying to put it into words. "We're in this together. Aren't we?"

She blinks at him, then... her cheeks color. He hopes.... that it's not just warmth from his own warming charm finally reaching out and wrapping around her.

"Are we?" she asks, looking up at him.

Bloody hell...

"Come on," he says, not answering her. "It's freezing out here, and I've been walking all morning. We can head to the lab and you can watch as I work."

She doesn't say anything, just picks up pace beside him. He feels her hand reach out, brush against his, and he looks down to see she's trying to take the basket from him. He pulls it away.

"No, your hands stay warm," he insists, not wanting her to carry the basket.

She grumbles something, but he doesn't hear what.

Once they're both in the lab, Draco does his best to ignore her presence. She's deathly quiet, sitting on a stool, and just watches him. He carefully removes each ingredient, each herb, each root and seed and flower, all preserved in various stasis charms so that they can be as fresh as possible. They're all laid out independently, and then he gets to work.

With a knife and board in hand, spoons and jars and string for drying, he slowly works his way down the line, trying his best to ignore her. Every few moments, he expects her to speak up, to ask questions, to offer to help...

Instead, she stays wrapped up in the cloak.

He's just finishing up extracting the oil from the valerian roots when he looks over to see her shaking, teeth chattering. She's so quiet, and still, he worries that she's lost in a trance, as she often was on the New Moon. It's two days later, however. Shouldn't she be... growing stronger?

"Here," he says, setting down his tools and crossing over to where he had tossed his cloak upon entry.

Going to her, he takes off her thin cloak to reveal her layers of sweaters underneath. Her teeth are still chattering, and he wraps her up in his cloak, knowing that it's warmer and thicker. It's older, yes, but it will keep her warm.

"Thank you," she says, giving him a smile, but it doesn't convince him that she's alright.

"Shouldn't you be warmer?" he asks, not really knowing enough about werewolves to understand, but... Greyback had always run around half dressed, complaining that he was burning up. The wolf's blood, he had called it.

Meanwhile, Granger is drowning in fabric, and cold to the touch.

"I should be," she whispers, her teeth chattering together. "But I can't get warm."

"How long have you been like this?" he asks, confused.

"Since the New Moon?" she responds, her voice a bit uncertain.

"Since the... that was two days ago!" he exclaims, casting another warming charm over her. "Are you telling me that you've been ice cold since then?"

She gives him a shrug.

"Have you been to see Matron at least?" he asks, hoping the older woman would have an answer.

Granger just shakes her head.

Looking back towards the ingredients, Draco knows he has to continue - he needs to start brewing the potion with the ingredients that are already prepared, needs to start the fermenting process with last month's dried leaves, but... Granger also needs the infirmary.

"I'll be alright," she promises.

He grits his teeth, trying to control his annoyance. Questioning why he cares, why he's gathering ingredients himself, why it matters... and now, saying that she'll be alright? No.

"When will you understand, simply being alright, being fine... it's not good enough. You shouldn't be cold, Granger."

He has to start the potion... but if Granger is dead from freezing, what's the point of the potion.

He casts another warming charm, this time centering on her feet, trying to double the strength. Standing back up, he goes to the herbs, and places them all back into stasis charms, pocketing away the ones that are not yet prepared.

"I'm going to start the brew, and then, we're taking you straight to Madam Pomphrey. She might not know what's wrong with you, but we need to bring up your core temperature. No werewolf should be cold ."

She doesn't argue with him, which is a good thing, because even in her weakened state, he doubts he could drag her upstairs if she doesn't want to go. So instead, he gets to work, setting up the cauldron, beginning to add the first few ingredients, carefully adding the aconite, all so that it can start fermenting. It will give him an hour, during which he can get Granger upstairs.

By the time he has the potion ready to sit on a low flame, Granger is nodding off, her head on the table. When he touches her skin, it's still ice.

"Granger," he says, trying to shake her awake. "Hermione."

Her eyes open just a touch, but at least he knows she's still alive. Damn it all, he should have forgotten the bloody potion and just taken her upstairs, immediately. There's no point in having a Wolfsbane potion if the werewolf is dead.

"Come on, Granger," he says, bending down to scoop her up. She's tiny in his arms, weighs more than he would ever expect, and her head immediately falls onto his shoulder.

"Can't carry me up the stairs," she murmurs into his neck.

"I've done it before," he insists, although, that had only been a single floor, and this... this is multiple.

"Too cold," she whispers. "I'm too cold."

He knows that. He's fully bloody aware of it.

"You're warm," she whispers, her forehead touching to his neck. The bare skin connects, and he... she's still cold, but... as he looks down... She's freezing still, but warm against his skin. She's not as cold as her neck continues to press against him... he sets her back down on a chair and takes off his gloves, touching her cheeks.

It takes a few seconds, but her cheeks begin to gain a little color. More sighs escape her lips, and he realizes, then, what it is. She's cold, but at his touch, she warms. Human warmth - she needs the touch of another. Because... she's a werewolf. A pack animal. And, how long has it been since she was last near another werewolf, or one that was similar to a wolf?

"Have you been getting colder since you left the oldest Weasley?" he asks, trying to place it.

She gives a shrug, but... it's an idea. A stupid one.

She's cold because she's a pack animal, and she's away from her pack, has no pack... She's cold without the warmth of companionship. She had been pushing others away, poisoned herself and been ill, had struggled through a long full moon, sat out in the middle of the night for the new moon...

Really, there should be a guide book. "The Care and Keeping of your Werewolf"

He'll write the damn thing himself if he has to.

"Come on," he says again, this time scooping her up and covering her head with his cloak. She's fully hidden underneath it - there's no doubt that someone is in his arms, but with her covered up, no one will know exactly who.

When he enters the Slytherin common room, it's empty, quiet. Good. He rushes her straight to his room and unlocks it, pushing it open. He's just about to shut it when he hears a voice behind him, calling out his name.

Nott. Dammit.

"Not now," Draco says, kicking the door shut behind himself as he enters the room, but it's no use. As he settles Granger on the bed, the door pushes open, and Draco turns to see Theo standing there, confused.

'... If you killed Granger, I am going to be a little annoyed," Theo said, staring at the bed.

Draco turns to see Hermione laying there, the cloak having fallen away to reveal her face, her eyes closed and her breathing heavy.

"I can't deal with this right now," Draco says, stripping off his cloak and scarf to toss them aside.

"I think you're going to have to," Theo says, shutting the door behind himself. "What's wrong with her?"

"Not going to ask me what I did to her?" Draco chokes out, kicking off his shoes and socks. He won't strip her naked, won't strip himself naked, but she's ice cold, and the layers between them... earlier, he had been wearing gloves, had been rubbing through the cloak and sweaters.

"I know you wouldn't hurt her," Theo says with a shrug. "But she's clearly not well."

Draco tugs his sweater off over his head, leaving him in an undershirt and his trousers, and he goes back to Granger, sitting her up so he can peel off her sweater, after checking there was a shirt underneath.

"Hypothermia," he lies. "We were out in the Forbidden Forest. Out of bounds for me. I can't take her up to the Infirmary."

It's a terrible excuse, but... they're Slytherins. No matter what Draco says, Theo won't fully believe him.

"And a warming charm isn't working... because?"

Draco ignores him as he climbs up onto the bed, pulling down the blankets, and then pulling them back over both of them. Granger is blinking, looking at him, and then buries her face into his chest, as though seeking out his warmth. He feels his undershirt become untucked from his pants, and her icy hands go around his middle, his back, hugging onto him.

He tries to not flinch, but she really is cold.

"Damnit, Theo, I owe you a favor if you just shut up and leave," Draco snarls out.

Theo gives him a nod of his head and backs out, but not before saying, "I'll call on that favor soon."

The door shuts and is locked, leaving Draco alone with Granger.

"What are you going to tell him," she mumbles into his chest.

He doesn't really have an answer for that. He doesn't have an answer for any of it.

"Do you want to hear my theory or not?" he asks, grumbling as he starts running his hand up and down her back, over her sleepshirt. Already, he can feel her starting to warm.

"You wanted to get me into bed before I died?" she asks, sounding more like a grumble than a hope.

... She's not exactly wrong, but given how likely it is that she won't even make it to Yule, he won't say it out loud.

"I think you're suffering from loneliness," he says, ignoring her comment. "Wolves are pack animals, and Greyback, he always had other werewolves around him."

"I'm not a wolf," she huffs, her words muffled against his chest, and he feels her forehead rubbing against his throat. She’s definitely getting warmer. "I'm still a witch."

"You're no longer just a witch," he corrects. "There's a reason why werewolves are considered a creature-"

He can feel her tense up in his arms, but he pushes forward.

"You're no beast. Not really a creature. But, you do have animalistic tendencies."

She's still tense in his arms, but she's not pushing away and she's not lashing out.

"So?" she asks, and he can feel how tense her jaw is.

"So, I think you're suffering. You've pushed everyone away, you have no friends, no family, no pack mates. You said it yourself, you're the only werewolf left in Britain. You're suffering, Granger. Werewolves are not supposed to be alone."

She's quiet for a long time, and he can feel the warmth returning to her skin. It's slower, where layers keep them separated, but as she toes off her socks and their feet rub together...

It's by far the most intimate they've ever truly been, even more so than him holding her in the courtyard two mornings earlier, but it's also the strangest interaction they've had yet. Sharing a bed for warmth, half dressed. If fifth year Draco could see him now...

If fifth year Draco could see him, he would spit and call Granger filth. Sixth year would beg for her to end him. And seventh... 

He tries to not think about how far he has come, given how low he had begun.

"Remus Lupin was alone for a long time," she finally says. "During the war, the first war... he had been with other werewolves, trying to bring them to Dumbledore's side. After he lost all of his friends... I wonder if he stayed with them. And then, once Sirius returned..."

He knows nothing of what she's speaking about... Sirius as in Sirius Black? He had heard rumors that the man wasn't guilty of turning on Potter's parents, substantiated by the fact that he had seen Peter Pettigrew, nasty man he was, at more than a few Death Eater meetings... He doesn’t know the connection between all of them, but now is probably not the time to ask. 

"I wish we could ask him," Draco whispers, his volume lowering. "I wish we could ask... anyone..."

He thinks about his Aunt, her name on the tip of his tongue...

"I wish Bill had bothered to ask him more," she says with a sigh. "But once Bill knew he wasn't going to shift... well, it was easy enough. He married his wife, took his steaks a little on the raw side, and grew a bit testy around the Full Moon. He's stronger, as well, in waves, but not to the same extreme that I feel."

Draco catalogues all of that for later, then slowly, almost...

"We were going to reach out to Remus, once I was turned... I was staying at Shell Cottage with Bill while I recovered from... from your Aunt, but..."

She's on the verge of something, and he tries to not blurt out and ask what it is. So close... he's slowly peeling back the layers of her. With every meeting, he learns and more...

He's still not over the fact that she killed Greyback.

"Your mother has another sister," Granger says, her voice going low. "I don't know if you're aware."

"Andromeda," Draco says, nodding his head slightly. "Yes. I know of her. Written to her, once or twice."

He hopes she doesn't ask why.

"She's a Healer," Granger continues, and he learns something new there. "She's the one that sent the potions, for the pain, after she heard what was done to me. We wanted to go, to see Remus... he married your cousin, by the way, Tonks... I'm sorry, I'm going out of order-"

"Go in whatever order makes sense to her," he reassures her, his heart feeling like it's racing in his chest.

"Yes... right, well... your Aunt, Andromeda I mean... they were scared to take me to The Tonks House. You see, she looks very much like..."

He understands, immediately. He heard that before, in fact, that Andromeda and Bellatrix looked like proper blacks, with tight curls and sharp jaws, while his mother... she was softer, and took more after her Rosier side.

"Understandable," he says, not really sure what else to say.

"They had just had a baby as well... Teddy," she says, and he can feel her smile... and then, her face drops and she grows tense. "He's an orphan now. Like Harry."

He can feel the sadness coming off of her in waves, and he just pulls her tighter to him. This is no longer about warmth - this is about comfort. She stays close to him, and silence falls...

He should broach the subject, should mention writing to his Aunt. He should... His Aunt should know. Should know about Granger being a werewolf. Of everyone left... she might be the only one in Britain with any knowledge about werewolves and how it all works.

He feels Granger's breath slow against his chest, and he looks down, realizing she's asleep. He slips out of the bed slowly and places his cloak back over her, and every other blanket he can find as well.

He would stay, if he could, but the potion... now that she's warm, and still living, the potion that helps her to shift is back to top priority.

It's not until he's fully dressed and standing over the cauldron that he realizes what Granger had told him... what Granger had said. His Aunt... 

She knew what had happened to Granger at Malfoy Manor. She knew that Granger had been tortured... and likely, with what.

She had sent over pain potions? For a werewolf bite not on a Full Moon and for an arm cut with a dagger? Were it anything other than a cursed blade, Granger would have needed blood replenishing, and salve for the scar, and skin stitching spells, and...

Andromeda knew, then, what had happened to Granger.

And he, like a fool, had written to her... had asked what would keep someone alive after that blade was used on them...

Had asked if lycanthropy would make a difference.

He drops the knife on the cutting board, and stares at where he cut himself.

...Fuck.

Chapter Text

27 November 1998 - 7 Days Before the Full Moon

It's strange, how everything just... goes in a circle.

He and Granger... Hermione... dammit, he doesn't know what to call her even in his own head... just, her .

They grow closer, and closer. They're honest with one another. He sees her at her most vulnerable, and then - she pushes away from him.

Even in his dreams...

Even there, she pushes back. He tugs her closer, his arms wrapped around her middle, and she tries to distance them. He lets her get away, because he doesn't want to force her, of course not - but then, it all shifts. They're running naked in the Forbidden Forest, running and laughing, and then-

Then suddenly, they’re running from Snatchers, who then turn into werewolves.

Always running. No wonder Granger usually used to look exhausted, if these are her dreams.

Except, in class...

She's not exhausted. He can tell she's overflowing with energy. Ever since he had returned to his room to find no trace of her, completely gone from his bed...

He worries that he’s done something wrong, by leaving her behind, and tries to tell her in class, on Monday, that he had had to work on the potion. She had simply kept walking past him.

As though she doesn’t even remember.

At this point, one of them has to be crazy, and he's no longer certain that it's him.

Either way, no matter who is losing their mind... he has to talk to her, if for no other reason than because of the fact that he has her Wolfsbane potion... and a letter from his Aunt. It had arrived the night before, over dinner.

An invitation to meet in Hogsmeade... an invitation for two.

She hadn't been at dinner, so she thankfully hadn't seen his reaction to the arrival of the letter, and now that it's time for breakfast... he's starting to worry. She's not there either.

First class, not there.

Second class....

Lunch...

The Full Moon would reach its peak in midafternoon, a week from the current day, which means, he's running out of time. She has to take it now, before... seven days before the Full Moon, and every day leading up to it. That's what the recipe says. That's the rules.

And she's hiding out.

It's on pure luck alone that he manages to find her. Some stupid idea told him to go back outside again... and there she is, running around the quidditch pitch, still barely dressed in those atrocious muggle clothes, as though there isn't class, as though it isn't cold, as though it isn't raining...

"Granger!" he calls out, knowing she can hear him.

She runs by all the same.

The rain pelts at him, and he calls for her again, but she still runs away... just jogging, almost teasingly, like she knows he can't catch up.

"Granger, stop this!" he calls again, and looks around. There's no students around, no one... "You have to take the potion!"

Could she have possibly forgotten? Is that what's wrong? She forgot what day it is?

How could she, Granger with all the planners, color coded notes... yes, she's different now, but how could she forget the date. There's no way. There's no...

She's avoiding it. She's avoiding the potion. The very one that could help her through her transformation, help with the pain, help contain the werewolf...

He has no choice but to chase after her.

He runs as fast as he can, the potion vials thankfully safely contained under a charm in his pocket, but that doesn't help with everything else. His shoes slip on the wet grass, and the rain pelts him in the face. He keeps going, though, because while she might not care... He'll be the one outside the window, watching as she tears herself apart. He couldn't bare it, not again.

Not when there's a perfectly good potion in his pocket that could save her from so much.

She's still moving away from him, and he knows he can't catch her if she doesn't want to be caught - so he makes a quick decision. A stupid decision, arguably. Still, a decision. He only has a few hours until the vials in his pocket are useless. He's not going to waste anymore time on this.

Pulling out his wand, he summons a broom to him. It's the Quidditch pitch - it doesn't matter what broom it is. What he needs is speed. Anything. Something to give him a boost on a werewolf that's only a week away from transformation.

A broom comes flying through the air and into his hand, and without thought, he's on it, flying after her. It's one of the terrible school brooms, but it's fast enough - he's gaining on her, and she doesn't even know it, given that he's no longer running, his feet no longer making noise.

When he finally reaches her, he launches himself off the broom, tackling her onto the grass. Together, they fall and tumble, until he's flat on his back, and she's over him, one hand around his throat, a knee on his wand arm.

"What is your problem?" she demands, her face flooded with anger.

"You have to take the potion," he yells back, not willing to argue this. 

"I don't have to do anything!" she challenges him, and he knows that, but-

"So you'll make it all worse for yourself?" he asks, knowing what will happen if she doesn't have the potion in her system. "Rip and tear yourself apart? Scream for hours?"

"You don't have to hear it!" she exclaims. "You can stay up at the school. It's my curse. My burden. What does it matter to you?"

He can't... he can't even believe his ears. Would she truly expect him to stay up at the school, knowing that she was in terrible pain, screaming in agony, losing her mind... How could she-

"Why won't you let me help you?" he asks, still having to yell above the wind and rain.

"I don't need any help," she insists.

"You need mental help," he chokes out around her hand, and he knows it's the wrong thing to say, but he won't take it back.

She just snorts. "Don't we all?"

They're at a stalemate, him pinned on the ground and willing to yell the truth at her, and her holding him there, refusing to accept the facts. 

"Why are we doing this?" he asks. "Why are we fighting one another? Why are you fighting me, fighting this, everything, this-"

"I don't want to take the potion," she says, cutting him off. "I don't... You don't understand!"

This is the first time he has heard her speak about the potion in any way other than making her sleep. This is neither the time or place to be discussing it... but he's certainly not making it back to class. Not at this rate, anyways.

"Then make me understand," he yells. "Make me understand it! Because, from my point of view, you're in pain, you're destroying yourself, you scream and claw and bleed, and you're unable to settle. The potion, it helps you to sleep, to relax, to rest, to ease into-"

"And what about the week before?" she challenges. "I've run without it before, and do you know what the difference is?"

He can make a guess, but he won't.

"I'm stronger. I'm so much stronger. I can run and climb and fight - the potion, it weakens me. It's like cutting a piece of myself. Like, losing half my magic. It's terrible, and terrifying. It's like... my hearing is muted, and my sense of taste and smell. Even the sense of touch... I can feel your heart beating in my hand right now... and you want me to dull that?"

It sounds terrible... losing half her senses, half of everything, and he gets that it's a slow build after the Full Moon, but...

"I just don't want you to hurt," he says softly, knowing she'll hear him, despite the rain. "I can't stand to see you hurt."

She stares at him, and he thinks... he thinks he can see it. Can see the pain and suffering. 

She's dying. Not physically, at least not at this moment, but her spirit... it's dying in front of him. 

The signs are all there. Nearly killing herself with too much aconite in her potion, whether on purpose or not. Not returning to the shack, knowing she had too much pent up energy. Sitting out with the New Moon when she was weakest. Slowly growing colder over time and ignoring it. Pushing away her friends, her companions, even her only near werewolf. Him... she's pushing him away as well. Her words... the last Werewolf in Britain... And now, she's refusing the one thing that can alleviate some of her pain.

She's giving up.  She's giving up, and he... he's trapped under her, staring at her, resisting the urge to cry.

"Don't give up on me now, Granger," he begs. "You can't... you can't just give up on me."

He thinks there's tears in her eyes, but he can't really tell, given the rain. They stare at one another, and she finally releases his neck, his wrist, but she doesn't rise from the ground, and he just stays there, staring up at her, not knowing what to do.

Is he strong enough, even with magic, to hold her down and force the vial down her throat? What about the six after that? And, the next month, and the next month...

He needs help. He needs... He needs an adult. Someone that can help him. Help all of them. Help Granger.

But help means the ministry. The very ministry that still hasn't overturned the creature laws put into place during the Dark Lord's reign of terror. It would mean imprisoning her. It would mean... death.

Is that what this is, then? Her choosing her ending?

"Why do you care?" she finally asks. 

He sits up, in the rain, his hands planted on the ground to keep him from reaching out to her. He's thinking about it, about kissing her, about... he should do it. She had kissed him back that night. He should do it, before he loses the courage.

He should do it, so she knows... so she knows that whatever it is between them... that he feels it too.

"I have to tell you something," he chokes out. "And, you're going to be angry, but we have to talk about it."

They've avoided this for so long... but it has to be said. They have to discuss this. The only reason she could possibly be avoiding it is if she wants to ignore it. And... it would make sense. They were never friends, hated one another, sort of. Opposite sides of the war... 

He can see, from a logical standpoint, why she would want to ignore the bond. Why she would want to keep it from him.

But, if she's on the edge of giving up...

"Is this about your Aunt?" she asks.

Everything in his brain comes to a halt, and he has to think about what she just said. His... Aunt. Aunt... Bellatrix, or?

The invitation. It's still in his pocket. He had assumed that the letter would only go to him, but - had his Aunt written to her?

Bloody hell, Andromeda... 

"I didn't... it was an accident," he blurts out in a rush. "I had written to her, to ask about your arm, before I knew what had happened. I assumed you were sick because of the cursed dagger, and then she insisted... she said you should have been dead, but I asked her if lycanthropy... I didn't know that she knew the dagger had been used on you. From there... of course, she's figured it out."

Hermione just... stares at him. Stares at him for so long, he thinks she might have completely blanked out. Lost, like the New Moon.

And then, she screams. She throws back her head, and screams in terror.

He, in response, tries to crawl away from her, backwards, on his side, turning over to stand-

She catches him easily and throws him back down into the mud, now straddling his chest, her hand back around his neck. 

Before, she had been holding him in place. Now... now she's choking him.

"What did you do?" she demands.

"My, Aunt-" he chokes out.

"I assumed you cared because you were there when Bellatrix mangled me!" she yelled at him. "I assumed you felt guilt, because she's your Aunt, or because you did nothing. You wrote to Andromeda?"

He can only nod yes, feeling the air starting to burn in his lungs.

She screams again, screams in his face and then up at the sky, and her hand leaves his throat. Her fingers dig into her soaked hair, hanging limply around her head, and she seems to tug at the strands as she screams again.

"How could you do this to me?" she screams again. "Haven't I suffered enough?"

He watches as the screams become sobs, and then she's half falling off of him into the mud, screaming and crying. He quickly scampers up and goes to her, lifting her upright.

He doesn't know the time, but he'll be damned if he'll let a scared and angry werewolf forged the potion out of anger and fear.

"You have to take the potion," he insists, reaching into his pocket.

"Why would you tell her?" she asks, sobbing, pounding at his chest. It hurts, and he fears she might stop his heart with the pounding, but he pops the cap off the vial all the same.

Her mouth is still open, and he tips it past her lips - she swallows it down, then cries harder.

He can do nothing but hold her as she screams, cries, pounds at his chest, just asking over and over again, why...

He doesn't have an answer. He knows he fucked up. Obviously. Grandly. And yet... 

He can't take it back. He can only use it to their advantage.

"She can help us," he insists. "She lived with a werewolf for months. She knows things - she knows more than we do!"

"She has a grandson, you idiot! A baby! Do you know what will happen to me?"

A thousand thoughts about a werewolf around a baby runs through his head - would it make her want a baby? Would it make her want to bite it? He has no bloody idea, but she's clearly in a panic.

"No?" he asks weakly.

"Neither do I!" she gasps. "But what I do know is that the second Fleur was pregnant, I lashed out at her, attacked her. There was no reason for it, but I tried to hurt her! Fleur, who had nursed me back to health over and over again. What happens when I meet Teddy? What happens if-"

He only just registers that Fleur is Bill Weasley's wife, and he previously had no idea she was pregnant, but now he can understand her panic... slightly?

Not really.

"Hey, it will be okay," he insists, catching her wrists. "We'll set the date near the New Moon, so you're weaker, and she's a Black - my Aunt is no fool."

She fights back against him again, but it's softer, smaller. Not as angry. Not as volatile. 

"You have to trust me," he insists, letting go of her wrists. She buries her face into his chest, and he wraps his arms around her.

None of this is going to plan... but as she cries... the potion is in her, she knows about Andromeda, and... they can figure this out. Together.

"When are you going to trust me?" he asks.

She doesn't answer as she cries harder.

 

28 November 1998 - 6 Days Before the Full Moon

He's pretty much certain that his toes are still frozen from the day before. He has no idea how long they had been out on the pitch, but when they had returned... she had basically run away from him, again, saying something about the cold. He had wanted to offer to get warm together, but... well...

That sounded rather crude in his mind.

He doesn't know when he'll see her again, as she always seems to distance herself whenever they're emotional and honest with one another, so when he sees her standing outside of the Great Hall, early, waiting for him... he steps away from Theo, who is eyeing them both suspiciously. They obviously haven't talked about that morning when Granger had been cold... but Theo also hasn't called in the favor yet. It's worrying.

"Hi," she says awkwardly, rubbing at her forearm. He wants to tell her to stop, but he does it as well - always, around her, she rubs at her scar, he rubs at his mark. It's rather annoying.

"Hello," he says in response. 

"I... can I have the rest of the vials?" she asks.

They're still in his robe pocket, thankfully. The unbreakable charms had protected them from the disaster the day before.

Reaching into his pocket, he withdraws the bag, then freezes. How does he know she won't just pour them out? How does he know she'll actually take them?

She reaches for the bag, but he pulls it away.

He could force every vial down her throat, but... he won't do that. Yesterday had been different. She had been raw, and scared. Today...

If she doesn't want to take the potion, he won't force her. He just also doesn't know how he'll live with it.

"I don't know whether or not you're going to even take these," he says, still holding the bag out of her reach.

She looks astonished, then angry, but he holds up his other hand, pausing her from her outburst.

"I don't know if you're going to take them, but so help me, I hope you do. Your screams... you might not remember that night, but I do. And you say that I can remain at the castle, but I cannot. So... I'm going to give them to you... as a sign of trust."

She's no longer reaching for the bag, and just stares at him as he offers it to her, setting it down in her hands. She's cupping it, as though scared of breaking it. 

He gives it a moment, before he continues.

"You keep asking why I care so much," he says, his voice unsteady, but... he needs to say this. "Granger... be honest with yourself. Do you truly not realize why I care?"

She looks from the vials up to him, and her lips part to speak, but he shakes his head. For the first time... he's going to be the one to walk away.

"Think about it," he says. "Please, take the potions. And... if we don't speak again before the Full Moon, know that I will be there. I'll be there, before the sun even sets. I'll be there afterwards as well."

She doesn't say anything, just nods, still holding the bag. He looks at her for one more moment, before turning to head into the Great Hall for breakfast.

Trust. She doesn't trust him. 

It's time to show that he, at least, trusts her.

Chapter Text

3 December 1998 - Full Moon

Draco can’t believe that it’s the day of a Full Moon, and he can't find Granger anywhere. Given that the moon would reach its full power mid-afternoon, he had expected to see Granger at breakfast, perhaps even lunch, but... she wasn't there. And now, he can’t find her anywhere.

There's no way she could have skipped an entire day's worth of meals. It would be... impossible. The amount of wear and tear on her body during a transformation, she would need the fuel to get her through it. If he knew how to reach the inside of the shack, he would have already taken food to her there, but...

As lunch time ends and he still can't find her, he makes his decision. He had already been planning to spend the afternoon and evening there with her, as he had the previous month, with food and chair and blankets, but now that he can't find her anywhere within the school... he heads down a few hours earlier than intended.

It's a good thing that he does.

The last time Draco had seen Granger, it was during class the day before. She had looked stressed out, exhausted, her hair bigger than normal, and her hands a bit shaky. He knows that she's taking the potion each day, or pretending she is, because every day, she hands him another empty vial.

That has to mean she's taking them, right?

But, when he reaches the shack, he's no longer so sure of it.

It takes Draco time to pull the boards down, to see inside, and when he can, he sees Granger within, pacing back and forth. There's a desk within, a piece of furniture he hasn't noticed before, with a stack of parchment on it. There's multiple quills stuffed into Granger's hair, and two ink pots on the desk, one of which has been knocked over, the ink dripping onto the floor.

She's pacing, talking to herself, taking notes...

Clearly, something is on her mind, and it's upsetting her, stressing her out to the point that she's going crazy over it.

"Granger," he calls out, banging on the glass.

She turns and looks at him, and he prepares himself, knows it possible, readies himself for there to be anger, lashing out, teeth and claws, and-

She points a finger at him, her eyes thinning.

"This is your fault, you know."

He has no idea what is or is not his fault, but the lack of fangs is a good sign that she's still with him, at least for the moment.

"Should I apologize, or-"

"Probably not," she snaps, still pacing. "Come on, then. Pull out your notebooks. Turn me into an experiment."

Yes... the notebooks are with him, as always. No... he doesn't want to pull them out at present.

"What are you working on?" he asks instead, trying to figure out how exactly he's the one to blame.

"My research doesn't matter," she says, waving him off.

He wants to argue otherwise, but...

"Alright... then what should I be writing down?" he asks cautiously, glancing at the bag he had dropped upon arrival.

"Notes, for daytime Full Moons," she says, not looking his way.

"Are... are you-"

"If you ask me whether or not I'm certain, I will find a way to get through this glass and strangle you," she hisses at him, her hands going to her hips while she pauses midstep.

He knows she means it. His throat is only just starting to feel better from the last time she nearly choked him.

"Alright, so, a daytime Full Moon," Draco says, conjuring up the familiar armchair and sitting down. His bag has much the same as the previous month - a blanket with extra warming charms, food, tea, a flask of something he had nicked from Theo, and one of the journals he had begun keeping. His organization is still a bit of a mess - he had a journal on everything from before the start of school, a journal centering on everything from before he knew she was a werewolf, and then a disorganized mess of pattern of behavior based on the position of the moon.

This particular one only has notes on previous daytime full moons.

Quill in hand, and inkpot sitting on the arm rest, he looks up to see Granger's face pressed to the glass.

He makes a show of noting the date, and the time that the Full Moon would occur - 3:20 in the afternoon. 

She gives a nod of her head.

"Right. So, I took all of the potions between fourth and fifth period, so that would be somewhere around 2:45 each day." He hopes she's not lying to him, but he notes it down all the same. "Yesterday, after taking my final dose, I was unable to consume any dinner."

"Is that abnormal to previous Full Moons?" he asks. 

"Yes," she confirms. "When the full moon is during the evening, I would normally take the potion after dinner, and when the Full Moon is in the morning... I had been hungry the entire day, starved even, although we were here at dinner."

He remembers that, only the previous month. He continues in his notes, then looks up.

"What about September?" he asks.

"The Full Moon was midday that month," she says carefully, now beginning to pace once more. "I took the potion before lunch, ate a normal dinner, but was unable to eat breakfast."

He continues his notes, then thinks back further. "July?"

"July was a late afternoon full moon," she says, nodding her head to herself as though remembering. "I was free of..."

She looks at him oddly, then shakes her head.

Ah. Well then.

"So, you've not eaten since lunch yesterday?" he asks, leaning forward towards the window.

She shakes her head.

"Honestly, Granger," he says with a groan. "If I knew how to feed you, I would be offering you my meal right now."

"What did you bring?" she asks with a choked laugh.

He considers pulling the items out of his bag, showing her, but... that feels cruel, somehow.

"Fruit. A stuffed pie. A few other things. The elves, they like to pack me extra food. They seem to be onto me."

"They're very kind," Granger says, pulling a tight smile.

And then, in a flash, she changes.

"Did you have elves before the war, Malfoy?" she asks, her face pressing to the glass.

He feels a bit uncomfortable with the situation.

"My family has elves, yes. They serve my mother now, given that my father is in Azkaban, and I'm here at school."

He doesn't know where this line of questioning is going, but...

"Do you like keeping creatures as your slaves?" she asks, practically crowding against the glass.

He doesn't like this at all.

"They want to serve," he says awkwardly. "Although... while he was in residence, they mostly hid. I wished they weren't there. It was better, that they not get caught."

"They're all brainwashed," Granger says, still pressing against the glass, her shoulder now as well, as though she might shove it outward. "Creatures that think they have to serve wizards to find fulfillment. Could you imagine, living your life serving another, when you have so much magic at your disposal?"

She smirks at him, and he gets an uncomfortable feeling in his chest, both from her words, and her behavior.

"Would you keep me as a pet?" she asks, her head tilting to the side. "Or a slave."

"Neither," he insists. What on earth- "You're a witch."

"I'm a creature," she corrects. "A beast, according to the ministry. An animal. I'm not worthy of holding a wand. As low as a house elf. Would you keep me as a pet, in the barn, like an abraxan, or would you keep me as a slave, in the house, like a house elf?"

He doesn't like this. He doesn't like this question. The thought. The assumption...

She isn't a creature, nor is she a beast. She's a witch. How could anyone look at Granger and think she is anything else?

"You're a witch," he insists, setting aside the inkpot, quill, and journal. "I wouldn't keep you at all."

She snorts as she crowds closer towards him, and he watches, takes in a deep breath...

"Would you have said the same a year ago?"

He stares at her, thinking to a year before - he had been terrified, scared, living in hell... "Yes."

"Two years ago?"

"Yes."

"Three?"

"I was a different person three years ago," he snaps at her. "And so were you."

She stares at him a moment longer, and her lips part, to press further, likely, and then she shifts away from him, away from the window. Stumbling backwards. Granger runs her hands into her hair, shakes out her hands, then starts pacing again.

It takes him a moment to realize, to understand...

She, on instinct, had more or less just attacked him, verbally. She had asked him hard things about the past, about their truths... she isn't wrong, but he can tell that she's shaken.

He forgets the notebook and the research, and moves to kneel in front of the window, his hand pressing to the glass.

"Look at me, Granger," he says loudly, clearly.

She doesn't stop in her pacing, but she does glance up at him, her bottom lip being chewed between her teeth, and her hands jittery and shaking again.

Draco knows, if he casts a Tempus charm, it would confirm that the Moon is now at it's full strength.

"Granger, come on," he calls out again, trying to catch her attention.

"That was rude of me," she says, still pacing, not even looking in his direction this time.

He gives it a moment, waits for a follow up, an apology, something more... but as she remains silent, he knows he has to respond. 

"Be honest with me, Granger. Do you trust me?"

He knows she doesn't, but... he trusts her. Sort of. In a weird way. He had trusted her to take the potions. He trusts her not to kill him while she still maintains control. He trusts her to not turn on him.

She scoffs and rolls her eyes, but he gives her a minute before he continues.

"I've changed. Part of it has nothing to do with you - the things I saw during the war, in my own house even - the things that I was forced to do, the things that happened to me... you don't walk out of that the same person. I changed over the past two years."

It's true. It's all true. The torture, the pain, the fear... watching his mother suffer, his father... the threats, the destruction, the death...

Death would have been preferable to most of what he had endured, but fear, fear of the pain, fear of his mother enduring pain... that had been what carried Draco through the war. That had been what kept him going. Wanting to keep his mother safe. Wanting to escape anymore pain.

"But seeing what you went through... seeing you stand up against my Aunt..."

His voice trailed off, but he still heard her mutter that she had actually just laid there. Yes, technically, Granger had just laid there... sort of... but-

"You lied to her," Draco insisted, pressing his forehead to the glass. "No one lies to Bellatrix. The last people to keep things from her... it was the Longbottoms, and the only reason they never gave up the information was because... they didn't know. But you... you lied to her. You maintained it. You were tortured, and you never broke."

He wishes she would look at him, wishes he could hold her, could touch her, could show her the proper reverence, but there's glass between them, and containment spells, and she's clearly on the verge of losing it, even with the sun still high in the sky.

"You're stronger than any other witch or wizard. Taking a wand from you... it would be a crime."

She finally stops and turns to look at him. He stares back, not moving, not afraid.

He wants her to see, wants her to know, that he believes in her. That she fascinates him. That he's with her.

"I never had a choice," she finally says. "I had no other friends. Only Harry and Ron. By the time we understood that Voldemort was coming back, that there was going to be a war... there was no going back for me. I had no other choice. It wasn't bravery. It was survival."

He doesn't believe that for a second. Not at all. The pain of the torture she had endured... anyone else would have chosen death. Not her. She pushed through it.

"You survived," he whispers back, "...where so many didn't."

She doesn't respond, just stands there, staring at him.

And then, she walks towards him.

He watches as she steps up onto the bed, and then reaches out her hand towards the glass. Their fingers connect through the glass, much as they had back in October, but he imagines... he imagines he can feel their warmth. Feel their softness.

And then, her forehead presses to the glass, presses back against his.

He wants to be there. Wants to be with her. Wants to hold her through it, wants to...

He wants to kiss her. Again. With permission.

"Granger..." he whispers through the glass. "Hermione."

Her eyes open, and she pulls her face back from the glass, just enough that she can look at him. He looks back, and he wants to touch her desperately, wants to do anything.... 

"How much longer do I have?" she asks, her hand still on the glass.

He looks over his shoulder towards the setting sun. Not much longer.

"Just look at me. Just stay with me," he insists.

"You're not with me," she says with a laugh. "Not like the Marauders were with Remus."

He doesn't know what that means, but he'll ask later.

"I'll be here the whole time," he promises.

She's quiet, and presses her forehead against the glass, just as he does the same.

"One of these days, you're going to have to explain why," she whispers. "Why you care, why you're here, and why you keep pushing, even when I run away."

He doesn't answer her at first, because he knows that now isn't the time, but she... She needs to know. Needs to understand. Even when he doesn't.

"I need you, Granger," he murmurs against the glass. "I can't explain it any more than that, but I need you to survive. I need you to be okay. I need you to win."

Her eyes open enough that they stare at one another, and she opens her mouth to say something, to confess something, to be vulnerable-

And then she screams.

Jumping back from the glass, startled, Draco watches as she fumbles back from the window, still screaming. It's terrifying how fast it happens - one moment, she's there with him, a bit on edge, a bit rude, but she's with him, she's human, she's Granger, and then-

It happens so fast, it hurts him to watch.

Where her hands had been, there are now claws, ripped out of her flesh. Where she had been wearing clothes before, she rips at them, and he watches as cloth becomes pale scar covered skin that then becomes fur. Her teeth grow into fangs, her face elongates into a muzzle, and her ears -

It's over, faster than he expected, faster than ever before. 

One minute, she's a girl, and the next, she's a wolf.

The screaming stops, and he realizes, in horror, that she had screamed straight through it, without taking a breath. Just, a rapid shift, and she was turned, completely.

He watches, watches as she pants, her shoulders heaving, up and down.

Then her head falls back, and she lets out another scream. This time, instead of fading, it turns into a howl.

Turning his head, Draco looks towards the setting sun. It's still on the horizon, which doesn't make sense, until he looks up at the moon. It's not about when the sun sets. It's about when the moon begins to glow... it's glowing now, a path of moonlight radiating in through the window.

Never safe, can't even accurately predict when...

Fuck. Fucking hell.

"Granger," he calls out, moving back to the glass.

The werewolf's head whips around, and he braces himself for the attack, for the charge.

Instead, the werewolf sniffs, and then, it...

Collapses.

Collapses onto the rug in the middle of the room.

"Granger?" he calls out again, his hand banging on the glass.

She doesn't move.

"Granger, look at me," he demands, his hand pounding on it. "Granger, don't make me knock down this glass! I'll do it!"

He won't, but he wants to. What the bloody hell...

She just lays there, sprawled out, for so long... he gives up on his banging, gives up on calling out. He can see her tail swishing, her forearms flexing, her snout moving, enough that he knows she's still breathing, still alive...

Eventually, he climbs up off the porch and sits in the chair, pulling out the blanket and wrapping himself up.

Casting a few warming charms around himself, he makes a mental note - in the future, he's going to just let her roam the Malfoy Estate, and lock himself away from her. Let her just... be free. If she's going to shift all the same, destroy things... she should at least be free of this small room.

He's two bites into the pie when he realizes that thought... that it's a future that hasn't been discussed, that isn't really possible, that he likely won't ever have. It's a nice dream, though. A dream of what could be.

He finishes his meal, one eye on the glass, watching the werewolf within. She's still sprawled out, but the suddenness of it... there's nothing he can do, and he keeps reminding himself of that, but he feels helpless. He has to do something, but what can he even do, other than wait. Wait until morning, wait until she wakes up, wait until...

Wait.

Instead of stressing out more, he gets to work on his notes. Keeping a notebook journal with all details is starting to bog him down, trying to keep up with it all, but it's better to have too much information rather than not enough. He writes down her agitation, her shaking her hands, pacing, the antagonizing, how she became... sentimental... and then the speed at which she transformed.

He doesn't have an explanation for her passing out. That's what he assumes it is. It could be the wolfsbane, but that was supposed to help them relax, to settle, to sleep. Not... fall into a coma.

He's just about asleep, his head turned in her direction, when he thinks he sees movement in the room. Blinking a few times, and yawning, Draco rubs at his eyes just in time to see Granger, the werewolf version of her, climbing up from the floor. She stretches, rubs at her snout, and then - howls.

The sound shakes him out of his sleepy state, and he nearly falls out of his chair. His heart races, his skin prickles...

She's awake, and she's.... very alert. Very active.

She walks across the room, the full length of it, then turns around and does it again. Back and forth, back and forth, pacing, prowling almost? It's as though she's ready to attack, tracking a scent, but there's nothing there. She doesn't deviate from the path, and he thinks if she continued long enough, there would be holes left in the rug, where she steps each time.

The sudden deviation from the path shocks him - the bed, the one she climbs on to look out the window, to talk to him, to connect their hands through the glass, it's suddenly up and being tossed against the other wall. The wood splinters, the blankets are strewn about, and then she continues onto the next piece - the chair. That, too, is thrown against the wall.

Every item in the room suddenly becomes an item to be thrown. The desk, with parchment and ink going flying, the desk chair, her bag of things, the basin of water, the books, the candles - even the boards of wood that once covered the windows. All of it gets tossed against the wall, destroyed. Anything still in large pieces, they're ripped apart.

It continues on and on, the stuffing being ripped out of the chair, the blanket from the bed being torn in two, the pillow, her bag - everything gets ripped apart, until in the end, it's a giant mess.

Draco just holds his breath, watching. She's angry enough right now... if she wanted to, he thinks she could manage to break out. He doesn't want to test her.

The pacing resumes when there's not much left to destroy, and he quietly casts a Tempus charm. After midnight. So, eight or so hours since the full moon. Six and a half until sunrise.

At some point... she has to settle.

Except, she doesn't.

Back and forth she paces, she moves the broken furniture about, throws things at the wall, rips into fabric, back and forth and around, over and over and over. It looks exhausting, and he has to force himself to stay awake.

The hours tick by, and still she paces. She isn't settling. Not like she should. He'll have to note that for later.

He wonders if she had lied about taking the Wolfsbane potion.

His eyes refuse to stay open any longer, and he burrows himself deeper into the pile of blankets he has around him. It's so cold, cold as ice, and he wouldn't be surprised if he woke up with a layer of snow on himself in the morning, were it not for the warming charms. 

The last thing he sees, before he falls asleep, is Granger, still pacing, back and forth.

 

4 December 1998 - 1 Day After the Full Moon

It's so bloody cold when he wakes, he thinks he might have lost his nose... and his ears... and his hair. It's still dark out, but only just, with a hint of light on the horizon. It takes him a moment to remember where he is, why he's outside, why he's in Hogsmeade-

He runs to the glass and looks inside.

The room is still in shatters, but sitting there, in the corner beside the fireplace, is Granger, wrapped up in what's left of one of the blankets from the bed, her knees are her chest, and her face on top of them.

He can tell, from the shaking of her shoulders, that she's crying.

"Granger," he calls out, banging on the glass. "Granger, what's wrong?"

She looks up at him and starts crying harder, her entire body shaking. He doesn't know... he doesn't see any blood, and he knows she must be cold and upset after the violent transformation, after a night spent pacing and destroying, but-

"I can't find my wand," she sobs out.

He...

A part of him wants to brush it off. So what if she lost her wand - she can buy another. Except... Could she? Muggleborns are still not legally allowed to possess wands. Nor are creatures, which, according to the law, she is. So... her wand is missing. Given the current state of the room...

"It's going to be alright," he promises. "I can find it. We can find it together. How do I get in - come on, Granger, tell me the-"

"No!" she snaps, wrapping the blanket tighter around herself.

"Why not?" he asks, confused.

"Because you're an idiot," she hisses back at him.

He doesn't understand why that matters, why...

"If I tell you how to get inside, you're going to rush in here like a hero, and then what happens when I turn on you?" she yells at him. "What happens if you get hurt? This is the one place that I can run and hide, that I can shift, and the only person even still alive that knows how to get in here doesn't even know I'm a werewolf, which means this is safe!"

He can guess who that one person is - Potter. But... Potter not even knowing she's a werewolf? How would that even work?

"Then call for your wand," he insists, ignoring that she had, rightly, called him an idiot. He would charge in there... if he could. "Come on, Granger. You're powerful. You can call it."

She shakes her head, and he watches terror go across her face. He doesn't understand why.

"Your choices are to clean up that mess without magic to find your wand, call for your wand yourself, or tell me how to get in there so I can call for it. What will it be?"

Why wouldn't she just call for it? And... why is she so afraid?

"It won't work," she gasps at him, then bursts back into tears. "Not since... not since the Snatchers."

He tries to remember back to that day, with the Snatchers. Her wand would have been taken from her immediately, left behind, likely in Greyback's pocket, or somewhere in the manor, or even wherever they were snatched from. He does have a rather clear memory of his Aunt ranting and raving about her wand being taken by the Trio.

Draco goes still. He can remember Granger's wand in class. It had never been his Aunt's wand. He would remember that. He feared that wand. It had been a wand that killed and tortured many, including himself.

What happened to that wand? And... where did Granger get the wand she used in class?

"Granger," he calls out again.

She lifts her head up off her knees, and he doesn't want to ask, he doesn't want to... but he has to.

"Granger... why are you afraid to call for your wand?"

She stares at him, then lets out a whimper as her chin rests on her knees.

Letting out a sigh, his hands brace on the window frame. Dammit. If he had to call for Bellatrix's wand, he would be nervous as well. Or... is that the bigger fear? That her wand won't come, but Bella's will.

"I need a new wand," she finally says, her voice only barely above a whisper. "None of them respond to me anymore."

None. Not... it . Not... neither ... What...

"How many wands do you have?" he chokes out.

She stares at him, and bursts into tears again.

Bloody hell...

"That's it, Granger," he says, slamming his hand flat on the glass. "Tell me how to get into this bloody shack, or I'm blasting my way in."

She doesn't make a move to stop him, but when he pulls out his wand, she puts up a hand. 

He doesn't cast a spell.

"Stop, wait," she whispers. "I just... fine."

Rising from where she had been sitting on the floor, Granger makes her way, awkwardly, across the room to where her bag is. She had ripped it in two at some point, taking off the straps, but the bag itself still looks well contained. As she reaches her hand in, he realizes why.

There's an extension charm on it. Undetectable, in fact.

He doesn't know why he's surprised.

When she first withdraws her arm, she pulls out a change of clothes. Awkwardly, Draco turns around, so he doesn't see anything. She didn't ask, but... it feels awkward and rude to gawk at her while she dresses... even if he has seen her naked before. Sort of...

"Why was your wand not in the bag before your transition?" he asks, crossing his arms over his chest while he waits.

"I wasn't exactly expecting to shift before the sun went down," she responds, her voice sounding a bit muffled. "And when I did, well..."

She had been wearing a uniform, had had parchment out, ink and quills... of course, also her wand.

"How many wands do you have?" he asks next.

"You can turn around," she responds.

Turning back, he sees her wearing comfortable clothes, a pair of trousers, muggle shoes, and an oversized sweater. She's digging in the bag again, and he waits, watching as she carefully pulls out a wand case. It's large, larger than expected.

When she opens it, he understands why.

Two wands within, one the bent wand of his Aunt Bellatrix, the other a massive thing he has only ever seen in the hands of Fenrir Greyback.

That makes sense.

"You have Greyback's wand," Draco says, staring at it in wonder.

She nods, pressing her lips together, and swallows, hard, before responding. "Your Aunt's wand, it gave me difficulty, until I faced her at the Battle of Hogwarts. It was only two spells, but I landed the hits, and it was enough that, when she died..."

She had won the wand's loyalty.

"But, you said it's not responding," he asks awkwardly.

"No," she says with a shake of her head, picking up Greyback's wand from the box. "Not since I was bitten."

She takes a step back, and he watches as she makes a few casts. The furniture begins to meld itself together, but it's slow and shaky, very bulky. Not the art that he's used to seeing from her.

"You won the wand," Draco argues. "You killed him, so the wand-"

"Is Dark," she says solemnly. "It wants me to destroy, to hurt."

He understands, now, why she doesn't want to use either of the wands.

"And the third?" he asks.

The room begins to mend itself, slowly, and he watches as more and more moves and shifts, the pieces of wood slow to go back together. Some of it is rather imperfect, jagged ends sticking out, but it gets them out of the way, at least.

"My original wand," she says softly. "It... it's too..."

He knows nothing about her wand, but clearly, she at least thinks that she has changed too much to be able to use her wand. She's not wrong, but... he wonders if it's more in her head and heart, than in the magic itself.

"Call for it," he encourages her. "Just... try."

She looks over at him, then gives him a nod. He nods back, and watches as she returns Greyback's wand to the case. Most of the room is cleared up, but it's... still a disaster.

"Accio wand," she says clearly, her hand out in front of her.

Nothing... happens.

He licks his lips and presses himself to the glass, ready to encourage her again, when she, in a panic, repeats herself. 

"Accio wand," she demands, her hand shaking.

Again... nothing.

He can see it in her eyes, she's panicking, and once again he's ready to fling himself through the glass, when something strange happens...

"Accio wand," she demands, yells, and he watches the magic in her burst out, from her hair to her fingertips to her lips. It's insane, and he would think he imagined it, except - her wand comes flying from across the room, and into her hand.

She looks down at it, and he can see the shock in her eyes... and then she bursts into tears.

"That's it," he says, pushing himself up off the ground. "Grab your things, Granger. If you won't let me come to you, then meet me outside of the infirmary."

He won't be left outside again, particularly since the women expecting her already know that he knows.

"I'll be fine," she insists.

He doesn't believe her, and rushes to pack his bag so he can return to the school. 

"Not bloody fine," he grumbles, replacing the boards.

She's still standing there, the wand in her hand, staring at it.

"Granger," he yells out before placing the last board. "Infirmary. Or, I'll come find you myself."

When he reaches the infirmary, she's already standing there outside of the door, arms wrapped around her middle. Without thought, care, or worry, Draco surges forward, wrapping his arms around her middle. She melts into him, lets him hug her, and he calls it a win as he holds her tight.

She had scared him the night before, between the fast change, the dropping and passing out, the pacing and destruction, and the tears this morning... of all the things that could terrify him about this tiny witch, of course it would be her crying.

She stays there in his arms for a few moments longer, and when the door to the infirmary opens, she doesn't even move or look up. Draco does glance over, however, and he sees, standing there, the Headmistress and Madam Pomphrey. He knows this is where he has to say goodbye, but he doesn't want to. He wants to follow her in, stay with her. He wants to... protect her. Keep her safe.

"Time to say good day, Mister Malfoy," the Headmistress says. "Miss Granger..."

Granger finally pulls away at the sound of her name, but she looks up at him, tears still in her eyes. She looks ready to say something, confess something, but he knows now isn't the time. She'll have to save it for later. 

"We need to talk about this," she whispers, licking her lips.

He nods, because they do, but there's never a right time, a right place, a right situation... It's like they're on two different paths that never seem to properly meet up.

"We'll talk about it when we can," he responds, slowly letting his arms fall to his sides. "But, you need to sleep. You need pain potions. And you need to eat."

She nods and looks towards the infirmary door, then looks up at him again.

He wants to follow her, desperately, but he knows, just from the looks on their faces, the two older women will not allow him inside.

"In a few days, we should start working on the research. Finding answers," she clarifies.

That sounds like a good... start.

"And, you should write to your aunt, to schedule lunch."

He nods, licking his own lips. Good.... he had already written to Andromeda, hoping that Granger would feel better two weeks after the Full Moon, but he couldn't be sure. One could never tell with a werewolf.

"Go, rest," he encourages her again.

She smiles tightly at him, then turns and enters the infirmary, leaving him standing there with just the Headmistress.

McGonagall is staring at him with a confused look on her face, and he waits for her judgement. Waits for her to complain, to push him away, to tell him to keep his distance.

Instead, she takes a step closer to him, and her face softens.

"I'm glad she has you," the woman says honestly. "But... I hope you know what you're doing. A werewolf... it's a life long..."

It sounds as though she has had this discussion before. He wonders who it was that Lupin had once loved.

"I don't think I have a choice, Professor," he says honestly. "She's..."

The woman nods in understanding, then walks away.

It dawns on him, later, that that look said she might know the truth. The truth about their bond. The truth about what could happen between a wizard and a werewolf.

Chapter Text

6 December 1998 - 3 Days After the Full Moon

Sitting in the back of the library with every notebook he has started gathering, he waits for Granger to show up. The owl he had received at breakfast had asked him to meet her here, to start talking about her condition, and to bring all of his earlier resources. A part of him is nervous - there are things he's about to learn that he certainly isn't ready to hear, and yet... he's also excited.

Finally, after months in limbo, they're going to move forward with this, move forward with this struggle, with this constant give and take, with this whole ‘she hates him’ ‘she pushes him away’ thing.

She had agreed, back after the previous Full Moon, that they needed to do research, but after a month of getting nowhere, he had kind of doubted it when she had mentioned research before he said goodbye to her at the infirmary doors two days earlier. 

It's time. Time to move forward. Time to start... finding out the whole story. Time to start figuring out the two of them. 

When he sees her approach, Draco has to resist the urge to stand - he wants to, wants to pull out her chair, wants to greet her properly, wants to perhaps even hug her... but those ideas are absurd. This is not a date, this is a meeting, a business meeting... sort of. And, he has no right to kiss her, to even touch her.

It's a stark contrast, being around her during the day, when his nights are filled with dreams of her in his bed, moaning his name, gasping as he fucks her, as he drives her to the edge over and over again. He still can't find completion in her, but, the second he gets into her for real... He'll likely embarrass himself. The second time, then. That time, he'll be able to give her pleasure... 

"Seriously?" she asks, sitting down across from him, eyebrows raised.

He doesn't know how she does that, how she can so easily guess what's on his mind... he doubts she can actually read it, because if she could, she would know that all he ever thinks about is the fact that he wants to kiss her, and the fact that he's worried about her... Could she? Could she be reading his mind?

"Whatever girl you're thinking about, stop," Granger says with a roll of her eyes as she sets out some parchment on the table. " Muffliato. "

He notices, but doesn't point out, that she had cast the spell without her wand. She's doing that more and more, casting without a wand in her hand. He rarely ever saw Greyback with a wand... 

Something to write down later, when she isn't sitting directly across from him.

"So, I've begun compiling notes on my transitions every Full Moon, but then I realized that you've likely noticed things I haven't. So..."

He watches her lick her lips, her hands smoothing out the parchment in front of her, and he recognizes it for what it is - she's letting him in. She's nervous. She's scared.

He reaches out, across the table, and grabs her hand. Squeezing it, he lets it go, and watches as her hand just rests on the table. He looks up to see her looking stunned at their hands, and then up at him.

"We can start with a few nights ago, and work our way back," he says softly, even though that doesn't make sense. There's a beginning to her life as a werewolf, while there is no end. To start in the middle... still, just jumping in, it clearly terrifies her. Better to just... ease into her story.

"We should start at the beginning," she says instead.

Well then. Toss out his plan.

"Alright then," he concurs, opening up a brand new notebook. He doesn't know what to write... what would even be the beginning?

He looks up at her, waiting for her to speak, but she just stares at him expectantly. What...

"Well, I don't know where this starts," Draco says awkwardly, not really certain what she expects of him.

"I mean, it starts..." she stops in her words, and he can tell she's flustered, but... He doesn't know for a fact... if he had to guess, it would be June. May, the Full Moon had only been a few days after the Battle of Hogwarts, and he knows that she transformed on the July Full Moon. That leaves June the most likely month she was attacked.

"Easter," he says, backtracking a bit more. "He bit you, didn't he? Bit and clawed at you?"

She stares at the table for a minute, and he gives her that, then watches, with bated breath, as she takes in a deep breath, finally ready to speak.

"That night... It was the night after the Full Moon. You have to understand, while your body is tired after a Full Moon, inside of you... the beast is still roaring."

"The beast?" he asks, trying to clarify. What exactly would she mean by that?

"The animalistic part of you," she says, trying to explain further. "I used to think that it was the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde situation, two persons living within the same body, much as Remus Lupin was called Moony..."

He recognizes only one of those names, and because it's the only other werewolf Draco has ever met, their former professor. Still, he lets her continue on.

"But it's not like that at all. There is no separation."

He waits for her to continue, but she trails off, lost in thought. He gives her another few seconds, then pushes forward. "What is it, then?"

She blinks a few times, then looks over at him slowly, licking her lips as she does so. He hates how she does that - chew on her bottom lip, lick them, gnaw on a nail on occasion... he wants that mouth on his, wants-

Stop. He needs to stop.

"Did you know that some creatures can see in more shades of color than humans?" she says idly. "Some creatures can even, quite literally, see the magic all around us. Imagine, all the things we could see if our eyes could adapt."

He can't imagine it, but he's heard of it, heard that house elves can see things that witches and wizards can't. He's never really asked about it, before.

"And sounds... one should only be able to hear so much, but from here, I can hear the turning of pages all throughout this library. I can hear the elves in the kitchen if I listen hard enough. And your heart... if I sit here and think about it, really concentrate on it, I can hear every pulse. I can hear you swallow. I can hear you pause in your breathing..."

She trails off again, and then smiles, to herself, really. "And scent... every person gives off natural pheromones. When I tell you that I can smell fear, smell anxiety, smell..."

She grins again, and then bursts into laughter, and it's beautiful, the smile on her face, the way her eyes light up. She's laughing to herself, and he doesn't understand the joke, but he can't take his eyes off of her. She looks at him, still smiling, then shakes her head, as though trying to shake her joy away. "I can smell lust."

His cheeks color slightly, and he looks down at the journal in front of him. He flips ahead, and starts to write down her increased senses. Sight, Sound, Scent...

"What about taste?" he asks without thought.

She snorts to herself, then nods. "And touch as well. That one... that one is the most. It's overwhelming. There's no way to avoid touch. Textures... the fabric of my clothing, the coldness of stone, the hardness of a chair... everything feels overwhelming."

He jots down a few notes about that as well, then looks up, compiling it all in his mind. He thinks he gets it... maybe. Sort of.

"So, being what you are... it's not two parts of you. It's just... you, except, more?"

She stares at him for a moment, takes in a deep breath, and nods.

He snorts to himself as he gets that down, then looks up casually, trying to relax the mood. "Leave it to you, Granger, to be better at everything."

She doesn't laugh. Instead... she just draws in on herself.

"Hey, no," he says, leaning across the table. "Listen... of everyone I would trust as a werewolf... you're the top spot. You've always been better at control, at figuring things out... anyone else would have already outed themselves."

"You figured it out," she said softly.

"I had nothing to lose," he says honestly. "And I heard you, in September. Your screams... I couldn't really forget them."

She nods again, then raises her hand to her mouth, gnawing on her thumbnail. He wants to reach out again, pull her hand from her mouth, suck on the digit, kiss her, kiss her slowly, lay her out on the table, love her, worship her-

"Do you seriously have no control over your hormones?" Granger asked, interrupting him from his thoughts. "I know that you're a teenage boy, but surely-"

"I can't exactly control it," he says with a huff, still embarrassed. "It's... you're not the only one that's had a rough few years, alright? There's a sense of freedom now. I..."

He doesn't even know how to explain it, but... honestly, the past two years, he couldn't even try to get it up. His life was so stressful, his future diminished... just the one time with Pansy, and since then... 

"I haven't really thought about what it was like for you," she says softly, and he looks up to see pity in her eyes. "We noticed, sixth year. I know that Harry was convinced you were against us, but-"

"I was against you," Draco says, cutting her off.

"You were forced onto his side. I highly doubt you chose that mark. It was punishment for your father, right? He threatened to kill your mother?"

Draco stares at her, shocked. He had only just told those words to McGonagall a few days earlier, but the only other person that knew was the old Headmaster himself... a few minutes before he died.

"Harry was there that night, in the Astronomy Tower. He heard what you said. Why didn't you ask for help?"

He remains silent for a moment, then shakes his head. "Professor Snape knew. He was on your side, wasn't he? And yet..."

"Yes, well, I don't exactly agree with most of my elders anymore," she says softly. "Only a few. Only those willing to listen."

He nods, pressing his lips together, then ventures forward. "Like the Ministry."

She gives him an odd smile and takes in a deep breath before nodding. "It's all black and white to most of them... and yet..."

Her voice trails off, but she quickly picks it up with another shake of her head. "I do not have the time in the day to even attempt to list all the faults of the Ministry, before the war, during the war, and after it. That's not what this is about. Now... April."

He swallows, and flips to a new page. April.

"The Full Moon was the night before you were Snatched," Draco supplies. "So, you're saying that Greyback was still-"

"Still very much a wolf," she says, finishing his statement. "Only, without the fangs and claws. His instincts, what makes- made him a werewolf, he was still at that point. So holding onto me, he-"

She cuts herself off and swallows hard. He doesn't think he wants to know what Greyback had said to her.

"You know what he wanted to do," she finally says.

He swallows and nods. He knows. He knows what Greyback did to anyone he got their hands on, but girls... young girls...

"Well... he bit me that night and cut me with his claws. I guess he had just enough of those... it didn't turn me, because it wasn't a Full Moon, but it changed me," she says. "And the torture from your Aunt... I spent the next nearly three weeks laying in bed, healing. We knew, once I was well enough, that we had to make our move, but I was much like Bill... I took my meat rare, I was more aggravated, I was... testy. I was more, but not-"

She gives a shrug. Right. Not a werewolf.

"So, you were at the Battle of Hogwarts, and-"

"And I don't want to talk about that," she says, cutting him off.

He knows that Granger saw Greyback there, knows that she faced him... but it's not important to the research. Even if.... even if ...

"Right. So you were-"

"You're not going to ask?" she questions him, her voice sounding terse.

He swallows and sets down his quill before he finally... he knows what she expects him to ask. So, he does it.

"Weasley. What happened with Weasley. What happened with Greyback?"

She stares at him, and he watches as she takes in a deep breath, slowly. He imagines, if he could hear her heartbeat, that he would hear it pounding in her chest. There are unshed tears in her eyes, and she looks ready to break.

"Greyback could smell Ronald on me. He had kissed me... our first kiss, after we destroyed the cup. We were so happy to be alive, and he kissed me, and then-"

Draco has no idea what that matters to the story, but he imagines... he imagines watching the boy you liked being ripped apart only minutes after your first kiss... 

"Harry was the last horcrux, so he went out to face Voldemort. Ronald... we knew that Harry was going out there to die, and Ron just... he couldn't let him go alone."

A single tear rolls down her cheek, and he wants to reach for it. Instead, he finishes the story for her.

"So Greyback steps out, smells you on Weasley, and rips him apart for touching what is his," Draco says softly.

Her lips quiver, a second tear falls, and she gives a single nod.

"He made it personal, then," Draco says. 

"Yes," she confirms, moving a hand to wipe away a tear. "After the battle, after we confirmed that I wasn't a werewolf, Bill and I started planning. We were the best two to go up against him... we knew him, knew what it was like, knew the rise and fall, and knew that our best chance was over the New Moon."

That would make sense... two half werewolves wouldn't be going through the drop that werewolves seemed to have with the shifting of the moon.

"What happened?" he asks.

She stares down at the table, and shakes her head. She's reliving it, remembering it...

"We didn't find him, but he found us. I guess he followed us back..."

Her eyes are off, lost, and he knows she's remembering something terrifying.

"Bill and I, we had an area warded, but it was intended to keep us in... not to keep him out. We didn't know... he couldn't see the cottage, but he knew that we were there. I was stupid, so stupid..."

He wans to correct her, but-

"He went for Bill first, and I could just remember Molly's screams, finding Fred's body, watching Ronald..."

He can't... he can't breathe. Just watches her...

"And Fleur... she was inside. She screamed when she saw Greyback. Bill, he's good at charms and curses, but we were both... I was stupid, and threw myself at him, and Greyback... he was there for me. It was never about Bill. He..."

Her voice trails off again, and she takes in a shuddered breath.

"I tried to get away, tried to claw away. Bill, he was casting spells, but Greyback dragged me through the warded area, as though it wasn't there, and Bill's spells bounced right off. He dragged me out, just enough, and he..."

Her lips shook and he watches the tears. Forgetting the story, forgetting the journal and the quill, Draco quickly rose from the table and went around, pulling her up. Her face buries into his chest, and he holds her. 

Greyback, with a girl... He...

"He bit me," she says, choking out a sob. "I managed to kick him away, to get back into the safe area, and by then, Bill had the runes fixed, to keep him out. He... it was only a bite, but it was enough."

He knows where that bite is... he knows what Greyback was trying to do to her.

He holds her for a long while, until eventually, her tears stop. It feels strange, to let her pull away and sit back at the table, but he lets her, and returns to his seat as well.

"So you were bitten on the June Full Moon," he finally says, writing it down.

"June 24th," she whispers. "The day my future ended."

He knows that feeling. He knows it all too well.

"He came back for me," she whispers, her voice low, eyes still red and bloodshot. "The night before the July Full Moon. He came for me, called me to him."

He nods and swallows, imagining...

"I was smarter, though," she adds on. "This time... this time, I had a sword."

She smirks to herself, and lifts her chin as she crosses her arms under her breasts.

"A... sword?" he asks, raising his brow. 

"The sword of Gryffindor," she adds on. "One with basilisk poison on it. All I had to do was lay a single blow..."

She's proud of herself, he realizes. So much pain, from one creature, and she... she managed to end him. She destroyed him. She... she was powerful. She was strong.

"It was an early morning Full Moon," she adds quickly. "Very early in the morning. I knew that was out there, in the woods around the cottage, but I was waiting for him. Fleur and Bill, they were elsewhere, for their own protection. We thought it best, that I stay where Greyback would look for me, and that they not remain. He came for me, of course, to talk... to convince me to..."

Her voice stops, and she laughs at the memory. He doubts he would laugh with her.

"He asked me a very stupid question," she finally says. "And I answered him with the sword."

He can't help but to grin himself. "Did he proposition you?"

"Of course he did," she grins back. "Like I said - I answered with the sword."

"Brilliant girl," he answers without thought.

She smiles back at him... and then he realizes what they're talking about. He's proud of her... for killing a werewolf with a poisoned sword.

Well then.

"From there..." she says, her voice trailing off. "Well, I screwed up from there."

He can't even imagine how... oh wait, pushing everyone away from her. Right.

"I... I never liked Bill," she says, almost as though trying to convince herself. "To be honest, if I went for one of Ronald's brothers, it would have been Percy... or perhaps Fred. He always made me laugh."

Draco sees zero point to this conversational direction, but he's not going to stop her.

"But Bill... being close to him, it calmed me. The next New Moon, I spent the night curled against his side, and the next morning... let's just say, Fleur was understandably jealous. And... two weeks later... after the Full Moon..."

Ah. Right. She had mentioned attacking...

"Okay, back up," Draco says. "So the August Full Moon, you-"

"It was late afternoon, so once the sun went down, I shifted rather quickly. I still had no wolfsbane, but I ran and I ran, and it was..."

There's a natural look on her face, and he loves it, loves the smile. She looks happy. Truly happy.

"Well, it was painful," she finally says. "In July, I was a bit high off of power, off of killing Greyback, but in August, it was freeing, but painful."

He nods - she had already said that. Freeing but painful. Alright then.

"So... you run free in August, and then you..."

"I attacked Fleur the next morning," she says solemnly, the regret clear in her voice. "I knew I couldn't stay at Shell Cottage forever, but..."

He could make a million guesses as to why she had attacked the pregnant veela, but... 

"So you came here," he says, setting down the quill. "You came to Hogwarts."

She gave him a single nod. "I came to Hogwarts."

He gives it a moment, then nods, playing with the end of the quill as he speaks. "It makes sense, of course. You said that you knew about the shack, there's a number of potion ingredients, a healer, people you trust..."

She's quiet, and he knows she's waiting for him to get to his point, but he knows he has to tread carefully here.

"What happened with Potter?"

She stares at her, her lips pursing, and he knows he hit it on the head. Something she doesn't want to talk about.

"Or the rest of your friends, for that matter."

She continues to stare at him, her arms crossing under her breasts.

"Is it because you're afraid?" he asks. "Because you don't want to hurt them?"

She stares at him, and then leans forward suddenly, her hands slamming on the table. 

"Do you know the punishment you'll face if the Ministry finds out you knew I was a werewolf?" she asks, her head tilting to the side as she speaks.

"I'm already going to Azkaban," he says with a sneer.

"What?" she asks, jerking back. "No, you're on probation, and-"

"And no Dark Magic, Granger," he says, leaning back in his own seat to cross his arms over his chest. "What will happen to me, when I leave this place and try to walk the streets? When I have to report to the Ministry for my Mastery? What happens to me? You know I'll have no peace."

She looks stricken at the thought, but swallows it down.

"Five years in Azkaban. If anyone finds out, you'll spend-"

"And what about you?" he asks, taunting her. "What happens when the Ministry finds out that a Muggleborn Werewolf is carrying a wand and hasn't registered herself?"

He already knows the answer. Her wand confiscated, snapped, and fifteen years in a cell, drugged out of her mind on Wolfsbane, to keep her subdued.

"What do you want me to do?" she asks, her voice rising in pitch. "Endanger my friends?"

"Ask for help!" he says with a laugh. "The laws are wrong, you know it, and they're dragging their feet on repelling all of them, but-"

"They're not going to repel the creature one," she chokes out.

He just stares at her, waiting for an explanation.

"It's what Harry and I fought about. He told me... he told me that the Ministry... I just mentioned that... that I was going back to Hogwarts, and he told me that the Ministry needed me. I reminded him that, technically, as a Muggleborn, I'm not allowed to work at the Ministry, but he... he's so hopeful."

She sounds almost angry as she says the word, and he waits... waits for it... waits for whatever damning thing...

"I tried to tell him that I'm a werewolf, but he didn't get it. He just kept saying... they'll make an exception. They'll make one for me."

He thinks they would... or make an example out of her.

"But I knew... they could forgive the fact that I'm a Muggleborn. In time, that law will be repealed. But, the fact that I'm a werewolf... I'm not stupid. I know what would happen. I would lose my job. It would be plastered everywhere. And I would be imprisoned for not reporting myself... but if I reported myself, I would lose my job and have it announced anyway."

He knows what comes next. He knows...

"So you pushed Potter away," he says slowly.

"So I told Harry it was his fault that Ronald died. I reminded him that he was the one that broke the taboo that had us captured and taken to Malfoy Manor. I told him it was his fault, that Bellatrix tortured me, that Greyback marked me, that Dobby died, and..."

Tears are welling up in her eyes again, but he sits quiet. He wants to know. He has to know. How can he fix this if he doesn't know?

"I told him, if Greyback hadn't wanted me, he wouldn't have killed Ron. I told him it was his fault he went out into the woods to face Voldemort, drawing Ron to follow him. It was his fault. I told him that, over and over again, until he..."

Her lips press together, but it doesn't stop the sob. Her knees raise up and she wraps her arms around them, but he doesn't move. He just... 

Damn. Damn .

"Granger... it's not your fault either. You know that, right?"

She doesn't stop in her tears, and he knows he hit it on the head. Really... really, if someone is to blame, then, yeah, it was Potter's fault if he broke the taboo... but everything else... Sometimes, bad things happen to good people, and it's outside of their control. He knows that Granger doesn't actually blame Potter for any of it, particularly after his conversation with the Headmistress, but the way she's crying...

Why would she blame herself for this? He can't even... begin to figure out where she would find guilt, for any of it.

He had heard a rumor that Weasley abandoned them in the woods, and now he knows Potter spoke the taboo... but what did Granger do wrong? She had been tortured and hadn't broken, she had fought, she had been loyal... Granger never did anything wrong. And yet, here she is crying.

This is... done. The research, the history, her story... it's done. If she wants to talk about it another day, they can. He'll listen. He'll gladly listen. He still has so many questions, and yet, his mind is made.

Hermione Granger, werewolf... She had suffered years of teasing and torment, been petrified, been crucified by the papers, had her heart broken, spent nearly a year living on edge as she watched the war build, another year starving in the woods, been tortured, been tormented by a werewolf, watched her first boyfriend be ripped apart, fought in a war, turned into a werewolf... and now, she's crying her eyes out alone, in the library, with him, one of her childhood bullies.

He doesn't know any wrongs she has ever committed, but surely... surely she deserved peace. Surely, she deserved some goodness in her life. She had suffered so much... and that is just what he knows about.

Going around the table, Draco puts his hand on her shoulder, ready to comfort her, to soothe her, when she jerks away. Their eyes meet, and she looks scared, her lips and hands trembling.

He just stops, let's her-

"I don't blame myself," she says, finally responding to what he had said earlier. "I just... I don't know what I'm doing, okay? And I thought this would feel good, to get it all out, but I just feel worse, and-"

"Okay then," he says with a shrug, stepping back a step. "So we're done. You don't have to talk about this."

She looks ready to yell, to stomp away, to attack... he doesn't really know. What he does know is that she's currently scary, and he won't stand in her way.

"I need a few days, okay?" she chokes out. "I just... I don't-"

"Okay," he says, nodding his head and going back around the table to gather his things. "You know where to find me."

She gathers up her own things, but doesn't move to leave. Not yet, at least.

"That's it?" she asks, looking confused. "You're not going to ask how I'm feeling?"

Draco huffs, shaking his head as he corks the ink pot. "I'm not a bloody Hufflepuff, Granger, but I can guess how you're feeling. Overwhelmed, upset, exhausted... all understandable. You say you need a few days... you can have them. Deserve them. We can talk about this later."

She hesitates, and he wonders why, but then she shakes her head, obviously rethinking her thoughts.

"I'll see you around, Malfoy," she says, leaving him standing there alone.

He wonders when she stopped calling him Draco.

Chapter Text

12 December 1998 - 6 Days Before the New Moon

"We have to stop meeting like this, Malfoy."

He hasn't spoken to Granger in almost a week. It's strange, to see her in class each day, to see her in his dreams, but to not hear her voice... she won't even speak in the dreams. It's just all business, all him bending her over a library table or him taking her against the stacks and burying his face in her hair, or her pushing him down and riding him out in the forest...

And yet, no words. Not a single one. He doesn't like it.

And then, he hears her voice.

He looks up, amazed to see her standing there. She looks... good. Healthy. Yes, some of her is fading as the moon grows darker each night, but she looks so human, her skin glowing, her hair bouncing... he can tell that she's a bit weaker than she was a week ago, but she looks good. She looks like Granger. She looks... functioning.

She looks better than she had the last time they spoke.

He decides to just go with it, rather than pointing out the obvious.

Crossing his arms over his chest, Draco leans back in his seat, slouching down slightly as he looks her up and down. It's also a nice treat to see her wearing something so... different. He can't exactly place his finger on it, but it's not... it's not Muggle at all, but it's also not school attire. She's wearing trousers, yes, but they're loose, like how his mother wears them while around the house and when she was 'working'. The blouse is different as well. 

She looks as though she put effort in, although he can't figure out why.

"In libraries where students go to study? Or... over books? Or... late at night when no one else is around?" His brows raise as he speaks, and he smirks as he waits for her response.

"All of the above," she says, tossing her hair over her shoulder.

For an instant, for a brief moment, they're simply two Hogwarts students. He's a powerful wizard from a good family with more wealth than imaginable, and she's a beautiful young witch, blossoming and coming into her own. It's easy, to grin at her, to gesture to the seat across from him, to invite her to sit with him.

She shakes her head no.

"Come with me?" she asks, sounding... hopeful.

He doesn't know why, but his heart starts to race.

"Of course," he answers easily, completely forgetting everything else but her.

He doesn't even bother to ask about or think about where they're going as she leads him out of the library, two steps ahead. She walks fast, particularly for someone so much shorter than him, but the way she walks, it's powerful, like she's on her way to murder a king or a God. She demands attention and respect with her walk - it's so different from in class, where she tries to hide.

This Granger, late at night, with no one around but him... her presence is commanding. 

If this Granger had come to him in sixth year and demanded he switch sides, he would have done it without thought.

He... weak puppy that he is... follows along behind her, until they reach the steps.

They head upwards, higher and higher, until he realizes exactly where it is they're heading. The Astronomy Tower. He knows he already offered to go there with her, and he goes regularly for class, but something about going up there with her - they reach the base of the tower, and he stops her, grabs her hand.

She turns and looks up at him quickly, whips around really, her face full of surprise.

"Hermione," he says carefully, testing out her name on his lips.

He wonders if he can get her to call him Draco once more. 

Her eyes, already wide, somehow go wider. He holds her hand as he moves closer to her, interlocking their fingers... He wants to tread carefully as he speaks, not wanting to ruin things, but he... he has to get this out.

Licking his lips, he softly asks, "Are you alright?" 

She gives him a warm smile and nods, squeezing his hand. "Yes. I just... I can already feel... you said, before, that if I wanted to look at the moon, then... I just didn't want to wait until the day of. And, I had something to ask you."

There's no reason for them to go up in the Tower for her to ask him something, and he doesn't need her to be careful about him up there - yes, his life had seemingly ended up in that tower, but it was part of why he took Astronomy - he had to face it, had to face his life choices.

Still, this is her plan, and it's the first time, ever, that they've spent time together just because... just because. There's no research, no disaster, no fight...

And they're still holding hands.

She leads him up the steps into the tower, and she gestures to a space in front of one of the large openings. 

"Would you mind... the armchair spell."

He lets go of her hand to cast it, the armchair being conjured from thin air, and then tries to enlarge it slightly. It makes the chair slightly smaller than a loveseat, but still, it would be big enough for the two of them. Besides, he's held her in his arms before. He would rather enjoy doing it again.

Opening her bag, she withdraws a few pieces of fabric, and he watches in wonder as they enlarge before his very eyes. Sitting down, he puts his arm over the back of the chair, and she sits down beside him, her head going to his shoulders as she pulls the blankets over them both.

It's intimate. Eerily so, almost. His heart is still racing in his chest, but as he looks out at the night sky and sees the crescent moon on the horizon... in time, his breathing, his heart, it all slows. He can feel her relax into his side, and he knows that she's worried about something, stressed out, upset, but- whatever it is, the longer they sit there, she's at peace.

He's in no rush to leave this moment, so he doesn't mind.

His arm falls from the back of the couch down around her shoulder, and he watches as her hand crosses her body to reach up to his hand, their fingers interlocking. His heart is pounding in his chest, and he knows she can hear it, can feel it, even without her werewolf senses... but she doesn't mention it. Just remain in the moment.

It's so beautifully intimate, just sitting here with her, he wants to cry.

He wants to tell her his story. He wants to apologize again. He wants to right every wrong, mend every error... he wants to change the world for her. She deserves peace. She deserves happiness. She deserves more than the bleak path before her.

"I can feel you thinking," she whispers, her voice sounding a bit rough.

"Yeah, sorry," he mumbles out, looking down at her.

She's quiet for a moment, then asks him something he isn't prepared to answer. "What are you thinking about?"

So many things he could tell her, so many answers he could give... But...

He's scared. He's scared that if he speaks, says the wrong thing... What if he ruins this? What if he ruins all of this?

"I'm thinking about you," he finally says, and watches as she shifts to look up at him. 

Their fingers release, and his arm falls to his side as she looks at him, their faces only a few inches apart. He thinks about kissing her again. He thinks about touching her hair. He thinks about having her in his arms. He thinks about... 

Worshiping her slowly. Taking the time. Enjoying her, every inch of her. He thinks about laughing with her, smiling with her, grinning as he teases her, as she teases him.

He thinks about laughter rather than tears. He thinks about her.

"What about me?" she asks, and he might be imagining it, but he thinks she might be breathing harder.

"Hermione-"

"You keep using my name," she says, cutting him off.

He swallows, then nods. "You... you asked me to."

"So?" she asks, but it's not judgmental or upset. No, it almost sounds hopeful.

"You called me Malfoy, in the library," he murmurs. "I don't like it. I enjoy it when you call me Draco."

He's definitely imagining it. There's no way she stops breathing. There's no... there's no way her breath catches. There's no way...

"I have to ask you something, before I lose the nerve," she says softly. "And, before this continues any further."

He doesn't really know where this had been going, and while he would love to take a guess, would love to imagine that she would be the one to kiss him... she's right. There is something they need to discuss. Ask. Question... they need to talk about... everything.

The dreams, the draw between them, the connection, whatever it is... he's attracted to her, she fills his nights, and he... he's enchanted by her. He needs to tell her, before anything else.

"Of course," he answers, trying to remember to breathe, trying to not move when she shifts a bit closer.

Their eyes are locked, and he can see the colors in them, how they're not just a plain brown as he might have once thought, but there's flickers of gold and amber and richness and depth... there's nothing to be reflecting off of them, just the moonlight, and he imagines his own eyes must look rather silver in the glow of it, but hers... even without the light of a candle or a fire, there's warmth in them.

"I want you to stay here over Christmas Break," she asks softly. 

He blinks, not really certain... what did... what-

"And, not because of the Full Moon," she says quickly, hurriedly. "I mean, yes, because of the Full Moon. If you left for break, you would be gone before I took the potion, and be gone over the Full Moon as well, but, if you made the potion before you left, it would be... well no, you couldn't, but, it's not about-"

His hand moves to cover her lips, to keep her from speaking further. She's rambling, but he doesn't need to discuss what the reasons are - he's not going anywhere, and she should know that.

"I'm not leaving Hogwarts," he says honestly. "And... it has nothing to do with you. My probation... I'm not allowed to leave."

She's staring at him, then takes in a breath, and he can see it, can see the question on her lips, can see that she wants to know.

"But I wouldn't leave you here alone," he answers her, without even needing to hear the question. "I would take you with me, if you wanted to. I could brew the potion wherever, take the supplies with me, and we could find somewhere..."

He imagines it again, imagines that old thought... he doesn't even know if he'll ever again have the Manor back in his possession, but it's a dream... a lovely dream...

"If I wasn't on probation, if we could go to the Manor... I could grow all of the herbs required, buy any ingredients I could not. We could brew the potion together in the Manor's potions room, and you could roam the grounds, safely kept within the Malfoy wards. You wouldn't even have to take the potion, if you didn't want to."

It's a dream, a lovely dream... one he knows might never come to be...

She looks stricken, and he realizes, in horror, that the Manor... that was where she had been tortured, where Greyback had bitten her. He goes to apologize, goes to say something, but-

Instead, her lips press against his. 

And his mind simply... blanks.

All the worries about upsetting her, concerns about the manor, worry about potions and Full Moons and...

Everything goes.

All he knows is the feeling of her soft lips pressing against his, and the way her fingers brush against his jaw, as though afraid to touch him. She's bent over, awkwardly, leaning into him, and he...

She pulls away from the kiss, and his eyes open to see her there, her eyes wide...

He surges forward, kissing her again, his hands going to her waste as he pulls her to him, and he's in heaven.

She's in his lap in seconds, her knees on either side of his legs, and he presses into her lower back with one hand while the other runs up the side of her neck, up into her hair, it's a mess, a glorious curly mess, but he doesn't care, doesn't bloody care about anything other than the fact that her lips part, and she deepens the kiss, and he-

It's glorious. It's... he's bewitched. Love-struck. He can do nothing but kiss her back, kiss her as she kisses him. Her hands touch his face, his jaw, his neck, his chest...

It's not like last time, when it was angry and dangerous, with her claws and fangs. This time, they're not a Death Eater and a Werewolf. They're not a Slytherin and a Gryffindor. They're not enemies.

They're two lovers, finally tasting the other's kiss.

It tastes better than he ever imagined.

Her body fits perfectly against his, the weight of her comfortable, and as he runs his hand down the back of her neck, he can imagine this, doing this, every day. 

It's better than the dreams, better than having her body against his in the other world, whatever it is - she fits better like this, the roundness of her arse firmer than in the dreams, her breasts certainly larger as his hand slides down her back and under her arm to rub the side of them. He has seen her riding his cock in his dreams, but he knows that they would bounce more in real life.

And her hair... He wants to bury his face in it and smell the scent again and again. She smells better than any dream ever before.

She's a Goddess in his arms, and he's always known that, but having her now, having her for real...

He's in love with her. He's desperately and madly in love with her.

And there's a chance, a very small chance, a chance he doesn't really deserve, that she might feel the same way about him.

He holds her close, holds her so close to him that he can feel her heart beating against his chest and can feel her body tremble as his hands run up and down her spine, and he melts into her, shifts on the chair, holds her tight...

When she pulls away from the kiss, he chases it for just a breath, catches one last small one, then settles back against the chair, watching as she opens her eyes.

They're even brighter than they had been before.

She looks... stunned.

Without thought, he gives her a smile, a tiny smirk in the corner of his mouth, and he watches as she smiles back, slowly. It's so tiny, but it's there. They're smiling at one another, and he...

His heart might beat it's way straight out of his chest.

She leans forward, to kiss him again he thinks, and he kisses her back without thought, but- she pulls back again, and instead presses her forehead to his.

Their eyes remain closed as he holds her tight in his arms, his hands moving, their arms shifting, until eventually, his arms are wrapped around her, and her forehead is pressing to his neck, her head on his chest.

They're silent, and he wonders why they stopped kissing, tries to tell his lower body to stop... throbbing ... but then, as they sit there, he gets it.

He wants to push forward, to move fast, but this... this is like a dream. 

"Is this even real?" he asks, not even believing that this... was this even real? Did this even really happen? Had he actually kissed her? Was he holding her in his arms? Had she kissed him first?

Is this all a dream? All a dream where he would wake up, alone?

"Is what real?" she asks against his chest. 

"Did you kiss me?" he breathes out, still in awe.

She giggles, and lifts her head. He looks down at her, the angle a bit awkward, but then she's kissing him again. It's soft, so very soft, but he doesn't push it further. Just kissing her, holding her... she feels strong and alive, and he... selfishly, he thinks about the next time they'll be in this tower. He hopes this is enough, to make her want it, to want to stay...

He wants to be enough. Because... she's enough. This feeling...

He knows he's destined for Azkaban, and yet, she makes him want life, makes him want to fight back, makes him want to earn his freedom. She makes him want to earn a life with her.

Their lips pull away, and he presses a kiss to her forehead. The tiny noise she makes is one he'll never forget. It's a whimper, a cry, a sigh - it affects her, the feeling of this kiss, just like how she affects him.

She's stronger than him, smarter than him, far more powerful than him, and yet... he would do anything for her. He doesn't know what he can do for her beyond what he's already doing, but... he can be there for her, always, and the kiss... it's a promise.

"This is real," she whispers. "All of this... it's real. Everything between us... it's real."

He wants... he wants to clarify. Desperately. He wants to know - is this truly real, this connection between them - he wants to know, are they soulmates? Are they bound by the stars and by magic? Is it the fact that she's a werewolf, or is the blood curse, or - what is it? What binds them so tightly together that he can't imagine taking another breath without her in his arms?

But instead, he once again stays quiet. He doesn't want to ruin this, doesn't want to ruin this moment.

He shifts her so that her legs are together and she's draped across his lap, giving his cock a moment to breathe. Her head rests on his shoulder, and he holds her tight as she relaxes into him, drifting off.

He doesn't know when they fall asleep, but when he wakes up, the sun is coming up on the horizon, and she's still there, in his arms, the two of them burrowed underneath the blankets with warming charms around them.

It's a perfect moment, a perfect sunrise... but, they can't stay there forever.

His lips brush against her forehead, and she shifts a little, causing his morning wood to ache. He realizes, amusingly, that he didn't dream of her, didn't dream of sex with her... or is this the dream? Is this... is she about to get undressed and ride him in the Astronomy Tower, only for him to wake up and he's actually alone in his bed.

Or worse, wake him up and she's still on his lap?

"Good morning," he murmurs, testing out the waters, seeing if she...

"Good morning," she answers softly, her voice thick with morning sleep.

Not a dream? Probably not a dream.

"We should go," he says, before he starts pushing down his pants and trying to get into hers.

"We should," she answers, and she shifts a little, not enough that she could be feeling things, but... "But I wish we could stay here forever."

He wishes a lot of things, but fucking her in the Astronomy Tower isn't one of them.

She moves again, and this time, he knows his entire length just rubbed against the side of her thigh. She freezes, in his lap, and then bursts into giggles.

"Sorry," she insists, blushing as she rises up out of his lap, leaving him sitting there with the blankets.

"No, sorry," he apologizes as well.

She gives him a smile, and he watches, fascinated, as her eyes drift down to his lap, to where the blankets are piled... and fuck, maybe he should have kissed her awake, maybe he should have...

He's going to wank as soon as they leave this tower.

"We really should go," she whispers.

He takes a deep breath and rises from the couch, dropping the blankets from the ground around him, and steps over towards her. 

She doesn't move, doesn't breathe, just stands there as he approaches. The look of her, with the glow of the sunrise behind her, the wildness of her hair, her lips full and her eyes bright... she looks like a goddess, one that he would spend an eternity worshipping.

"I'm going to kiss you again," he murmurs as he finally reaches her, his hands going around her waist, pulling her to him.

"Please do," she whispers back in response.

He kisses her, and he-

Draco has never imagined what a paradise might be like, but he imagines he would only enjoy it if she was there with him.

Her hands go to his chest, fingers gripping at the front of his sweater, and he pulls her tighter to him. She's so tiny like this, with them standing up, but he can feel her power, can feel the way that she pushes back, kissing him.

Their lips part and he doesn't care about morning breath, doesn't think about anything else as their tongues brush, as her fingers tighten in the fabric, as he - as he devours her, loses himself in her, obsesses over her.

He's enamored with her, his tiny werewolf goddess, the one that runs his dreams, that controls his thoughts, that-

This has to be a bloody dream, because if he leaves this tower without either fucking her or asking her if they're soulmates, he'll never forgive himself.

She jerks away from the kiss, and he opens his eyes just in time to see her hand go to her mouth. He doesn't know what's wrong, what could be affecting her, but her eyes are wide, and she's not removing her hand.

"I have to go," she says quickly, and he worries - 

"Wait, no," he insists, trying to figure out.

She moves her hand, and reveals the fangs there.

He stares at her, stares at the fangs... and laughs.

"You probably have to go," he agrees with a grin.

She giggles and grabs the blankets, shoving them into that bag of hers, then lingers at the top steps. He watches her, watches as she blushes as she looks back at him.

He can't do anything but grin.

"What have you done to me?" she asks with a tease, before heading down the steps.

When she disappears out of sight, he sits down, hard, grin still on his face.

Absolutely completely mad for her. That's what he is. Completely-

FUCK!

Did he really just - just let her leave after - 

HE LITERALLY JUST THOUGHT ABOUT IT.

"Dammit," he curses, his head falling back against the cushion.

And now... he has to walk all the way down from the Tower to the Common Room with his cock hard and his curiosity still flaring.

What is wrong with him? What has she done to him?

Fuck.

Chapter Text

18 December 1998 - New Moon

Standing at the bottom of the grand staircase, Draco watches as Granger slowly makes her way down. He wants to rush to her, to scoop her up and carry her to safety, but he knows... he knows independence, and he knows strength. Besides, she's not fully burned out yet, and... he'll likely have to carry her up the stairs to the Astronomy Tower. 

The New Moon won’t reach it's bleakest point until just before midnight. And until then, the last of her strength will be sapped away.

He tries to think back to Professor Lupin, tries to remember the man, how he shifted between stronger days and weaker ones. He remembers, a few times, Professor Snape stepping in to teach the class, but otherwise... he can't remember anything else.

Well, no. Some days, the man would wear a thick cardigan, one which seemed wholly unnecessary. Perhaps... he can't remember back that far, but perhaps those would be the days where the Moon was furthest from its strength. 

Still, if Professor Lupin had learned the balance with time, then she would as well. She would have to.

He wishes, now, that he knew more about the old professor, but all of his questions... he'll ask his Aunt in the morning, when they meet for lunch in Hogsmeade. Hopefully, she'll have answers.

When Draco had mentioned it to Granger, two days earlier, she had merely nodded and given him a soft smile, then a squeeze of his hand. She hadn't said yes or no, but that smile... he had to imagine...

They hadn't really talked since their night in the Astronomy Tower. Between catching up on their classes, and now that he's aware of it, he knows that she spends most of the time between the Full Moon and the New Moon catching up on classes and then working head, and then with classes each day, and he compiling the research... it's hard to talk to her, hard to sit down and pull her away...

He wishes he could walk with her to class, could share a bench with her, could hold her hand, help her.

He wishes he could provide excuses for her, a cover, explain that she has a blood curse... He still needs to discuss that idea with her, but a blood curse could last her the rest of her life, depending on how they explained it. One day, she wouldn't spend her every moment surrounded by other students, and it would be easier to hide, but for now...

He'll mention the excuse another day. Perhaps, then, she can find other friends.

Not that they would stop being friends. He just knows... she's lonely.

Lonely in a way that he both understands and yet is pulling away from. While he can't really talk to Granger during the week, he talks to Theo more. They talk about their fathers, the war, their beliefs...

They don't talk about Granger. Thankfully. Draco still doesn't have an excuse for the whole... bed thing, from almost a month before.

"Waiting for me?" Granger asks, two steps from the bottom.

He can hear how tired she is as he shakes out of his thoughts, and he nods, walking towards her, offering her his hand.

She takes it, thankfully, and he considers for a moment about whether or not to ask to go public, but...

It's not as though they're dating. They're something, but dating... 

They need to talk. Why are they so terrible at talking?

Right. Because... there's never a right time for it. And... that's actually really valid, given the fact that she's a werewolf. Time... actually matters for this discussion.

"I was going to breakfast anyways," he says with a shrug.

She doesn't respond, but it doesn't bother him. He knows she's exhausted, drained, while the very last of her energy fades from her.

By the time they reach the Gryffindor table, she practically melts into her seat. A plate filled with protein appears before her, and she begins to eat.

He eats his own breakfast across from her, slowly, taking his time. He needs to talk to her, but he needs her to have just a little bit more awareness than she does in this moment.

"I'm angry," she says halfway through her plate.

The words startle him - he hadn't been expecting her to talk at all, to begin a conversation... still, he looks at her, studies her... he doesn't see any anger. Anger is normally for just after the Full Moon. Why would she be angry now, particularly when she looks so passive. Even her eyes look tired, as though they're barely able to even stay open.

"Angry?" he asks, setting down his mug. "Angry at me, or?"

"Just angry," she whispers, her voice already sounding too tired to explain further. "I'm angry without the Moon."

He tries to think about that for a minute, but he doesn't understand... As far as he's aware, and she's explained... this is the furthest she is from being a werewolf, the closest to being human she'll ever be again. Why would she be angry... 

"I... don't understand," he finally says. "How..."

"Like a starved wolf," she says, lifting her eyes up.

And that... that's when it clicks.

It's not that she's more human at the New Moon. It's not that her wolf side has been suppressed. She had already clearly told him that there wasn't two parts of her, wasn't a wolf versus a human... 

On the New Moon, it's not that she's less of a werewolf. She's just... a weak one. An injured one. A starving one.

"It's alright to be angry," he says softly. "To be... scared."

"I'm not scared," she whispers, but the way her eyes flick up at him... there it is. He can't see the anger, but he can see the fear. The fear of a weak and injured werewolf. 

It all... it just all wraps up into one another. There is no separation between wolf and human. No separation between abilities. She simply... is. 

"It's alright to be angry," he says again. "But... know that I will never let anything happen to you."

She stares at him, and he can see the tears in her eyes, but she sucks them down and resumes eating, not responding.

He lets her, doesn't say anything else, and when the meal is over with and he helps her up and out of the Great Hall... they venture towards her first class. He only offers her his arm twice, and then, he leaves her to her silence.

And dashes back to his room to make notes about her anger.

The day continues on like that - each time he sees her, her eyes are half closed. Draco simply makes copies of his notes to give to her later. He doesn't see her at lunch, nor does he see her in his one Friday afternoon class, but once it's done, he heads to the kitchens, to ask for a meal prepared for the two of them.

The elves are happy to oblige, although one does ask that Missy Granger not come to the kitchens. He wonders if the elves, who seem to know everything, know that Granger is a werewolf.

When he reaches the Astronomy tower, though, he's surprised. She's not there. Not at all. Not even a hint or a sign.

Leaving the bag of blankets and their meal tucked behind a Disillusionment Charm, Draco goes in search of her, first down to the Great Hall, and then out into the courtyard. When he can't find her there, he heads up towards Gryffindor Tower. If he hasn't seen her since Arithmancy, where could she be?

He finds the portrait, and asks for Granger, but gets no answer.

Not knowing what to do, he nearly heads to the Infirmary, when the portrait opens. 

Seeing Longbottom, Draco takes a step back. He hasn't spoken to the boy in... he has no idea... but he used to bully him, once. That was years ago, though. They were different people.

Still... he might be Draco's only answer.

"I'm looking for Hermione," Draco says, choosing to use her first name over her last.

"Hermione?" Longbottom asks, sounding a bit... confused. "You call her Hermione?"

Draco swallows, then gives a single nod.

Longbottom stares at him, then gives a nod back. 

"She's asleep on the couch in the common room. Has been since lunch, I'd say. Scares most of the younger years. They're all bloody terrified of her."

Draco understands why. She did it on purpose, of course. Understandable.

"Do you know why she's pushed everyone away?" Longbottom asks, looking at him with far more intelligence than Draco ever would have expected.

"What makes you ask?" Draco asks, not wanting to answer.

Longbottom is quiet for a moment, pausing in the entryway, pushing the portrait open further. 

"You know... we all know something happened at Malfoy Manor. Guessing you were there. Guessing it changed her."

Draco... doesn't know what to say. This would be a perfect moment to bring up the blood curse, to provide excuses, explanations... but he doesn't have her permission. And... he doesn't want to speak without it.

"Listen... I'm not saying the school wasn't bad last year," Draco begins, pushing a hand through his hair. "But what... you have to..."

"The school was bad," Longbottom says with a nod. "And we all went through pain, but... none of us died during the year. None of us..."

Draco swallows hard, and stares back at Neville for a long moment before finally saying, "Yeah. Yeah, I was there that day... yeah."

Longbottom stares at him, then finally blurts out a single word. "Bellatrix."

Draco knows what happened to Longbottom's parents. He knows what the other boy is asking.

"Yeah."

Another sniff from Longbottom, and then he's stepping back, pushing the portrait open further. "I'm glad she's talking to someone. She was there for all of us, at some point, helped us all. She could have ran, like the rest of the Muggleborns, but she fought. She fought hard. No one else... they all just want to give up on her, but I can't. Can't give up on my parents. Can't give up on her. Just... let her know some of us still worry."

Draco nods and enters the entryway. He spies Granger from where he stands, and he knows what it is... she's chatatonic now, completely lost without the feeling of the moon.

"Thanks," Draco says.

Longbottom offers him a hand, and Draco... he reaches out and takes it, shakes it.

"Just take care of her."

Draco tries to not think about the interaction as he carries her, quickly, from the Gryffindor common room up to the Astronomy tower. It's a good thing most students are at dinner - they haven't crossed anyone else. 

She's not exactly heavy, but with each step, he's starting to think he might need to eat more, and work out some. Or a broom. Maybe he needs to start carrying her across the school on a broom.

He can't keep carrying her like this.

When he finally makes it up the last steps of the Astronomy Tower, he has to set her down to withdraw his wand. She makes a soft noise, but otherwise, she's completely out of it - the lack of lunch, most likely. Dammit, Granger...

With the armchair conjured and expanded, he bends down to pick her up once more, and carries her to the chair. Setting her down on it, he lays her across, her body curling up quickly. The sun is long gone with only the night sky shining in through the window, and he looks for the moon, looks for the outline of it. 

He can't see it, but he knows that when Granger wakes up, she'll know exactly where the Moon is supposed to be.

He pulls out blankets next, and carefully settles two of the thicker ones over her, casting a warming charm with them. She had been cold when he scooped her up in the common room, but she's like ice now, and he brushes her hair back out of her face, so that when she opens her eyes, she'll see where she is, and not need to unwrap herself from the blankets.

For a brief second, Draco thinks this might have been a bad idea. After all, she had been asleep in the common room, in front of the fire, resting...

No. Last month... last month, he had found her sitting in the courtyard, freezing to death, talking about...

No. This is what they agreed upon. This is... better.

With Granger bundled up, he sits and unwraps one of the meals. Plenty of meat, sliced thin, potatoes, other root vegetables... it's a hearty meal, one that he hopes will give Granger a bit of strength to survive the night.

After he eats, he can do nothing but wait, watching her sleep. He thinks about conjuring a second chair, but really, he wants to hold her.

Something about doing that without permission, though, the thought of picking her up and holding her in his lap... It had been fine, a few nights earlier, but a few nights earlier, she had been laughing and teasing and smiling and kissing him. Tonight, she's unconscious.

He's just about to drift off to sleep himself when her eyes suddenly open, and he watches as she shifts a little, blinks, and then smiles at him.

"I had a dream that you came for me," she breathes out.

Pushing himself up off the ground, Draco grabs the other meal and moves to the armchair. Her eyes are closed again, but he knows she needs to eat, and helps her to sit up some. She doesn't protest, just lands hard when he turns her in his lap, so her head is on his shoulder.

"You need to eat," he insists, carefully balancing the meal on the empty armrest.

"I know," she whispers.

She makes no move to open her eyes, and so he... he reaches over and picks up a potato, brushing it against her lips. Her lips part, and she takes a bite, her nose wrinkling.

"It's for you," he says endearingly. She doesn't protest, and just chews and swallows.

"Tell me there's meat," she whispers, eyes still closed.

He reaches for a few pieces of meat, cooked rare, and the juices drip down his fingers as he brings it to her lips. She opens them and takes the entire piece, chewing slowly...

And then, he watches as her eyes open, as though the meat gives her energy. It's amazing, to see how just a touch of protein, iron most likely, it helps her to find her strength... enough that she licks at his fingers, still wet from the meat.

Dreams... this is definitely a dream.

He pulls his fingers away, and while she could probably try to feed herself, he still picks up another piece of meat. He watches, mesmerized, as her eyes lock onto their target, and she leans forward to take it from his hand. After she chews, she goes for his fingers once more, and catches one, sucking the juice from it.

Is he seriously... are they... 

What the hell even is his life anymore?

"Granger-" 

Her head turns and she kisses him on the lips. It surprises him - he wasn't ready for it at all - but he kisses her back, pressing against her, trying to...

He wants to kiss her more, but she needs to eat and sleep. She's not in her right mind, like this. He remembers that from last month, how she had...

He'll never forget how his stomach flipped when he realized what she meant by leaving .

"You need to eat," he insists as he pulls back to breathe.

She pouts at him, but nods and looks to the plate.

Picking it up, he holds it in front of her, letting her decide.

Without thought, it seems, she starts to eat.

She picks at it with her hands, the meat primarily, although he does turn the plate a few times so she's forced to pick up the other vegetables. She doesn't complain, just eats, quickly, efficiently. It's different... different from breakfast, at least.

Normally, she looks to have to force herself, but now, it's as though she's starved.

"What's different?" he asks, watching her eat.

She doesn't pause to answer him or to ask, but she does glance at him and raise a brow between bites.

"Right now, you're ravenous," he clarifies. "Normally... well, normally you're catatonic."

It doesn't make sense. There's a pattern, a clear pattern. The morning of the New Moon, she's always in some sort of a trance, eating slowly, as though it hurts. Now, she's scarfing down the meal, starved.

"I don't know," she says with a shrug.

He suspects she might be lying about that, but says nothing as she eats down every last bite.

When the plate is clear, he expects her to resume kissing him, touching him, something.... something.

Instead, she just stares at the plate, as though confused it's empty. He levitates it to join his empty plate, and she watches it go, watches as it floats away... and then her eyes shift to the open window.

"Oh," she says, as though realizing where they are, or what...

And there it is. She's... lost. Completely lost to him.

What... 

Werewolves. 

He knows there has to be an answer, but the complete lack of research is seriously starting to get to him.

"What does it feel like?" he asks, shifting in the chair so that she's turned fully towards the window, able to look out at the dark night sky.

"Like something is missing," she answers casually, without turning to look at him. "Like... a piece of me is just ripped out. Gone. Empty."

He nods, understanding that... sort of. He's still piecing it all together... the lack of the moon, it quiets the instinct, doesn't quiet the anger, pauses her strength... it exhausts her. So the piece missing... it could be the moon itself, but he suspects it could be the lack of instinct, and the lack of strength. That would make sense.

Why had she kissed him, then? Even with a burst of energy thanks to the meal... why had she kissed him like that?

"Are you warm?" he asks, running his hands up and down her arms underneath the blankets.

"Mmm," is the only answer he gets.

He keeps rubbing up and down her arms, until eventually, she relaxes back against him. He knows her eyes are still open, that he doesn't have to look, but otherwise, he would think she's asleep, given how still she is.

He lets her sit like that for a long time, eventually casting a tempus charm.

It tells him what he really needs to know... they're almost at the peak of the New Moon. Once it passes... he can only hope that she'll start to relax. That she'll fall asleep. That, in the morning, she'll have enough strength to go to Hogsmeade with him, that they can....

He wishes she were normal, not for himself, but because he can see it's all taking a toll on her, that she's exhausted, that she's breaking. He can feel it. She's... fading.

His hands eventually slow from rubbing her arms, and as she relaxes into him fully, he wraps his arms around her tight, holding onto her. He's never held anyone like this, not until her... never been this close... 

He's never had someone trust him like this. Trust him at their most vulnerable. Slytherins never let their guard down, and then, in the thick of it, he had been the vulnerable one, the scared one. His mother always shielded him as best she could, his father as well, but...

This... this trust. The way she relaxes into him... 

She's stronger than him, powerful, dangerous, deadly, and yet, she trusts him, the one that had watched her be tortured, the one that had teased her, the one that had wished her dead...

He's never had this before. And... he doesn't know what to do with it. Doesn't know how to protect her. Doesn't know how to keep her safe. He doesn't know what to do, other than just hold her while she keeps fighting, struggling, to get by.

"What have you done to me?" he murmurs against her temple, his arms tightening around her body as he speaks.

He doesn't get an answer, but he also hadn't expected one. His eyes start to close, and he begins to drift off to sleep, finally relaxing underneath her.

"What have I done to you?" she asks, her voice sounding clear.... strong.

He blinks and realizes that he had, at some point, drifted off to sleep. He knows he heard her spoke, an answer to the last words he had said... no, he definitely heard it, loud and clear.

"What?" he asks, blinking back sleep.

"What have I done to you?" she answers back, sounding... upset.

"What? Nothing. You've..."

"I hurt you," she whispers. "I attacked you, I tried to strangle you to hit you... I bit you, I-"

"You nicked my tongue with a fang after I kissed you," he interrupts, trying to turn her on his lap to look at him, but she refuses to turn.

"But what next?" she asks, her voice sounding weak. "Do I attack you on the Full Moon? Do I rip you to pieces? Do my actions lead to your death? Do I-"

"Merlin, Granger," he says, withdrawing a hand so he can rub at his face. "Where is this even coming from?"

He's not awake enough for this conversation.

"You asked what I've done to you," she whispers. "I'm asking what I'm going to do next."

He can't help but to laugh. Here he is, thinking that her trust and vulnerability has taught him how to be selfless, and she's scared of hurting him...

"I'm serious," she gasps, and he watches as her eyes widen, but she can't even pull herself out of his arms, still completely relaxed against him, despite the pain clear in her voice. "What if I hurt you? I hurt everyone around me, and I-"

"You haven't hurt me," he insists, giving up on turning her around to face him, and instead holding her closer, his lips pressing to her ear. "You've never hurt me."

"I have," she cries. "I've hurt you, and I-"

"You've taught me how to trust," he insists. "You have me thinking about someone other than myself and my family. You've taught me to be selfless, to care about the wants and needs of others, and I-"

"What if I killed you?" she begs of him, and he watches as tears run down her cheeks.

"Then it would be my fault for getting in your way," he answers without thought. "I know what you are, and I know what you're capable of. If I put myself into a position where you kill me, then it's my bloody fault. You're a werewolf. You can't control yourself. Literally."

She sniffles a little, and he presses a kiss to her temple, then holds her tighter.

"Hermione, I have to tell you something," he whispers into her skin. "And... I know now isn't the time, but I've put this off long enough."

His eyes close, and he wishes he could look at her, could see her face, but she's drowning, she's scared, and he...

He needs her to understand. He needs her to see. He needs her to realize... just what she does to him, for him.

"You're in my dreams," he whispers. "Every night, you're in my dreams. Ever since I returned to school, I see you, every night."

He doesn't tell her what... exactly... they're doing in them. If the dreams are shared, she'll know. Which... they have to be shared... maybe. He's still not certain on that.

"What?" she asks, and she finally looks away from the window to look at him.

Their eyes lock, and he reaches up to cradle her cheek and nods.

"Every night, Granger, I see you. Every single night. You're there, always. The only time you're not is when we're together, and those nights are always dreamless. Every night, Granger, since-"

"Since September?" she asks, her brow wrinkling as she responds. "But... that's been months."

"I know," he chokes out. "I didn't realize it was you at first, but now I-"

"What are we doing in the dreams?" she asks.

He tries to not show his disappointment... either, she's playing dumb, or... or they're not shared. Perhaps they're just for him, just his side of the bond? After all, she had mentioned stalking him, looking for him before... 

"Sometimes we're in the woods," he answers, swallows, trying to not lie. "The Forbidden Forest, or on the Malfoy Estate. Sometimes we're in my room."

He doesn't mention the nightmares either.

"Do we talk, or-"

"No," he says with a shake of his head. "And actually, I never see your face in them either. That's why it took me so long to realize it's you."

She's still so confused, and she shakes her head. "How-"

"It's your hair," he answers with a grin. "I recognized you by your hair."

He reaches up and touches one limp curl, then another, brushing them back from her face. Her hair always looks duller on the New Moon, lacking in life and her magic. He hates it.

"I don't understand," she finally says, swallowing hard.

"Don't you?" he asks, staring into her eyes, knowing the vulnerability is showing.

She stares back, and he can see... she's just as lost as he is.

"I don't know what's happening to me," she finally says, her voice sounding honest, clear. 

He nods, and presses against the side of her neck gently, lowering her head back onto his shoulder. "I know. I know, Granger. That's why we're going to talk to my Aunt in the morning."

He carefully withdraws his hand and casts a Tempus charm. It's after the height of the New Moon... that explains why she has a bit of energy again.

"What if she doesn't have any answers?" Hermione asks, her voice muffled in his sweater.

He's prepared for that inevitability, but... she had lived with a werewolf for months. She would have to know something.

"It's going to be alright," he promises.

She doesn't say anything else, and eventually, her breathing evens out. He looks down to see that her eyes are closed, thankfully...

So the dreams are not shared. And she doesn't understand the bond. And she doesn't know what's happening.

That's... that's just... Shit.

So he's back at the beginning. With no answers. No explanation.

Just a bond that exists without reason.

His Aunt had better have answers, before they both end up going insane.

Chapter Text

19 December 1998 - One Day After the New Moon

They're already sitting in a corner booth when his Aunt arrives.

It had been an awkward exchange to figure out seating - Hermione had wanted her back against the wall, to be able to take in the room and watch the door, but had also mentioned sitting on the end... and yet, she still wasn't at full power. He had managed to convince her to sit all the way in, talking about his long legs, and she had given in, her head leaning on his shoulder as they waited. They had arrived early, given that they hadn't known how long it would take them to make the journey...

It's a good thing, because by the time he sees his Aunt enter the room, Hermione is relaxed.

A very good thing, given who his Aunt looks exactly like.

Draco had never been able to see the similarities between his mother and Bellatrix, but he can see it now, the connection. Andromeda has the same wild black curls of Bellatrix, but all of the softness of his mother's face. She's the missing link. 

He wonders, for a moment, how different things could have turned out if she hadn't been disowned, burned from the family tree.

She approaches the table slowly, and Draco rises from it, leaving Hermione on the seat. He doesn't know if he should offer his Aunt a hug, or a handshake - she makes the decision for him, offering him her hand.

He quickly bows over it, then leans forward to brush just the air of a kiss over each cheek, a proper Pureblood greeting for an elder.

A small squeak is made, and he looks down to notice that there's a bundle wrapped up against his Aunt's body. His cousin, then. 

Looking towards Hermione, Draco watches, waits, fears... 

Her eyes are wide, but she's not reacting. Not as they had worried.

"Hermione," his Aunt says, going to step forward, but Draco quickly moves between them, and shakes his head.

His Aunt looks at him, then back to Hermione, and then gives a nod herself, before moving to sit down at the table across from the two of them. Draco sits as well, and watches as his Aunt removes her cloak, revealing the sleeping baby wrapped against her body.

"He's still asleep," his Aunt says, smiling at them both. 

Looking to Hermione, Draco watches as she leans forward, staring at the wrapped bundle. He leans into her, ready to ask if they should go, if there was a problem, but she cuts him off with a hand to his chest.

"I can sense him," Hermione whispers.

Draco looks from Hermione to his Aunt, who is watching her curiously.

"He's not like his father," Andromeda says softly.

"No," Hermione says, shaking her head. "He'll be like his mother. But... also like... like Bill."

Draco watches as Hermione then withdraws some, settling back on the bench. She's relaxed, not on guard, not angry, or... just there. He hopes it's more than just exhaustion from the night before.

"Would you like to hold him?" Andromeda asks, her hand going to her shoulder where a circle of metal sits with the folds of the fabric wound around it.

"Neither of us would know - no, thank you," Draco says awkwardly. "It would be best..."

Andromeda studies them both again, then nods.

"I'm glad to see you well, Hermione," Andromeda says, a second after the silence starts to feel awkward. "I was worried, of course, but, given your condition..."

"I understand, no, of course," Hermione says quickly. "The trauma of seeing... I mean, you are certainly not her, but... but, whatever potion you sent, it worked wonders to heal me."

Andromeda stares at her, and he realizes his error. He never told her about... 

"It wasn't the potion that healed you," Draco says softly.

Hermione stares up at him, then looks back at his Aunt.

"I thought my nephew would have told you," Andromeda says carefully. "The potions I sent were for your pain. Not to heal the blood curse."

Hermione's smile, tiny as it is, begins to falter.

"It should have killed you," his Aunt continues. "Within a few months."

Hermione stares at her a second longer, then looks down at her arm. Draco knows what she's thinking about - the scar. It's fully healed over, but on the Full Moons, and when she's upset, she still scratches at it.

"But I'm still alive," Hermione says, looking up at Andromeda quickly. "How-"

"I suspect it would be your accelerated healing," Andromeda says. "Although, there's no studies on it."

Draco can see Hermione tensing, and she looks up at him, fear in her eyes. "You knew?"

He can feel a fight building, so he rushes out the words. "Not until after I knew you had lived. I didn't see a point in telling you, but-"

"Did Bill know?" Hermione asks, turning back to look at his Aunt. "And Fleur?"

Andromeda stares at her, then nods her head.

"I informed them both that the blood curse would kill you in time. They mentioned that you had been bitten, and were much more like Bill, and we suspected it would give you more time, but... they knew it would kill you in the end."

Hermione swallows, sitting back in the seat. He watches a thousand emotions flood over her face, and then she takes in a deep breath, nodding.

"It's a good thing they didn't tell us. We would have all been distracted from what was important. Although, it does answer a few questions about why Bill allowed me to go with him when..."

Her voice trails off, and she looks at Draco, then down at the table. 

"When we tracked down Greyback."

His Aunt is quiet, and Draco runs his hand up and down Hermione's back, trying to comfort her. He doesn't know what she's thinking, but she's not angry at him, so he's going to take it.

"Mrs Tonks, there appears to be a lack of suitable material in the Hogwarts library pertaining to my condition. What few resources we can find all treats the condition as a creature, not as a person. Draco and I, we've noticed a few things, like the change of my strength with the moon, and my attitude, but otherwise... we were hoping you might answer a few questions, seeing as you lived with one."

Draco quickly casts a privacy spell over the table. Let others wonder what they were discussing - no one needed to know the truth.

His Aunt glances around the table then looks back at them, raising her brow. Draco tries to relax as he rests his arm around Hermione's shoulders, but she's now tense, clearly nervous for answers.

"Of course," his Aunt says, shifting the baby slightly in the wrap. "Remus did live with us for some time. Are you asking for the potion recipe, or-"

"I already have that," Hermione says quickly, looking at Draco. "Draco brews it for me, given that I cannot."

His Aunt nods quickly, then looks between them. "Well, you said you have questions. What are they?"

Hermione looks up at him, and Draco knows he has to take the lead. She's far too tense, too upset, to try and push forward. 

"She's having a hard time with the New Moon," Draco says quickly. "In particular, she struggles to eat."

Andromeda nods politely. "Well, I can tell you that sometimes, Remus would need to take a pepper up, but otherwise, he seemed perfectly fine, save for the days leading up to the Full Moon. He did not like taking the potion."

"No," Hermione says, agreeing. "It's quite... I don't like how it makes me feel."

"Remus often fought it, and that's saying something, given that he was a werewolf for over thirty years. He was always at his angriest, the day he took the first potion, as though angry at the world. I think, even after all that time, he never truly accepted what he was."

It's hard to hear, because... Draco fears Hermione will never accept what she is.

"I don't want to end up like that," Hermione whispers, looking up at him. "I don't want to be angry. I don't want to constantly struggle. If I'm going to-"

"No ifs," he says, cutting her off. "No talk about leaving either."

He won't hear her say it. Can't even think about it.

"If I'm going to survive turning every Full Moon," she says, carrying on, "then I need to accept this. I just... I don't know how to let go."

"I think part of the problem," Andromeda said, cutting into their moment, "is that, for a long time, Remus blamed himself. He blames himself for his friends, for their deaths. Dora told me just a few things... but his happiest days were before even the Wolfsbane potion, when his friends joined him for the Full Moon."

Draco stares at his Aunt, then looks at Hermione, confused. How could a human join a person...

"I'm always with her," Draco says, trying to understand. "I sit on the other side of the window."

Andromeda raises a brow at him, and he realizes, then, that Hermione... She knows what his Aunt is talking about.

"They were Animagi," Hermione says slowly. "Sirius, James, and.... and Peter. They were all Animagi, so on the Full Moon, they could join Remus in the Shack."

Draco stares at her, shocked. All this time, he's had to be separate from her, watch through enchanted glass... and he could have been in the room all along?

"Why didn't you mention this sooner?" Draco asks, his voice rather insistent.

She shrugs her shoulders. "I didn't think you would want to."

He lets out a huff as he rolls his own eyes. "Granger, honestly- I spend the Full Moons banging on the glass, trying to get to you. Trying to make sure you're alive. I could have been there all along?"

"You can't exactly change back and forth," she says as she looks up at him. "You would have to stay in your transfigured form. And who's to say your form would even work with a werewolf."

"It's worth a try," he insists, trying to not get upset with her. "And besides, it's my decision to make. I don't want you to spend the Full Moon alone, and you've had an answer all along!"

There's a slight cough from across the table, and Granger looks away just as he does, to look across towards his Aunt. She's politely staring at them, reminding them of her presence while they argue.

"If I may," she says, sounding rather polite, but without a possibility of either of them arguing. 

"Hermione, dear, it might do you well to offer Draco a bit of trust. He does know his own mind, and can make his own choices."

Granger bristles beside him, but he settles his hand over the middle of her back, trying to soothe her. It does, slightly.

"And Draco, you would do well to remember that she is a werewolf, and she protects that which is hers. Sometimes, that means from herself."

He wants to scoff, knowing that already all too well, when he catches onto...

"What do you mean, that which is hers ," he asks, trying to... hoping to...

He doesn't want to blatantly ask, but if his Aunt might know...

"You're together, aren't you?" his Aunt asks, glancing at the two of them.

He looks down at Hermione, not really certain how to answer. She looks up at him as well, as though... neither of them really have the words.

Are they together? They've never said it, but they've never said a lot of things. He cares for her, though, and she trusts him... they kiss, they hug, they hold one another, and no one else knows, save for sort of Theo and Neville, but... they are... something. That's undeniable.

"We are," he answers, looking from Hermione back to his Aunt.

"Remus was always very protective of Nymphadora, particularly once she became pregnant, but before then, he was still careful of her. I think it's always like that - those that a werewolf holds close. He was much the same with his friends."

So... not like... not a soulmate bond, he wants to ask.

He feels himself deflate a little. Yes, she's protective, but who would fit into the same category - she had pushed everyone else away.

"Although, I think the loss of Sirius really crushed him," his Aunt continues. "I know he spoke about him often. The bond they had... it was different from the others."

"In what way?" Hermione asks, her voice soft.

"Well, you saw the two of them together, did you not?" his Aunt asked, a wry smile on her lips. "Now those two were a pair. My cousin... he was always in for a spot of trouble, and Remus... those two were always up to something at Hogwarts. I'm lucky I graduated before their magic became much stronger."

Draco doesn't know much about his cousin, the deceased Sirius Black. His mother never spoke of him, which was strange, given that he had apparently been the one to kill the Potters for the Dark Lord, but...

"When they were reunited, after Sirius broke out of Azkaban, it was like they had come home to one another," Hermione says, and he watches her swallow. "And... Harry said, after Sirius' death, that Remus was inconsolable."

His Aunt smiles kindly and nods slightly. "I think the loss of Sirius... It was like Remus lost a piece of himself. A part of his soul. He never got over it. It was different."

Draco realizes, then, his mistake. He had thought, hoped, assumed that, if there were soulmates, it would be between his cousin Tonks and the werewolf, but apparently... the way that his Aunt was speaking... it was another cousin. Sirius.

"Lost a piece of himself?" Hermione asks, leaning forward slightly over the table.

"He wouldn't speak of the loss to me, but I know it affected him greatly. The loss of all of his friends, his family... all he had in the end was Nymphadora, and dear Teddy."

As though the sound of his name is a beckoning call, the baby starts to make noises within the wrap. Draco watches, almost enchanted, as the baby shifts and moves within the wrap. His Aunt moves a piece of the wrap to the side, and a pair of bright eyes turns out to look at them.

"Hello there, Teddy," his Aunt says soothingly. "This is your cousin Draco, and his friend Hermione. She's like your father."

Draco doubts the child understands, as the baby barely looks old enough to move, let alone talk, but what does he know of children?

"How old is he?" Draco asks politely, not certain what else to ask. 

"Eight months," Hermione answers.

He wonders how she even knew that.

"He's managing to sit up on his own, but refuses to even attempt to crawl," his Aunt says, sounding very proud. "He just sits there and tries to summon the toys to himself, as though he'll already have control of his magic. Silly boy."

Draco's fascinated as the little boy is pulled out from the sling all together, and she sets the chubby little boy in her lap.

"Are you certain you would not like to hold him?" his Aunt offers again.

Draco is just about to deny, when Hermione leans forward, reaching out a hand. Her fingers rest on the table in front of the little boy - he quickly grabs one, all of his tiny fingers wrapping around hers, and plops her finger in his mouth.

"He's teething," his Aunt says, as though a warning.

"He doesn't feel well," Hermione answers, like she's all knowing. "And the accidental magic is closer than you likely think. He may be a Metamorphmagus, like Tonks."

"Not a Werewolf," his Aunt asks, as though to clarify. "Remus, he was worried-"

"No," Hermione says quickly, smiling up at his Aunt. "He's not a werewolf. I'm certain of it, now that I can see him. He will most certainly never shift to an all vegetable diet, and he might be a bit cranky at some points over the month, but no. He's not a werewolf."

His Aunt seems to relax, and Hermione reluctantly, it seems, pulls her finger from the baby's mouth.

Draco watches, in fascination, as the child looks from Hermione, to him, and then reaches out a hand towards him.

"Give him your hand," Hermione says, nudging him.

"What, is this a werewolf thing?" he asks, casting a glance at her.

"Perhaps," she says with a roll of her eyes. "But look at the way he's sniffing the air. I told you, he's not a werewolf, but he's certainly not entirely human. He wants to know your scent. I think that might also be a baby thing, however."

"It can be," his Aunt agrees.

Draco reaches out his hand, and the baby immediately grabs two fingers, one in each fist. It's strange, to look at a tiny human, so new, so innocent... to know that the baby has no parents, and will grow up alone.

"Hello, Teddy," Draco says, staring at his cousin.

He can't imagine he'll ever see the baby again.

"How's your mother?" his Aunt asks carefully.

Draco doesn't withdraw his hand, but he does look up at his Aunt, taking in a deep breath as he does so.

"I don't know," he says honestly. "I wrote to her the same time I wrote to you, but I know that my letters had to go through the ministry."

"I've written to her as well," his Aunt answers. "I worried that she was ignoring my letters, but if there's a possibility that it's the ministry..."

"She's only under house arrest, correct?" Hermione asks, glancing between the two of them. "I understand why they might be careful with Draco's letters, but your husband, your child... They fought and died in the war, Andromeda. Your letters should not be restricted."

"She's still a Pureblood Black," Draco says, clarifying for Hermione where she obviously didn’t understand. "And the new rules, the new laws... it doesn't matter. Officially, the Black family was aligned with the Dark, and while my Aunt has been burned from the family tree, I doubt that matters to the ministry."

"Particularly if they want to isolate her as punishment," his Aunt agrees, nodding her head.

"What if I wrote to her?" Hermione asks.

Draco immediately turns and looks at her, surprised.

"Granger, it's... you can't-"

"Why not?" she asks, looking up at him. "Why can't I?"

He doesn't really have an answer for that.

"Well then," his Aunt says, turning Teddy around to face her shoulder. "If the two of you have no more questions..."

Draco shakes his head, and looks down at Hermione. She hesitates, then shakes her head as well.

It's a lie, of course, at least on his part. He has more questions, about the bond between Tonks and Remus, and the bond between Sirius and Remus... but he doubts his Aunt has any more answers than she has already given.

They've honestly, really, gotten nowhere. The meeting, as a whole, did nothing to help them.

"Thank you, for answering my questions," Hermione says beside him. "Truly. I've felt... completely lost in the dark. There's no research I can do, no one I can ask..."

His Aunt gives her a nod and a kind smile, then rises from the booth, the spell cancelling out as she does so.

"It was lovely to see you both," she says, and Draco slides out of the booth to give her an airy kiss over each cheek.

Hermione is just behind him, and gathers the older woman in a hug.

"Do write, both of you," his Aunt says with her parting words.

As she turns and leaves, tiny Teddy is looking over her shoulder, watching the pair of them.

Draco waits until they're on the path back to Hogwarts before he asks his questions.

"How do you know he's not a werewolf?"

Hermione shrugs, and he watches as she stumbles a bit every few steps. They should have taken a carriage back, but she had refused, and so now, all he can do is offer her his arm, which she keeps refusing to take.

"I just do. He feels like Bill."

Draco won't question that further... he doubts she'll have any answers.

That's the worst part of all of this. The longer this goes on, where he's drowning without knowledge, it becomes more and more apparent that she's not even keeping things from him - she simply doesn't know.

"Are you opposed to me becoming an Animagus?" he asks next.

She doesn't even look at him as she answers. "I'm scared."

He knows she doesn't mean the actual transformation. She means...

"I wouldn't transform back. Not while you're a wolf," he clarifies quickly.

"And what if I attack you anyways?" she asks, looking up at him.

He swallows and shakes his head. He doesn't have an answer for that.

They continue walking in silence, and he waits until they're near the castle, can see the gate, before he finally asks...  "What do you think my Aunt meant, when she said that a part of Remus died when Sirius did?"

She keeps walking, but he can tell immediately, from the way her shoulders stiffen, her head lowers... She knows something, suspects something. She has thoughts on his question, but doesn't want to answer.

He won't let this get away.

"What did it mean?" he insists.

"I don't know," she says quickly, too quickly.

"Granger, what did she mean?" he asks again. "You said it was different, when they were reunited- what-"

She whirls around to face him and her arms go out to either side, as though waiting for him to attack. She looks upset, but-

"I said I don't know," she answers. "I don't- look. When they were reunited, it was like... if she had told me that they were once lovers, I would have believed her."

Draco shakes his head, not quite-

"When she says that a part of Remus died with Sirius... I can believe it. I think a part of him might have. After the death of Sirius, Remus' letters changed. He became more reckless. Whatever happened with Tonks, I think it was done out of a need to feel something, anything. I don't have the answers, Draco, but what I do know is that the bond between Sirius and Remus... it wasn't like the other Marauders. Do you understand?"

He doesn't. He doesn't understand any of it.

"What made Sirius different for Remus?" he asks, still trying to figure it out.

"I don't know," she says honestly. "I don't know."

"But-"

"What do you want me to say?" she demands, whirling on him. "What, do you think a part of me died with Ron, when he died?"

Draco doesn't want to point out that Weasley was already dead when she was turned, so he remains silent.

"Well it's not like that. Not at all. And Harry... Harry is the one I'm pushing away, to keep him safe. They're not Sirius to me."

He wants to ask... he knows he shouldn't... but...

"What about me?" he asks, the question feeling as though it's ripped from his heart.

She looks up at him, and he realizes, again, how tiny she is. So much power in a witch, but she's tiny standing in front of him.

"Are you asking me if losing you would be like losing a piece of my soul?" she asks, and he can see the tears in her eyes.

He doesn't respond.

"I don't know," she finally answers.

He can tell... for the first time, she's being honest. She doesn't know. She doesn't have an answer.

They still have no answers.

"Please don't make me find out."

He's left standing there, hearing her final words as she turns and returns to the school. He watches her walk ahead for a few paces, then jogs to catch up with her, wrapping his arm around her middle.

He won't. He won’t make her find out. Whatever else he has to do... he won't.

As long as he has magic, he'll never dare to make her feel like she's lost a piece of herself.

 

Chapter Text

20 December 1998 - Two Days After the New Moon

When Granger had mentioned wanting to join him in the Forbidden Forest, Draco hadn't thought she really meant the Forbidden Forest. Not for potion ingredient gathering, at least. She was only two days off of a New Moon, and yet, she was wearing a pair of rather beat up leather boots and carrying a set of Herbology gloves in her cloak pocket.

She had been serious, then. He's not really certain what to do with her.

He wants to tell her to stay behind, but the letter from his Aunt makes him hesitate.

"What are we gathering today?" she asks, her hands shoved into her pockets.

"Thistle, Rowan Berries, and searching to see if there's any Winter Aconite."

She raises her brow at the last one, as he expected. He doesn't know if they'll find any, but-

"I already have enough preserved to get us through winter, so you don't need to worry about future brews, but I want to see if the change from normal Aconite to Winter can help at all."

She gives a shrug, and he knows she likely cares, but... he's the one brewing, after all. And... perhaps... it's a bit unspoken, that they don't need any false hope.

"So, after this, you'll brew the potion?" she asks as they fall into step, heading into the woods.

He nods, and together, they venture into the Forbidden Forest.

It's cold, of course, but the wind isn't blowing quite as hard within the forest. The snow is also not as thick within, whether due to the foliage or the magic, he doesn't know. It's warmer, though.

Warm enough, at least, that he knows the herbs he needs will be found.

"This is why I can never leave Hogwarts," she says idly as they venture deeper into the forest.

"What do you mean?" he asks, not looking back at her.

"All of the herbs needed for the potion... they either grow within the Forbidden Forest, or in the Greenhouses. Where else am I going to find potion supplies?"

He has an answer for that, even though he hasn't mentioned it to her yet. 

"You could always purchase your potion from an Apothecary," he offers.

"And be placed on the registry?" she asks quickly.

He hadn't really thought of that.

"Once I'm on the registry... it doesn't matter if they change the laws. Once everyone knows, you can't take it back. What happens in ten, fifteen years, when they change the legislature again. What if they don't even change this legislature?"

She's not wrong.

"I'm the only werewolf left, Draco. I was serious about not staying here."

"Don't talk about that," he snaps, turning back to look at her. "You can't leave."

The look on her face says this isn't the time or place to discuss it, so he drops it.

"You know," he says as he nears the thistle bushes. "The Malfoy Estate... we have a number of greenhouses."

"Do you?" she asks, and he can hear the tightness in her voice.

"We do," he responds casually. "And a fair amount of property. It would be a suitable place for a werewolf to run."

A werewolf had run there previously, after all.

"That's if you even get your manor back," she says softly.

He just gives a nod.

They work in silence from there.

After gathering thistle, they have to make their way in deeper, until eventually, they reach a grove of Rowan trees. Together, with the use of magic, they gather a number of berries, and he cuts a few smaller branches. He doesn't explain himself - he doesn't have to.

With everything carefully placed in a stasis charm, they continue their exploration, until they finally reach the place where Aconite normally grows. It's dead, of course. The frost...

"Be careful what you touch," he says.

He turns back to see her wearing the gloves, but he shakes his head.

"I'm serious, Granger. You don't need to do anything."

She just huffs, but doesn't come closer.

He searches the ground carefully, checking each of the plants. Dead, all dead for winter. He knows that more will grow in the spring, but it makes him fear for the petals he already has in stasis, ready to be used each month until then.

"What makes you even think winter aconite is blooming yet?" she asks from behind him.

He doesn't know... besides, it doesn't need to be blooming. He just needs to know where they are.

"I don't," he says, pushing himself up and continuing around, looking, searching through the snow.

"You know, winter aconite and aconite are not the same type of plant."

He hears her voice, and he understands the words coming from her lips, but sometimes... sometimes, Granger speaks, and it's so obvious to him that she was raised a Muggleborn.

"I'm aware," he responds, trying to not sneer. "But they are both from the same plant family, and while one blooms in the spring and summer and fall, the other is heartier. It takes the last of the nutrients from the earth, pushes through the frozen ground, and withstands even the worst of circumstances. They're both called aconite for a reason, Granger."

He can practically feel her rolling her eyes at him.

"Aconite, the monkshood, whatever you want to call it - the petals are fragile, fragile for transport, for use... if we can substitute in a more heartier petal, it would make a difference in the preservation."

She scoffs behind him, but he doesn't turn around.

"And what, you think I'll just drink it? Some random potion?"

He tries to not get angry, but he can't help it. Pushing himself up, he whirls around, and approaches her quickly, the anger clear in his face. She looks startled, but she doesn't back down.

"What is this, Granger? Are you trying to push me away? Still upset about my Aunt? Angry with me that I want to become an Animagus so I can spend the Full Moon with you? Trying to keep me safe from you? What is it this time?"

She looks startled, unprepared, and he nearly apologizes, but-

"Everyone around Remus died," she responds quickly.

Ah. There it is. The reason she's being rude.

"That was not his fault," Draco says, although he doesn't really know the truth.

"Everyone. All of his friends, his family..."

"Because there was a war!" Draco exclaims. "A lot of people lost everyone."

She's silent for a moment, and her lips press together for a moment before she responds. "Ron died because of me."

Draco wants to ask if she is feeling that missing piece of her soul... but he refuses to let himself be jealous of a dead wizard.

"Weasley would have died if he went after Potter on his way to see the Dark Lord. It was just someone different that did the deed."

She doesn't respond.

"Hermione," he says, stepping close to her, touching her cheek. She hisses, and he realizes... his hands...

He had been brushing in the snow, touching the dead aconite, but still, the plant burns her. He can't even properly cleanse his hands.

"Look at me," he begs.

She does, her eyes meeting his.

"If you push me away, I'm just going to chase you harder," he says, looking down at her. "And, it's not because I don't respect your opinion. I do. But it's because you pushing me away is you not respecting my decision. I'm not abandoning you."

The note he had received at breakfast from his Aunt suddenly burns in his pocket, a reminder.

She stares at him, not saying anything, and he feels as though he just passed a test, even if there isn't one. Even if she didn't do this on purpose, he knows... he knows he just proved something to her.

"I care about you. Forget the fact that you're a werewolf. Forget the fact that I'm a Death Eater. Forget everything else. You're infuriating, but passionate. You're scared, but you're powerful. You're beautiful in a wild way I never would have expected. You make me want to think about futures and happiness. You make me want to graduate and not be sent off to Azkaban. You make me want things, Granger. So stop pushing me away. There's many things I want now, and all because of you - losing you isn't one of them."

He wants to touch her, to kiss her, but he's afraid - there's aconite oils on his hand, and he touched the ground with both. 

She doesn't seem to care.

She launches herself at him, her arms going around his neck, and she kisses him. He kisses her back, careful to keep his hands out to either side, but it doesn't matter.

With a quick touch of their lips, he can tell how cold she is.

When had they last touched, skin to skin?

"You're freezing," he murmurs against her lips.

"I know," she answers softly.

"Let's get the potion brewing, and then I can get you settled into my bed, like last time?" he offers.

She nods and swallows, and he can tell it's what she wanted all along, perhaps, sort of, but had been too scared to ask.

He wants to touch her, to hold her hand as they return to the school, but he does not.

He would rather not cause her more pain.

By the time they reach the potion lab, he can tell that she's exhausted. She sits down in a seat and leans back against another table, watching him as he gets to work.

He's efficient but careful, setting down the back and scourgifying himself, his cloak, his shoes... anything that might have touched the aconite plants. He'll have to be more careful in the future.

From there, he peels off a few layers so that he can start the brew simmering, so they can return to his room.

"Keep working," she urges, just as he's about to put the potion under a stasis charm. "I'll be fine."

Scourgifying his hands once more, he carefully touches the back of her hand, and relaxes when there's no reaction. He touches her forehead, her cheeks, her neck... she's cold, but he's felt her colder.

"Just finish this," she urges. "And then we can go back to your room?"

It's nearing dinner time, and while most students have gone for Winter Holiday... he's still going to tease her.

"Are you asking to spend the evening in my room?"

She rolls her eyes as she smirks, a trait he's certain she's picked up from him, and he leans forward, brushing his lips against hers.

It's soft, gentle, tender...

He wants more.

They don't speak as he finishes his work, preserving and preparing both herbs he harvested that day, along with brewing the potion and setting it under a longer stasis. He won't need to do any more work until the morning; a good thing, given that there are no classes this week.

"Alright, I'm done," he says, turning back to look at Hermione.

She's asleep, her head on the table.

He knew that the walk into the Forest would be too much for her, but of course, she insisted on coming along. He's still not certain why...

Scooping her up, he makes the journey back to the Slytherin Common Room, which is empty, given the hour. They go straight to his room, and he settles her onto the bed, careful to get her undressed.

Well, not all the way. He feels awkward just taking off her cloak, her scarf, her boots and her socks, but he knows she'll need the touch of bare skin. He leaves her in the Muggle trousers and the sweater, and pulls a blanket over her with a warming charm. He'll join her soon.

Going to his desk, Draco pulls the letter he had received that morning from his Aunt out, to sit down and read it again.

It's short. It's simple. It's to the point.

It scares him.

She's going to need people. Good people. Trustworthy people. People that are willing to do anything for her. If you can't be that person, disappear. If you aren't willing to do anything for her, run. The responsibility of this is huge. She's struggling. She has to accept it. Remus never did, and I think it was only for Harry's sake that he held on, the knowledge that his best friend's son was alive out there. What does she have to live for? What reason does she have to fight?

She needs you, and if you don't understand that, then you need to run before it kills her .

He knows what the letter is supposed to mean, and he knows why she sent it - but he doesn't need the warning, nor does he need her to try to make him afraid. He's fully aware.

" Incindio ," he murmurs, burning the piece of parchment.

He doesn't need Granger finding it.

Pulling out another piece of parchment, he writes two words, quick and efficient.

I understand .

He hopes his Aunt understands as well, why he cannot abandon her, why he will not... why she comes first.

A groan comes from the bed, and he rises from the desk, folding the letter in two to hand off in the morning. He doesn't even bother placing a seal on it. Kicking off his shoes, his cloak, everything down to just his trousers, and only his trousers, he extinguishes the lighting in the room so that he can crawl into bed with her.

Her. Hermione. Granger. The witch that has his head spinning, his mind... she doesn't make any sense, but he doesn't care anymore. The witch she is, the witch she could be... she's fascinating. Extraordinary. To think, he once thought her to be lesser than, thought her to be capable of failure... She astonishes him every day.

No one else could have survived being a werewolf alone for so long. No one else could have killed Greyback. No one else could have withstood the torture of Bellatrix. No one else...

She is like no one else in the world.

Pulling her to him, he settles down in the bed, drawing the blankets up above them both. Within seconds, he can feel her starting to warm where their bare skin touches, her hands on his chest, their feet, her forehead on his shoulder... if she were awake, he would urge her to take off more layers, but that's her choice.

In all honesty, he's amazed that she had made it as long as she had. It had been a busy few days, after all.

When he closes his eyes, he tries to relax, but it's hard when she smells so good, her body pressed against his...

He tries not to think about it. Tries to forget...

He just tries to close his eyes. The last thing he needs to do is scare her off.

Particularly after already having mentioned the dreams. She definitely doesn't need to know about those.

 

21 December 1998 - Three Days After the New Moon

The first thing he feels is kisses on his chest. Soft, gentle pecks. He opens his eyes to see her , straddling his lap, pressing kisses to his chest.

She moves lower and lower, her mouth on his abdomen, his stomach, just above the top of his trousers...

Her hair is in her face so he can't see her, so he closes his eyes and grins as he feels her tongue lick at his abdomen.

"What are you doing?" he groans, trying to resist the urge to rock his hips.

She doesn't say anything, and he opens his eyes to see her lifting her sweater up over her head, tossing it to the side, revealing the soft tshirt underneath.

It's a good thing he had kept the sweater on her. He's pretty sure she's not wearing any undergarments under the shirt.

Reaching out for her, Draco's hands run up and down her sides, over her breasts, squeezing - she's beautiful, and glorious.

Granger leans down over him, and through a veil of her curls, she presses her lips to his, kissing him.

Without a second thought, he has her rolled over onto her back, and his mouth going to her stomach. He places open mouthed kisses where he can reach, just above the top of her trousers, upwards, to the curve underneath her breasts, to the valley in between... 

He looks up to look at her face, to grin, when she flips over onto her hands and knees.

Wait... Wait a minute.

"No," he groans out, realizing what this is. "Tell me this isn't a dream."

She doesn't respond.

"Dammit, tell me this isn't a dream," he begs again.

Still no answer, and he realizes... it is.

Because in the dreams, he never sees her face. In the dreams, she never speaks. In the dreams... 

Wait, she had just kissed him in the dream. That never... that had never happened before.

He tries pinching himself, shaking himself, anything to get awake, but nothing works. He thinks about fucking her, fucking them both to the edge of oblivion, so that then they'll wake up, but something about that doesn't feel right. Particularly not since she's lying asleep beside him.

"Granger, this isn't fun anymore," he insists, trying to flip her over.

She resists, and he grows frustrated. "I'm serious. What's the point of these dreams? To tell me what I want? It's you. The answer is you. I know I want you, so-"

"Draco?" she says.

Her face is still buried into the pillow, but... he heard it clear as day.

"Draco?" she says again. "Wake up."

He blinks once, twice, three times-

He's flat on his back, Granger hovered over him, a veil of her hair circling him.

"Hey, are you alright?" she asks softly.

He blinks and looks around. They're in his room, just as they had been in the dream, but she's speaking to him, looking at him...

"Were you having a bad dream?"

He blinks awake, trying to find his voice.

"What makes you say that?" he asks, trying to register what had just happened, trying to reign in his racing heart.

"You were thrashing in your sleep," she explains carefully. "You kept saying my name."

And now he sees it. The worry. Had... was her dream different?

"I'm fine," he insists, reaching up to run his fingers into her hair. "I'm perfectly fine.

She doesn't look convinced, but she does lay down all the same, her head on his shoulder. Her hand rests on his chest, and he tries to ignore how hard his cock is.

Fuck. Fuck....

Her hand is running up and down his chest, lightly, but it makes his skin prickle and his cock throb. Surely... this can't be real. Another dream? A dream within a dream? 

How is he supposed to resist temptation twice?

"Are you feeling better?" he asks against her temple, trying to distract her from what she's doing.

"I do," she answers softly, and she pulls back to look up at him. "Although, I was wondering why you left my sweater on this time."

He refuses to think about the fact that, in the dream, she looked to not be wearing undergarments. He absolutely refuses to think about it.

"I didn't think it would be proper," he answers carefully.

She gives a shrug. 

"Next time, feel free to undress me further," she says, and he can tell that she's trying to be casual, to be calm about it, but...

He licks his lips before he answers. "The next time I undress you... you had best be awake."

Her eyes are locked with his, and then, she's kissing him.

No. Fuck no. He can't do another buildup again.

But damn, she tastes so good.

Rolling flat onto his back again, he pulls her over him, so that she's straddling his lap. His hands go into her hair, down the sides of her neck, her shoulders...

He wants to know whether or not there's anything underneath her shirt.

She settles herself onto him, and he can feel the heat of her body through their trousers. There's no doubt that she can feel his length.

He wants her, fuck he wants her, he wants her in his bed, in his arms, in his house, his life-

He wants her so damn badly, he can taste it, can feel it.

What the hell has she done to him, that he's losing his mind this badly over a witch he still barely even truly knows, a witch he's never even really had a taste of, a witch with no real future, a witch - a witch that goes against everything he has ever been taught to pursue as the next Lady Malfoy.

She's driving him insane, but he can't get enough.

Rolling her onto her back, Draco moves his mouth lower, to her throat, her ear, back to her shoulder, up to her mouth- She's so soft under him, warm, moaning and squealing, and he-

He has to stop. He has to stop, or else he's going to fuck this up somehow. He just knows it.

"I want you," he murmurs against her lips, and he runs his hands down her sides, cradling her, keeping her close.

"You have me," she answers back, but he can tell.... he can tell she's lost in the sensations, that she's not all there.

"We have to stop," he insists, pulling his mouth away. 

She looks ready to argue, but he shakes his head.

"You know I'm right," he insists, and he pushes himself back off of her. "We can't... there's something between us. We can't just... Not yet."

She stares back at him, pouting, and he wants to kiss that pout off her lip.... 

"You drive me insane," she says honestly.

He entirely understands why.

"It's for the best," he adds on.

She nods as she sits up, but then she's biting her lip, and he... a man can only take so much.

"I'm going to go take a shower now," he says, inching his way towards his bathroom.

"And what should I do?" she asks, watching him.

"Stop looking so damn cute," he murmurs.

"You think I'm cute?" she asks.

How the... what even is his life. Is he really discussing with Granger about whether or not he finds her cute?

"I find you unbelievably sexy, and I want you, so I'm going to go shower," he says.

She grins back at him, then groans. Even from across the room, he can hear and understand why.

Her stomach. She's clearly hungry.

"You should go eat breakfast," he adds, pointing a finger at her. "I'm going to go check the potion after this, and then eat. I'll find you afterwards?"

She's still smirking at him, and he notices her eyes looking downwards... his eyes flick down as well, and he realizes why.

There's a tent in his pants, and there's no denying it.

"Not a single word," he says, pushing his way into the bathroom.

He can hear her laughter as he starts the water, and it still rings in his ears as he moans out her name, the burning hot water from the shower hitting him on the back, nothing compared to what he imagines the real thing could be.

Chapter Text

25 December 1998 - 8 Days Before the Full Moon

Sitting up in the Astronomy Tower with Granger on his lap, Draco tries to think about Christmas in previous years. The year before, Christmas had specifically been spent in his room, counting down the days until he returned to school. The year before that, he had been at the school, working on his project. The year before that... he had gone home, and things had been normal, but tense. Very tense.

And the year before that... the year before that, Granger had worn a beautiful blue gown that made her eyes sparkle, and her hair, for the first time, had been tamed. Of course, those had been the thoughts of a boy that didn't know anything about women and how they worked - now, he would take wild curls any day.

Wild and untamed and passionate and free.

This Christmas, they hadn't exchanged presents, had only eaten a simple meal requested from the kitchen, and had spent the better part of the evening just relaxing together, her head on his shoulder, their eyes watching the stars.

He knows what she's thinking about - the vials, sitting on his desk in his room. She'll have to take the first dose of Wolfsbane in a few hours. The first Full Moon of the year was only a few hours after midnight on the second, so starting in the morning... the strong and passionate woman in his arms would have to slowly poison herself, figuratively, in hopes of having an easier transformation.

"You know," she says idly, starting yet another conversation that dwindles after a few minutes - not because he has nothing to say, but because he's just in awe of her. "I feel most like myself at this point in the month."

He makes a noise of agreement, not even slightly surprised. It would make sense - she's gaining strength rather than losing it, isn't angry from the Full Moon, nor tired from it... it's just before she has to take the potion. Of course she would feel most like herself right now.

"I may be biased, but I like the you that isn't trying to kill me most," he says as a tease, brushing his lips against her temple.

She laughs softly and keens into his touch, but in the back of his mind... what he means to say, is he likes her most when she isn't thinking about killing herself.

Whatever he has to do to protect her... anything. He'll do anything for her.

"Be serious," she insists, and she turns her face up to look at him.

He looks down at her, and then stops and thinks about it. What side of her does he like the most?

"Alright then," he agrees, shifting a bit in the seat so that she's now leaning back slightly, looking at him. "You want to know?"

She nods, but he can see the vulnerability there. If he was still the foolish boy of his youth, he could do serious damage... but he's not that boy anymore. He's no longer cruel, no longer selfish. He's... grown. Changing. The war had done a lot to change his attitude, his beliefs, his desires, but the more time he spends with her...

She's the one that's changing him the most, opening his eyes, making him more aware. Is his life terrible? Yes, and so many things were outside of his control, but he still chose to not go to the old Headmaster, he had chosen to wish ill upon Granger, to be a spoiled shit, to... Every bad decision... and then, Granger, who never had a choice, who kept fighting, only to never find peace...

She teaches him every day to be a better man.

"I like when you're strong," he says honestly. "I like when you look as though you could crush a man with a glare. And I like seeing you enjoy the power, settle into it, you know?"

Her eyes are wide as he speaks, so he presses on.

"I like when you smile. A real smile, when you melt into it, when you smile at me. Like it's all mine."

A smile starts to curl over her lips, and he has to resist the urge to kiss it. It's still so strange... he's been holding her all evening, but he hasn't kissed her, hasn't really kissed her, since the morning in her bed.

It's like they're teetering on a line, and he doesn't know how to move forward, but he also doesn't want to go back.

"And I like your hair. I like seeing it down and big and wild."

"You've always hated my hair," she retorts, rolling her eyes.

"I love your hair," he insists, running his hand up and into it, his fingers getting lost in the curls. "I love seeing it brimming with your magic."

The laughter is gone from her face, and now she's just looking at him. He can tell she's breathing hard, and if he checked, he imagines that her heart is racing as well.

"What else do you love about me?" she asks, her voice just a breath.

He notes the change. The change between like and love. What does he love about her.

"I love how you keep fighting," he whispers back, almost afraid. "The world came for you, and you fought back. You never broke. You're strong, stronger than all of us, and I feel unworthy to be gifted your attention."

Her eyes are drifting down, and he knows she's looking at his lips as he speaks. He waits for another question, wracks his brain for something else... anything else.

Love... what else does he love about her... what else...

"I love your-"

His words are cut off in a kiss, almost entirely missing the r on the end, but he doesn't care about it - it might be true. Damn him, it really might be true. 

He doesn't have to worry about another reason, though, because she's kissing him, her hands on either side of his face, and he's kissing her back.

He wants to ask what she likes about him, but he isn't really certain she does like him, just tolerates him because he's the only person that knows about her, and it's a sad thought, but he's a sad and pathetic person - he wouldn't even be mad if she didn't really like him, just needed a warm body.

"Draco," she gasps against his lips, and fuck, he loves the way she says his name.

It's always Malfoy - Malfoy Malfoy Malfoy, nothing more than his father, nothing more than his family name, nothing more than-

But to her, he's Draco, and he- he rocks his hips in response, his hands tightening in her hair as he deepens the kiss.

He could kiss her for an eternity and never grow tired of the taste.

His hand slides down from her hair, to the back of her neck, and he tries to not force her closer, but the memory of so many nights, so many dreams, of having her roughly, of pinning her to the bed, of her forcing him to lay flat - it's always rough in the dreams, always intense, insane. Always.

But not this.

Now, as his hand runs down the back of her neck, she gasps into the kiss and yes, she kisses him harder, but she doesn't get rough - instead, her fingers run into his hair, then down the side of his neck, down his chest... like she can't stop touching him, can't stop kissing him.

There's no rush, no fevered ripping of clothes, no demand, no control.

When she pulls from his lips, she's smiling.

"I like you," she whispers, and he thinks he imagined it, except that smile, the sparkle in her eyes...

"I really like you," he answers back, a grin on his lips.

She makes a hum of delight, and kisses him again.

After that, everything is lost.

She pulls away at some point and pulls her sweater up and over her head, tossing it to the side. Her shirt gets pulled upwards, and he runs his hands along her hips, pulls her closer as she rocks against him. His own sweater gets tugged down so she can kiss at his neck, his collarbone, his chest...

Every time they inch forward, she moves back to kissing him again, and he can't... he can't even complain. He's not even upset.

He just keeps kissing her.

He kisses her until she shivers, and he remembers that, as hot as he feels, she's cold.

They have to stop... at least for a moment.

"We should probably stop," he murmurs against her lips.

"We probably should," she answers back.

They stare at one another, and he knows it's over. It has to be over. It... they need to stop.

"Come on," he says, pushing her back in his lap so she can stand. "Your potion is still down in my room."

He wants to mention that she can stay the night with him, but... he knows she doesn't feel well after taking the potion, and... 

It was different, before, when they slept side by side because she needed the warmth, the closeness. To just sleep side by side because they want to, because he doesn't want to kiss her good night...

It's very different. A new step. And... he knows she isn't there yet.

Bloody hell, he only just now told her he likes her for the first time.

They make their way down from the Astronomy Tower to the Slytherin Common Room hand in hand, and as he slips in, he notices that the Common Room is thankfully empty. He doesn't know the time - it's late - and he's glad he won't have to explain.

Heading to his room, Granger's hand held tight in his, he tosses his sweater onto his bed before going to his desk, picking up the bag of potion vials. Seven vials, each containing the Wolfsbane Potion that would hopefully help to make her Full Moon as boring as possible.

He needs a win. He needs... he needs her to start settling into this, and he hopes... he hopes that his presence, their closeness... he keeps hoping that it might help.

That this bond between them... he keeps hoping that by strengthening it, she'll grow stronger as well.

"Here you are," he says, handing it to her. There's a stasis charm on it as well, so he knows that they'll survive the week, although the fact that she'll be taking them at night means she can keep them in her room, rather than having to take them between classes.

"Mmm, my own personal brew," she says with a smirk.

He's glad she's keeping a sense of humor.

"You know, Granger," he says awkwardly, rubbing at the back of his neck.

She stares at him, brow raised, waiting for him to continue.

He forces out a laugh, a chuckle, trying to just...

"Spit it out," she says, rolling her eyes.

"I like you," he says, forcefully, sort of. He feels... weird, saying that. As though he shouldn't have to, but he wants it to be out there. He wants her to know. He wants her to accept, to hear, to know without question... He wants her to know that he likes her.

Her face softens and she smiles at him again. It's so different, so strange, so contrary to so much of their lives - she often looks so distant, or angry, or on the verge of tears... A month before, he had been begging her to take the potions, but now... now she's smiling at him, laughing with him, kissing him...

He's lost complete and total control of his own emotions, and yet, for the first time... he's not even angry about it.

Being with Hermione Granger... it's like breathing.

"I like you too," she answers, and he can tell that the words are new to her, different, foreign...

He likes them. He likes knowing that she likes him back, even if he doesn't know how or why. She likes him, well enough to at least say the words.

"I also really like kissing you," he adds on.

She laughs again, and he bends down to give her a quick peck on the lips.

She kisses him back, and it feels so stupid, so childish...

He's a Death Eater, reformed, sort of, on probation, and she's a werewolf, struggling, in hiding...

And here they are, like children, giggling in between kisses, as though the world isn't ready to crucify them both.

He pecks at her lips, her nose, her eyelids, her forehead... her forehead...

Kissing her forehead... it's different. He does it a lot, her hairline, her temple...

And she seems to realize that.

He doesn't know why it feels different, but it does.

His lips press to her forehead again, and she lets out a sigh, relaxes into his arms... He can feel her strength releasing, can feel her body molding against his.

"I love when you kiss me like that," she whispers. "It makes me feel safe."

His own eyes close, and he presses a kiss to her forehead, to her hairline, and then to the top of her head, all before pressing his face into her hair. 

He makes her feel safe. He, the complete idiot that would have turned her over a few years earlier, that had watched her be tortured, that had stood there silently for years... he makes her feel safe. He doesn't know if he wants to laugh or cry.

Or both.

He's unworthy of her trust, and yet, he has it.

Without thought, his arms wrap around her, one hand on the back of her head, the other in between her shoulder blades, and he just... holds her. Hugs her. Like he can't let go. Like he can keep her safe, just like this, wrapped up in his arms.

He knows that he can't, knows that the world is eventually going to catch them both, but...

He wishes he could stay here, just like this, forever.

Her arms wrap around his body as well, and she clings to him, her face pressed into his chest.

"I love making you feel safe," he murmurs, trying to ignore how badly he wants to cry.

So unworthy... he's completely unworthy of her.

They stand there for so long, their arms wrapped around one another, that he nearly forgets he's supposed to be telling her good night, but... it's Christmas. And, he wants a gift. The gift of her time, her presence... her affection.

He thinks about asking her to stay - about asking her to stay the night. He could put her in his night clothes, and wow he loves that mental image... he loves the thought of her naked in just his shirt... But he can't say the words. 

He has to say good night, and he knows it.

His lips brush against her forehead again as he pulls back, and she looks up at him, her chin quivering as she stares up into his eyes. He can almost see the question, the wanting...

He bends down to kiss her again... and forgets to stop.

His hands go back into her hair, but this time, he cradles the back of her head, keeping her close. When her hands run up his chest, he presses against them, against her. Her back hits the wall beside the door, and he quickly has her lifted up, her legs around his waist, and their hips slotted together.

When he deepens the kiss, she follows him. When he bites her lip, she bites back. When he moves to her neck, to nose at the spot that Greyback bit, she nearly cries out, her fingers pressing into his shoulders, gripping, trying to keep him there.

From there, he's lost.

Her back hits the bed, and he doesn't even know when he moved her from the wall to the bed, but she's there, spread out in front of him. She sits up and tugs her sweater off over her head, tossing it to the side, and he does the same. He looks at the bag of vials that are on the bed - he picks it up and sets it on the bedside table, so they won't forget.

When he looks back down at her, she has her shoes kicked off and her shirt up and over her head, revealing her bra to him.

If he hadn't already been awake for hours, he would think this all a dream.

Tugging his own shirt up and over his head, he tosses it aside, climbing up onto the mattress, his knee between her thighs as he climbs up between her legs, settling his weight there.

The warmth of her body against his is exquisite, the softness of her torso, how their bodies melt together. Her hair is spread out over the blanket, and his fingers comb through it as he kisses her again, trying to resist the urge to grind his hips against hers, but then her legs are up and around his waist, keeping him there.

He doesn't stand a chance, and he very well knows it.

Her hands move to his shoulders, and he feels her nails scratching at the skin there, forcing him to groan against her lips. His hips stutter and press into her core, trying to get a bit of friction, but then she's gasping against his lips, moaning.

He's going to lose himself in his pants like a boy if he's not careful, but honestly, no one could judge him for it.

He wants to tug off her pants, but if he does that, there's no going back. Not with the sounds she's making. Not with the way her body is singing for him.

He should end this. He should stop this. Send her on her way.

Or, he could just kiss her again.

He goes for the second option.

Pulling back for air, he looks down at her, watching as her eyes open and she stares back at him. He waits, watches for her panic... except, she just grins back. 

How can he stop this when she's smiling at him?

He kisses her again on the lips, the jaw, underneath her ear, her neck, her throat... he kisses his way to the place that Greyback had bitten her with his blunt human teeth. Open mouthed kisses press over the scar, and she gasps underneath him, the skin clearly sensitive.

Her hand seems to find his, and he feels her fingers interlock with his. He wants to take her all in, to search every inch of her, map the pattern of scars, but he can't even pause long enough to look at them holding hands.

His kisses move lower, and he forgets all other thoughts.

His lips kiss between her breasts, then over towards one, and she goes rigid. Glancing up, Draco worries for a moment that she's panicking - her eyes are wide, lips parted, and he grins, realizing that she is, in fact, watching as though in awe.

Still, he's going to need to hear the words.

"Should I keep going?" he asks, smirking up at her.

She nods back as she bites her bruised bottom lip.

He smirks as he noses her bra to the side, then sucks the tip into his mouth. In seconds, she's soft and melting underneath him, writhing as he drags his teeth to the tip.

"So responsive," he murmurs into her breast, then shifts over to the other one. It gets the same treatment, sucked into his mouth then tugged at with his teeth. He can feel her body responding under him, and he knows, if he had her sense of smell, all he would know is the scent of her.

His mouth goes back to between her breasts, and then lower, down her stomach, over the scars of werewolf claws-

"What are you doing?" she gasps, looking down at him.

He looks up, thinking he may have crossed a line, and he can see she's scared, nervous... his fingers, still interlocked with hers, squeeze gently.

"Do you want me to stop?" he asks, looking up at her.

She looks ready to nod, then shakes her head no.

"I'm going to keep going," he says softly, and presses a kiss beside her belly button for good measure. "Going to keep kissing until you let me tug your pants off and..."

He doesn't know how to describe it. He doesn't really know much about it, except in theory, but the idea is to give her pleasure first - it would make it easier for the sex itself, and why shouldn't she cum first? He would pass out the second he did... if he did.

The reality, the thought, the idea that he might finally get to have her for real, get to feel the heat of her wrapped around his cock, the strength of her body against his, might get to finish deep inside of her... it both terrifies and thrills him.

"And what?" she finally asks, her eyes still wide.

"Give you pleasure," he supplies awkwardly, his eyes still locked on hers.

He waits for a sign, for approval, for anything... she finally gives him a nod, and it's enough for him. It's all he needs.

He presses a kiss underneath her belly button, then unhooks the clasp at the top of her trousers.

It's awkward for the two of them, her lifting her hips, him tugging down her trousers, and her knickers go with them, but she doesn't pull away as he climbs off the bed and tosses them both to the side. Looking down at her, he takes her in, in absolute awe, wearing nothing but her bra.

He needs that off as well.

"How do you take this off?" he asks, climbing up onto the bed and tugging at the shoulder strap.

She shifts onto one side and unhooks it with one hand, and then he watches as that too hits the floor, revealing to him a very naked Hermione Granger.

He wants to go back between her thighs, wants to know what she smells like, tastes like even, but... now that he has her laying out in front of him...

She's a vision. Perfection. A dream come true. Truly. Truly... She's a dream come true.

"Are you even real?" he asks as he takes her in. "Are you really here?"

"I'm here," she says with a smile, and he thinks she might be a bit more confident. "I'm really here."

He smiles back at her, breathless, and bends down to kiss her again, his hands rather distractedly staying in her hair, lest they go lower. He wants to touch her breasts, play with them... in a minute. They can wait.

He kisses her until they can't breathe, until he can feel her body start to arch under his, and he knows it's time - she's becoming more and more needy with each kiss, and he won't keep her waiting.

He wants this as badly as he wants her.

With a single kiss to her stomach, Draco settles down on the ground, and tugs her down by her hips, her thighs on either side of his head. He has to move her, and she complies - first her legs on the bed, then on his back... he finally settles on her legs dangling down his back and his arms underneath her thighs, his hands wrapping around to grip at her hips. 

If she so chose to press her thighs together, she would probably suffocate him, but that rather sounds like a good way to die.

He doesn't know what he's doing, but he knows enough that he pulls one hand back from her hips to part her folds, searching, inspecting. There's a spot there that should draw noises from her, give her the ultimate pleasure, just above where he fucks her.

He doesn't know exactly - Pansy had sort of helped him out the only time he had had sex previously. He just knows it's there.

She's pink and glistening between her folds, and he can immediately tell it's wet, although not dripping, but like a thick coating. It smells rich and musky, but he doesn't hate it, and when he takes a tiny lick from his finger... okay, yeah, he can definitely give her pleasure like this, if this is how it will taste.

Licking again, this time his tongue goes from the hole all the way up, almost to where her curls start. She nearly jumps out of her skin at one point, and he focuses on that - that's where it is. That's where he needs to... he has to.

Because there's no way he's going to last once he's inside of her.

In no rush at all, Draco starts licking and sucking, searching for that spot again. He keeps finding it, and each time, she nearly jumps off the bed... he just needs to keep going.

Just keep going, over and over again, until she finds pleasure.

Sliding two fingers inside of her, he curls them, trying to stroke from the inside. It's a tight fit, and he's glad he's trying for it, but with each lick, she seems to both relax and tense more - he doesn't know what he's doing, but she's not stopping him.

Sucking the hard little nub into his mouth, he pinches it between his teeth, and that... that gets a reaction. She gasps loudly, and he slides in a third finger, thinking that surely, this must be enough. He hasn't exactly measured the width of his fingers across, instead worried about the feeling of her being able to wrap her hand around it, or her mouth...

Oh fuck, he best not think about that, or else he really would lose himself in his pants.

His fingers curl inside of her, beckoning over and over again, and he searches out the little nub once more, sucking and licking at it, even grazing it with his teeth. He can tell that she's close, somehow, the way she's breathing, how her body stretches around his fingers, even how her fingers run into his hair, pulling him closer...

But no matter what he does, it doesn't seem to be enough.

"I'm sorry," she finally says, just as his fingers are getting tired.

He looks up at her to see her hands covering her face, and he knows... he knows she feels awkward.

"Why are you sorry?" he asks, rubbing his mouth with the back of his hands.

"I just... I don't think I can," she murmurs.

He... doesn't really know what to do about that.

"That's okay," he says awkwardly. "I mean, did you like it?"

Her hands move from covering her face, and she nods, then giggles.

Okay then. That he can work with.

Climbing back up onto the bed, he settles between her legs, and carefully runs his hand down her side, hitching a leg up over his waist. She folds for him easily, and he leans down to kiss her, but hesitates - what if she didn't-

Oh. Oh

She cuts the distance between them and leans up to kiss him, surprising him, and he just goes with it.

She hums into the kiss, and he kisses her back, hard, licking into her mouth, taking control, demanding... demanding her to relax, to go soft under him...

And then, he's on his back.

"My turn," she hums, and he watches in delight, and then horror, as she presses a kiss to his shoulder, his chest, his stomach, the top of his trousers, and then...

"Back up here," he insists, reaching down to grab her hand, and instead grabbing her hair.

Her mouth presses against his wrist and she sucks at the skin, causing his hips to buck in response, and he looks down to the front of his trousers, tented.

"I want to taste," she whines, but he knows better.

"Next time," he agrees.... if there is a next time.

Together, they work at the front of his trousers, and as his belt comes unhooked, followed by the button, and then... 

He lifts his hips as he pushes them down, his pants as well, leaving him as naked as her. She's standing off the bed, looking at him, and he can see her cheeks coloring.

"Have you ever..." he awkwardly begins, not certain how to ask if she's a virgin.

"Yeah," she answers quickly, and she runs a hand into the front of her hair, pushing it back out of her face, revealing how she's biting into her bottom lip, how her eyes are locked onto his cock, how her body is tense, ready to pounce. "Before the war..."

He wants to ask who... fuck, if it was Potter...

"You?" she asks.

"Yeah," he says, nodding his head. "Once."

"Same," she answers, and she gives him a smile.

So they've both done this before... once... and now... now they're doing it together.

Pushing himself up to sit on the edge of the bed, Draco reaches a hand out towards her, taking her hand into his and pulling her to him. She comes to him easily, and he pulls her onto his lap, her legs spreading as she straddles him.

She looks so nervous, he... He just has to make sure.

"We don't have to do anything," he murmurs, his forehead pressing to hers as his eyes close.

"What if I want to?" she asks, and he opens his eyes to see hers are wide, blown out even.

She wants this, wants him... and fuck, he wants her too.

He wants her, finally. He wants to have her body under his, over his, in every position. He wants to explore her, explore more of her.

It still all feels like a dream, but it's different. In his dreams, he never got to see her face, never truly got to kiss her. In his dreams, he never got to explore all of her, never got to do a lot of things he craves.

It's better than a dream... So much better.

"This is going to change things," he finally says, and he wishes they had talked more, but.... he's not scared. He's ready. Whatever it is... he wants to know. He wants to be with her.

"It doesn't have to, if you don't want it to," she whispers, looking nervous.

"What if I want it to?" he asks, looking up at her with hopeful eyes.

She stares back, then leans down and answers him with a kiss.

Chapter Text

25 December 1998 - 8 Days Before the Full Moon

They're both on the edge - literally .

He can feel how close they both are, the way that her body arches up against his, how each kiss, each touch - they're rolling, gasping, writhing against one another, and it feels like it's happening around him, not to him, not with him - it's almost like a dream existing around his head, and he's just trying to jump into it.

Her naked body arches up against him, and his hard cock presses into her stomach as he flips her onto her back, one of his knees shifting so it presses against her wet slit. She writhes under him, arching her back to kiss him, and then she's pushing him over again, straddling his stomach, playing with her breasts while swatting away his hands.

"I have an idea for next time," she says with a giggle, and she's more confident now, more confident than she had been earlier, and he laughs, happy.

Something about their clothes being off, it's like she's free, he's free, and there's nothing keeping them apart any longer.

Except for themselves, but-

At some point, they have to stop kissing, stop touching, so he can fuck into her, but he's not really certain how to get himself inside of her, and she seems to be enjoying the game of cat and mouse... or is it werewolf and wizard?

He doesn't know, doesn't care, doesn't-

"What would you do if I bit you?" she asks, leaning down over him and kissing his shoulder.

His fingers brush against her arse, where Greyback's bite is, the skin there sensitive. He knows - he already gripped her there earlier, drawing a moan from her.

"Honestly?" he asks, looking up at her with a smile.

She pulls back and her hair halos around them.

"Honestly," she says with a raise of her brow.

He grins and surges forward to kiss her, his body shifting upright so she slides down into his lap, his cock parting her folds and lodging itself between their bellies.

"Spend the rest of my life chasing you," he answers.

Her eyes are wide, and then he's kissing her again.

She doesn't need to think about it, doesn't need to analyze it. She doesn't need to worry about what he would or wouldn't do if he was a werewolf with her.

But... would it be so terrible if he was?

Yes. Probably. Stupid idea. But a part of him wants it.

Her hands go into his hair, and she tugs at the roots, forcing his head backwards, exposing his throat. He doesn't fight back, just groans as she presses open mouthed kisses across from his adam's apple to the side of his throat to lower on his neck to his collarbone...

She sucks at the spot, sucks at the same place where Greyback had marked her, and he prepares himself for her human teeth to sink into his skin, prepares himself for the pain... she keeps sucking, then nips at it, drawing more and more blood to the surface. His cock hardens with it, all of the blood leaving his head, and when she pulls away, he knows a mark is now on his skin.

He can see it in her eyes - she likes it. She's breathing heavily, her eyes locked on the mark, and she keeps biting into her bottom lip, chest rising and falling.

"Mark me," he encourages, and realizes, as he hears his own voice, just how much this has affected him as well. "Do it. Mark me. Ruin me."

She cuts him off with another kiss, letting go of his hair as she does so, and he kisses back, biting at her lip, sucking on it, then licking into her mouth again. She wiggles against him and he can feel her leaking onto his length, can feel the opening, can feel... he's so close, so close to being inside of her, but he doesn't even care.

Her hips rock again, shifting his cock, and he can feel how close they are. His fingers run into her hair, and he tugs at the strands, jerking her head back, and she claws at his chest almost playfully, her nails running down his shoulders, but he ignores it, mouthing at the scar.

He sucks on the skin, sucks leaving his own mark, mouthing at it, alternating between his teeth and his lips and his tongue, until, when he pulls away, the mark of Greyback's teeth is gone.

All that's left is his mark.

"Let me see," she gasps, darting off his lap, and he's left gasping at the sudden change, the coldness... 

She's looking at herself in the mirror in awe.

"It's gone," she whispers, turning back to look at him.

He can't stop himself from grinning at her as she looks back at him, as their eyes lock... there's a lightness to her step as she runs back to him, hopping into his lap, her knees pressing into the bed on either side of him, her slick folds rubbing against his cock, her arms around his neck, her mouth on his-

He catches her, wraps his arms around her, and kisses her back. He wants to say things, to promise things, to always cover that mark with his own, to kiss away all of her pain, to make her forget every horror she has ever endured... He wants to tell her everything, but then her body is lifting up, grinding against his, and his cock falls forward slightly, the head rubbing against her slit-

"I want you," he groans out. He's so close to being in her, and she's so wet, if he just... helps himself out a little, directs himself into her, or she grasps him and lines herself up-

He could be inside of her. Completely. He could actually feel her tight heat around his cock, could feel her body writhe against his, he could-

He needs to stop thinking about what could be, because if he's not careful, he's going to cum before he's even inside of her.

"You have me," she promises, and she pulls back to smile at him, her hand going to his cheek, into his hair-

His hold maintains on her hips, and her hand slides down between them, pumping his cock, and then she's shifting forward, lining herself up, and he-

He thrusts upward just as she releases him, and then he's seated inside of her, just a few inches, and she lifts herself up then back down again. It's awkward, the angle not right, and he doesn't know what exactly to do. He thinks about laying her down, thinks about spreading her out, but he likes her like this, likes how strong she is, so fierce. 

She rocks her hips again, and he's going deeper, but she's so tight despite being so wet. He won't force it, though, and as she huffs in frustration, trying to find the right angle-

He lifts her up by her hips, spins them around, and lays her back on the bed. She looks up at him, startled, and he plants one knee on the bed while he lifts her legs up, one around his waist, and lines himself up. He can feel the heat of her at the head of his prick, telling him he's exactly where he needs to be- he pushes in, and in, and-

He keeps pushing, his cock sliding in, and he watches as she arches her back, lips parted, fingers tangling into the blankets, until eventually, he's seated all the way, and her eyes are rolled back in her head, body still tense.

Should he pull out, or- he doesn't know what he should do, but she's so tense, he's scared he might have hurt her. 

Looking down between her folds, he sees her clit and gets an idea. His hand moves to where his cock meets her body and presses his thumb against the swollen nub, rolling it in a circle.

Her hips jerk almost immediately, as though bringing her back to life.

She goes up onto her forearms, and he just stops and watches her. Her chest is rising and falling, her breasts are heavy with nipples hard and begging to be sucked on, and he wants everything with her, an eternity to explore her, to let her explore him, he wants-

He wants to blow his load immediately.

"I want you," she whispers out. Her eyes are so wide, he doesn't know if it's the witch or the werewolf speaking, and he knows, deep down, that she doesn't mean sexually or at this moment. 

She wants him. She wants to be with him.

"You have me," he promises, vows, and his hands move up to her hips, tugging her to the edge of the bed fully. She slides down willingly, and he hitches her legs higher up around his waist, so that she's split open for him fully. "Oh Granger, you fucking have me."

He's groaning out his words, and her eyes are locked onto his. He wants to stay here, just in this moment, but he has to move before he loses his mind.

His hips move backwards, and then he fucks back into her. She makes a little noise, but it's not what he wants - he wants her to scream, wants to- He wants to make her cum.

He tries to set a pace, a steady rhythm, but it's only a few more thrusts before he feels his body start to tighten. No. No no no. Forget making her cum - what he really needs right now is for himself to not cum already.

He pulls out and thrusts in again, and he has to take a breath. He's done this before, honestly, but being inside of her....

"What's wrong?" she asks, and her eyes are wide, still watching him, and he... feels embarrassed.

"I'm not gonna last," he says honestly, trying to laugh off his nerves. "You feel good. So fucking good. I've dreamed of this."

She laughs in response and shakes her head. She's so confident in the oddest of ways, while he... he isn't sure there's enough blood left in his brain to speak another coherent sentence.

"You dream of a lot of things," she hums as she pushes herself up again, and he groans as he slides out of her. She slides back up onto the bed, and he watches as she settles onto the middle of the bed.

He climbs up after her, crawling, until he settles between her thighs. She looks perfect in his sheets, and that's another dream he's had, Hermione Granger in his sheets. His fingers run into her hair, brushing it out to spread on the pillow, and she smiles up at him.

"I dream of you," he says honestly, and bends down to kiss her again.

They go slow from there, his body settling over hers, and he presses kisses to her shoulder, her chest, between her breasts... his cock softens a little, just a touch, and it feels a little sticky and gross, hitting himself in the stomach as he moves, but he ignores it - he needs to make her sing.

He needs to make her scream.

He needs to please her.

His hand settles between her thighs, and he rubs his fingers up and down on either side of her clit. Her hips react immediately, rocking against his hand, and his mouth moves back to her breasts, licking and sucking at each tip. They make her squirm even more than his mouth had at her cunt, and so he works with that, rubbing, rolling - he's in no rush, going back and forth, just trying to give her more.

He'll do anything to get her off. Anything at all. Even sacrifice his own pleasure.

It really is just like the dreams.

"Oh," she suddenly gasps, and her eyes are wide.

He pulls away from her breasts to ask what it is, but then she surges forward, her mouth on his and her hand wrapping around his cock. He feels almost tugged down, and then she's lining him up, and he knows what to do, knows to thrust his hips forward, to thrust into her. He can feel it immediately, the oh noise - she's soaking wet, dripping even, and as he starts to rock into her, his fingers still rubbing at her clit, he realizes what it is.

She's going to peak. He's going to give her an orgasm.

Bloody hell, he feels like he's flying, and he hasn't even cum yet.

He knows absolutely nothing about what he's currently doing, but he maintains his current pressure, not wanting to change a single thing. If she's on the edge, on the verge, and she's not giving him instructions, then he has to be doing something right. His breathing grows heavy as he tries to thrust at the same speed his fingers move, and he can feel her tightening, can hear her breathing and whining, he can feel her body around him, and she-

Her eyes are wide open, like she can't look away from him. Her lips are parted and he wants to kiss her, but he's afraid to change the angle. Her hands go to his forearms, grabbing, and she moves his hand with her, her nails gripping into his skin-

He's going to last only as long as it takes to get her off, and then he's going to lose himself completely inside of her.

Her breathy moans are joined by whines and gasps, and then he watches her eyes roll back in her head and her back arches-

She tightens around his cock, and he knows without a doubt what he's done. She's shaking, her body so tense, and he just keeps going, repeats to himself in and out, to move his fingers, and he can't stop, won't stop-

Her hand releases his arm and goes to the back of his neck, and he's pulled down into a kiss, his rhythm lost. He's so deep inside of her, his hand crushed between their bodies, but he struggles to just pump a few inches deeper, a few awkward thrusts, and then he-

Bliss. Absolute bliss.

How long has he been on the edge of tumbling down off of a cliff? Weeks? Months?

No dream, no nightmare, no imagination could ever compare to the feeling of her tight cunt gripping around his cock, to the feeling of her lips on his, the sounds of her cries, and he... he forgets how to breathe, how to think, just riding the waves of pleasure as he presses as deep as he can into her, both their bodies tense as they find release.

He never wants to leave this bed, never wants to leave her...

She's perfection. She's amazing. She's his.

He doesn't need any other labels for what's between them than that. They're together, and that... that's really pretty unbelievable and amazing.

His body shudders one last time as he finishes deep inside of her, and he falls half forward, his forehead pressing into the pillow beside her. He should get off of her, clean up, something...

He can't move.

Letting out a groan, Draco tries to roll over, something, but he... he can't move.

Granger laughs.

For a moment, he assumes she's laughing at him, but then he... he laughs with her. They just had sex. They had sex, and they both orgasmed, and it was real and it was good, and now... now they're both laying in his bed, sticky, and he... he feels good. He feels so unbelievably good. And she's beautiful and real and strong, and he...

For the first time in a long time, everything is alright.

"Can't move," he says through his laughter.

She shoves him at his shoulder and he half falls onto his side off of her, one leg still in between hers and his cock softening against her hip. Damn. They really do need to clean up.

"That was good," she says after a breath, and he opens his eyes to see her looking at him, smiling.

"Yeah?" he asks, grinning back but still uncertain of himself.

"Really good," she adds on, and he can tell she's being honest.

"Good," he agrees, nodding his head and his eyes closing. "Because that was... really good too."

She laughs again and he feels her body shifting as she rolls onto her side, her back pressing to his chest. He tightens his grip on her, not letting go. His hand presses flat to her abdomen and his lips press to the nape of her neck, keeping her close. She relaxes almost immediately into his embrace, and he feels himself starting to drift off to sleep.

She makes no move to leave, thankfully, not that he would let her.

"Don't let me go," she whispers, and he's almost asleep and can't process too much, but that... that's...

"I'll never let you go," he whispers against her ear, pressing a kiss to the hairline just beside it. 

"Promise?" she asks, and he can tell that she's feeling vulnerable and raw. He likely will as well, come morning, but right now... right now, he's just happy that she's here.

She's here with him and they're happy and he got to cum and whatever comes at them tomorrow, they can handle it.

He hugs her tighter and nuzzles against her throat. He wishes he knew more about werewolves - how would one werewolf greet another? Is there something special he's missing? Some way to tell her... she had clearly liked him biting and sucking at her mark earlier.

He does that now, turning his head to nuzzle at the mark he's left on her shoulder, covering the one that Greyback had left on her over a half a year earlier. She shudders in his embrace, and he knows... it might not be exactly the right move, but she knows. She knows that he cares for her.

"You're mine, Granger," he whispers into her skin. "Hermione..."

She doesn't answer, but he knows she heard, because her body tenses for a moment... and then completely relaxes. Completely lost. Ultimate trust.

He closes his eyes and lets sleep take him. They can talk about it in the morning.

 

26 December 1998 - 7 Days Before the Full Moon

Draco's eyes open as he hears a bit of cursing, and he reaches out beside himself in search of Hermione. The bed is still warm, but it's empty. He rolls over, blinking sleep out of his eyes, and reaches for his wand - it's not underneath his pillow as it should be - right, probably on his desk. After all, he and Granger had been... yeah.

"What time is it?" he asks, realizing that the person cursing is Granger.

She doesn't answer.

He realizes, as he sits up, that she's dressing, and quickly. Something is wrong. Something is very wrong.

Climbing out of the bed, he goes to her, but she jerks away. There's-

What... what happened in the past few hours.

"Granger?" he asks again.

She doesn't look at him, just shakily finishes pulling on her shoes.

Why is she getting dressed?

"Come back to bed," he tries to urge, and he grabs her hand again-

She pulls away as though burned, but she looks up at him.

Her eyes are wide, and she's terrified.

He doesn't understand why.

They stare at one another, and he wants to touch her cheek, wants to soothe her...

She turns and goes to the door, pulling it open. The torches are all dim, confirming his suspicions that it's still dark out, still nighttime, and he considers following her, but he's naked, and she's upset, and he...

What the bloody hell time is it?

He steps on something, stubs his toe on it, a cloth bag, but he ignores it as he shuts the door and goes to his desk, picking up his wand. Casting a tempus charm, he watches as a time flashes in front of him. 

Six in the morning? Why would Granger be awake at six in the morning, particularly a week before the Full Moon?

He rubs the back of his neck and shakes his head, going back to the door to lock it... she'll be out of the Common Room by now, and if she really wants it, she'll find her way in.

His foot stubs on the same soft fabric again, and he casts a Lumos, turning the light towards his foot.

Lying there is a familiar bag, wrapped in a stasis charm. He picks it up, staring at it in horror, then looks inside.

Seven vials...

And she should have taken the first over four hours earlier.

It's too late. It's too late now. There's no going back.

You can take the potion early. You can even take the potion on time. But four hours late? 

It's...

Ineffective. Pointless.

It has to be taken on time for a reason, and she...

She must have slept through it.

And why?

Because he kept her up with.... with sex.

Of all the...

He stares at the vials, then turns and throws the bag, contents and all, as hard as he can at the wall. The charms protecting the bag breaks, and he hears the vials shatter.

Granger, she...

A full moon without wolfsbane. Finally, she's healing, she's thriving, she's...

She's his, and he... he failed her, and she-

She ran away, terrified.

Fuck, this is...

Well, it's not all his fault, but right now, he feels like shit. He feels all the blame and guilt settling over him,

Falling to his knees, he stares at his hands. He can't do anything. There's nothing he can do.

She's going to go through the Full Moon locked up, in pain, in agony, at full strength, without wolfsbane.

And she's terrified.

And it's all his bloody fault.

Chapter Text

1 January 1999 - One Day before the Full Moon

He hasn't seen her all week.

Literally.

One moment, Draco is watching her leave his room, and the next... she's nowhere to be found.

It doesn't help that there are no classes, but after exploring the entire castle over and over again, pleading at the Gryffindor Common Room door, asking McGonagall, asking Madam Pomphrey...

He has no idea where she is, but she's not in the castle, and she's not on the grounds, and she's not...

He can't bloody find her.

He knows why, or at least, he can guess. It's one thing for her to be without Wolfsbane because there are simply no resources, or for her to enter the Full Moon with poison in her belly, but for a werewolf to be gaining strength all week...

He knows what Greyback was like in the week leading up to the Full Moon. He knows the power in her veins. He knows the strength she now possesses. And he knows she's terrified.

It's his fault. All his fault. If he had just let her go, she would have set an alarm, woken up, taken the potion, gone back to sleep, and then... and then all would be well. They could have continued their interactions the next day, had sex in the morning, they could have...

They could have spent the past week together.

He stays busy.

The journals and notes become more organized, sort of like a book. There's a section on Wolfsbane potion and the various ingredients, how to best preserve them, how to brew, all of it. There's another section on the best meals, particularly after the Full Moon and during the New Moon. There's a section on theories about strength and the time of day the moon reaches her peak and her weakest point.

There's a section on soulmates... he doesn't know if that part has any truth to it.

But there has to be some truth. There has to be something. Being away from her for a week, knowing she's in pain... it cuts into his soul. He feels ill all week, the distance hurting him. He wants to save her, to protect her, but he... he can do nothing.

He's helpless.

So he keeps working on the book, on the research, because... because no one else should go what she's going through.

Because... what if she moves on, and it's another that cares for her?

What if he's lost her forever?

He toys with the idea of going down to the Shrieking Shack - he doesn't even know if she's still at Hogwarts - but the need to know, to be near her, wins out. Heading towards Hogsmeade is a heavy task, but he does it, not sure what he'll find. He sets down his bag, lighter than normal, and takes off the boards. There's no sound within, but the sun is still out, shining.

What greets him once the boards are off...

The window is covered. Fully. Not by boards, which he can peek through, but a full curtain. There will no looking inside, no watching...

She's here. He knows it. He can feel it.

"Hermione," he calls out, banging his fist on the glass.

There's no answer, no sound from within, although the glass is thick, so if she's just moving about, he won't hear it.

"Granger," he calls out again, and he bangs his fist a few more times.

No answer. No sound.

Just silence.

Alright then... perhaps she's not here.

Perhaps... perhaps she's at the home of the Weasley, or locked up somewhere else, knowing she's at her full strength. Still, he...

If she isn't in there, it's not like anyone else will hear him call out for her.

He conjures up the armchair and pulls out a blanket, casting a Warming Charm on both before sitting down as close to the window as he can. He presses his hand to the glass, as though her hand will peek through the curtain to touch his...

"Granger, I know you're in there," he says, and he doesn't know, but he has to hope...

"I'm with you," he says, and he means it. "I'll be here the whole time. Please... please just let me know you're okay."

He goes silent, and then... he hears something. Something... clinking. Something...

Chains. He hears... chains.

He's seen the inside of the room before, through the window, and he would remember chains if they had been there previously. Chains... why would... 

Did she chain herself up? Or worse, did someone else?

"Granger," he calls out again, banging on the window. Someone is in there, and he- are they gagged as well? "I can hear the chains. Please, just let me know you're alright."

If nothing else, she can shake the chains, to let him know she's in there, even if she can't speak.

Instead, he's met with silence.

For the first time in a long time, he doesn't question himself. He doesn't ask himself if he imagined it. He doesn't ask himself if he's sure she's really in there. He doesn't ask himself if he's completely losing his mind.

No. She is in there. He can feel it, he knows it to be a fact.

And she's in chains.

Looking over his shoulder towards the horizon, he watches the last bit of sunlight start to disappear. If she's in there... it doesn't matter if she's trying to stay quiet and stay still. It doesn't even matter if she's bound against her will. When the sun goes down and the Full Moon begins, she will scream, and he will hear it. 

And he won't leave her behind.

"I'm right here, Granger," he calls out, banging his fist a few more times for effort. "I'm right here, okay? I'm not leaving you. I promise."

Don't let me go , she had whispered in his bed. Promise?

I'll never let you go , he had whispered back. You're mine, Hermione.

He wants to whisper those words into her skin now, against her temple, hold her close, promise a thousand things, promise anything... he would give anything to take away this pain, to keep her safe-

But he can't. She's a werewolf. It's not something he can heal, not something he can take away.

She's cursed for life, and he... he's trapped out here, cursed to listen to her scream alone.

He won't leave. He won't abandon her.

He'll go to McGonagall first thing in the morning and ask how to become an Animagus.

And if that doesn't work...

He'll spend the next Full Moon with her, so she can bite him. 

Because he can't stay on the other side of the window any longer. He can't.

It's breaking him. Destroying him to hear her, to see her, to know...

To know he can do nothing but hope she survives the night.

And he's running out of hope.

The minutes tick by slower than they should, and he keeps his eyes on the horizon, watching as the sun falls deeper and deeper. The sky is more navy than red, and eventually, the last of the sun disappears.

And then, he listens. There's a slight clink of chains, and he knows... he knows it will be soon. The Full Moon reaches its peak in the middle of the night this time, so a slow but steady transition forwards and backwards.

It has to start soon.

There are more clinks, but it's not enough. He waits, and he waits, and he waits...

Silence, save for the occasional clink.

He looks towards the Full Moon, so bright in the sky, and he knows... he knows that she has to be feeling it by now. If the window curtain was open, she would have already turned. But without the bright light shining in...

So he waits.

More clinks, then silence.

He considers pounding on the glass but refrains.

He sits against the window, his fingers spread out against the glass, waiting...

Her scream comes out of nowhere, filling the air and terrifying him. He jumps up and bangs a fist on the glass- she won't hear him, though.

She's still screaming.

"Granger," he yells anyways, just needing to... he needs to see her, make sure she's okay. "Granger!"

There's a pause, and he takes in a deep breath, ready to yell, and then the screams fill the air again.

Screaming, a pause, and then they resume, over and over again. He stops wasting his energy banging on the glass - there's no point. She's just screaming, over and over again.

The sound hurts his ears, but not as much as it pains his heart.

The screams continue, over and over, screams of pain, of terror, of sadness.... and then they become screams of anger, of rage.

He hears the chains, then.

The pause is longer now, a few seconds, and he can imagine she's gasping for air, taking in a few deep breaths, and then she screams, long and loud. There's a clink of chains at the start, as though being moved, and then as her scream ends, another clink.

It continues on for so long, he doesn't know how she can still make noise, and he wonders... he wonders how much longer the screams will stay screams. He wonders how much longer until they become howls.

The screams go on for what feels like hours, but he refuses to cast a Time charm. There would be no point to it. He can't do anything to speed up time, nor is there any relief any time soon. She's not even done shifting.

So he just waits... and waits... and...

The screaming stops, and he waits again for it to resume... but instead, there's silence.

Absolute silence.

The chains clink together again, with a thud, and he... he imagines what it could be. What it means. What the worst case scenario could be.

He presses his ear to the window and listens, braces himself for another scream.

He hears... nothing.

"Granger?" he calls out cautiously. "Hermione?"

There's no response, no sound at all, and he listens, just... holds his breath and listens...

A sob. He can hear it, tiny and broken. A sob.

She's in there, crying, and he - he can't even see her.

"Hermione," he begs her. "Please, talk to me. Please."

"Draco," she answers, and her voice... it sounds so small.

He wants to cry out himself, scream in anger, in pain...

But she fills the silence for him, and this scream... this isn't one of anger. This isn't one of sadness.

This is pain. Complete and total pain.

He waits for her to pause, to breathe, to something, but it just continues. The screams, they seem to come without end, over and over and over-

He starts to bang on the glass. Over and over, he pounds both of his fists. 

He's done. He doesn't care anymore. She's in chains, and she's screaming, and he - he can't do anything out here but try to reach her. Even if it's just to hold her one last time.

"Granger," he screams, pounding harder. "Granger!"

He doesn't know if she hears him, and that... that terrifies him.

He pulls out his wand, and without thought, he casts Bombarda.

He waits for the glass to shatter, but instead - it's like the glass just absorbs it.

Another. And another. And another.

He sends hexes, curses, charms, transfigurations, anything that comes to mind - anything that could get him to her.

It doesn't work. Nothing works.

He throws himself at the glass again, and it doesn't budge, doesn't creak - 

But there is the sound of chains clinking, and her scream - it shifts suddenly from one of pain and sadness to one of rage.

And then, there's silence... followed by more sobs.

"Granger," he calls out, and he pounds his fist against the window, but it's no use. He can't reach her. He can't...

"It hurts," she responds, and he knows it has to hurt, knows it's killing her... the werewolf in her is so strong, and she's stronger, and the battle raging... Why is she still fighting it? Why is she not just letting go?

"You have to let instinct take over," he begs, and he doesn't even know if that will solve anything, but Greyback... he shifted his form so easily, without much pain. Why is Granger struggling so badly?

"I can't just let go," she sobs back. "I can't... I'm scared."

"I'm right here," he promises. "I'm right here. Granger, please, just-"

She cuts him off with another scream, and he sags to his knees, breathing heavily, trying to not cry.

He doesn't know how long it goes on this time, but when she eventually stops, she doesn't cry.

He imagines she's too tired for that.

"Granger," he calls out all the same, and he pushes himself up just enough on his knees that his forehead can press against the glass. He wants to cry for her, cry out to her... "Hermione..."

She doesn't answer, and he just...

This is his fault. Deep down, he knows it. He could have saved her so much pain.

And now... Now, she's at her full strength, and she's fighting back.

"Please," he begs. "Just let go. Let go. Stop fighting it."

There's no answer, and that... that is somehow worse than the screams.

Eventually, he climbs up into the armchair and turns his face to stare at the window. There's no movement within as far as he can tell...

Hopefully, she just wore herself out. He has to hope... he has to hope she's just sleeping. Resting.

He doesn't know what else it could be, but all other ideas terrify him.

The silence wraps around him like a blanket, but rather than being warm and comforting, it chills him, terrifies him.

Absolute silence.

He vows to keep himself awake, even refuses to replace the warming charm, but...

One second his eyes are open, and then next, they're being forced open as the sound of a howl fills the air.

Scrambling out of his chair, he looks up at the sky and sees that the moon has moved, far enough that he casts the Tempus Charm. Almost one in the morning - by now... the girl has to be long gone. Surely... surely she's shifted by now.

Another howl fills the air, and he bangs his fist on the glass. The howl stops, and he hears the clinking of chains, then…

If he has to place a guess as to what the sound is, he would say some sort of angry mutt.

He only has a half-second to move away from the glass before he hears a growl, and then-

There's the clinking again, and the curtains are slashed it, a cut appearing in them. Draco stands there in horror, watching, waiting-

He can look through the cut just enough to see that she's fully transformed, a werewolf. One clawed hand is chained to the wall, as are both her feet. Only one hand is free, the one that had just slashed at the curtain.

She looks angry, full of rage - and then their eyes meet, and she... she moves away from the glass, back to where the chains are bound, and sits, sinking against the wall.

He doesn't know what it means, but... she's not howling, and she's not screaming.

It could definitely be worse.

He wonders if the werewolf remembers three Full Moons before, when his hand pressed to the glass against hers. She had been so weak, ill, poisoned... not like now.

Now she's at her full strength, and she's powerful, and she's terrifying, and he...

He doesn't know what to do.

Moving his chair closer to the window, his forehead presses to the glass as he tries to rest. 

He feels guilty, going back to sleep, but... there's nothing more he can do.

And if seeing him keeps her calm, then... then this is what he'll do.

His eyes close again, and he presses his hand to the glass, even though she can't see it.

Just... 

Eventually, she'll wake up, and he'll be here. He needs her to know he'll be here.

"I'm right here," he promises against the glass. "I'm not leaving. I won't let you go."

He doesn't get an answer.

The werewolf is still sitting there, eyes on him, and he stares back, waiting for a response, for movement.

She continues to stare.

His eyes close once more, and he...

He failed her. And he doesn't know how to fix it.

So he stays and waits for morning.

 

2 January 1999 - Full Moon

It's the whimpering that wakes him up this time, and as he opens his eyes, he sees that the sun is on the verge of coming up. There's a soft glow in the air, and he looks in through the window - she's transforming, slowly, but she's also naked, and he...

He wants to watch, and he's seen her naked before, but something about this, about seeing her naked and vulnerable...

He looks away.

Instead, his hand presses to the glass, and he waits until the yellow glow fills the sky before looking back at her.

She's fully human, at least as far as he can tell, with her knees at her chest and her arms around them. There's dried blood around her wrists and ankle, a few slashes on her arm near where the blood curse is, and she's shivering, crying into her knees.

"Hermione?" he calls out, pressing his face to the glass, trying to see more of her.

Her eyes lift to meet his, and he knows it's her, knows that she's human... he waits for her to say something, to do something, to respond...

She bursts into tears.

"Hey, it's okay," he calls out, trying to soothe her. "Look at me, please."

He's not above begging. Not when it comes to her. Not anymore.

He expects her to come to him, to crawl to the window, to press her hand to the glass, her face...

Instead, she keeps crying, her face pressed into her knees.

"Granger, please," he begs, the flat of his hand banging against the glass. "Please! Come here, or tell me how to come to you!"

Next real conversation they have, he's getting the answer to this question.

She doesn't look up, just cries harder.

He starts pounding on the glass.

"I'm not giving up on you!" he calls out in between slaps. "I'm not leaving you behind."

She doesn't look at him, so he keeps going.

"You made me promise not to let you go - I refuse. You're mine, Granger! You're mine!"

He expects an answer, and he would even gladly take one in anger, but he gets nothing. No response. 

Just more tears.

"Please!" he begs, and he keeps... he just...

He bangs on the glass, over and over and over.

But there's no movement from her. She just sits on the floor, face pressed against her knees, body shaking, not looking at him.

"Please," he begs again, his voice fading.

It's no use. She refuses to look at him. Refuses to see him.

And there's nothing he can do.

"I'll meet you outside of the infirmary," he bargains next, not knowing what else to offer. "I'll go to McGonagall."

Anything. He'll do anything.

"Hermione, look at me, please," he begs again, and there are tears in his eyes, but he doesn't wipe them away. "Please, look at me. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Granger. I'm so-"

He cries out in anguish, his forehead pressing to the glass, his hand pressing above.

She's in there, crying alone, and he... he can't do anything.

So much of his life has been decided for him, out of his control, leaving him suffering, in the dark. So much of his life has been a struggle, a series of bad circumstances he can't stop. So much of his life has gone sides, over and over again.

He's felt desperate, confused, terrified, horrified... the things he's done, the things he's seen...

Eighteen years old, and he's seen and done more than any boy his age should.

He has known pain and suffering, but this...

Nothing has ever hurt as bad as this.

"Please," he begs one last time. "Please."

She doesn't move.

And so... he accepts it for what it is. She's shutting him away. Pushing him back.

He'll go, for now, if only to give her space, but... he'll wait outside of the infirmary for her. The cuts on her body, the bruises, she has to emerge eventually.

And then he'll hug her tight, and never let her go.

He's done with the games, done with the questions.

He needs answers, and now.

Answers before she kills herself. Answers before she destroys herself.

He needs answers before she gives up entirely, and there's nothing he can do to save her.

Chapter Text

 9 January 1999 - Seven Days after the Full Moon

She never shows up in class. She never shows up anywhere, actually.

He wonders if she's even still in the school, but no, in his heart, he can sense her, can even feel her eyes on him. but he never sees her, can never find her...

The first full week of term, she's in none of their classes, skips every meal, and is never out running or in the library, or...

He has half a mind to charge up to Gryffindor Tower and demand entrance, to grab Longbottom in the hallway and ask where she is, but he knows that's pointless - Draco had been the only person she spoke to, the only one she connected with, and now, now that he has lost her...

It has to be more than the forgotten Wolfsbane Potion. He's already determined that - did it hurt? Yes, but she had done it before, and had even tried to skip her potion the month before. Was it the sex? Possibly. He assumed she had enjoyed it... and not without good reason. Is it too much too soon in their relationship, whatever it was? Maybe? But not really. They had been in this strange dance for months.

What he guesses... what he fears... is that the sex ruined everything by completing everything. It would make sense, after all. There are many powerful options for stabilizing a bond, and sex is one of them - one of the strongest, in fact, save for blood and life itself.

Had they inadvertently done something, confirmed something, solidified, who even knew anymore... had their joining caused some sort of spell or chaos? Did she know something he didn't know? Was she staying away for fear of what they could be, or for fear of what she could do to him?

He doesn't have the answer, doesn't have any answers, and he fears it, needs it...

What if she's gone because she... 

No. He can't think like that. Can't process that. He has to stay positive. She's in the school, somewhere, not that he can figure out where, but he knows it, deep in his stomach. She's in the school, and he just has to find her.

The Saturday after term began, Draco woke up knowing he had to find her. He had spent all week frustrated, had spent every waking hour missing her, longing for her...

It's a contrast, a stark contrast, from his dreams. They're not real, not the connection like they had had before they had sex, and they were nothing like the actual sex, but he relives it in his dreams, in his memories, her tastes, her touch, her cries... 

Over and over it plays in his head, confirming for him that they had been happy, that they had been together, that things had been good. 

Every morning, he had woken up longing for her, and today, with no classes, he would find her.

He's up early for breakfast, and doesn't find her there. She isn't in the dungeons, isn't in the Astronomy Tower, isn't in the courtyard, she isn't in the infirmary... he considers going to Gryffindor Tower, but he refuses to explain himself just yet - he would search the rest of the school first.

A pity he doesn’t have a map and warding spells so that he could mark off each room while he tracks her down.

His venture into the library is slow, for what reason, he has no valid idea. It's empty and quiet, too quiet for a Saturday, and every instinct tells him that he should look elsewhere, something deep down biting at him, whispering it, but he...

He knows how she loves the library, so he refuses to leave.

Up and down each stack, near each able, by the chairs, even deep within where they had once sat together, the study rooms... he searches it all, and finds nothing.

He glances towards the Restricted Section, and goes to leave, when he freezes, his hand on the library door.

Why would he leave without searching the Restricted Section?

Granted, he doesn't have permission to be there, explicitly, but no one is guarding the desk, he hasn't seen a single student his entire search, and most of what he and Granger had been researching could only be found in the Restricted Section.

It would make sense to search there - if he's searching for someone, desperately, then he should search every room.

Why... is... he...

What had she done?

He pushes back against whatever she's doing, whether it's a spell or runes or wards or whatever - now that he knows that she's in there, he won't allow anyone or anything to stop him.

He needs answers, before he bloody goes insane. He needs to kiss her, to touch her, to check her wounds and make certain she's okay. He can't just... live his life outside while she continues falling apart within.

He moves to enter the section, but suddenly, he finds that he can't.

It's as though his feet are stuck to the floor.

Trying to move further, he uses an unsticking charm, but it doesn't work. He moves to take a step back, away, but that doesn't work as well. His legs are together, and slowly, his entire body is stuck into place, leaving him there, frozen, vulnerable.

A wand presses to the middle of his back, and he can't turn his head to see who it is, but he already knows who it is.

He can smell her, can sense her.

"I'm glad you're at least using your wand," he says idly. He's pleased he can do that, if nothing else.

"It's more for effect than for actual use," she says idly. "Also, I wouldn't want to accidentally miss with my spell. My magic has been more chaotic since..."

He words trail off, and he would shake his head if he could, but he's stuck, frozen.

"Since we had sex, or since the full moon, or since- I mean, a lot has happened, Granger."

"And nothing else is going to happen," she hisses. "You're going to stop looking for me. You're going to let me return to class. You're going to keep your distance. And you're going to stop trying to talk to me. What happened between us is over."

"No it's not," he says with a laugh, and it hurts, being unable to move his body while laughing, but he doesn't have much of a choice. 

"It's over because I say it's over," she says quickly, but he can hear the shake in her voice. "It has to be."

"Are you scared?" he asks, smirking to himself. "Scared of hurting me, or scared of what our relationship means, or-"

"You have to stay away from me," she insists. "Please. Just... stay away. For both our sakes."

He can't do that. Without question, he already knows he can't stay away from her, and he already knows that she can't stay away from him. They're attached, bound together, unable to pull apart. Even frozen, he feels the need to pull her to him, to press his lips to hers. How she's resisting it...

"You know what's happening between us, don't you," he says, taking a stab in the dark. "You know about the bond between us, and it cemented itself when we had sex. You figured it out."

"I figured out nothing," she cries out, sounding near on hysterical. He wishes he could turn around, to look her in the eye, so that he could guess how much she's lying. "God, Draco, I wish I had answers, but I have nothing. There is nothing. All I know is that, when I'm around you, I lose all control, and do you know what a basic requirement is, to be a werewolf? It's to have control."

He could feel the anger in her, and a second later, the wand was gone from his back. If he turned around, he knew he would see her fists gripped at either side, rage and fear clear across her face, but he... he's stuck, and she doesn't move.

He has no response, nothing to say. He disagrees, of course. She doesn't need control - control is what leads to painful Full Moons and her struggling with the of the moon phases and her unable to eat and becoming comatose and cold and- The control is what's making her fall apart. She has to let it go. Of course their night together scared her - she needed to do it more.

She's silent, and he wonders if she's even still there, except, he can sense her. She's deadly quiet these days, but he can feel her.

"You have to stay away from me, before I destroy you."

Her words are soft, like a breeze, and then he can move again, and he whirls around to see that there's no one behind him, the door swinging closed behind her.

He chases after her, determined to catch her, to tell her that he loves her, that he needs her, that he can't keep living like this, but when he pushes the door open, Longbottom is standing there, and catches him immediately. Draco is startled by the other boy grabbing him, and he only has a second to reach for his wand, and he doesn't make it.

"Gonna have to be faster than that," Longbottom says, and he doesn't have a wand either, but perhaps they can settle this without magic. "Hermione spoke to me for the first time in months to ask me to keep you from following her, so I'm going to respect that."

Draco tries to push back, to step around him, but there's no use. He looks down each way of the corridor, and doesn't see her. Given that it's only a few days after the full moon, she could likely run away and be gone already, with no chance of him ever finding her.

So, he doesn't push back again, and instead sags back against the wall.

"Did she tell you?" Draco asks, his voice sounding hoarse to his ears.

"Mate, her and her lot have never told me much of anything, but I don't need to know everything to know that when Hermione Granger asks for help, you give it."

Draco nods to himself, pleased  Well, at least she isn't telling other her secrets... at least, not yet. He still matters to her in some way, they still have...

Shit, is he really considering himself special just because she isn't telling anyone else the very thing he had to drag out of her after figuring it out himself? Pathetic.

"You want to tell me what happened over break?" Longbottom asks, almost as though he can sense there's... well, obviously there is a story, but the way he's eyeing him... 

"Honestly, I wish I could tell you," Draco began, and Longbottom let him go so that Draco could rub at his neck. "And, not in a, I'm keeping secrets way... I'm not really sure what went wrong."

Longbottom takes a step back, giving him space, and Draco... he wishes he could tell someone, anyone, the whole truth.

"I mean... obviously something went wrong," Longbottom hints, and Draco... he doesn't even know what to say.

"Everything was fine, we were happy... we... well, anyways, I think she got scared of our closeness, which isn't crazy, but-"

"I mean, she did lose Ron," Neville said with a shrug. "And her parents."

"What?"

Draco blinks as he looks up at Longbottom, confused. How did she-

"Yeah, when I wrote to Harry about her, he told me about it. It's part of why they fought. She Obliviated her parents, before they went on the run. You know how Harry is, he never really... he always just kind of... I don't want to speak bad about him, but he had a tendency to not realize that there are worse things than death. I think Hermione was right to send them away, but Harry... he thinks they would have been fine. So now she's alone, only has Harry, who hates her, and this school, and she... I mean, is it crazy for her to be scared about getting close to someone?"

He's going to kill Potter. Going to string him up, like the Dark Lord never did. Fuck everything else, but being mad at Granger for sending her parent away? This is new.

"It's a good thing she did," Draco says with a nod. "It's... they looked for every family with Muggleborns... just... I mean, I don't know everything, I didn't sit in those meetings, but I overheard things. So... yeah."

"Yeah," Neville says with a shrug. "Well, we were here at the school, and we knew it was bad out there, but couldn't do anything, so-"

"It was shit all around," Draco agrees. "It was shit on the run, shit in the world, shit at Hogwarts, and it was..."

He couldn't even finish. He didn't want to compare himself to everyone else. In the eyes of most, he had chosen his own future. Draco knew he never had a choice, but to everyone else... he's Death Eater scum.

"He was in your house, right?"

Draco nods, not wanting to talk about it, but... well, shit, why not.

"Shit... I would have pissed my pants."

Draco snorts, grinning to himself a little. "Yeah, first time that bloody snake slid across the banquet table..."

He looks up to see Neville grinning back, and the two of them awkwardly nod together.

"Listen... whatever is going on with you and Hermione, I hope you fix it. You're not such a tosser when you're not being a little shit."

"Well, I was a little shit," Draco answers with a grin. "But, I like to think..."

Is he different now? Yes. He knows that, without question. The person he was in third year, fifth year, even sixth year... He's no where near like that person any longer. All of his old prejudices, all of his old hatred... he's too weary to hold such absurd ideals. He knows better now. 

"I mean... I think you've changed," Neville says. "And obviously so does Hermione... or at least, she did."

Draco swallows and nods, then, has an idea.

"Listen... tell Granger I'll give her another week, but then I'll meet her in our place, next Sunday, alright?"

"In your place?" Longbottom asks, questioning him.

"She'll know the place," Draco confirms. "And if she's not there, I'll come for her. She needs time to process how I feel for her, and that's understandable, but she can't keep running from this, from us."

Longbottom nods a few times, then offered him his hand. "You really have changed."

Draco takes his hand and shakes it in response, giving the other boy a nod. "I really have."

.

Entering the Slytherin Common room, Draco makes his first mistake in a while. He sits down, hard, on the sofa in front of the fire, and lets out a sigh, relaxing, weary from his long search.

And that's when Theo comes out of nowhere.

In truth, Draco had forgotten Theo and the favor he owed the other boy. After all, Theo had been gone over break, although Draco didn't know where, and they hadn't really spoken since Theo had returned, given how Draco had been chasing after Granger.

It means that he doesn't know to be on edge, doesn't know how to prepare himself, when Theo sits down beside him on the sofa and offers him a bottle and a glass.

"You look like you need a drink," Theo says, and Draco... he knows refusing would cause a problem. He couldn't say how, but it isn't an offer. It's a demand.

Taking the glass and the bottle, Draco pours a few swallows in, then hands the bottle back and takes a careful sip. Firewhiskey, and it's good... probably from Theo's Manor.

"Enjoy break?" Draco asks, trying to stay casual.

"Mm, yes, break... let's talk about break. What happened with you and Granger?"

Why is everyone suddenly so interested in his relationship... only two people knew of it, really, and now both are asking him about it? If Draco had ever seen Theo and Neville speak to one another before, he would think they had planned this together.

"She's mad at me," Draco says casually, trying to let out nothing more. "And scared. Wouldn't you be, after the past few years she's had?"

"Mmm, yeah, why's she mad at you?"

Draco knows that Theo has a point, a reason, an idea, something... but he can't guess what it is, so instead, he's forced to tread carefully, to watch his words.

"Honestly, mate, no idea. One minute, everything is fine, and the next, she's asking for space. Girls..."

He takes another swallow, and tries to just play it off, his eyes on the fire...

"You fucked her, didn't you?"

Draco's mind goes blank, completely relaxes, and he tells his face to do the same. If it were not true, if they had never had sex, would he respond in anger, or laugh, or... he doesn't rightly know.

"What's that matter?" he asks carefully, still not looking to his classmate.

"You did. Well then. How was it?"

Draco's wand is in his hand faster than it had been ever before. He doesn't even jostle his glass - just turns, wand out, pointed.

It could cost him his freedom, acting like this. It could lead to a one-way trip to Azkaban. He knows this, and yet... And yet, he can't forgive Theo for this.

"Ask that again," Draco says slowly.

Theo grins as he takes a sip from the bottle, eyes on Draco's, and swallows it down.

It feels like this has all been a test, and he's pretty sure he just passed.

"It's nice to know you're not a total prat," Theo says as he finishes another sip. 

"Thought we already established that," Draco says as he lowers his wand, eye still careful on Theo.

"I mean, you were a right prat," Theo says with a shrug. "For years. The fact you're willing to defend her honor... I mean, chivalry is clearly not dead."

"Fuck off."

"No, I think I won't," Theo says as he settles onto the couch. "You know, you still owe me a favor."

"I do. You haven't come to claim it yet."

"I will."

That worries him. It worries him a lot. Owing Theo a favor, and a pretty big one at that... he'll keep his word, but he doesn't have to like it.

They sit there in silence, Draco finishing his glass and Theo drinking from the bottle, enjoying the general atmosphere. Most are already in bed, and those that are not know better than to sit down when they enter the common room. It gives Draco time to think, to wonder...

He wishes he could trust someone else with Hermione's secret. Anyone else. He won't break her trust, not again after how he screwed up with his Aunt... 

He'll go to McGonagall in the morning. After all, he also needs to learn how to become an Animagus.

Fuck, if he turns out to be a cat...

"So what are you going to do?" Theo asks as he stands up from the couch.

The movement startles Draco, and he looks up, then stands with him. What time is it? Likely far past time to go to bed...

"I'm going to give her space," Draco answers freely. "She's scared, I think, and she needs time. I'm not exactly in a rush."

"Except, you don't have much time, do you?" Theo questions, and his words are soft, not a hint of accusation, but Draco knows what he means. "How long after we graduate do you think you have before they come for you?"

Draco takes in a deep breath, knowing that he... he needs to ask himself that question... and many more.

"Probably in the fall, once I'm due to start the ministry," Draco says as he swallows. "So... yeah, you're right, I guess I don't have a lot of time."

"Does Granger know that?" Theo asks, and there's a softness in his eyes...

"Yeah," Draco answers, looking at the floor. "Part of why I think she's scared..."

"If I could help, I would," Theo offers, and Draco knows his old friend, believes him, but...

"Only people that could help me are Potter, who is angry at Granger, and likely Granger herself, but she can't pull herself up. It doesn't matter anyways. This year... I didn't expect to get it."

"It's your life," Theo says insistently, and claps him on the shoulder. "You didn't deserve that shit."

"Yeah, well..."

"Well, maybe Granger will come around sooner than later. You deserve a bit of happiness before..."

Draco is left to stand there, thinking about the time he has left. He wants to give her all the time she needs, but Theo is right... he's on a clock, and if he's going to Azkaban for life... they need to figure out what's going to happen to them.

He had promised, before, to never leave her... and yet...

He fears she may soon find out.

Chapter Text

10 January 1999 - 6 Days before the New Moon

His speech is prepared, and he has his journals, and he knows what he wants and needs, knows that McGonagall supports him, knows that this is the right decision, and yet... and yet ...

The very second that the Headmistress stops behind him in the Great Hall and tells him to come to her office, as though she already knows what he wants and needs... Well, he may or may not have wanted to crawl under the table.

How do they always know? How do the teachers always know?

He slinks his way up to her office, and when he's invited in, he immediately sits, not looking at the woman behind the desk. 

She already knows why he's here, after all. He might as well wait for judgement.

"Would you like to explain to me why no one was able to access the Library last night?" she begins, and Draco... he doesn't have an answer for that.

No, no, he has a speech prepared about how he should become an Animagus, so that he can spend the Full Moon with her, and he has an explanation about why Hermione is upset, and he has plans, to ask her about Potter, and, he's supposed to ask about Remus and Sirius, and, and bonding, and-

"I was in the library," Draco answers dumbly.

"Yes, I'm aware," she says leaning forward to stare at him across her desk. "You and Miss Granger, along with Mr Longbottom, were all seen outside of the library. Would you like to explain?"

He bloody well would not... but this woman holds too much of his future in her hands, so he'll have to.

"Granger is angry with me, because she's scared of me getting hurt, and I think she lured me there. She had a spell that made me want to leave... anyways, she ambushed me there, and-"

The Headmistress had her eyebrow raised and a devilish smirk on her lips. 

"Ah, so the fight of two young lovers, then? Please keep it away from the library."

"Not... not exactly," he says awkwardly. "I sort of need your help, Professor."

"My help?" she asks, pausing. "Oh, I best call for tea, then. What could you possibly need my help for?"

"I need the truth about werewolves and soulmates," he says rather bluntly. "My Aunt said that the bond between Remus Lupin and Sirius Black was different. I can sense her, professor. I know where she is. I dream of her, I can tell when she's cold, and I-"

"There are no such things as soulmates, Mr Malfoy," Headmistress McGonagall says, cutting him off. "Nor werewolf mates. Where is this idea even coming from?"

"Do you know that for a fact?" Draco demands, because he needs her to be sure - one hundred percent sure.

"I know that no one has ever spoken about magical mates between any sort of magical creatures - and yes, I am saying the word creature. Do various magical beasts pair off? Of course, but there is no magic involved in their selection. So, what you are speaking of is preposterous."

"What about Black family magic?" he tries next. "Hermione had a blood curse, one which should have killed her, but her becoming a werewolf saved her life. Is it possible that Black family magic-"

"Mr Malfoy, it is not-"

"I can feel her, even now," he insists. "I can feel how cold she is, how alone she feels. I can sense her always."

The woman stares at him, as though waiting for him to calm himself, and he realizes that he had stood at some point, his voice raising as well. He retakes his seat, awkwardly, and waits a moment before speaking again.

"When I am with her, Professor... It's the same feeling as when I first held a wand, my wand, in my hand. As though it just... clicked."

She lets out a sigh, and a tea tray appears beside her. She takes her time, fixing herself a cup of tea, then offers one to him as well, already made perfectly. He accepts the cup and saucer, and politely takes a sip.

"Would you appreciate my opinion, or would you prefer facts?" she offers after a few minutes. "I must warn you, Mr Malfoy, you will not like my opinion."

He considers it. He truly does. She knows things, has seen things... She has taught at the school for decades, knew and watched Remus Lupin grow up as a werewolf, watching Remus with Sirius... 

She knows things.

But...

She isn't a werewolf, and she hasn't been bound to one. She doesn't know this feeling. How can she understand it when she has never felt it, has never felt the way he loses himself when he's with Hermione, how he craves her touch, her kiss, her scent... how can he open himself to opinions from someone that will never understand how she feels.

"I'll take facts," he says, knowing he will regret this later.

She nods and sets down her cup before answering.

"Magical soulmates have never before been spoken of. What happens within Black family magic, I cannot tell you, but I will tell you that Remus Lupin and Sirius Black had a very special bond. I do not know what in all it entailed, nor how you found out about their friendship, but... You and Miss Granger are not Mr Black and Mr Lupin."

Draco knows what is coming next - judgement, being told he's not worthy of her, that they are star-crossed lovers, that they are nothing... his head lowers and he prepares to leave the room, but... after a moment, she continues.

"Mr Lupin and Mr Black had no one else, save for James and Peter... and Peter always went home to his own home, but Remus and Sirius? Their only home was with the Potters. Together, they found a family, because they felt they had no one else - the bond between them was special because no one else ever understood them. But you and Miss Granger? I have not seen the pair of you together much, but I can tell you that when we speak of you... No, Mr Malfoy, your bond with Miss Granger is not the same. It's deeper. It's built on war and a wreckage, but the two of you build one another up. You are going against everything, against the world, for her, and, I must confess... I am rooting for the two of you."

The room is quiet, Draco could have heard a quill drop. He can't believe his ears... The old Headmistress, believing in the two of them, wanting them to be together, to be happy?

"Then I need your help," he breathes out in wonder. "I need to become an Animagus."

She smiles at him and nods, setting her cup to the side. "I'm listening."

He goes to speak, an entire speech prepared, but all he can say is... "I don't think she can survive another Full Moon alone."

McGonagall nods, as though agreeing with him, but doesn't speak.

"She's alone in there, scared at the start every time. She won't relax. She fights it. I think she's so worried about maintaining control, about not letting go, that she's making it worse on herself. After speaking with my Aunt about Remus, I truly think that the reason she struggles so much is because she's trying to keep herself from letting go. If I could be there, if I could help her through-"

"You think she still wants your help?" Professor McGonagall asks, cutting in.

He knows she likely doesn't, and he knows that she doesn't want him there, but... but, he's doing it all the same. Doing it for himself, even. They can fight about it over the Full Moon, but at least he'll have the option.

"It doesn't matter anymore," Draco answers, his voice certain and sure. "She needs friends. She needs companions. She needs a pack. She's always cold, always alone, always weak... She needs people, and she and I, our bond..."

"You truly believe in this bond, don't you?" McGonagall asks, almost in wonder.

Draco snorts, knowing that the woman might not understand, but...

"Imagine trying to do magic without your wand," Draco says quickly.

"I can do magic without my wand," she says with a snort.

"A big spell. Not just a summoning charm. Something... enormous. You're concentrating on it, all of your power. everything within you. It would be hard with your wand in hand, but impossible without... and then you reach out, grasp your wand, and it just... the magic flows through you, all consuming, overwhelming. In comparison to the emptiness of before, the sudden power flow feels as though it overwhelms you."

She's quiet, eyeing him, before raising her brow, as though to ask what his point is.

"When I'm with her... it feels like that. Our bond... I know it doesn't make sense, that there's nothing in the books, but when I'm with her... I can feel her power. And when she's with me... she loses control of her magic. Of her werewolf abilities. Of everything."

He's sure of it. He knows it to be true.

McGonagall takes in a deep breath and moves to pick up her cup of tea, taking a small sip from it. Draco waits patiently for her to say something, to agree to help him, and it takes a few minutes before she reaches into a desk drawer and takes out a vial. Within is a number of leaves, all perfectly preserved.

"Mandrake leaf," she says, offering the vial to him. "You'll need to place one in your mouth for an entire month, even when you sleep, starting on the next Full Moon. I recommend using a sticking charm and cleaning your teeth very carefully. After that month, you spit out the leaf into a vial, underneath the moon's rays, and add to it.... I had best just write this down."

She pulls out a sheet of parchment and begins writing, leaving Draco to stare at the vial. He can't even start for three weeks, and will have to keep the leaf in his mouth for a month.... It means at least two more Full Moons until he can be with her. How is Hermione supposed to survive?

"Here you are," the Headmistress says, offering him the instructions. "And Mr Malfoy... I do think what you are doing is very brave and smart, but I must warn you, it is not easy magic. If you want it bad enough, you'll do it, but if you do it wrong the first time, then-"

"I won't do it wrong," he responds rather gruffly. "I don't have a choice. You haven't heard her screams, Professor. You don't know what I've seen. The pain. The begging. I have to get this right, the first time around."

She doesn't say anything, and Draco suddenly feels as though he's cracking.

"I have to. I have to do this for her. Professor, she... she can't take much more. I have to be there for her. Someone has to save her."

"It doesn't have to be you," McGonagall says gently.

"It does," he insists. "It has to be. We're bound together. I can feel it. I can feel her even now. I need her desperately. I need her to live. I need her to survive. When I'm locked away, I need to know that she's okay. I can't just... I'm going to be dragged away from her, and what happens to her then? What happens if she still is fighting it? Who's going to fight for her? I have to do this, Professor, before she ends up dead, or in a cell beside me or-"

The teacup and saucer in his hands are suddenly shattered against the wall, and he realizes, in horror, that he had just thrown them. He's standing, yelling at the Headmistress, his heart racing and his nails cutting into his palms, and he...

He has to save her. He needs McGonagall to understand this.

"You will not be going to Azkaban, Mr Malfoy," McGonagall says after a minute. "I have begun my work to ensure that."

"What?" he asks, confused, sitting down hard into his chair.

"You are quite adept at potion making, are you not? Do you enjoy it to the point that you would pursue a Mastery in it?"

He doesn't know. He doesn't have an answer for that. Is he good at it? Sure, but he's good at a lot of things. Adept? If she said so - he had received an Outstanding on his Potions OWL, of course, but... a Mastery?

"We are in need of a new Potion's professor... and some of my other professors are also feeling the need to retire. I think we can find a place for both you and Miss Granger here, providing her the stability, career, and ingredients that she requires for her ailment... I can also keep you within the school, under close watch, have you provide a necessary duty to the Wizarding World, and..."

And, it would keep him from having to leave Hogwarts, having to go out into the real world, keep him from having to fear being attacked on the streets of Diagon Alley, or anywhere else for that matter.

If he could stay at the school, stay with Hermione...

"Does Granger know about this idea?" he asks gruffly.

"In a way," McGonagall answers, and he watches as the broken pieces of glass are picked up and reassembled, settling onto the tea tray beside her with a wave of her wand. "She asked me, last September, if there was any way she could stay at the school indefinitely. I think she would be a wonderful addition to the staff here. Don't you agree?"

He could stay with Hermione, stay at Hogwarts, stay out of Azkaban, stay safe, he could... he could have a life, stay with her... he could...

"What do you say to that, Mr Malfoy?"

Draco could only grin.

 

13 January 1999 - 4 Days Before the New Moon

The past few days had all been a bit of a blur. The idea that he has a future, that he has a life after this... 

When he had been locked up in the ministry, trapped there for months on end, alone, with eyes on him at all points in time... He had truly accepted his fate, that he would never be free again, would be strung up for a sentencing in a trial he never even attended, and sent straight to his permanent prison, where he would spend the rest of his life screaming, alone.

No Death Eater would come for him, should they ever rise again, and no one on the side of the light would fight for him. His father was imprisoned, his mother under house arrest, and his friends, what few he had, had all run to save themselves.

Returning to Hogwarts... it had been a stay of execution, and yet, he had known all along that, come the Fall after graduation, when he could find no placement in the ministry, when he was attacked one too many times, when he had been arrested on face claims a bit too often... 

Draco had known all along that he would still be going to Azkaban. It was all just a matter of when.

But now... 

Now, he has Professor McGonagall on his side. Neville Longbottom. Andromeda Black. Theo... not that he was useful. And...

And he had Hermione. Has her. He doesn't really know right now, given that she's still not talking to him, but he has time.

Real time. A future.

She can have her time to process all of this, to accept what they are, but a lifetime of being around her, being near her, of spending every Full Moon with her, brewing her potions, pulling her into his office...

Oh, he's definitely going to fuck the life out of her on Snape's old desk, against the stacks in the library, and perhaps even on the teacher's table in the Great Hall.

A lifetime together... and all because McGonagall believes in him. Is offering him a chance.

He's on such a high, a complete other level, that he doesn't even see it coming.

One second, he's walking between classes, almost late, and the next, he's against the wall, flung there by magic.

He doesn't know who sent the blast, and really, it's a wonder he's lasted this long without being caught, but-

"Death Eater scum," the person whispers.

He's stuck there, face against the wall, unable to move, for at least five minutes. When the spell wears off, he slinks to the floor, grateful he's okay.

And then, the panic attack hits.

Against that wall, unable to move, it's like every meeting he ever sat in, knowing if he moved, if he blinked, reacted, spoke up, that he would be next. It's like remembering Granger on the floor, screaming, his eyes on her, knowing that if he helps her, his Aunt will turn her wand on him, and then torture her even more. Being pressed against the wall, it reminds him of his own back on the floor, the Dark Lord hovered over him, his wand and thumb pressing into Draco's forearm as he's branded.

Draco wraps his arms around his knees and tries to remember how to breathe, but it's hard, given how scared he suddenly feels.

Hogwarts... he's felt so safe for weeks, after never being attacked, but now...

It's Blaise that finds him, that grabs him by his collar, and tugs him out of the corridor. Blaise that takes him back to the common room. Blaise that gets him drunk off his arse.

And then Theo joins them, and Draco tells them everything, sobbing as he does so, about the year in hell, the year he spent terrified, about all the things he didn't even share about Sixth Year, when all they knew was he had a special task.

They sit there, and he cries in fear. He's not even ashamed of it.

He's not safe here. He's not safe anywhere.

Hogwarts... Hogwarts is his future, and yet... 

He swallows down more than he needs and doesn't even remember making it to his bed.

Chapter Text

17 January 1999 - New Moon

No matter how afraid he feels while walking the Hogwarts corridors, Draco has only one mission in mind, and that is finding Hermione and keeping her safe.

Yes, he had told her he would give her time, and he would - she could have her space, she could hate him, could blame him, could be afraid of what was happening between them - he would allow it. She had established a boundary, and even though he didn't agree with it, he would respect it.

But not today. Not tonight. Not now.

The New Moon is the one day of the cycle that he's most afraid. Terrified, really. Because, while the Full Moon is scary and her power is destructive and she struggles with the shift, it's the New Moon where she's at her lowest. She hasn't spent it alone in months, normally wrapped up warm in his arms, but she's pushing him away.

He knows how cold she can get without the warmth of her pack, and given how he's the only person she has...

It's a Sunday, so no classes, which means he doesn't know where to expect to find her, and yet, as he walks up and down the corridor, he knows where he's going to end up. The Astronomy Tower had become theirs, a place where they could ward the door, set up his conjured armchair, wrap up in blankets, and stare out at the moon. It's their safe space.

It's where he hopes to find her. It's... really, it's the only place he knows to look.

As he reaches the base of the tower, Draco expects to feel a sense of dread, or something else reminiscent of the feelings from the library. She had done well at expelling him, at keeping him away, but no, he continues on, unstopped. When he reaches the door to see it closed, he knows she's within. 

His hand goes around the handle to open it, but nothing. It doesn't budge.

Well then.

A quick unlocking charm later, and it's still not opening. He looks for runes and wards, but he can find nothing. It should be like the Shrieking Shack, then, with the runes that he can pass right by, but...

No.

He's locked out.

"It's locked for a reason," he hears called out to him.

Well then.  At least he has confirmation that she's in there.

"I never would have guessed," he muttered under his breath.

"I heard that!"

He stands there, patiently, waiting for the door to open, for her to peek out and admonish him, but it stays closed, worrying him. She hasn't spent a New Moon alone in so long, he worries that she won't even remember what it's like.

He worries that he'll forget what it's like, to hold her.

"You can go away now," she insists, as though that would actually work.

He lets out a huff and looks around the small landing - there's not enough space for the armchair, so instead he sits on the top step, leaning back against the door.

A few moments later, he hears her voice again.

"Seriously! Go away! I can hear your heartbeat pounding!"

His hand goes to his chest, and he can feel the soft beat, but it's far from pounding. Why would she be so sensitive to the sound of his heart?

"I'm not going anywhere," he answers, closing his eyes as he tries to relax. "We spend the New Moon and the Full Moon together. That's part of this."

"Don't say we!" she snaps at him. "We means something."

"Of course it bloody means something," he mutters again. "Just open the door, Hermione."

"No!"

It's like arguing with a child, not that he has much experience with such things, but he knows that there's no point in pushing further. She's throwing a tantrum, for whatever reason, and as much as he wants to respect her boundaries, he also wants to keep her safe.

Safety trumps boundaries.

"Well, I'm not leaving," he finally says, knowing that he might actually be spending the night leaning against the door. "You know why? Because I care about you. Because I-"

"Don't say it!" she hisses, and he can practically sense her on the other side of the door.

So close... so close to him, but he can't see her, can't touch her, can't hug her... can't even whisper that he loves her.

"So I'm going sit here," he continues on, as though not interrupted at all. "All night, until you leave the tower. And next week, I'm going to give you your potions. And then, on the Full Moon, I will once again be outside of the Shack, keeping you company. Do you know why?"

She doesn't answer.

He doesn't need her to.

"I want to say it," he says, and he hopes she can hear his heart beat now, that she can hear how he's not lying. He imagines she can do that sort of thing, what with her supernatural haring and all. "I want to tell you how I feel. But, I'm not going to do it while you're angry at me, even though it's not my fault. So instead, I'm going to tell you that I care about you, desperately, and that I'm worried about you. So, even though you hate me, I'm going to sit right here, so that you know I'm here for you."

She doesn't answer him, but again, he doesn't need her to. He knows she's listening. It's not like she can run away from him.

"I finished up taking my notes," he says conversationally. "Everything you gave me, everything I've observed. I put together a book, so that you can use it to help any other werewolves, or... or whomever comes after me."

A silence hangs in the air, and then he hears, "Whoever comes after you?"

She sounds so quiet and small, and he knows without a down that she's on the other side of the door, but he won't mention it.

"Yeah... you seem..." His voice softens as well, both to match her tone and because it kills him to say it, but she needs to hear it. "You seem pretty intent on pushing me away. Eventually, you're going to need someone else to brew your wolfsbane and to keep you company. You can't do this alone. So... whoever is replacing me..."

"Draco."

That's it. That's all she says. Just his name.

He turns his body towards the door, as though he can somehow be closer to her through it, and leans his forehead against the doorframe, his eyes closing as he imagines breathing her in.

"I know you need your space, Granger... but we're connected. You can't hide from this, you can't lie about this. It's a fact. So... while you have your space, just know that I'm not going to stop worrying about you. You're... sort of the the only thing I worry about anymore."

She doesn't answer, but he closes his eyes and imagines her close to him, in his arms.

She can have her space, but he... 

He doesn't know how long he'll last. Doesn't know how long he can wait.

He has to try, though.

"By the way, I talked to McGonagall about becoming an animagi. What do you think my form will be?"

She doesn't answer, and wry thought posts into his head. He hopes he's not misguided, so he takes a stab in the dark, one he hopes that will make her smile. 

"I'm sure if Weasley were around, he would make a joke about me becoming a ferret."

The sudden burst of laughter is enough to make him smile, and he grins, pleased that he could do that, at least. It's not as though she's opening the door for him, but anything is better than nothing. 

"I think I would be happy with anything, just so long as I'm not a cat," he continues on, just so that there can be noise between them. "Or a bird. Just... something that I can run around with you."

"Sirius was a dog," Granger whispers, and he is pleased she'll at least respond to him, somewhat.

"A wolf and a dog... sounds like a pair."

He would be pleased if he were a dog.

"I'm going to stay right here, alright?" he tells her again, so that she knows, so that she can trust that he's not leaving her. "I'll be gone once I know you survived the afternoon. It should be the worst of it now, though. I'll stay until you leave."

He's prepared to stay the whole afternoon and evening, if he must, but for the moment... he'll just sit in silence.

He's almost dozed off when he hears her words.

"Thank you."

As though she owes him her gratitude.

As though he isn't in love with her.

 

24 January 1999 - 7 Days before the Full Moon

He has kept his promise. All week long, he has done as he promised her, and given her the distance she demanded. He brewed the potion, avoided following her or even asking about her, but now... now it's a week before, and he's determined to hand her the bag filled with carefully preserved vials, so that they don't have to endure another month like the previous one.

He hopes that, if she has an easy transition, she'll stop avoiding him... and maybe even tell him what's wrong.

She's waiting outside of the Slytherin Common Rooms when he leaves for breakfast, which is a bit of a surprise, particularly when she reaches out to grab him and pulls him into a dark alcove. He has his wand in hand in an instant, throwing up a shield, but then he sees it's her, and his defensive spells drop.

"That was fast," she comments idly.

He doesn't respond.

Instead, he waits. She had sought him out. She could ask for it. She could say something more.

It becomes a staring contest.

Eventually, she scoffs at him, and he knows that it's the only response he'll get, so he goes with it. Reaching into his pocket, he withdraws the bag and offers it to her.

She snatches at it, greedily, but he doesn't let go.

"I'm going to be there," he tells her, warns her. He doesn't want it to be a surprise.

"You don't have to be."

He had been prepared for this, for her to push him away, but to hear her say it, as though she doesn't expect him to want to be there, it hurts him.

"I want to be. I won't let you go through this alone."

They stare at one another again, and suddenly, he can almost feel the air shift. They're so close, her body pressed to his, and he can feel her breath on his face. He wants to kiss her, to cling to her.

He thinks about it. He nearly does it. 

Instead, he fucks it all up.

"We should talk about the future," he tells her, wanting to bring up McGonagall's offer. It's clearly the wrong thing to say.

"There's nothing to talk about," she says quickly, defensively, but he won't let her just walk away from this. It's far too important.

"There's a lot to talk about. Fine, we don't have to talk about us, but we should talk about me. About what I'm going to do if I don't go to Azkaban. And we should talk about you. What you're going to do if you don't bloody kill yourself."

Her hand slaps across his face, which is startling, given the fact that he would think her more prone to using her claws, but it jostles him enough that he knows he pushed too hard.

He's supposed to be respecting her boundaries, even though they piss him off, and really, what are boundaries between two people that are trapped together in some sort of weird relationship.

"I'm not going to do that," she says quickly, and she goes to walk away, but he grabs her hand and tugs her back.

The fact that he's able to, that she doesn't jerk out of his hold, is a sign that she's not struggling to get away from him.

"You were once," he whispered, and he hopes she can see the pain and fear in his eyes, so she can understand. "Don't you understand that I'm bloody terrified to lose you, Granger?"

She doesn't answer, and he looks down to see that her claws are growing on her hands. He imagines, if she opened her mouth, he would see fangs.

"It would be better for you if you did," she finally says, and pulls away again.

He lets her go. He doesn't chase after her.

He doesn't know what to make of their interactions anymore. Doesn't know what to fear.

Her. He should fear her.

But he doesn't. Instead, he just feels cold, and lonely. 

Almost as cold as she had felt, when he had touched her hand.

Chapter Text

31 January 1999 - Full Moon

It happens so fast, he nearly misses her. He's on his way down towards Hogsmeade when he sees Hermione heading towards Hagrid's Hut... and the Whomping Willow.

She doesn't have much longer until the Moon is full, and while she has a little time after that before the sun is down, he's never seen her risking it this close. In fact, she has less than an hour. Why would she be walking away from Hogsmeade? Where could she be going?

He follows after her, quietly, far enough away that he hopes she doesn't notice, and as she approaches the tree, she just... disappears. He doesn't understand, where could she have even gone? Surely not... had she... there must be a passageway near the tree.

It comes from nowhere, a spell shot at him, and he has to dodge it, jumping aside. There, at the base of the Whomping Willow, is Granger. She looks bloody terrified.

"Did you follow me?" she demands, shaking her head. "You can't come with me!"

"Is this how you get to the Shack?" he demands, suddenly realizing it's the answer. This is how...

And now he knows.

"I'll kill you if you follow me," she insists, and it's not a threat - it's her fear. Her fear of what she might do to him while transformed.

"I won't follow you," he answers quickly. "But I will be outside the Shack. Take the curtains down, or-"

"Don't you dare give me an ultimatum," she snaps, and he shakes his head.

"Or else I'll be cursed to only hear your pain, not be able to help distract you from it," he continues.

The Willow above her starts moving, and he realizes she had used Immobulus on the tree. It must be wearing off.

"I'll see you soon," he reminds her again, and turns to start the walk towards Hogsmeade.

When he looks back, she's gone.

He runs the entire way to the Shack, and he forgets all about setting up the armchair, simply casts a disillusionment charm and presses his face to the glass. The curtains are hung, but he might have beaten her there, so he doesn't start calling for her. Not yet, at least.

He'll give her a minute, wait until he can hear movement inside.

It's not much longer before he does hear that movement, and then the curtains are being pulled open, so he can see her face.

She's so close to him that he knows, without the glass there, he could have easily kissed her.

She doesn't say anything and he, without thought, presses his hand to the glass, as though she might respond and rest her hand against his. Instead, they both just stare at one another, silence blooming between them.

When he pulls his hand away, she turns and walks across the room, throwing her bag down onto the floor and taking out her wand.

"Did you take the potions?" he asks, although he doubts he really needs to.

"I did," she confirms but doesn't look his way.

"I'm sorry about last month," he apologizes, although it's not really his fault.

"I'm not."

That confuses him. Why is she... why would she not be sorry about the month before?

"Will you tell me what's going on?" he asks next, hoping for an answer.

She doesn't turn and look at him.

Alright, he has had enough of this. Over a month... how long is he supposed to wait?

"I brought the leaf with me," he says, pulling it out of his bag. "Once the moon reaches the peak, I'll have to put it in my mouth. Not looking forward to it."

"Maybe it will make you stop talking."

And now, she's just being mean.

"I don't understand," he says, pushing at her a little. "I know that you were scared to transition without the potion and that it was hard, but what happened between us, what, do you regret it? Granger, that night was... you were incredible. I dream of it. I dream of-"

"How long have you been dreaming about me?" she asks, interrupting his walk down memory lane.

"Uhhh, since I came to Hogwarts, why?"

"Since that first Full Moon, right? Since I was locked in the shack. You could hear me, when no one else could."

He doesn't know what to say. Doesn't know where this is going.

"You touch me, and I'm warm. I can sense you anywhere and everywhere. I can hear your heart beating across the school. You dreamed of me. You can hear me. You care about me after years of wishing me dead, and-"

"Now hold on," he snaps, not liking where she's taking this. "Alright, yeah, the rest of that is all combined, but I didn't wish you dead a year ago. I didn't wish you dead when my Aunt was torturing you. Bloody hell, I spent most of sixth year wishing you would save me, and then Potter nearly killed me. That was all long before you became a werewolf."

"You know where I'm going with this, don't you." 

He does. He knows exactly where she's going with this.

"Say it. Say it out loud. You're so afraid of it, you've avoided me for a month. What's it called, Granger? What's this thing between us called? Get it all out there, because I'm bloody tired of fighting with you, of fighting these feelings, of how much I hate you but I love you, of how much-"

"It's not real!" she gasps, and she's suddenly at the window, banging her hand against it. "None of this is real. The bond between us, how we feel, it's not real. It's all made up!"

"Says who?" he questions, needing an answer. "Who says it's not real?"

"There would be documentation on this," she gasps, and he can tell she's overwhelmed, that she needs to take a breath, but there's no way to force it on her. "I can't find anything, but I can feel it. I can feel it constantly. And, ever since that night-"

"Put a name to it," he hisses against the glass. "Is this why you've been pushing me away? Why you've been avoiding me? Scared of what's between us? You can't stop it, Granger. You have to face it."

She doesn't look at him, and he watches her start to pace. They're close to the Full Moon, so close that he has the leaf in hand, but he needs the answer. He can't let this moment go. He refuses to allow this distance between them to continue.

"What's it bloody called, Granger? You make the decision. What do we call this? What are we?"

"We're soulmates!" she yells at him, turning on her heel to face him as she speaks. "Our souls are connected. The thought of losing you, of being away from you, destroys me every time. This month, not touching you, I feel like I'm dying. I don't know if it's the blood curse or if it's the fact that I'm a werewolf, but I can feel you, Draco Malfoy. I can feel your heart beating in my own chest. And that's terrifying. How can I protect you? How can I keep you safe? How can I tie myself to you? How can I-"

He wishes he could do anything other than stare at her through the glass - particularly when the thing that cuts her off isn't his kiss or his hug or even his touch. No, instead she gasps, and he watches her eyes change color, the shifting process beginning right before his eyes.

"Look at me," he demands, banging his hand on the glass. "Look at me, Granger. Come on, Hermione. Just let it take you. This is going to be one of the last ones you spend alone."

He puts the leaf into his mouth and uses a sticking charm to attach it there, then resumes speaking to her.

"Come on. Eyes on me. We're in this together. You're my bloody soulmate, so you're going to look at me."

He can tell she's still gasping for air, not taking in a deep breath, and he bangs the glass again, trying to startle her. Panic attack. She must be having a panic attack.

"You need to breathe, Granger. What, did you think it would scare me? The idea that we're bound to one another? I've known for months! Suspected it for a while. I wondered why you didn't tell me, but I eventually realized you didn't know. It's okay. We can figure it out together, but you have to breathe."

He thinks about the passageway underneath the Whomping Willow, thinks about running back towards the tree, stunning it, and using the passageway to get to her. He thinks about wrapping his arms around her and helping her to breathe.

And he realizes, in horror, that this is why she hadn't shown him the passageway. This is why she never told him how to reach her. This is why she had feared him knowing the truth.

Because now, his first instinct is to run straight into the arms of a transforming werewolf that would lose all control and attack him.

"Draco," she gasps, and he lets out a sigh of relief. If she can say his name, she can breathe again.

"We're going to work through this," he promises her, and he presses his hands and his face to the glass, watching her. "Even if you don't want to talk about it, I'm right here. I'm right here for you. I'm not going anywhere. And tomorrow... tomorrow, we can sit in silence while I hold you. You're not in this alone, Granger, and you know it. Stop shutting me out."

She's quiet as she catches her breath, and he watches, waits, until her eyes turn back towards him.

"What if I don't want this?" she asks, her eyes focusing on him. "What if I don't want to be soulmates? What if I don't want to be attached to you?"

He doesn't have an answer for that, so he doesn't even consider that.

"I don't think we have a choice," he coughs out, still watching her as she starts pulling at her shirt, her nails lengthening.

"What if I still hate you? What if the attraction is all false? What if I want to destroy you? What if I still wish you dead?"

It hurts to hear, but he's not surprised. She should hate him. Should want to hate him, after all he has done.

"Then we work through it," he promises. "You're it for me, Granger. Did you know, I have a plan-"

"Fuck your plan," she hisses, and he doesn't know if it's still Granger or the wolf, but it scares him, to hear the harshness in her tone. "I don't give a shit about your plan. I don't want this. I don't want to be attached to you. I want nothing to do with you. I want you to rot in a cell in Azkaban. I want you to leave me alone. I want every connection between us to be severed. And I never want to speak to you again."

She lets out a sudden scream, and he knows he's heard enough.

She doesn't mean it. She can't mean it.

What happened between them on Christmas, the way they had touched each other, the way they had been together... It had been magic. Magical. The connection between them...

It was a lie. Or at least, so she feared. 

He didn't know what to think.

"I'm not going anywhere," he chokes out, but it hurts.

I want you to rot in a cell in Azkaban .

She doesn't mean it. She can't mean it. But-

It still hurts.

She lets out a scream, and he forces himself to look, if for no other reason so that she's not alone. He watches as she starts to rip herself apart, the transformation beginning and moving quickly. That's the one good thing about Full Moons reaching their peak during daylight hours - once the sun is down and only the moon remains, it moves quickly.

Very quickly.

He hopes she gets enough of a break to apologize. Hopes that she gets enough of a break to breathe.

She gets neither.

By the time the screams stop, she's on the ground, shaking from the pain of the transformation. There's nothing human left in her. She's the wolf, now, and he is forced to watch as she begins pacing, looking at him, fighting against the desire to lunge at him through the window, and the exhaustion that the potion was meant to give her.

It's only for love of her that he presses his hand to the glass, and he calls out her name. It's a far hope that she's in control enough to respond, but then she looks his way, and approaches the glass, sniffing at it.

He prepares himself for her to attack, to snap and snarl -

She presses her face to the glass, as though to nuzzle, and he can almost imagine the feeling of her fur against his hand.

He should be in there. Should be with her. Only one more Full Moon after this, and he will be.

"I'm going to stay right here," he promises her again. "I'm not going anywhere. I know that you're scared about what this bond between us means, but I'm not going anywhere. It's real, Granger. We're meant to be together... and I'm happy it's you."

Eventually, she settles, which gives him a giant sigh of relief. Only then does he set up the armchair and relax against the window, his hand still pressed to the glass. He casts a warming charm as well, only just then realizing that he has been freezing the entire time.

As he settles down to get some rest, he runs her words through his head again.

It's not one-sided. She can feel it too. And while there's no name for it, he likes her description of it - soulmates. It feels as though his soul is connected to hers, so it's an apt description.

And the thought of losing her...

Everything is going to be alright. Everything is going to be fine.

He's going to become an animagi, spend every Full Moon with her, they're going to become teachers at Hogwarts, and they're going to settle into their lives together.

Somewhere along the way, he'll get pardoned and not forced back to Azkaban.

And she'll accept who and what she is.

Everything will be alright. They just have to survive long enough.

Chapter Text

1 February 1999 - One Day After the Full Moon

When she shifts back, Draco expects an apology. He expects her to say she didn't mean it.

He prepares for silence, however, but what he gets, instead, is far worse.

"Don't follow me," she says softly, then disappears deep into the shack, likely down the passageway.

He's determined to beat her back to the school, but when he reaches the Whomping Willow and doesn't see her, he panics. The run to the infirmary is the shortest he's ever made the distance, and when he reaches the doors to see them still firmly shut, he realizes that he made a mistake.

She hadn't emerged yet, when he reached the tree, and now, there's a chance he's missed her altogether.

He's just about to give up, to go banging on the Gryffindor Common Room, when she appears around the corner and freezes.

Wasting no time, Draco goes straight to her, half dragging her into a nearby alcove, where they've been alone more than once.

She looks exhausted, but otherwise no worse off than he's seen her before. There's a distinct lack of blood and cuts, and with a few pepper-up potions, she'll be back to normal, or at least, as close to normal as she can get.

"I told you not to-"

"I was already here," he says, not interested in her telling him off. "You and I need to talk."

She immediately looks warry, on the defensive, but this conversation is long overdue. He should have broached the subject weeks ago. And now, it's blowing up in their faces.

"How long have you suspected we're soulmates?" he asks her, leaning in towards her.

She looks away, clearly not wanting to answer, but silence is not an option.

"Come on, Hermione. You didn't just come to this realization overnight."

"Ever since you warmed me up, back in November, I think. I warmed only to your touch."

He brushes that off. It couldn't have been the first sign. "Anyone in your pack could have done that, but you pushed everyone away. What else told you the truth."

"I could always sense you," she murmurs next.

That was closer to it.

"I dreamed of you, ever night," he told her, lifting her chin with his fingertips so she was forced to look at him. "Every single night. I've known for months that you and I were connected, but any time I tried to broach it, you pushed me away."

"I never dreamed of you," she hisses at him, insistent in her tone. "Never once. So that is entirely one-sided. Do you still dream of me?"

He had hopes and dreams, yes, but not as before. "No."

She swallows hard and nods, taking a step away from him. She seems to be thinking about something, then looks up at him suddenly, her eyes thinning. "Do you still have the leaf in your mouth?"

He hadn't thought about it, but now that she brings it up, it was the only thing he can feel. The sticking charm must be working. "Yes."

"I wish you would spit it out," she whispers, and he can see fear in her eyes. "You would be in danger in that room, and I-"

"Either I shift into another animal, or I come down there and let you bite me. It's your choice, Hermione," he insists, needing her to understand how serious he is.

"Don't put that on me," she snaps. "You have a choice. I did not. You could walk away, and-"

"I can't walk away from you," he snaps back. "You're in my blood. You're part of me. We've been connected for months. I understand that you're afraid, but you don't get to make big decisions for me - I'm staying here with you. It's your choice in what capacity."

She stares at him, clearly still upset, and he runs a hand into his hair, trying to figure out why.

He takes a risk.

"Is this about that night, in my room?" he asks, moving closer to her. "What, are you embarrassed? Upset about what we did?"

"Of course not," she snaps, and she looks offended. "What we did, it was... it was beautiful!"

He wouldn't quite call it that. Magical, yeah, and insanely hot, but beautiful... he had been awkward the entire time. He was far from beautiful.

But still...

"I've thought about that night every night. I've missed you. I want to be with you. I don't care what our connection means for us - what I know is that I want you in my life, and I want a future with you. If you're still afraid, or if you still want to push me away, then so be it, but don't push me away for my sake. Do it because you don't like me. Do you not like me?"

She goes to answer, and he braces himself for a truth he isn't ready for, but she stops herself and stares at him. One look from her, and he doesn't need her to say it. The answer is written all over her face. It's clear as day.

She likes him. She might even love him. And that terrifies her.

"What if it's not real?" she whispers, and he wants to wrap her up in his arms, wants to keep her safe from the rest of the world, but he can't. He can't do anything to protect her, to save her. All he can do is stand beside her. "What if this bond-"

"It made me feel nothing. I knew the connection was there, but I pursued it because I wanted to. The way I feel for you... that's real."

She doesn't look convinced, but they still have time. He promised it to her, weeks ago. Now that they're speaking again, and the truth is out between them... now that he's looked into her eyes, he can give her a bit more time.

At least, until she's ready to face the prospect of a future with him.

"I told you I would give you space, and I meant it. Now that I know what's been bothering you... you can have your space, and your time apart. You can have your time to do research and to figure yourself out. I'm not going anywhere. You and I, we're soulmates, apparently, but even if we weren't, I would want to be with you. Take a deep breath. Go get your potion. I'll see you around."

She looks terrified, her eyes wide, and he wants to stay, wants to wrap her up in his arms, but he resists. He has to. He knows that.

He turns to walk away, to slip out into the hallway, but just as he's about to leave, her hand grabs his, and he turns around without thinking and kisses her, hard. He has to kiss her, has to taste her.

She kisses him back, clings to him even, and he wants to scoop her up, wants to carry her back to his room.

He needs her. Desperately.

But he pulls away from her all the same.

He doesn't say goodbye. He doesn't say anything.

He just walks away.

Before he goes back and kisses her again.

 

5 February 1999 - 5 Days After the Full Moon

"Why is Granger staring at you?" Blaise asks from beside him at the breakfast table.

Startled, Draco looks up to see that she is, in fact, staring at him.

They haven't talked since the alcove, and while she has returned to class, they haven't really looked at one another. Looking would mean talking would mean touching and then he would likely carry her off to a dark corner where he could pull her clothes from her body and ravish her. He didn't even really know what that meant, but he would do it.

He felt desperate for her.

Now that they're not enemies, and she's no longer hiding, it's different, keeping his space from her. Before, she had been like a ghost, something hovering nearby but never in sight. Now, she's always there, and he aches to touch her, to kiss her, to cling to her - he resists, because he has to, but-

"She's really staring at you," Theo agrees from his other side.

Draco stares across the room to the Gryffindor table, where Hermione is staring at him, her teacup held in both hands. She's not eating, which is strange, and she's not alone, which is stranger.

He doesn't really look during mealtimes anymore - she's rarely there, so he never saw the point.

Now, though... why is she staring at him?

"I thought she hated you," Theo asks.

"What?" Blaise questions. "What did I miss?"

"Nothing," Draco says brushing them off, but it hurts to say that it's nothing. What he feels for her, how he cares about her, it's far from nothing. She's everything in the most basic of ways.

But he wishes he could tell her that, show her that.

"The way she's looking at you is far from nothing. She's looking at you like she wants to take your clothes off."

"Be quiet," Draco hisses at Blaise, worried that others might hear. "Nothing like that."

"They have had sex," Theo adds on, as unhelpful as ever.

"They've what- "

"Will you please shut up?" Draco begs again, almost willing to offer a favor in exchange for silence. "What's going on between us is weird. We're on a pause while she figures herself out."

"It doesn't look like a pause," Blaise murmurs, and Draco looks to see his head down towards his plate, not at all on Hermione. "But she's walking this way."

Draco looks up to see he only has seconds before she reaches the table. There's a silence around them, every eye on her, but she's staring at him, and he can't look away.

"McGonagall asked that you check in with her. Something about a project," Hermione says calmly, as though she has practiced it.

Draco looks towards the high table and notes that the Headmistress isn't there. He doesn't know if she's telling the truth or not, but he'll take it as a sign to end his lunch.

"Best not keep her waiting," Hermione adds on.

He gives a nod and swallows, not trusting himself to speak. It would be far too easy to slip and thank her, or worse, call her Hermione.

He leaves the boys behind, grabs his books, and heads towards the doors to the Great Hall, following after the girl that has just summoned him.

They say nothing until they're on the third floor, and then she has him against a wall in an alcove.

Ah. Yes.

A lie, then. A ruse. All to get him alone.

"I can't stop dreaming about you," she gasps, and she sounds breathless as he leans back against the wall and drops his books so that he can instead pick her up.

In a second, it's her back against the wall, and he's leaning into her, hovering over her, their bodies mashing together.

"Since when?" he asks, wanting to know the whole picture.

"Ever since Christmas," she answers, and her mouth goes to his throat, kissing and sucking at his skin.

Ever since his dreams ended... her dreams have begun.

"It's the connection between us," he answers for them both. "Why didn't you tell me-"

"Shut up and fuck me," she hisses.

He won't argue with that.

In seconds, he has her robe and skirt hiked up, and he runs his hand between her thighs, feeling that she's wearing stockings and a garter belt. Oh fuck, his little minx, she's not wearing underwear.

"Don't you even think about it," she hisses, and he knows she knows but how does she even know?

Her hand goes to the front of his robe to start gathering it, and he moves his hand to the top of his trousers, unbuttoning himself and pulling his cock free. He's already hard for her in an instant, and with some maneuvering between them, he quickly has her pressed into the wall and his cock inside of her.

The delicious heat of her cunt, being trapped within her, feeling at home once more, it's everything he's dreamed about, over and over again. To have her once more-

He groans as he feels her tighten around his cock, a sure sign that she needs him just as much, and he wishes he could do more foreplay, more for her pleasure, but this is a fast fuck in an alcove - he doesn't have time to do anything but get them both off.

"This will be fast," he grunts.

He doesn't get an answer.

Draco's forehead presses into the wall as her legs go around his waist, and in seconds, he's pumping into her. It's the least elegant he's ever been, and that includes with his cock in his hand, but it doesn't matter. She's full of him, they're together again, and he can never get enough of her.

Hermione reaches between them to touch herself, and it takes no time at all for her to get herself off, leaving him trailing behind, surprisingly. He's glad he lasts any time at all, given how he had spent months being edged, finally plowed inside of her, and then had spent weeks moping around.

He nearly cries when he empties himself inside of her, the heat and release so overpowering, his legs nearly give out as well.

And then, he feels hollow as she pulls away from him, her feet on the ground and her robe back into place.

"Thank you," she tells him, her voice unwavering. "I was going insane."

"Wait, what?" he asks, blinking as he looks at her, confused. "What do you-"

"For taking the dreams back," she explains. "I thought you understood. I guess we're passing them back and forth, and-"

"Are you kidding me?" he yelled, startled, his cock still dripping and soft out of his pants. Had she really just used him?

"What's wrong?" she asks, looking even more confused.

"You just used me, for sex! As if you didn't know it mattered to me-"

"Of course I know it matters!" she snaps back. "But I can't believe you're being sentimental-"

"I'm bloody in love with you," he snaps at her, not wanting it to come out this way, but - she had used him, and it hurt.

"Draco, I-"

"I thought you wanted me. That you couldn't wait any longer for me. What, so you still want distance to work through your feelings, but it's okay to have sex with me so you can get a good night's sleep again, while I once again suffer?"

He can't even look at her as he shoves himself back into his pants and drops his robe. He feels dirty now and needs away.

"Draco-"

"Not today, Granger. Today. I'm the one that needs a little space. Let me know when you can look at yourself in the mirror and admit that you care about me. When you're no longer yanking me around. I've been patient, but this was low."

He doesn't look back as he grabs his books and stalks away, but he does hear her cry, and it makes him feel better, for just a minute.

And then, it just hurts.

Chapter Text

14 February 1999 - 2 Days before the New Moon

He is an idiot. A complete and total idiot.

He's besotted. Desperate.

And yet - 

They haven't talked since he left her in the corridor. She had certainly tried to stop him, to grab him, to reach out, but every time, he had pushed her away. He needed time. Time to process what was happening between them. Time to process what she had done.

He braced himself, as he prepared for bed that night, to dream of her on his cock again, but instead, when he woke in the morning, he had been free of her, free of her ghost. 

The lines underneath her eyes and the blush on her cheeks when their eyes met at breakfast told him that her little plan hadn't worked.

At first, he found it hilarious. She had made a game out of torturing him, out of trying to make him suffer, and she had lost. It was a fair repayment - she had tried to trick him into taking the curse of the dreams. After a few days, however, he missed her.

At least, if he had had the dreams, he would have been able to remember what she smelled like, what she tasted like.

He had told himself that on the New Moon, he would forgive her, but then the 13th of February had arrived, and students around him had been buzzing about hearts and dates and kisses and romance, and he realized what day it was.

He had never really cared about Valentine's Day, but now that he had a soulmate, it somehow felt important. He almost wished he could take her to Hogsmeade, but there was no way she would agree to it.

That stated, there was something he could do, which is how he ended up in the Greenhouses, feeling like an idiot.

And staring at Longbottom.

"Malfoy," the other boy says slowly, glancing around. "Are ye lookin' for somethin'?"

"Flowers," Draco says, crossing his arms cooly. "For Hermione."

"Flowers for Hermione?" Longbottom repeats back dumbly. "What for?"

"Valentine's Day. Surely you've heard of it."

Longbottom sputters as though insulted, and Draco takes the moment to glance over the other boy's shoulder in search of what he needs. He wants something big and lovely, something that his mother would be proud of.

"Yes, I know what day it is tomorrow, but why would you need flowers for Hermione? Can't you just buy her something big and grand? Didn't realize the two of you were back on again. She's back hiding in her room, and-"

The look on Draco's face must have been rather sour, given how quickly Longbottom shuts up when they lock eyes.

"If you're wondering why I can't just give her large jewels from my vault, the answer is that everything is currently being held by the ministry. I receive a small allowance from my personal vault, but otherwise, I have nothing, own nothing. So, I must make do."

Arguably, he gives her wolfsbane potion every month, and he can venture into the forests for flowers, but at this time of the season, he wants something bright and beautiful, not at all wintery and drab.

"Well, that’s just… that’s… well," Longbottom murmurs under his breath, and looks around the Greenhouse. "Well, if you're looking for flowers, you might want to try Greenhouse six. That's where the flowers are growing. Some roses, lilies, and carnelians all recently bloomed. Would make for something nice."

Draco gives the other boy a nod, but before he can leave, Longbottom calls out his name. 

"What is it?" Draco half growls, his patience waning thin. It's already late enough in the day, and he'll have to find her, or push his way into Gryffindor tower.

"You should know something," Longbottom says, shoving his hand into his pocket. "About Hermione. And Harry."

He doesn't care what Longbottom has to say about Potter, but if it pertains to Hermione...

"What is it?"

"He wrote to me. Harry did, I mean. Wanted to ask how she was doing. Apparently, someone else wrote to him, told him about how she pushed everyone away, but that she's been seen with you. He wanted to know if he needed to come up here. Wasn't sure what she would want me to say, other than no, but she won't talk to me about it."

Draco laughs at the very idea that Potter suddenly cares. Amazing. He lets Hermione away from him, allows her to seclude herself, but the second he hears about Draco Malfoy too close, he worries again. "Potter has no right to care about Hermione's well-being. Tell him to toss-off."

"He has every right to worry. They're best friends."

"He abandoned her," Draco snaps, shaking his head. "She pushed him away and he allowed it. He never should have left her side. He should be the one here at school with her, but instead, he's off-"

"I told you about what she said to him, blaming him for Ron's death. It's-"

Draco laughs so hard, his body almost aches. Amazing. While he knows that Hermione doesn't actually blame Potter for what happened to Weasley, Draco does. He can remember it all, can understand it now, clear as day. At the end of the day, it's all Potter's fault.

"It's entirely Potter's fault that Weasley is dead. She has every right to blame him."

"It's not Harry's fault that Ron was killed. He wasn't even here," Longbottom begins, trying to defend his friend.

But Draco has heard enough. It's time that this school starts learning the truth about the war, and about their precious Harry Potter.

Abandoning Hermione, after all that she had done for him...

"You want to know why Greyback killed Weasley? It’s because of Hermione - he thought that she belonged to him, so he killed Weasley, an obstacle in his path. That's partly why she blames herself, but do you want to know why Greyback thought she belonged to him?"

The look on Longbottom's face told him he didn't want to know, but he would have to hear the words anyway.

"It's because of what happened when Snatchers caught them. When they were dragged to my house. I refused to identify them, and Hermione was tortured. She was tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange after Greyback threatened to do horrible things to her. You know what werewolves do to girls, don't you, Longbottom."

The Gryffindor's face had turned white, but Draco doesn't pull back. Not now. Not when he's on a roll.

"Do you want to know how the Snatchers found them? Why she was in Greyback's clutches? It's because your precious Potter thought himself better than the Dark Lord and said his name. He knew it was taboo and said it anyways. He made a mistake, and look at who paid the price. Hermione did, with her blood, and in turn, it cost Weasley his life. So, she might not actually blame him, but it's certainly his fault."

Longbottom is quiet, staring back at him, and Draco feels vindicated. The anger he feels for Potter, for dragging Hermione around, for ruining her life... Potter could have done better. And the fact that he abandoned her... it's not something Draco can forgive.

"Bloody hell," Longbottom murmurs. "I mean, we kind of guessed that he wasn't all innocent, but-"

"Yeah," Draco says with a nod. "So tell him to piss off. Hermione is doing the best she can, and staying away from him would be even better. If he's not willing to realize what he's done to her, in leaving her behind... he's the one to blame for all her pain."

And that's ignoring the fact that, if Greyback had never touched her, had never killed Weasley, then she never would have been bitten, and would have never been forced into the hell that is her life as a werewolf.

"I'm just... yeah. He can piss off," Longbottom agrees. "Greenhouse six, alright? She was up in the tower when I left this morning, but said she was going to the library. If she's not in the library, good luck finding her."

Draco gives him a nod, and heads out of the greenhouse, looking for the proper one.

He doesn't feel better as he leaves, though, not after a few minutes.

Instead, he just feels worried.

Precious Potter showing up to save the day, to save Hermione from the evil Slytherin... it's a recipe for disaster. 

If he shows up, figures out Hermione's secret, turns her into the ministry with his absurd positivity, and then requests Draco go back to Azkaban... people would listen to Potter, if he started making demands about Draco's future. 

Shit. He'll have to talk to Hermione about it... but not today.

Today, flowers.

He finds her in the library, which isn't a surprise, but what is surprising is that Theo is hovering nearby. Draco can't remember the last time he saw the other boy this deep in the library, and the fact that he's just a table away... he's clearly not in the room for the books.

"What are you doing here?" Draco hisses as he approaches Theo, the bouquet in his hand suddenly feeling massive.

"What are you doing here?" Theo questions him, looking from the flowers and then towards Granger. "Is this a love confession?"

"I'm serious, Theo. What are you doing here? You're not spying on her, are you?" Draco demands, wanting to know the truth. Since he still owes Theo a favor, he's wary of everything, of what could be coming.

Eventually, Theo would demand repayment, and it might come at too high a price.

"Saw her in here, all alone, on such a lovey day," Theo answers with a smirk. "Thought I would keep her company."

The sudden urge to punch Theo square in the jaw fills him, and he nearly does it, until a hand touches his chest, drawing him away from the argument.

"Boys," Hermione says, her hand touching his chest as she moves between the two of them. "The library is not a place for a confrontation."

Draco looks down at her, and he nearly kisses her.

How has he stayed so mad at her? How has he avoided her for so long? She's a shining light, smiling in front of him, and he wants to kiss her, to pull her close, to-

"All done anyways," Theo says with a smirk. "See you later, Granger."

Draco's eyes thin as he watches Theo walk away, and then he's left alone with her.

She looks wary almost immediately, and he feels bad.

"Hey," he says, fumbling to find another word.

"Hey."

They stare at one another, and he looks around, not seeing any other students. Of course not - it is a Sunday, and Valentine's Day.

"Look, Hermione, I-"

"You were right, I was using you, and I apologize," she blurts out, cutting him off from speaking. "Also, it didn't work."

Draco chuckles, nodding a little. "Yeah. I already figured that out. Kind of miss having you in my dreams."

She nods and looks down at the flowers in his hand, and he lifts them up, offering them to her. "Here. I brought these for you."

She takes them from him and looks down with an awed expression on her face. If he had access to his vaults, he would have spent a fortune on her. She deserves far more than just flowers from the school greenhouse, but the smile on her face tells him they're appreciated.

"Am I forgiven?" she asks, her eyes moving from the flowers to the floor.

He gives them a moment to just be before he answers. "Yes."

She doesn't say anything, and he knows that it's time that he finally says a few things.

"Look... whatever is between us, we have to face it together. I know that you're scared, but we have to stop working against one another. If you want rid of the dreams, we can try again, or-"

"The dreams have changed," she whispers, her voice coming out almost haunted. "I dream of you and I, in a room here in this castle, but it's not one I've seen before. The bed, it's not a student's bed. We're happy, and we smile. We fall asleep holding one another. And, just as I start to get warm, I wake up, every time."

He wishes he had parchment and a quill on him, but he can sort of figure out what she's talking about, what she's explaining.

"So the dreams... alright, well, I wanted to have sex with you, so I dreamed of that, waking up before we finished. You... what is it you want?"

She shakes her head, not wanting to answer, but he can make a guess. "A bed... a staff room? And warm... you want to be with me, safe and secure. Is that it?"

She doesn't answer, instead lifts the flowers up to take a deep breath of them.

He can tell that she's tired. Not as tired as she has been two days before the New Moon, but tired all the same.

"Hermione, please look at me," he whispers, giving her the choice, the opportunity.

She looks up, and they stare at one another, a silence settling over them.

"I care about you," he tells her softly. "I'm in love with you. And whatever this bond is between us, I don't care what it is, but I don't want it to end. I'm grateful for it. It led me to you. So... you need to come to terms with that. Come to terms with the fact that you and I are now together. Come to terms with the fact that I'm going to care about you. No more making decisions on your own."

She nods slightly, but her eyes drift away from him.

She's not ready yet, and that sucks, but they have a little more time.

"When you're ready, you know to find me. I'm desperate for you. I miss you. I miss having you in my life. I want to be with you. I want a future with you. And, I know that's scary, but-"

"I want it too," she answers in a breath. "But the thought of hurting you-"

He points to his mouth, where the leaf still resides. Soon, she won't be able to hurt him.

"Keep your distance, then," he tells her softly. "As soon as I'm an animagi, and you can no longer hurt me... we can talk about this again. But know that I'm not afraid."

She swallows and nods, and he leans forward, pressing his lips against her forehead. Her eyes are closed as he pulls away, and he wants to wrap her up in his arms...

He wants to run away with her for an eternity.

"Will you be there, Tuesday night?" she asks him, her voice cracking slightly.

He nods and takes another step back, away from her. If he stays much longer... he can't trust himself with her.

"I'll see you there," he confirms. "Try and get some rest. I'll see you soon."

It hurts, to walk away. 

It hurts to leave her behind.

But he has to.

He has to be patient.

But they're running out of time.

And they both know it.

Chapter Text

15 February 1999 - One Day Before the New Moon

As Draco approaches the stairwell that leads up to the Astronomy Tower, he tries to remind himself to just be happy that she's talking to him again. She apologized, accepted the flowers... things are better. They're on the way up.

Upon reflection, he can fully understand why she pulled away, and why she's scared. Bloody hell, if he was a werewolf, he would probably have already run off into the woods and... well, he isn't the werewolf, and the fact that she's still here, still fighting, still speaking to him, it speaks to how strong she is. He knows she's terrified - he's scared as well, but.

But now that they're talking again, perhaps... perhaps, with time, they can reach what they were before, or something similar to it. Perhaps, with time, she might let him hold her hand again, might kiss him, might even let herself be with him. Perhaps, with time, she'll even let him love her again.

But not tonight. He knows that tonight, she'll want distance. She had been scared, when last they spoke, and had been unsure of what would happen between them, what future they had. He knows, as he begins the walk up the curving staircase, that there's a good chance the door will be shut again, and that he'll have to talk through it.

The fact that she had asked him to come, asked if he would be there... that's the best sign he could ever imagine. 

Her, opening the door to let him in? That would be... It would be...

The door is wide open when he reaches the top step, and he freezes. Every step, he had told himself it would be shut, so to see it open...

He steps inside, not sure what to expect. Perhaps he's there before her, or perhaps she's already asleep? He takes his time in turning, in taking in the room, until he sees her standing at one of the large open windows, one of the same that they have stared out together.  She looks lonely as she stares out into the night sky, where the moon should be.

"Can you still see a sliver of it?" he asks, knowing she can hear him, but wanting to make his presence known all the same. "The new moon is early morning, right?"

"Mmm," she agrees from her place at the window, still staring out into the night. He doesn't know if that's confirmation or denial, but she answered him, so he'll take it. "There's actually a solar eclipse tomorrow. We won't see it, but that knowledge, something about it warms me, to know how close we are."

He doesn't understand it or the relevance. Is the moon really suddenly closer just because it's passing in front of the sun, or is that something just mental for her? He won't argue.

"I'm the surprised the door was open," Draco offers, wanting to say something more, but unsure as to what.

He wants to say something, anything, just to hear her voice again.

"I invited you, didn't I?" she asks, her voice soft as she turns to look at him.

She's practically glowing, which he knows is just imagination, but he can see it. She should look tired, exhausted, drained. They've barely touched in weeks, he knows she must be cold, and her strength is at its lowest on the New Moon. It's late, almost midnight, and she looks freezing every time the wind blows. She's fading, as she often does, and yet...

She glows. She brightens as he closes the door. She smiles as he takes a few steps towards her. She blushes slightly as he drops his bag on the floor. She reaches for him as he moves to be only a few paces away. And when he reaches her, fully, when he stands in front of her...

He doesn't want to move, doesn't want to make a mistake. He wants to take her, to hug her, to wrap her tight in his arms. Every second since Christmas he has been worried, terrified, that he's pushed her too far and that she'll make a move that he can't stop, that he can't change. Weeks of wondering, of questioning, of worry... and now, she is looking at him with a gaze he can immediately place, yet questions.

Hope. She's looking at him with hope.

"Hermione," he begins, voice tentative, as though afraid if he asks too loud, she might run away. "Can I... may I-"

"Please," she interrupts, her eyes starting to well with tears. "Please, touch me, hold me, even hit me if you have to, but please just-"

He stops her words with his embrace, his arms wrapping tight around her as he pulls her into his chest. Her words are muffled in his skin, and his fingers tangle in her hair, trying to soothe and comfort her as he holds her close. With her in his arms, he can feel how cold she is, how she shakes and trembles. How long has she been alone, how long has she been without her pack, how long has she not had her soulmate?

Too long.

"I would never hit you," he vows against the crown of her head, trying to keep from kissing her despite how much he longs to. "Bloody hell, I've missed you, witch."

He can feel her tears against his chest, and he sways slightly, trying to soothe her. He knows she's crying, but soon, as the last edges of the moon disappears, she'll fall asleep in his embrace.

He needs to speak before that happens.

"Hermione, please stop fighting this," he begs against her hair. "Stop pushing me away. I know you're doing it to protect me, but you have me bloody terrified. This distance, it hurts me as well. I know you're scared, and I know-"

She pulls away from him enough to look up at him, and he looks down just in time to see her press her lips together, nodding.

She's here, she's his, and she's... he thinks, just maybe, they might be okay.

It feels like a dream, and it might be, but he needs this. Needs this edge of hope. Needs her.

They cling to one another as they stand there, and he doesn't know how long it is, but the temperature somehow drops even more, and he begins to grow even more tired. Conjuring up an armchair, he enlarges it, then bends down to scoop her up into his arms. She lets out a gasp, telling him she's still awake, but he doesn't ask permission as he sits in the chair, and settles her over his lap.

Her head quickly falls to his shoulder, and he doesn't know if it's exhaustion or just a need to be held by him, but he won't argue it. She's where she belongs, where he can keep her safe, and he won't move her unless he has no other choice.

They sit there in silence as he casts a warming charm on them both and summons his bag to him. The blanket within is spread over them as well, and together, they sleep in the chair, or at least rest as near to sleep as they can be without actually closing their eyes. He can hear her breathes, can feel her heart, and knows she isn't asleep... but she's there, she's letting him hold her, and it's enough.

He doesn't know what time it is when she finally stirs, and he prepares himself for her to pull away, for her to put distance between them, to something. She's warmer now, so much warmer, nearly hot to the touch. 

Her fingertips brush his jaw, drawing his attention down to her, and it feels like fire as her gaze brushes over him. He's lost, lost in her eyes, lost as he holds her, and they simply take each other in.

"Thank you," she whispers, and he prepares himself, readies himself. She's going to pull away, going to take it back, going to- something .

When nothing comes, he falters, the fear coursing through him. That can't be it - there has to be something more. Things can't just suddenly go back to how they were - the things she's said and done in this time, the way she pulled away, the fact that they both know their souls are bound to each other...

"I want to take a step back," she whispers. "I know nothing about you. I want to know you. I want to know more than... than whatever this bond is telling us."

He opens his mouth to speak, to respond. He wants to tell her that they do know one another, that they know so many things about her, but when he searches for something, something that has meaning...

He knows the scent of her hair. He knows how her lips press together when she's thinking. He knows that she's scared of the future. He knows how she takes her tea. He knows...

He knows things, but they have no depth. He doesn't know her wildest desires. He doesn't know her mind. He doesn't know all of the intricacies of the war. He doesn't know anything beyond what is on the surface.

Anyone could tell that Hermione Granger was a brilliant know-it-all that had suffered greatly and was now afraid of something. 

He didn't know her mind, and that... that's a tragedy. It is, after all, the most amazing thing about her.

"I want to know you," he confesses. "I want to know everything about you. I want to know your every thought. I want o know your hopes and dreams. I want-"

"I want it too," she answers in hushed tones. "I want it more than anything. I want to be something, I want this to mean something. I don't want to be together because we're trapped. I don't want you to feel like you don't have a choice. I want you to learn me, to know me, and then decide-"

He moves in to kiss her, to silence her. He can take it no longer. He needs to taste her again, needs to feel her in his soul and needs to swallow her very essence, but she stops him. His lips brush her cheek as she turns her head, and she shifts away from him slightly, not much, but enough that he can no longer kiss her.

"It can't just be physical," she murmurs, and he wants to groan, but forces himself to be silence. 

Can't be physical? She's a werewolf with needs, he's a teenaged male with needs, and the two of them are both suffering dreams of being with one another sexually. He's literally holding her in his arms, in his lap, and she warms to his touch. Can't be physical? That's... impossible.

"Couldn't you have said that after I kissed sense into you?" he complains, but... he won't force it.

Deep down, he sort of semi might be able to admit she's right. After all, the second he has his hands on her... he's desperate to drown in her again. To sink into her.

It can't be just physical. Still... they can learn each other... sexually.

"I want to feel normal," she asks as she looks up at him. "Like... like this is something we're doing because we like each other. Like, we're learning each other because we want to. Not because we're bound."

It takes him a moment to understand, and then he feels terrible. This is more self doubt, more worry. She worries he isn't choosing her, that he's forced to be there.

Bloody hell, if he didn't want to be there with her... by now, he would have run all the way to Italy and holed up in some villa in hiding. 

"We do like each other," he points out instead. "And I do want to learn more about you. I just also want to kiss you."

She looks ready to argue, but he stops her, pressing his lips to her forehead.

It's the New Moon. He won't argue with her. 

"Start meeting up with me again," he asks her. He almost wants to mention the idea of dates. Dating. Date... things.

She wants normal, wants to feel like their relationship is special, wants to feel like this is them getting to know one another... well, if she were anyone else, he would take her on dates. Their options are limited, of course, but spending time together, getting to know one another... that's how dating works.

He doesn't call it that, though. Dating... the word, it feels so primitive, compared to how he feels about her. She's somehow the center of his world, the brightest star in the night sky, and she leads him home. She's leading him to his new future. Calling it dating... 

He would marry her this very night if she agreed.

And not because he loves her that much. He knows himself, understands himself enough, that he knows that, while he loves her, his love is still growing, still discovering. He knows the potential. He knows how she will make him feel, many years in the future.

He wants to be the man worthy of her. Wants to have that happiness that only she can give him. He wants it, covets it. He won't change his mind on this. Bond or no bond... his future is tied with hers.

She looks uncertain, almost as though spending time with him is somehow what she doesn't want, but-

"You want us to get to know more about each other. That means spending time with one another. We can meet here, or in the library, or breakfast. Institute a rule - no talking about... well, our bond, and what you are. We just get to know each other as a witch and a wizard. Just-"

"Do you mean dating?" she hints, and she looks... nervous.

"Hermione..."

His name trails off his lips, and her face falls. He has to think fast, but it's the middle of the night.

Not dating... Dating is meaningless. This is-

"I mean courtship," he murmurs. "I mean... I mean the old ways. I mean us learning one another. Using our magic. Seeing if we're compatible."

"But we are compatible," she points out, but he shakes his head.

Does she want to get to know him in every way beyond the bond, or not?

"Dating is what you do when you want something casual," he points out, thinking about the way other houses casually flit around. Not in Slytherin. Not with the old ways. No, they- "Courtship is what you do when you want to be with someone, and you want to see if  the two of you fit. Yes, we already know that we fit... but that doesn't mean I don't want to know why."

He nearly holds his breath, watching her face, uncertain as to whether or not he's said the right then. But then, she settles back onto his chest, and he lets out a slow sigh of relief.

"I think that works, then," she agrees. "Courtship... but-"

"We can talk about it more in the morning," he points out, his lips pressing to her forehead. "You've been thinking far too much for the New Moon."

She seems ready to argue with him, her body tensing... and then she relaxes. Sort of.

"Sorry," she murmurs. "Too much pent-up energy."

Ah. Ah.

... AH.

That... that's-

"We're not having sex," she adds on, and that sort of helps to clear the short-circuiting in his brain... but not completely.

"... When do you think-"

"Not for a long time," she quickly says. "Perhaps... perhaps after the Full Moon. Once I know I can't hurt you."

That sobers him up, and his hormones settle. Right... Probably a-

"Is it still in your mouth?" she asks, questioning the leaf underneath his tongue.

He knows she knows, because she's a werewolf, and she could probably smell it or hear it, but...

"Of course. I'm going to do it," he tells her, wanting her to believe in him. "I won't let you go through the Full Moon alone again."

She doesn't say anything, just shifts in his arms, and he nearly thinks she's asleep. Who knows, perhaps she is.

But he isn't, so he hears her. Hears her words.

"It's nice to be with someone... someone who loves me..."

He doesn't answer. He just holds her tighter. And he thinks.

Chapter Text

22 February 1999 - 8 Days Before the Full Moon

Everything with Hermione is suddenly like new. 

Nothing in the past has ever been like this. There's no anger, no loathing. There's also no side stepping awkwardly, no random gestures. He knows her secrets, just as she knows his. They know each other's deepest fears and deepest desires. They know what makes the other tick, know what their motivation is.

Which leaves them to learn everything else. The stuff that is inconsequential. The things that don't really matter, but somehow build up to everything else.

To others, this is the foundation, but for Draco, learning things about Hermione in a way that isn't filled with games and isn't filled with stress...

He knows what she tastes like on his tongue. Now he gets to know why.

Every day is different. One day, they sit in the library together and work on an essay while chatting about theories. Another, they take a walk out into the forest, but rather than talking about the upcoming Full Moon, they discuss his childhood growing up in a Manor with a large estate. Over breakfast, she shares with him stories of her parents, and her childhood before Hogwarts.

Each day, he learns something new about her. Each day is a new experience. Each day is...

Each day is filled with a love that is starting to bloom. While he still burns for her, aches for her, desperately wants to be inside of her again... this is different. It feels more mature. Deeper. Before, they had been two people desperate for love, desperate for the other to feel the same way for them. Now... now that he knows she cares, now that she knows he loves her...

He wants to kiss her, but he can wait. She's worth the wait.

He doesn't know how long it's going to take until they reach that point again. Arguably, before, they hadn't been ready to take that step forward, but after months of pent up energy, it had made sense at the time. He doesn't regret it now - he could never regret being between her thighs - but...

He likes this. Likes how gentle this is. How natural it is.

The next time he's inside of her, he's going to be head over heels in love with her, and she's going to gasp his name, going to tell him she needs him, how she can't live without him. From there, they'll start living for the future, and not just the promise of it.

Things are going so well, in fact... well, it's not sex, but she had invited him to meet her in the astronomy tower when he had mentioned her potion. She had even gone so far as to invite him to spend the evening up there with her...

They're not going to have sex. There's no way in bloody hell they're having sex. Not on the off chance that they sleep through her taking her dosage again... But, if he's lucky, she might let him hold her. And if he's very lucky, he might even get to kiss her again.

Honestly, things are going good. Great, even.

He has a plan to stay out of Azkaban. He has a plan for his future. He has a soulmate he absolutely adores. He has friends again, tentatively, in Blaise and Theo. He has a future. He has a reason to be happy. He has-

The first hit comes out of nowhere. Not only is he not expecting it, he's utterly unprepared. One hit becomes another and another and then-

He has his wand in hand and throws up a shield, but then someone comes from behind, physically yanking it out of his grasp. He gasps and whirls around to see a figure in a dark cloak, a black mask over their face. It's an illusion, some sort of transfiguration, but it doesn't matter. He's a smart boy. He can figure out what this is.

The next hit that lands is one that comes from a fist. Then there's another, and another, and he-

He thinks about swinging. He thinks about going down fighting. He even thinks about wandless magic.

Instead, as he hits the ground, Draco crumbles around himself, protecting his stomach, and the bag filled with vials of wolfsbane potion. He can take a hit, take a lot of hits even, but he can't lose these potions. Not again. He has to keep them safe.

The hits become kicks, and he moves one hand to protect the back of his head. He wants to fight back, to do something, to do anything-

If he lays one hand on whoever is currently attacking him, he'll end up in Azkaban. He'll never see Hermione again. He'll never get to tell her, properly, that he loves her. He'll never get to spend every morning waking up with her in his arms.

He can take the beating. What he can't take is losing her.

Draco doesn't know how long he lays there, but eventually, the kicks stop, and the group around him is silent. He doesn't know why they would stop - no one has said anything yet, so he can't even guess what the exact reason is he's taking a beating - but he knows they're still there. Deep down, he just knows.

Still, he cracks open an eye and sees a shoe in front of him. It moves closer towards him, a black shoe, basic, something from Diagon, so-

The shoe stops in front of him, and then he feels a hand reaching into his embrace. It takes him a moment to realize - the bag. 

No. No . His own life, his own safety, he'll risk that. Azkaban is hell. He can take a beating. But this? Risking Hermione's safety?

"No," he gasped, suddenly kicking out. "No, you can't-"

A well placed kick to his back has him spasming, rolling on the floor, and the bag comes out of his hands. He tries again to reach for it, to grab it, and he opens one swollen eye just in time to see them open the bag and look at the vials.

He can't keep his eye open, but he hears the sound of glass hitting the floor, and then a crunch.

No. No .

He can't... he'll have to tell Hermione...

"You don't know what you just did," Draco gasps, trying to catch his breath. "How could you... fuck, she doesn't deserve this."

The masked group, whomever they are, place another few kicks, and Draco rolls onto his other side, gasping for air. He hurts all over, from his head to his heart to his feet, and he can't move. They all leave, or at least, are no longer nearby, and he...

He lays there for what feels like a long time. Lays there for so long, he knows hours must have passed. He can't feel his fingers or his toes, but that doesn't matter. The potion is gone, and Hermione... the leaf is still in his mouth, a sign that she'll have to go through another Full Moon alone. He can't do anything. 

He failed her. He actually bloody failed her.

His eyes start to close again, and he hopes that no one finds him. He should just lay there, in his shame. He can't face her. Can't tell her the truth. 

He just... he should...

"Malfoy!"

It's not Theo's voice, nor is it Blaise's. Either of them would be preferable at this moment. They would know what to do... not about the vials, but about fixing him up. They would know how to keep this a secret from McGonagall. They would probably even figure out who had done this.

It's not even Granger. Granger, who he has failed. Granger, who will probably beat him up for this.

No. It's Longbottom. Bloody Longbottom to save the day.

Draco groans, trying to make some other noise, to point out the vials. There's... he knows... 

Longbottom has to find Hermione. Has to tell her that he tried. Has to tell her that he failed.

"Bloody hell, what happened to you," Longbottom says, lifting him up slightly. 

"Herm-"

"Shit, shit," Longbottom continues, setting him back down. "I gotta- okay, we need- No, don't try to talk."

Draco tries again, tries to say Hermione's name. She's waiting for him, in the Astronomy Tower, and he's... She's going to think he isn't coming. She's going to think the worst. She'll panic, be afraid, and then... 

"Wells, Baker, go get Madam Pomphrey. Run. Matthews, take Davis and go to the Slytherin common room. Go get Zabini and Nott. Christ, someone find Hermione Granger."

"What?" a squeaky voice asks, not one that Draco could place.

"FIND HERMIONE GRANGER!" Neville bellows.

He feels a hand on his face, slapping him, as though trying to keep him awake, but it's impossible. His head hurts, his body hurts, his everything hurts, and then it doesn't. He knows that a physical beating is nothing compared to the Cruciatus, but it vaguely reminds him of that, of the nothingness that comes right after. It's agonizing pain, and then nothing...

He knows this pain, and he knows what it means.

Hermione... he hopes a kid finds Hermione.

He loves her. He should have told her more. Should have told her that every day. She should know, deserves to know. 

Fuck, what is she going to do without the potion?

What is she going to do without him?

"-just found him like this. The firsties-"

"Mister Malfoy?"

"-going to be alright?"

"-but the Headmistress will want to know-"

"Draco, what-"

"WHO DID THIS!"

"Mr Zabini, please-"

"Has anyone found-"

"Where's Granger?"

"Who would-"

The voices all fade, and he feels as though he's floating. Floating somewhere high and warm and safe and...

And then everything goes black.

 

***

 

When Draco opens his eyes again, he's in a bed in the infirmary, alone. The candles are dim and he can tell it's still night outside... or night once again. He has no idea how long he has slept, but he has certainly slept. 

Nothing aches, which should be a concern, but he can taste a number of foul things on his tongue, beyond a Calming Draught. If someone gave him a Calming Draught, that means that at some point, he wasn't calm. He can't remember much after Longbottom found him in the corridor, but he imagines that must be a good thing.

He almost panics for a moment. His mouth, things, things in his mouth, down his throat, he-

He touches it with his tongue, still tucked inside his cheek. Bloody hell, that had been a scare - the leaf is still there. He's... he's still on the path to becoming an Animagus.

He can only deal with one disaster at a time.

He must have been given at least a pain potion, and perhaps a healing potion as well. He feels exhausted but his heart is racing, and he feels his stomach flip. It's an odd combination - to know his body is in healing mode, and yet, to feel as though he could chase after something and crush something.

Something squeezes his hand, and he turns his head towards it, expecting to see Theo or Madam Pomphrey or even... even his mother.

It's none of those. No one that he wants to see. Well, no, he wants to see her.

He just doesn't want to tell her.

"Who did this to you?" Hermione asks, her voice low and careful.

"I don't know," Draco tries to say, but it comes out a garbled mess, his throat dry and scratchy.

She holds a goblet of water to his lips, and Draco sips it slowly, his throat loosening as he does so.

He failed her, again, and now he has to tell her.

"They broke the potions," Draco whispers out, squeezing her hand as he says it. "I'm so sorry, Hermione. I tried to keep them safe. I tried-"

"Do you think I care about potions right now?" she shrieks, her voice rising in pitch as she stands. "Do you think I bloody care about a potion? Draco, I-"

She cuts herself off, her eyes wide, and she seems to remember where she is, or something like that. She takes in a deep breath, and he watches as she cools herself, calms herself.

Perhaps she is the one that should take the Calming Draught.

"I care about the potion," Draco says as she turns to look at him again. "I tried. I tried to-"

"You nearly died," Hermione gasped, her voice cracking on the final word. "If Neville hadn't found you when he did... Draco, you nearly died."

She's crying, he realizes. Crying and crumbling into the chair beside his bed. 

He wonders how long she's been there. How long he's been here.

"Can't have been..."

He tries to remember. Tries to remember the entire attack. Tries to remember everything that hurt. Everything that had been injured.

The longer he lays there, the more he tries to think...

Fuck. Had he actually been dying?

"Come here," he asks, but it sounds more like begging.

She looks down at him for a moment, and he can see, can see her wavering. She looks ready to fall apart, on the verge of saying no...

And then, she's climbing up onto the bed beside him, crying into his chest as he wraps his arms around her. It hurts to do that, in a way that tells him his whole body is stiff and aches, but it's not sharp and stabbing, so he can suffer. The warmth of her body against his feels better than any pain the movement causes.

"How long have I been here?" he asks, trying to place a date and time.

"Two days," she answers in a gasp. "For two days, you just laid here, and I-"

"Fuck."

It's all he can think to say. Two days... two days of laying here...

"McGonagall is on the warpath, determined to figure out who did it, not that everyone else knows. She's listening out. Trying to find out who."

"Theo probably already knows," Draco answers. He can't put together a proper explanation as to why, just... Theo always knows.

"Okay."

She pushes herself up off of him, and he grumbles, confused. Why is she? Where-

"I'll be back when it's done," she says, pushing herself up off of him. 

But-

"Hermione," he gasps, trying to stop her. "No, you can't-"

"I'll be back when it's done," she says again, and he watches as the girl that had just cried into his chest hardens, her face like stone. "I'll be back before you can even tell anyone."

He believes her. Believes that.

Fuck... she can't-

She bends down and presses a kiss to his forehead, and he tries to grab her hand, a failed attempt to stop her, one more time...

She pulls away, and he's left there, left to lay there, to watch her walk away.

He hopes she comes back.

He hopes she doesn't find them.

He hopes... he hopes that she means it, when she says she doesn't care.

He hopes this isn't on last hurrah, before the next Full Moon, and a night spent in agony.

Chapter Text

26 February 1999 - 4 Days Before the Full Moon

She doesn't come back. At least, not when she said she would.

Draco lays there for what feels like hours, until the sun comes up, and then... then Madam Pomphrey comes with potions. The Headmistress comes and asks questions. Neville Longbottom comes by and awkwardly explains that he and a group of First Years had found him. 

No one mentions the lack of Hermione... although they all do take a glance at the empty seat beside his bed.

It's not until Theo comes to visit, some time after lunch, that he finds out what happened... or, at least, he finds out enough to put together a guess at what has happened.

"I figured she would go to McGonagall," Theo continues, rubbing the back of his head. "Instead, she got this look in her eye, and-"

"You thought the girl that impersonated Bellatrix Lestrange to break into Gringotts would simply tell a teacher ?" Draco hisses, barely able to control his anger. "You thought that the girl who held Rita Skeeter in a jar would-"

"Wait, she what?"

"What?"

Draco blinks, trying to remember what, exactly, everyone else knows. It's interesting, knowing so many deeper things about Hermione Granger, knowing things about her from the war, knowing things about her from her earlier years. It's hard to remember the things he knows based on his family, the things he knows based on the newspapers, and the things he knows because Hermione told him.

No, it was his Aunt who told him about Gringotts, but there was also a piece in the Daily Prophet about the Goblins forgiving the trio for committing atrocious crimes in the game of the betterment of Wizarding Society. As for Rita Skeeter... no, that was entirely Hermione telling him a few nights earlier.

What would Theo know? What would Theo alone know... Well, other than everything.

Wait, no, Theo always knew everything. 

In fact-

"Don't tell me you don't know all of her secrets," Draco growls as he sits up higher in the bed. He still isn't allowed to exert too much energy, but he needs to show an air of superiority. Theo might be head of his own estate with his father dead, and he might have control of his own vaults, and he might be free from the Ministry's watchful eye, but-

That didn't change the fact that Draco is a Malfoy, and while it might not mean something anymore, it meant something for many years.

He's in charge. He won't-

"Are you asking me if I know that Granger can have a vindictive streak? Yes, I know enough to know not to trifle with her. Worst case, I figured she would tell you. I did not think she would act on her own. It was always the other two that acted irrationally. She thought it through."

"Oh, she thought this through," Draco grumbles, knowing there's not much else he can do.

"Yeah, well, they were all in class today," Theo says with a shrug. "Not that she was."

That doesn't give him any comfort. That doesn't give him any comfort at all.

A group of Ravenclaws and Gryffindors, all thinking they were doing what was right. It pleased him, to hear that a Hufflepuff hadn't been involved - they were boring, those badgers, but he would have to start thinking better of them. He could understand the Gryffindors, given how Potter had been one of theirs, but the Ravenclaws...

"It was all Boot's idea, then?" Draco clarifies. That's... he almost feels bad for the arsehole.

Hermione is going to rip him to shreds.

"He was the loudest one about it, not that many were loud. All I know is, they were the most pissed you were allowed back. Doesn't matter to them that you're on the Ministry's watch list, and in fact-"

"They probably knew I wouldn't fight back," Draco says, interrupting him. "Not the point. So, you haven't seen her since?"

"Haven't seen her since," Theo confirms.

Good. That's... that's good.

That's not good. That's very not good.

If Hermione knows exactly who attacked him, and she hasn't been seen since, while they're freely roaming the halls, thinking they got away with it...

She's planning something, planning something much worse for them. It means that whatever she's planning to do... he needs to stop her. 

He had expected her to go and lash out, ripping them from their beds. Or, perhaps she might have gone to McGonagall. But this, the waiting... that's not the werewolf. That's the witch. That's the resourceful and viciousness and patience coming out. She's going to lay a trap, and destroy them.

And once they're caught...

He fears what will happen when the werewolf is let out, because while it's not the full moon, they are fast approaching it, and she's without wolfsbane potion.

"We have to stop her," Draco says, turning to try and climb out of the bed. "Get me a pepper up potion."

Theo takes a step back, and Draco looks up to see concern on his face.

"What?"

"You bloody heard me," Draco says, his back cracking as he straightens up. "Pepper up. I'm going to need it."

"You nearly bloody died," Theo gasps, still staring at him.

That's not a good enough reason to stop him.

"Not the first time."

 


 

"But, why would she be up there?" Theo asks, only a step behind him.

"It's our place," Draco explains, not looking back over his shoulder to his friend.

Friend, because... because only a friend helps you put your trousers on while you wait for the pepper up to kick in.

A bloody good friend. A bloody great friend.

"Your place, as a couple, is the same place where you dueled the Headmaster you betrayed?" Theo asks, sounding confused.

He can't explain it, but yeah, if Theo walks away from this thinking Draco is insane... he will understand.

"It's where we can be honest with each other," Draco explains, reaching the first step. "It's where we go to just be. No one bothers us up there. We can set charms to alert us that someone is coming up. Up there, we're free from everything else. It's just our place."

Theo doesn't answer, just steps up behind him and grabs him by the upper arm, helping him move up higher. "Yeah, you're going to have to tell me later about how the two of you got to this place, but alright."

Two favors. He now owes Theo two favors. Maybe three. 

If he keeps this up...

"Almost there," Theo says, and Draco sees the door is closed. Alright then. He can do that.

"You're going to want to leave," Draco says, his hand reaching out and grabbing the handle. He can feel the magic, can feel the runes and the warding spell, but it's going to let him through. He just knows it.

"What? No, I came all this way, and I want to know what-"

"She was probably going to torture them," Draco says, looking over his shoulder to Theo. There's a grin on his friend's face, a sign that he doesn't think Draco is serious, but he is. Draco's tone drops lower, trying to express just how honest he's being. "Painfully. She is not one easily to forgive, and after losing Weasley..."

He doesn't like comparing himself to Weasley, but it's the closest he can do. Weasley was her friend, or something like that, but someone close to her, someone that she cared for, and... and it's not as though he can tell Theo that he's her soulmate. He can't exactly put it out there in explicit detail, just how important he is to her. All he can do is just... hint around.

"Alright, alright," Theo says with a shake of his head. "I'm telling Blaise about all of this."

He would rather Theo didn't - where Theo is the one that gathers the gossip, Blaise is the one that spreads it. If Theo tells him...

No, actually. No.

Blaise knew, back after Christmas, that Draco had been messing around with Hermione. Not in great detail, of course, but he knew enough... and the rest of the school seemed to have no idea.

Which meant that Blaise hadn't told anyone, and... while he appreciates that... maybe it's time the school finds out.

"Give it a few hours. Let me calm Hermione down, so that we can go to- Actually, you go to McGonagall. You tell her about who attacked me."

"Right, so they get punished?"

"So that McGonagall can get them out of the school before Hermione gets her hands on them."

Theo stares at him for a minute, tossing his words around, surely.

He doesn't want to tell Theo what Hermione is - once more people find out, it's no longer a secret, and besides, it's not his secret to share. He can't tell Theo. He can't... not without a vow. Not without an oath. 

"You really think she would-"

"Yes," Draco answers, cutting him off. "Now go. We're lucky she hasn't already gone after them."

Theo gives a nod of his head before turning and heading back down the stairs. Draco watches him for a moment, then turns back to the door.

Right. He can still feel the wards placed there. He needs to... he should-

The door opens, revealing Hermione. She looks frantic, her hair big and wild, and he can tell she has been pacing, upset. Her eyes are wide, and she looks him up and down, and then-

Her arms wrap around him so tight, he thinks it must be a crushing hug. He wraps his arms around her as well, hugging her back, even though it hurts a little.

"I'm going to kill them," she gasps, clinging to him. Her grip is frantic, her fingers pressing into his back, and he realizes... the wards weren't to keep people out, and her arms around his body isn't a hug.

She's pacing and disoriented, heart racing and in a panic, because-

"Theo is getting them out," Draco says quickly, stepping inside with her in his arms and kicking the door shut. He'll charm it locked in a minute.

"He told me their names, and I nearly lost it," she gasps, and he knows, can feel, how upset she is, shaking in his arms. "I saw everything go black, and then I was standing in the boy's dormitory, and I-"

She unwraps a hand from around his back, and he looks down to see what it is she's showing him. Claws. There's claws on her hand.

She's losing control.

"Shit," he murmurs, and shakes his head as he runs his hand into her hair. "Okay, and so you-"

"I ran here," she sobs into his skin. "I was so scared. I... before I knew their names, I planned to just grab them and beat them as they did to you. I figured... let them know what it felt like. And then, as he was telling me, I thought... what if I brand them, like you were branded, and then I cursed them, let them feel-"

"Granger," he admonishes, not meaning to use her last name, but... that would have been... that is...

"I know," she sobs harder, her body shaking. "But then I was standing there with my claws, and I-"

"You did the right thing, then," he reassures her, and he pulls back to tilt her face up to look at him, their eyes locking. "You locked yourself in here. You knew I would come for you. You knew-"

"When you didn't come for me that night, I thought... I thought a terrible thing," she gasps, and her tears stream down her face as she looks at him. "I thought that you had left me. That you weren't coming at all. I thought the worst of you. I thought-"

"I will never leave you," he insists, his fingers gripping her chin, forcing her eyes to meet his. "No matter what happens, I will always come for you. I will risk my life for you. I will fight for you. I would go to Azkaban for you. I will-"

"I know that," she gasps, the tears still running down her eyes. "But you didn't come, and I thought... I thought, he had better be dead, to not bring the potion... so I started to track you down. I thought... I thought maybe there was a problem with the potion, and then... and then a first year found me, told me what happened, and I-"

He doesn't want to hear this part, doesn't want to know all of the details. He still doesn't have a clear picture beyond the fact that Neville Longbottom and a group of first years found him, and they found others, who found Madam Pomphrey. He doesn't want to know this part.

He doesn't want to know about what she thought, when she found out about the vials.

"They told me you had been attacked, that you were dead. Draco, they told me you were dead! I thought you were dead!"

She's shrieking now, screaming, gasping for air, pounding his chest with every other word. He can see, now, how she's been bottling this up. He can't imagine her sitting there beside him, he can't imagine-

Are you asking me if losing you would be like losing a piece of my soul?

It feels so long ago, that they had that conversation, but it's only been two months. Two months since it was spelled out for them that the bond between them is like no other. Two months since it became abundantly clear to them that their lives were intertwined, whether they wanted to admit it or not.

He feels as though he has aged a thousand years.

"I'm not dead," he reminds her, but his words and tone are not kind. "I told you I would never leave you. I'm right here, Hermione. I'm right here, holding you. I'm-"

"I KNOW THAT NOW!" she gasps, and her hand slams into his chest, the force of it so hard, it nearly knocks him down. He takes a few staggering steps backwards, his hand going to his heart-

It hurt. That actually bloody well hurt.

"Oh, God," Hermione gasped, her hands going over her mouth.

He just needs a moment to catch himself, but he can see the fear in her eyes. No more. He's done with it. He's done with her shutting herself away, pulling away from him, creating a divide that he cannot cross.

"Stop that-" he says, pointing his free hand towards her. "No. Don't you dare-"

His wand is in his hand, and he spells the door locked and throws up a basic ward. She won't run from this, won't run from him. She's overwhelmed with hormones from the coming Full Moon, the fear is clear in her eyes, and she's still crying from remembering the night of his attack. 

Hermione Granger running through the school while out of her mind in pain? Not a good idea.

"Just... sit," he orders, and conjures an arm chair as he has done so many times before. "Sit, for the love of-"

"No, you should be sitting," she insists, stepping towards him. "I just-"

"I SAID SIT!" he snaps, still pointing at the chair.

She stares at him for a moment, eyes wide, then quickly moves to sit in the chair. Her hands go to her knees, and she looks up at him, eyes still wide, lips parted, and cheeks flushed.

She obeys so perfectly, it takes him a moment to realize what has just happened.

She, good little Hermione Granger, always a people pleaser, wanting to prove herself... She had confessed, once, that she had wanted to submit to Fenrir Greyback after being bitten... and that she had wanted something she couldn't explain from Bill Weasley.

Now is not a good time for this, but he needs her to know that she will always come first, and she clearly needs to work something out.

"I told you before, and I'm telling you again." His words are hard, his tone not allowing for argument, and he points at her, with his wand. He needs her to know, to understand - this is it for him. No more waiting, no more tentatively learning one another. He wants to be with her, craves to be with her.

He has played her games, and he's done.

"I am in love with you," he tells her, still standing a few paces away. "I'm in bloody love with you. I've fought with you, chased you down, had my heart broken, risked my life - I'm in love with you, Granger. But, every time we take a step forward, you run away. I've tried being patient, and I've tried giving you space, but I'm done. I'm done waiting. I'm done-"

He cuts himself off, because he can see the tears in her eyes. No, bloody hell, no, this is not-

"I'm done waiting, Hermione. In a few week's time, I'll be an animagi, and you won't be able to hurt me anymore. We'll be together every full moon. You'll learn to trust me, and we'll have that life you've been dreaming about. You keep pushing me away, putting it off - it starts today. Our future starts today. And... and..."

He wants to tell her she doesn't have any choice in the matter, but that's wrong. She does have a choice, she has all of the choice, except, despite the fact that she made her choice weeks ago, months ago really, to be with him... she just keeps fighting it. Just keeps second guessing herself. 

He doesn't know why, and honestly, he no longer cares. She chose him, just as he has chosen her. It's time for them to be together. He's done with the separation and the heartache. They're soulmates. They can figure everything else out along the way.

"I-" she starts, but she looks lost for words.

He doesn't care. He doesn't need them.

He doesn't need to hear the words. Would he like to hear her say she loves him? Yes. It's about time.

But he doesn't need to hear it to know it's true.

He knows that she loves him every time she looks at him, every time she reaches for his hand. Every time she kisses him, every time she hugs him. She loves him, desperately, as much as he loves her. 

"And, I'm going to show you just how much I love you, but you're going to have to do some of the work, alright?"

She nods her head once and swallows, and he takes a step forward, then another, and another, and-

His wand clatters to the floor, and then he's kicking off his shoes and taking off his jacket, walking towards her, his eyes not looking away.

Chapter Text

26 February 1999 - 4 Days Before the Full Moon

Hermione's eyes never leave his as he reaches the armchair, wearing nothing but his trousers and his socks. Every step is heavy, and he's breathing hard, but he needs this, needs to do this. She needs to know that he is still alive, that his heart is still beating in his chest, and that it is still beating for her.

He loves her with every piece of himself, and until she believes it, he is going to spend the rest of his life-

She had thought he wasn't coming, that he had betrayed her, that he would choose to not come to her, to not bring her... at the very least, even if he hated her, he would still bring her the potion.

A deep down part of himself tells him that he is desperate, that he should be enraged that she doubted him, that he should be furious at her lack of faith in him, and yet...

How often has someone come for her? How often has someone saved her? How often have people betrayed her?

She has suffered a lifetime of being the only one that is strong and reliable, and in the end, it has left her carrying the heaviest burden all alone. 

She needs to know, without a doubt in her mind, that he will always be right beside her, ready to share the weight, every step of the way.

Her hands are gripping the arm rests of the chair, her eyes boring into his, and as his leg brushes her knee, she shudders, audibly, her entire body responding to the simple touch. It's not even skin on skin, but he can already feel how cold she is, followed by a burning sensation through his body.

He needs this, she needs this, and they're going to have this.

"Stand up."

She rises immediately, her body pressing to his, and he grabs her chin forcefully, his thumb brushing her bottom lip. Her eyes are already heavy, and as he bends down to kiss her, she tries to pull back, but he-

She wants this. He knows she does. Any other time, he would never force her touch, force his touch, but she's only doing this because she's worried for him. Well, he needs her. Her little attempt at doing what's best for him isn't welcome in the moment.

His lips press to hers, and she moans into his kiss, her body sagging against him. His arm wraps around her middle, tugging her closer, and he uses the last of his strength to lift her up off her feet as he turns, his back now towards the armchair. His hand moves into her hair, tugging at the roots, and he pulls her head back away from her lips.

She tries to chase his lips, to go after him - just as he thought. Just as he knew.

"Take off your clothes and sit in my lap," he tells her before releasing her hair.

He's going to sit down, slide his cock out of his trousers, and wait for her to straddle him, so he can-

Her hands shove at his shoulders, and he sits down into the seat, hard. Before he can even speak or think, she's already in his lap, her legs on either side of his, and the heat of her core radiating through their layers of clothing.

Her hands go into his hair and his hands settle on her hips, and he's... he... he's lost in her.

Her mouth presses to his, tongue dipping in, and in seconds their mouths are tangled together. He has to remind himself, over and over, to keep the leaf tucked into his cheek, but then her mouth moves to his jaw, and his neck, and his shoulder, and he has a chance to take a breath.

Together, they peel her out of her layers of clothes, her sweater tossed behind her, her skirt coming unwrapped, her shoes kicked off, bra tossed aside- In no time at all, she's left in just stockings and knickers, and he still in his trousers.

It's her hands that brush the top button, that unhooks them, that helps him slide them down, and he lifts his hips, helping her until he can kick them off. Her knickers he goes to tug aside, but she reaches down and rips them from her own body, a show of strength mixing with the claws on that hand.

In just her stockings, with her hair wild and her lips swollen and her eyes wide... this is every fantasy come true.

"Look at me," he murmurs, knowing he needs to remind her one more time. "I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere. Our souls are bound together. I'm tied to you. I choose to be here. I lo-"

She kisses him again and he swallows her moans, rocking his hips against hers as she shifts higher on his lap. He's so close to being inside of her, but even just this, just feeling her body against his, feeling the heat of her. Everywhere they touch is on fire, and every kiss, every brush of skin, it burns his soul. 

"I will never leave you," he groans into her lips. "I will never-"

She cuts him off again, keeping him from talking, and he runs his hands into her hair, tugging it back, tugging her back. He needs to say this.

"I love you, Hermione-"

"Will you stop talking and please have sex with me," she gasps, her eyes blinking as she looks at him. "I think I'm going to combust if you don't put your prick inside of me. You've said your piece - alright then. We're a couple. We're soulmates. You love me. We're together."

He blinks, not understanding. Just like that? After all of this time? After all of the fighting? He has known for some time that she feels the same way, but for her to just admit it, to accept it, to say it out loud?

"What?" she asks, blinking at him. "I... I thought you knew. What, do you need me to say it?"

Yes, he needs her to say it.

"You're my soulmate," she whispers, shaking her head. "And... it was easier for me to think that you left me than to imagine what would actually keep you from me. I need you, Draco. I need you. So please, just-"

He needs her. He needs her so desperately, he just-

Her hand and his fumble together, and he slides home into her easily, his cock rock solid as it delves into her heat. He groans as she envelopes him, and her mouth covers his as they move together. They've been apart for so long, and yes, they had sex in the corridor, but that wasn't... that-

He wants her every night, wants her every morning. He wants to wake up to dreams of fucking her, and then fuck her.

He wants-

He needs her.

Her hips rock against his as he grips into her hips, fingers digging, and he feels his heart racing, his body already aching. This is too much, too much energy from him, too much work, but he needs to be deep inside of her, needs to feel their souls intertwine. He'll take a thousand pain potions after this, but the adrenaline is coursing through him, the need demanding. He has to give into it. He has to give into her.

"I need you," she gasps into his mouth, and her hands are everywhere, touching his chest, his shoulders, his neck, his hair. Her hands are moving, touching, caressing, as though she can't get enough of him, as though if she stops touching him, he'll disappear.

He thinks on her words - it was easier to think about him betraying her, than to think about what would keep him from her-

Are you asking me if losing you would be like losing a piece of my soul?

He doesn't need to ask, and they don't need to test it. The answer is yes. The thought of losing her, of Hermione giving up her fight, it terrifies him, leaves an empty pit in his stomach. It's something he can't even swallow down.

And him not coming to her when he promised, when he has never before broken a promise to her, when she needs him most... 

There would only be two reasons as to why Draco wouldn't ever be there for her. The first... the first is betrayal, and while it would hurt... 

Draco would rather she be with someone else than to have the other option become a reality.

He can see, now, why she hates herself for thinking such things. He knows now why she thought he had left her. Of course it would be easier-

The thought of losing her, of not being with her, it-

He doesn't know if these are his thoughts or hers, but it feels like they're of one mind as she pushes her hand into his shoulder, pinning him in place. He's too tired, physically and mentally, but her body takes over, hips rolling against his. He's held down, unable to even lift his hips up to meet hers, but she takes command, riding him, rolling her hips, rocking against him.

He doesn't know if it's one of the potions or the dull ache that keeps him from finding a quick release, but he's glad of it. He had embarrassed himself before, but this time... this time, he's still hard after a few thrusts. 

Thank Merlin for that.

His fingers run into her hair, tugging her mouth back to hers, and he kisses her long and slow, trying to tell her how he feels. He just... he needs her to understand.

He's not angry she doubted him. He's not angry that she's kept them apart. He loves her. He wants to be with her. He wants a future with her. And yes, this bond between them scares him, and yes, her strength can sometimes scare him, but-

He has made so many wrong choices in his life, been bound and destined for so many evil things. Life has hurt him over and over again. He has fought and struggled and bled and nearly died, and-

It all led him to this. It all led him to this moment.

To Hermione Granger, the most beautiful woman he has ever met, the strongest witch he has ever met, the most brilliant, ambitious, demanding, loyal person he has ever met - it has all led to her in his arms, loving him. She doesn't even have to say the words. He knows that she loves him as much as he loves her.

She just needs to believe it as much as he does.

Her hands tighten on his shoulder, and he feels the prickle of her claws digging into his skin. He gasps into her mouth and turns to look at the spot. She pulls her hand away quickly, then covers her mouth with her hand. He knows, without even asking, that she's losing control entirely.

"It's okay," he promises, teeth gritting. "It's- do it."

Her hand goes back to his shoulder, and he feels the prickle again as they start to move once more, his earlier gasp halting her movements. 

So close, so bloody-

Her head falls back and he leans forward enough to suck at her throat, his teeth nipping a mark into her skin. Her body stutters and he has to move again, his hips lifting up as he tugs her down, fucking her through her peak. His teeth stay in her skin, not breaking it, but certainly leaving a mark as he sucks and licks at her flesh.

A few more thrusts, and he's joining her in his release, his body on a high as he ignores the pain. It's clear bliss, being joined with her, their mouths touching but not really kissing, just breathing in each other's essence, but he must have blacked out. He blinks, suddenly, and her head is on his shoulder, arms tucked in between them, and he's holding her tight, arms wrapped around her back.

She's quiet, breathing hard but quiet, and he presses a kiss to the top of her head as he blinks.

That was... 

"Wow."

He can't think of an answer, just kisses the top of her head again. Wow is pretty accurate to how he feels.

She's warm in his arms, and he tightens his grip. He knows she's scared, that the next full moon and the wait until the storm will be long, but... 

"I'm not going anywhere," he whispers one last time, just so she knows.

Hermione pulls away to look up at him, and when he looks into her eyes...

They're no longer filled with fear.

He kisses her again.

Chapter Text

2 March 1999 - Full Moon

All in all, Draco feels ready for the Full Moon. They're lucky, in that they know what will happen, know that the Full Moon will reach it's peak just after daybreak, but it still worries them both. A Full Moon without wolfsbane, where she'll be agitated all night, and then just as she starts to shift, day breaking... 

It means that her transformation will be slow, giving her body time to ease into it. She has pain potions, will be able to sip them throughout the night, and then as she reaches her Full Power... well, the after part will hurt, but Draco will be ready with pain potions and warm blankets.

What he's really ready for, however, is the Full Moon to reach it's peak so he can spit the damn leaf out and finish the rest of the potion. He's meditated, thought about it, spent hours dreaming of it... he's ready. He's ready to shift into his animal form. He's ready to join her on the Full Moon.

Hope, and knowledge, is what fuels them. It's what gives them strength as they sit on either side of a window.

She had charmed the bed earlier in the evening, so that it was higher up and she could sit on it, easily talking to him. His armchair, like normal, is tucked against the wall, and he has his normal blanket and bag and warming charms.

He reminds himself, over and over again, that this will be the last time he sits outside. On the next Full Moon, he'll be with her.

Finally .

After this, everything will change. After this, everything will be better.

After years of pain and agony, years of worry and wonder... 

He breathes out another sigh of relief but cuts it short as he watches Hermione take another sip of the pain potion. She has yet to actually say she's in pain, but the wincing and the way she's dosing herself... and the way her hands are starting to shake...

Normally, he would recommend they sleep, but even at this late hour, she's still wide awake.

They've already gone over her notes, already studied, already played a few games. He's read to her, they've talked about her childhood, he's talked about his...

He's running out of ways to distract her.

He has to resist the urge to cast a Tempus charm. It won't change anything, nor will it make time go faster. They simply have to wait...

Except...

The closer it gets to daybreak, the longer she stays in human form... he's starting to worry. The Full Moon would reach it's peak at around seven o'clock, while the sun will begin to rise at six forty-five. They had made a guess, based on previous experience, that she would start to shift, and then be forced back into human form once the sun rose, but...

But as she sits there, blinking at him with human eyes, he starts to worry.

"You might as well cast the charm," Hermione tells him. He blinks as his eyes lock with hers - how had she known? "It has to be nearly daybreak."

He doesn't want to. He... fine.

With a flick of his wand, the time appears at the end, and he realizes... he realizes they might actually be in trouble. 

"What time is it?" Hermione asks.

Draco has to be careful to not swallow the leaf in his mouth as his eyes flick upwards, towards the horizon. There, just barely, are the first few fragments of daybreak. It's hard to see, but he can see the soft glow of the sun rising. He can also see clouds.

"Draco?"

His eyes don't leave the horizon, but he tries to find the words. They had miscalculated, then. They had assumed that she would transform all the same, but... would she then stay within the shack all day, until the sun went down that evening, or would she return to the school with him? Which would be better?

"Draco?" she asks again.

"I think a storm is coming," he says as he looks towards her once more, and forces a smile onto his face. "I can see the clouds, and now that I think about it, I can smell the rain as well. You know what that means?"

"It means you'll need to finish your potion in a hurry," Hermione answers with a soft smile, but he can tell by her darting eyes that she's worried.

She should be. He is.

But, he's also ready. He had come prepared to make the potion as soon as the Full Moon reached it's peak, given that the sun would also be up. All of the ingredients were carefully kept within his bag, including the dew. As soon as... as soon as...

"I don't think you're going to shift tonight," he finally says, and he looks towards the horizon again. "It's weird that you've been in pain all evening, but this means you'll have a fast transformation tonight."

He hears her take in a sharp breath, but he doesn't look at her, and instead watches the horizon. So close... so close. Once the sun is up, he'll have to grab his bag and run towards a bit of shade. No sunlight can touch the dew, after all. And, the completed potion will need to stay in the dark until lightning began.

"No," she says, but he only barely darts his eyes over to look at her. Just a few more minutes. Perhaps he should go ahead and get moving now? But Hermione...

"What do you think you'll do to-"

"No!" she gasps again, and he looks, properly looks at her.

All at once, she's hitting the bed, her back arching off of it as she writhes in pain. His face and hands hit the glass at the same time as he calls out to her, and he watches as her claws rip through her fingertips, and her clothes tear off her skin. It's harsh and brutal, and he doesn't understand. 

The sun is coming up, and while the full moon is less than twenty minutes away... the sun is coming up.

The pain potion she had been sipping crunches as it hits the floor, and she soon follows, crashing off of the bed. Her entire body contorts as another wave of pain hits her, and all he can do is watch in horror. 

She shouldn't be shifting. She shouldn't be-

He looks up to see that a cloud is in front of the sun, blocking the actual disk itself. While there is a soft orange glow in the sky... it is the moon that still reigns supreme.

"Hang on, Hermione," he calls out to her, knowing there's nothing else he can do. "Hang on. There's-"

A crack of lightning sparks far off, and he realizes what this is. While it's not ideal, and she is in a lot of pain... he's about to become an animagus. And once he does...

She'll never spend a Full Moon alone again.

Forgetting the armchair, Draco grabbed his bag and took off towards the school. He has to hurry. He has to be ready. The potion, he's ready to finish it, but he also needs somewhere safe to transform. The school is not exactly a safe place, but the dungeons are. This early in the day, no one will be there.

It's a crazy idea. An absolute insane idea.

It's also the only one he can come up with.

He sees no one else in the corridor as he enters the school, and as he enters an empty classroom, he casts a Tempus charm. It's after daybreak, and after the Full Moon has reached it's peak. It's time. It's time to complete the potion. It's time to start the spell work.

It's time to finally be by Hermione's side, as he is meant to be.

The next few minutes are a blur. He knows that he made the potion and that he had fumbled out the words, his wand pointed towards his heart. He knows that the vial, ready for a lightning storm returns to his bag, and he knows that he's quick to rush back out of the castle... while he needed the dungeon to finish the potion, he can't watch and wait for lightning down there. After so much work, he doesn't want to screw up by drinking it after the storm has already passed.

But as he leaves the safety of the castle walls, cold rain hitting him, he feels the static in the air. He can sense it, really. He knows what's about to happen. He-

"Mister Malfoy!"

Draco whirls around to see the headmistress rushing towards him in a flurry, the wind and rain ripping around her. He doesn't know if he's in trouble or not, but Hermione is in trouble, and he can finally be with her, can be by her side. He-

"Is it ready, boy?" she asks him in a rush. "Have you done it?"

The crack of lightning shines through the air, and he nods.

"It's ready," he confirms, his hand still clinging to his bag with the vial safely inside. "I'm... I'm going to her now! The storm, something about it, she was shifting after the sun came up!"

"Then what are you doing talking to me?" the elder witch demanded! "Go! And do not mess this up!"

He turns and darts to head towards the Whomping Willow, hearing a congratulations called after him, but he ignores McGonagall.

Hermione is in trouble. He has to get to her.

Nothing else will stop him.

He hits the knot on the whomping willow with a spell as he rushes towards the passageway, just as Hermione had described. Once within... he doesn't have much time.

He has to do this, and he has to do this right.

Whispering the incantation one last time, he drains the potion and drops his bags. From there, he prepares himself to wait, only-

It's instant.

One moment, he's tall enough that his head is nearly brushing the top of the passageway, and the next... 

He looks down at the ground and sees two large paws in front of him, reddish-brown. There's a few spots, he thinks, and his tail whips around curiously - tail . He has a tail . What the-

He tries to spin and catch it, tries to catch a look at himself, but it's impossible. Should he have brought a mirror? What is he?

He sniffs, trying to see if he can recognize the scent, but it's impossible. All he knows is that he's large - large enough that as he lifts his paw and sets it down each time, he can feel the earth move underneath it. He's large enough that, should he need to, he could take on Hermione's wolf form.

And he has a bloody tail.

Hermione's screams suddenly fill the air, and that's enough to put him back on track. Hermione, his soulmate, is in pain at the end of the passageway. All he has to do is run to her. She won't bite him, because he won't be human, and she'll instead find comfort with him. Everything will be well. He just... he has to put his feet in front of him.

Well, his paws.

He rushes down, runs faster than he could have ever imagined, and in no time at all, he's forcing his way into the room. She's laying on the floor beside the bed, where he had left her before, and without even thinking about the risks, he goes straight to her side. He's laying down beside her, noting that they're similar in size like this laying down, and nudging her with the tip of his nose.

She snarls, her head jerking up, but she doesn't lash at him, and she doesn't try to bite. On some sort of instinct, Draco starts to purr , and Hermione blinks at him. She's half transformed, one eye dark and blown out, there's fur sprouting on her from various places, one arm is longer than it should be, and there's claws coming out from her fingertips.

She's in pain, absolute pain, and yet, as she looks at him...

Her breathing comes easier. She relaxes a little. Her other arm lengthens, and when she takes in another breath, more fur sprouts. 

His presence, his meer presence, is enough to settle her. Her settling allows her body to relax. And as she relaxes, the transformation begins again.

All it takes is his presence...

He purrs through it, purrs until his soulmate, his Hermione, is completely shifted into a werewolf. He's ready to move in an instant, and he thinks he can outrun her, but he's not sure.

He's willing to try, though. 

He waits as she lays there, panting hard...

And then, she simply rolls onto her body. Well, the wolf does. He's never seen the wolf so still. Normally, it's pacing about, frantic, scratching and biting, but instead... instead, she simply lays there beside him.

And he... he stupidly, or perhaps bravely, inches his way forward until his paws are on her torso. He continues purring and sets his head down... 

When he opens his eyes again, she's asleep, and his tail is wrapped around one furry arm.

He doesn't want to move, but he forces himself to all the same, and arches his back as he stretches. He can guess by now that he's some sort of feline, which is hilarious, and yet...

Whatever he is, as he watches her sleep, he knows it's worth it.

He paces around the room a few times, sniffing. He wishes he could shift back into his human form, but that would be stupid. He'll have to get a clock somewhere within the house, so he can see the time. 

The storm is over, however, and that's good enough for him.

Taking up his place at her side once more, Draco settles, curling himself into a ball. He'll just rest for a little bit... 

...

"Draco?"

Chapter Text

2 March 1999 - Full Moon

As Draco opens his eyes, he's aware of three things at once. The first is that his tail is wrapped around something. The second is that he has a tail. The third is that Hermione is human, and she looks nervous.

Pushing himself up, he stretches, first leaning back onto his hind legs, and then forward as he lowers his back. Shaking himself out once stretched, he takes a few steps, looking around. It's dark outside, or so he thinks - color is a bit different than he is used to. Hermione is naked, and his tail is wrapped around her leg. He tries to let go, but it doesn't budge.

"Draco?" she asks again, and he can hear a tremor in her voice. "Can you shift back?"

He blinks at her, considering it. Can he? He should be able to. After all... he is an animagus. That would mean shifting into his animal form and then back again. Except... he's not sure if he can. Something about the idea of it, of shifting back into his human form...

"You're so beautiful," Hermione whispers, and on instinct, he legs go of her leg as she leans forward. Her palm touches his furry cheek, and he purrs are her nails scratch just behind his ear, hitting the perfect spot. Oh, that is... that's amazing. That is perfect. He leans into it further, nearly falling over, and he makes a weird growling meow that he can only describe as coming from somewhere deep within his soul.

"Alright, alright," Hermione says with a laugh, and she runs her hand down his chest, around, teasing him with her touch. "Of course you would be a cat."

It happens without thought or plan. One moment, he's on the floor, paws underneath him, tail flicking in the air, and the next, he's standing up, taller than Hermione, and her hand falling down to his lower abdomen, just above his belt buckle. 

It happens so quickly, he would say that it was like magic... except, of course, it is.

"Draco-"

"I beg your pardon?" he asks, raising a brow. "Did you just say that I'm a cat?"

She looks up at him with wide eyes, startled, but he doesn't move, waiting for his answer. A cat? Really? No, he was clearly much larger than a bloody cat. And really, to insinuate such...

She starts laughing, and he simply raises his brow, waiting for an answer. 

"A lynx," she corrects, and she looks him over slowly. "A beautiful lynx. You were soft, you know."

"Soft?" he asks, raising his brow once more.

A lynx. He could work with that.

There's a chill in the air, particularly now that he's no longer covered in fur and had tossed his robe back at the entrance hours before, and he shivers a little, looking around the room. There's a large fireplace he has the urge to start a fire in, although it's lacking in wood and he's not entirely certain it would be a good idea to have smoke coming from what is supposedly an empty house. They should leave, but he also wants to explore this space that she has turned into her prison... and, he has a few questions.

"When did you shift back?" he asks, reaching out for her and brushing his knuckles over her cheek. Her eyes close instantly, and she relaxes under his touch, as though a weight is suddenly and finally lifted off of her.

"As soon as the sun went down, I think," she answers, and she shivers as his fingers brush underneath her ear, and then the back of her neck. "Draco, that was..."

"Absolutely bloody terrifying," he says for her as her voice trails off. "I thought it was going to be a long wait until sundown tonight, but instead... Hermione, I nearly broke down the window to get to you."

"But the storm came, and saved it all," she points out, and he can tell she's questioning the storm, but he happens to have an idea about that.

"I think it was the storm that brought on your rapid shift," he says with a shake of his head. "It's rare for there to be a lightning storm first thing in the morning, but it was blocking out the sun, allowing the light of the full moon to shine through."

Hermione nods slightly, because that would make sense, but it's also the only sense they have. He's just grateful that the storm itself came with lightning, and not just clouds.

And now, he can shift whenever he wants, and can be with her always.

"I think we need to add arithmancy and astronomy to our understanding of werewolf shiftings and the full moon," Hermione says, and he blinks as he looks down at her, watching her mind start to work. "We can look at the timing of the peak of the moon, and perhaps the weather patterns of the month. If we can calculate it further, perhaps we can even analyze if a pain potion will help in the future as it did tonight. From there, we can-"

He cuts her off with a kiss. He doesn't mean to. In fact, he rather likes hearing her talk, hearing how brilliant she is. She's so passionate about her studies and her research, but this feels like the first time, in all of this time, that she's able to use her brain to figure out how to solve her werewolf problem. Before this, it had been all about letting go and relaxing, but now that it's an equation for her to solve...

She's practically glowing in front of him, and he can't help himself.

His arms wrap around her middle as she sags against him, and he pulls from her lips, only for her to chase him. 

And then, she starts to try and undress him.

Draco knows better - she had only just barely survived a rough shifting, a long night and day, and she has dried blood in more than a few places. She needs to go to the Infirmary, needs to take a pain potion, needs sleep, and yet...

The last of the fabric wrapped around her torso and legs hits the ground, and he calls for his wand to cast a fire in the fireplace. Wood will have to just come from somewhere, and as warmth and light fills the room, he forgets everything else. All that matters is being with her, is touching her. She had just survived the worst night yet, but now, she's alive, and she's with him, and everything will be okay.

So long as they are together, everything will be okay.

Her clever fingers unbutton his shirt, and his trousers hit the floor as he toes off his shoes. He can't even begin to understand how he has managed to keep all of his clothing on himself through a transformation and back, and she tears them apart during her own...

Well, transfiguration, but- he's thinking too much.

Clothes, off, now.

With most of his clothing off of him, save for his socks, Draco scoops Hermione up with one hand under her arse, lifting her body against his. Her arms wrap around his neck as he climbs onto the bed, and as he settles her down onto it, he looks down, watching as her hair fans out on the pillow beneath her.

She is so beautiful, it steals his breath.

Well, no. She's actually not beautiful, in a conventional sense. Her hair is tangled slightly, there's dried blood on her cheek, and there's deep circles under her eyes. The bite marks on her skin look darker somehow, and she's dirty from the floor of the house. She looks like a bloody mess, to be honest.

But that smile, the light in her eyes, the way she looks up at him...

She's perfect, and she's his.

His mouth covers hers in a kiss as he attempts to toe off his socks, but it seems to be in vain as he awkwardly shifts from one knee to another. A giggle escapes her as he pulls his lips from hers, and he reaches down to force them off, so that they're both completely naked.

With his body hovering over hers, he looks down and stares.

Beautiful... she's just so bloody beautiful.

"What are you thinking right now?" she asks, the smile on her lips softening slightly.

He shakes his head, unable to find the right words for it. They sound cheesy in his mind, despite being true. He knows he has to say something, but how does one admit that all they can think is how lucky they are?

"You," he answers, and his lips brush her jawline as he leans down once more, his body settling over hers. "About how strong you are. How brilliant you are. How I'm the luckiest wizard in the world to call you mine."

He opens his eyes just in time to see a complete look of bliss spread over her face, and he kisses her again, longer, slower. Her hand trails down his body until her fingers are wrapping around his cock, and with a bit of shifting and a few strokes, he's ready to press inside of her. 

She had brushed off his attempts at foreplay, even going so far as to slap his hand away entirely, but as he rubs the head of his cock against her slit, he immediately knows why. He can feel how wet she is, soaking him almost immediately, and her body seems to curl around him as he slides home. 

She's made for this, or better yet he's made for this. He's made to worship her. He's made to complete her. He's made to spend his life easing her pain, seeing her through the worst of it so he can only give her light.

If this is to be his punishment for all of the wrong he has done, if his punishment is to spend the rest of his life being a slave to Hermione Granger's happiness, then he is the luckiest bastard to ever live.

Her body arches off the bed as he bottoms out, and he swallows her moans with his kiss. They breathe in nothing but one another as they move together, pushing and pulling, each thrust timed and steady. There's no rush, no impending doom, nothing looming overhead. They've survived another Full Moon, and it will be the last one that they ever spend apart, the last one that she will ever endure alone.

From here... Everything will only get better.

His hand slides underneath her hip, and then in more, towards her spine. He's holding her upright, sort of, as he thrusts again, and she gasps as his hand spans her lower back. He has a sudden urge to flip her over, to put her on her hands and knees, but he doesn't want to ruin this, doesn't want to ruin how good it feels to slowly make lover to her. He's treasuring every movement, every moan, every clench of her around him. 

And then, it dawns on him that he's going to get to do this for the rest of his life. For the rest of his life, he's going to get to enjoy her, being with her, fucking with her. He's going to get to have lazy mornings with her, waking her with his mouth. He's going to have a future with her, an eternity of days spent with her.

She is the only thing that matters, and he'll get to do this over and over and over again.

That does it. He's doing it. Because he wants to. Because he needs to. Because he can.

Pressing one last long kiss to her lips, Draco slides out of her and moves his hands to her hips. She tenses for a moment, then relaxes, likely because she trusts him. As he pulls away from her, he opens his eyes to see her blinking up at him, a bit dazed. They've never done this, never done anything like this, but he can feel it in his bones, this primal need to put her on her knees and fuck her until they can't move.

He can't describe it, so he won't even bother trying. He simply... does.

"On your knees," he orders her, and he sounds a bit gruffer than normal, he knows that, but it shocks even him how low his voice is. "Arse up."

She flips over without question or comment, gifting him the sight of her glorious arse in the air, and her soaked thighs. He runs his cock up and down her slit once more before pushing in, and she gasps underneath him, then lets out a high pitched whine. Fucking good. Normally, he swallows each of her noises without meaning to, all because he never wants to end her kiss, but like this, with her mouth so far away...

Her cries will fill the room, joining the sound of her thighs slapping against his legs as he pounds into her.

As he fills her again, he can feel a difference... and it goes beyond the feeling of her on his cock. Like this, there's something vulnerable, but also something natural. She's submitting to him in the most basic of ways, barring her neck to him while offering herself up, and he's taking, but also giving, giving as he runs his hands over her body, comforting her with each thrust. His fingers brush the old scar, the one that he knows she hates most, the one left there when Greyback had turned her.

His hand covers it, and he wishes for just a moment, that he could take it away. That he could take all of the pain away.

She had survived so much, and yet, her body now carries all of the scars. 

He loves her for them. He loves her so much. 

"I love you," he groans, and his hips stutter as he feels her flutter around him. "Love you so bloody much, Granger. Perfect like this. You're absolutely perfect like this. Never get sick of you. The rest of our lives... we're gonna spend-"

He cuts himself off as her cries fill the air, and he can feel her cumming around him. He's not even touching her clit, is doing nothing to push her over the edge. It's just him, his cock, and his words. Something about that pushes her over, and he...

He doesn't know if it's the fact that they're soulmates or the fact that she's a werewolf or the fact that he's desperate to keep going, no matter how close he is to the edge, but...

It's kind of bloody insane, knowing that his cock alone can get her off like that.

He wants to do it again.

"Arch for me, Granger," he demands, his fingers curling around her as best he can while still keeping his palm pressed against the bite mark. "Deeper, yes. Just like that."

She does as told, taking him that much deeper into her, and he groans, knowing he won't last much longer. Fuck, they really are made for one another, and it blows his mind how something can feel so good but so insane at the same time. Like, he wants to spend the rest of his life on this high, on the edge of something else, but he also knows it's too good to be true, that something like this should scare him.

This bond between them would likely draw a lesser wizard to insanity, but to Draco, it's complete and utter bliss to be lost in it, to be lost in the feeling of her, to be lost in the knowledge that the rest of his life involves Hermione Granger.

His hand, the one not covering Fenrir's mark, slaps against the lower part of her arse cheek, and she shrieks underneath him, but not a bad noise. In fact, as he rubs his hand over it, she moans, and somehow arches higher. She's begging for him like this, her fingers tangled in the blankets, and it's insane to him, that someone with so much power, someone so much more physically strong, is underneath him so willingly.

She flutters around him again, and he knows that this is the end. That, for as good as this feels, it can't last much longer.

He's going to enjoy it while it does.

He slaps the back of her thigh, one side and then the other, and the way she clenches around him nearly has him blowing his load already. She enjoys it, the masochist. Of course she does, but bloody hell...

"Cum on my cock again," he tells her, not asking for a response. "Cum all over my cock. Fuck, every bloody night, Granger, I'm going to..."

His words trail off as he realizes what it is. Granger. He never calls her that. Hasn't called her that in months, in fact. Is that it? Is that what pushes her over without him even touching her? Bloody hell, of course it does. 

He can bet calling her his good girl will make her lose it all together.

"Be a good girl for me, Granger," he teases, testing out his theory. "Be a good girl and cum-"

"Fuck, fuck, fuck," she gasps, and her whole body shifts back against his, her thighs pressing to his so he can barely even thrust, but he doesn't really need to. She's practically squirting around his length, and he joins her in the high, the delicious feeling of her body tensing around his too much for him.

Still, he hads in a few more thrusts as best he can, accompanied by his own curses, and together... The bliss is something he can't explain.

Probably because there's no blood left in his head.

Sagging forward, Draco is careful to fall onto his side, pulling Hermione down with him. She gasps as their sides hit the bed, and he slips out of her, their combined fluids dripping from his softening length. That was... that had been... 

He can't think. He definitly can't think at all.

"I love you," she whispers, and he blinks, trying to process... that .

Did she really just say that? Is this real? Is he actually hearing this right now?

"What?" is all he can manage, unable to find the words to say anything else.

"I love you," she repeats again, rolling over to face him. "I, Hermione Jean Granger, love-"

She doesn't finish the final word as he kisses her, his fingers curling into her hair as he pulls her closer. She loves him. She loves him. Yes, they're soulmates, and he's been saying how he feels for weeks, but to have it returned, to hear her say it straight out... she loves him .

She loves him, and they just had sex in the shrieking shack, and she's covered in dried blood and dirt, and he wants to complete ten tooth cleaning charms as soon as possible now that that leaf is out of his mouth, and... and the blankets in the bed are itchy.

Next month, he'll bring soft new blankets for the bed... and a rug... and more things. No idea how he'll get the coin, but he'll figure it out.

Particularly if this will be their activity after the full moon.

"I love you," he murmurs against her mouth, and he's ready to start touching her again, to start exploring her, when she pulls from his lips.

"We should likely head back up to the school," she begins, and he knows she has something more to say, likely a good reason as to why, but he doesn't want to hear it.

"In the morning," he agrees, and he rolls her back onto her back as he climbs on top of her. His cock needs a few more minutes, but her breasts are just sitting there, looking rather bouncy and pert, and he wants to rub his mouth on them... and his face... and his everything else.

Because, breasts.

He licks between them, slowly, and Hermione's giggle fills the room. He almost thinks she might stop him, as her fingers run into his hair, but rather than pushing him away, she simply scratches his scalp, much like she had done when he was a cat.

Damn did that feel good.

"In the morning," she agrees.

Her laughter quickly turns to moans, and he knows that, come morning, there's a very good chance they still might not move.

Chapter Text

3rd of March - One Day After the Full Moon

"What do the two of you have to say for yourselves?"

Draco freezes where he stands, feeling very much like a young wizard caught with candy in his pockets. He knows that it's so late that it could almost be considered morning, and he knows that it has been nearly a full day since he was last in the castle, and he knows that he's breaking all sort of levels of his probation, and yet...

Having Hermione happy, finally having a good moment, having a success... he had forgotten all about the fact that, the last time he had seen McGonagall, he had yelled at the woman that Hermione was in danger, and run off towards the Whomping Willow.

He hadn't really had two thoughts about the woman ever since, but as he stands there beside Hermione, caught sneaking back in, he realizes... she had been worried .

Swallowing hard, Draco looks to Hermione, hoping that she'll say something, because she's a Gryffindor, and that's her job, but she's just as frozen. After all, it's nearly five o'clock in the morning, and McGonagall is standing at the bottom of the steps still fully dressed, even wearing her hat.

What is there to even say?

"Headmistress," Hermione begins, but he can tell she's struggling.

"Don't tell me you've only just... have you only just shifted back?"

Draco has the sudden realization that lying to this woman would be a bad idea, but admitting to what they had been doing over the past few hours... that might be worse.

"She finally shifted back once the sun went down," Draco explains, and he squeezes Hermione's hand, trying to give her a bit of strength... and to get her to speak up some. "She was worn out. We're sorry for staying out so late, but-"

"You were in your... in your other form , during the day?" McGonagall asks quickly, her voice hushed slightly. "You spent all day like that?"

Hermione nods, and looks to him. He gives her a tight smile, and he knows, without her saying the words, just what she's thinking.

Yes, she had spent the day in her wolf form, and yes, she had been in pain, but she hadn't been alone. 

"And you, Mister Malfoy," McGonagall says, her eyes thinning. "I think we should venture up to my office, immediately."

He swallows as he looks at Hermione, who is somehow not ready to drop, for once. He has to imagine it's the fact that they spent the time together. Something about that, about them being together, is giving her a new strength. 

"Not you, Miss Granger," McGonagall says, and Draco is ready to protest, but Hermione interupts him before he can even begin.

"Draco and I are togther, Minerva," Hermione says, her voice sounding very clear and concise, as though she will take no argument. It takes him a moment to realize that she had just called the headmistress by her first name, however, and that shocks him... and the headmistress. "We are both adults, and, if you would like to speak to him... I intend to be at his side."

Draco looks from Hermione to McGonagall and back, and he doesn't know which will win the battle of wills, but... he wouldn't fight a werewolf the day after the Full Moon, that was for certain.

"I only wished to discuss his transfiguration," Minerva says softly. "And I thought you would like to go to the infirmary."

"There's no need," Hermione answers, and she squeezes his hand again. "I'm quite well, you see."

McGonagall looks her over and raises a brow, and he can hear the other woman's thinking. Yes, Granger is looking quite well. "Very well, then. To my office."

The walk is long, very long, and as they climb each of the steps, Draco waits for Hermione to tire, but she never does. When they finally reach the soft seats in the Headmistresses's office, he gestures for Hermione to sit in a chair... only to end up with him being pushed into one, and her sitting in his lap.

It feels as though this is the equivalent to her saying he belongs to her, but he doesn't mind.

McGonagall sits across from them and a tea tray appears beside her, ready with three cups. Draco is ready to brush it off, but when Hermione hands him a cup, he takes it, despite having to hold the saucer awkwardly while still holding her in his lap. 

He doesn't know what McGonagall needs, but he certainly feels on edge.

"Well then, Mister Malfoy," McGonagall began, and she straightened her glasses slightly as she looked at him, as though analyzing him. "What are we to do with you?"

He's tense underneath Granger, but he doesn't speak, letting the Headmistress fill in the blanks. He thought he had made it abundantly clear - Hermione always came first, and she would always come first. The Headmistress had seemed to agree, and she had even encouraged him the day before, so then...

"I was already aware that you were proficient in charms, given your work in Sixth Year, and you have proven yourself exceptional in potions, given your work on Miss Granger's wolfsbane potion... but an anigmagus at only 18? You have clearly been holding yourself back in Transfiguration."

"Perhaps I simply needed the right motivation," Draco answers without thinking, and he blinks, startled at the sass in his tone. He's not wrong, of course, but... he probably should not have said it like that.

McGonagall sniffs at him slightly, then rearranges a few things on her desk before continuing. 

"Yes, well, what I mean to say is, previously, I had offered you the possibility of a Potions Mastery, but given your activities over the past month..." She stopped herself, and then stared at him for a moment, looking between the two. "It was successful, was it not?"

"Of course it was," he answers, lifting his chin. He feels more like himself all of a sudden, or at least, his old self. His self from before . He feels self assured, and wants to preen underneath the Headmistress's gaze. Of course he was successful. Of course he was a brilliant wizard. 

He was, after all, a Malfoy.

"Might I see it?" she asked, picking up her tea cup and saucer as she did so.

The idea of transforming suddenly felt daunting, but Hermione slid off of his lap and into the other seat with an ease that told her she had every confidence in him. He placed his cup and saucer down on the desk, then rose, withdrawing his wand. He wouldn't be foolish enough to try and attempt it without.

As seemlessly as the night before, he drops down to the ground as fur covered paws take their place where his hands had been, and his tail flicks as he turns towards the women. McGonagall's eyes are wide as she stares at him, but he ignores the old woman as he goes to Hermione, who lifts her hand and runs her fingers over the top of his head and between his ears.

She's proud of him, he can tell. Having her pride, knowing he has pleased her... 

Their eyes lock, and even though he's currently not a human, he knows that Hermione can understand him. He tells her that he loves her - that she is his motivation. He has done this, for her. He will do anything for her.

Shifting back into his human form, he stumbles slightly, still not used to his rapid shifting, and grabs Hermione's hand, pressing a kiss to the back of it. She smiles at him again, and then he turns towards McGonagall, waiting for her thoughts.

After all, she had asked him to show her his transformation.

"As I was saying," McGonagall continues, as though she hadn't just been shocked a minute earlier. "I offered for you to study your potions mastery in haste."

His grip on Hermione's hand tightens, but McGonagall continues before he can even process the words fully.

"Mister Malfoy, I cannot offer you any course of study until after you have received your NEWTs, but I can say that, should you do as well as I expect you will... I have a great need for a Potion's Professor, but it is up to you as to which Mastery you proceed with."

He sits down into the chair, hard, unable to stand any longer. He can.... he can what? He can study whatever...

He hadn't really thought about it, about the actual mastery and the actual subject. Would he enjoy it, being down in the dungeons, a potion's professor?

He would enjoy it, gladly, as it was far from Azkaban, and Hermione would be at his side. But to have options?

"As for you, Miss Granger, I had intended on offering you the position of Transfiguration Professor, given that my duties as Headmistress keep me far too busy, and of course, reliant upon your own Mastery Studies, but, should Mister Malfoy choose to be-"

"You'll let me be a professor?" Hermione breathes out, her eyes wide.

The confusion on Draco's face is matched on McGonagalls, and they look at one another, not understanding Hermione's question. Draco had told her this, weeks ago, about McGonagall's offer...

"I mean, I'm a werewolf," Hermione says, reminding them both of that little fact.

"You're a witch," Draco corrects her, and he squeezes her hand tight. "And a bloody good one. Every young witch and wizard would be lucky to study under you."

His words seem to hit true, and he sees the tears welling up in her ears, ready to fall. She pulls her hand away to rub at them, and he turns back to the Headmistress, proud.

"I should also inform you of other news," McGonagall said, shifting slightly in her seat. "Every student involved in the attack on Mr Malfoy will be returning to the school after Easter Holiday."

A month. That's a month away.

He looks to Hermione, and he can see the rage in her eyes. All he can feel is fear - fear that she might make a mistake and attack them. While he would love to see her defend his honor or whatever they wanted to call it... she would never forgive herself if she harmed another student, no matter what they had done.

"It was out of my hands," McGonagall explains, and he can believe that. After the past few years... well. "Might I recommend th two of you figure out a way to let it be known that Mr Malfoy is at least forgiven by you?"

It's all but a blatant order to reveal their relationship, and Draco feels himself mentally jump for joy. He's been wanting this, wanting to stop hiding it, wanting to make it abundantly clear... 

He wants to take her to Hogsmeade and spend every hour with her. He knows the school can't be completely oblivious to them, but he wants it in their face. He wants everyone to know that he's with her. He wants to stop hiding what they are.

And, while they can't actually use the words soulmates... she is his witch, and he is her wizard. Everyone should know. Everyone should see.

"You shouldn't be worried about Draco's wellbeing," Hermione says, interupting his thoughts. There's still so much anger in her eyes, but also pain. "You should be worrying about those students."

McGonagall shook her head no, but Draco could see her swallowing hard. "I have every faith in you, Hermione, that you will control yourself."

The sun begins to shine into the room, and Draco remembers what day it is. They had missed classes the entire day before, and now, the sun is rising on another day of class. They both need a shower and a change of clothes, and to not skip again. 

Shouldering his bag, Draco turns to Hermione to offer his hand, not waiting for a dismissal. He doubts the woman has any parting words, and Hermione is not in the right mood to talk any further.

But as they turn to go...

"One last thing," McGonagall calls out. "Any explanation as to why residents of Hogsmeade said the Shrieking Shack was on fire last night?"

Chapter Text

17 March 1999 - New Moon

Being a lynx, a cat, whatever... it is confusing.

Not the fact that he is a cat. The more he thinks about it, really thinks about it, and puts house prejudices aside... Well, cats always seem to land on their feet, don't they? And given the past few years that Draco has endured, all of the battles and struggles, all of the twisting and turning... well, he's certainly not in Azkaban, and he has the Golden Girl of Gryffindor as a soulmate, and he has a future as a Hogwart's professor with a mastery...

He certainly landed on his feet. 

And he's loyal... but picky in who he places his loyalty in. Most within Slytherin never chose a cat, simply due to the fact that cats tended to shed, and while there were spells to remove the hair, that would mean performing a labor that a house elf should perform, so... but he remembers Millie's cat. It was a fickle thing, with an allegiance to only it's owner.

That bloody cat had pissed in Pansy's shoes more than once.

And Draco... well, while he has no intention of releasing himself into any shoes in the near future, he does understand having that kind of allegiance, that level of allegiance. If someone looked sideways as Hermione... 

A bit of piss in a shoe would be the least of that person's problems.

No, what's confusing about being a cat is the bloody paws.

Every step he takes, it's almost like walking on a cloud of some sort. He can feel the vibrations of the earth underneath each step. On more than one occasion, he had considered reaching out to McGonagall, but... well, the Headmistress was a house cat, a tabby cat.

What would she know about running through the Forbidden Forest, the ground covered in melting snow, with earth and rocks and dirt and... 

Practice seems to be the only answer, so practice is what he's doing. He wants to nibble, to be quick, to be used to it. He wants...

His dreams, in recent days, have been filled with a new idea. An idea of Hermione running free on Malfoy Estate. Of her not being contained by Wolfsbane Potion. Of her roaming the land, with him by her side. Between the wards around the property and the expansive acreage, there was no reason in the world as to why they couldn't do such a thing.

It's a dream, an absurd dream, but... 

It's one he has all the same, which means, he needs to practice running with these bloody paws.

And then, he fully intends on pulling Hermione into his bed in the Slythering Dorms and laying beside her, purring in his lynx form. He likes doing that, likes vocalizing his soothing. And... she likes curling up against him. 

And he might be a little obsessed with the way that she scratches between his ears...

He reminds her of her cat, she says. The cat that had been left behind. The cat that... well, he doesn't know what had happened to the ugly orange thing that used to follow her around. She had whispered that he had once caught and chewed on Peter Pettigrew, when Pettigrew was hiding as a rat animagus, and he had laughed so hard, he choked on air. 

He wouldn't mind sharing Hermione's affection with such a creature... if it's even still alive.

His front paws land in deep mud, and he has to resist the urge to shake them clean, and the even worse urge to lick them clean. That... that's another thing about being a feline that he is still struggling to grow used to...

crack .

And that . The hearing. The hearing is...

Draco shifts from a lynx to a wizard in no time flat, another skill he has been practicing. With wand in hand, he whips towards where the sound had only just come from, only for him to step in melting snow and no longer frozen dirt. He winces as a bit of the icy mud seeps into his shoe, but at least this time, he still has his shoes on.

He can't hear anything now, but it is the Forbidden Forest, and danger is never very far. Also, that whole hearing thing... what he hears as a feline verses what he can hear as a wizard is... different.

Meow

He turns again, startled by the soft cat noise. Is it McGonagall? Perhaps it is - he knows that she watches him running off into the trees. What other cats would be out this far? What other cat would be crazy enough, and tough enough, to survive out in the Forbidden Forest.

What-

Almost as though he has manifested the bloody thing, or perhaps he's simply starting to have actual premonitions of the future, the very cat Draco had just been thinking about, and he knows it's that bloody cat because it's uglier than a Weasley, wanders out from some of the thicket. It looks older than he can remember, and there's mud on it's paws, and he looks like he could use a good brushing, and yet...

Crookshanks. Hermione Granger's ugly orange cat. Still alive, deep in the Forbidden Forest.

He doesn't know if he should laugh or cry, but then he imagines Hermione finding out that not only her cat is alive, but he also managed to return the thing to her...

He's totally going to get his dick sucked for this.

"How are you even alive?" he asks the cat, who casually saunters over and sits down, right in some mud, to lick it's paw.

Hmm. Alright then.

A pity he's not out foraging. He could do with having a blanket, or something else to carry the cat with.

He has the sudden idea to shift into his lynx form, to pick it up by the scruff and carry it, but he shudders at the idea of cat fur in his mouth... and he knows, somehow he just knows, that Hermione would know what he had done.

"Your witch is going to be bloody pleased to see you," Draco mutters to himself as he bends down to pick the cat up.

It's heavier than he imagined, but as he holds it close to his body, Draco can feel the bones. This cat is definitely need of a bath, a good meal, and to curl up beside Hermione. He can provide all three.

"Very well then."

He had, for some reason, expected this to be harder than it is... and then, it actually does get harder.

Nails enter his skin, and then the cat is down again, and once more licking it's paw.

Nope. That's it. He's shifting.

"I'm not bloody losing you," Draco says under his breath, and he winces again at the thought of fur in his mouth, but... in cases of great need, sacrifices must be made.

"Don't tell Granger about this..."

Two minutes later, Draco, in the form of a lynx, trots through the forest carrying his prize. The prize, of course, is hissing and spitting from where it dangles from his mouth. The taste of muddy fur is atrocious, and more than once, Draco wants to gag, and yet...

The look of joy on Hermione's face keeps him going.

And the knowledge that this is definitely going to get his prick sucked.

***

"Is that Crookshanks?" Longbottom asks, standing at the door to the Gryffindor Tower with eyes only for the cat.

When Draco had returned from the forest, Granger hadn't been in his room, as expected, which means that she had fallen asleep up in Gryffindor Tower once again. While she doesn't stay there all the time, she does stay there most of the time, against his own wishes. 

She's a frequent enough visitor in the Slytherin Common Room that most have grown used to her presence, and while it hasn't been explicitly stated or announced that they are together, every Slytherin knows just where Hermione Granger sleeps at night. But him, in Gryffindor Tower? They've never talked about it. He's slipped in a few times, but there's no way for him to enter her room, and it's a long walk, and they prefer the privacy of the Astronomy Tower anyways, so...

So before now, it has never really been a thing, but tonight...

Well, it's time to follow through on what McGonagall had hinted at.

After a solid talk with Crookshanks about behaving and not disappearing, the two, freshly cleaned, had ventured up to Gryffindor Tower. The third year that had spotted him first had disappeared into the common room, slamming the portrait behind them, only for Longbottom to appear, wand in hand, a few moments later.

Longbottom's wand had dropped at the sight of him, but then his eyes had been entirely on Hermione's cat.

"You'll never bloody believe where I found the creature," Draco said idly. Should he clap Longbottom on the back? Shake his hand? They hadn't directly spoken in... months. A previous Full Moon, he had to imagine. No, it was Valentine's Day. Bloody hell, that was over a month before...

And then, Longbottom had been part of saving his life. It was a debt that Draco would have to repay someday, but that day was not this one.

"Merlin, that thing is uglier than I remember," Longbottom mutters, shaking his head slightly. "How Hermione can love that thing..."

"Is she here?" Draco asks quickly, not even bothering to try and hide the eagerness in his voice.

Longbottom nods, but then looks over his shoulder, as though worried.

"There's... there's a number of younger students in here," Longbottom hints, and Draco immediately catches it.

Younger students tend to gossip, and the topic of conversation, that an Eighth Year Slytherin is checking in on an Eighth Year Gryffindor, and in particular Draco Malfoy on Hermione Granger...

It really is diving into the deep end. And yet...

He's done with keeping his distance. He's done with playing it safe. He's in love, and she loves him, and they're soulmates, and they have a future, and... 

It's time. It's past time.

"Longbottom," Draco says, then sucks his teeth before correcting himself. "Neville."

That seems to startle the other wizard, who blinks at him sheepishly, as though trying to gauge where this is going.

"Hermione and I..."

He tries to find the words, tries to find a way to ease in, but there is no way to ease in. He just... he has to say it.

"You're mad for her, we all know," Longbottom finishes for him. "And she only has eyes for you."

Draco blinks, waiting for Longbottom to say something else, only for him to shrug.

"If the two of you are ready to stop sneaking around about it, good. Hermione should be no one's secret-"

"I was her secret," Draco blusters out, surprising even himself. "Longbottom... I think we can both agree I'm not worthy of her."

Longbottom stares at him for a moment, then gives him an easy smile. It feels like a sign of approval, or something, and given that Longbottom had also saved his life and agreed that Potter was a bit of a tosser...

Well then.

"She's tucked into one of the chairs by the fire," Longbottom says, not that Draco can't easily seek her out. "Been out for about an hour now."

Draco claps him on the shoulder before entering the space, ignoring the rest of the inhabitants. He can tell almost immediately that the conversation has quieted, and he can feel the eyes on him, but he focuses only on Hermione, who has her knees up to her chin and her arms wrapped around her legs. She's trying to get warm, he can tell.

She'll be warmer once she's in his bed, wrapped up in his arms, with her mongrel tucked against her side.

"Granger," he murmurs, going down onto one knee beside her. He runs his hand up and down her arm, trying to urge her to open her eyes. He doesn't want to pick her up without her knowing it's him, and where they're going. "Hermione, I have a surprise for you."

She makes a soft noise, which is good enough for him, and he lifts her up gently, then turns, ready to leave the room... only to see every eye on him. In a moment of bravery, which is surely fueled by the Gryffindors around him, he has the sudden urge to sit... and so he does so, sitting down with Hermione in his arms and her head on his shoulder.

Almost as if it has been planned, Crookshanks jumped up onto his knee, scratching him only slightly, and then onto the back of the chair, just above his shoulder. He settles himself, surely enjoying the warm fire, and curls up to take a cat nap.

Very well then.

The chair is too large and soft, and it's too close to the fireplace, but he refuses to move. Slowly but surely, after a few minutes, the common room shifts back in on itself, only a few sets of eyes remaining on them. He takes this as a sign, and hopes it communicates one as well - he's here to stay, and they should get used to it.

He really hopes one of them doesn't write bloody Potter.

After a little while, with the fire still crackling and Crookshanks purring behind his head, he feels Hermione start to shift, blinking. He doesn't know what time it is, nor how close they are to the New Moon, but it doesn't really matter. So long as she is warm and safe, he'll pass it however she chooses... even in the Lion's Den.

"Draco?" she asks, blinking up at him. Her voice is soft and filled with sleep, and he knows that, without the strength of the moon, she's draining fast. "What... what are we doing in-"

Her head turns, and she lets out a soft cry as her eyes land on Crookshanks. Draco smiles to himself as he carefully helps her lift down the cat, who immediately curls up on Hermione's chest. She sniffs, and he looks down to see tears in her eyes as she holds the cat, petting him gently.

Forget the blow job. Knowing that she's this happy, it's worth every damn second of carrying in the cat in his mouth.

"You'll never guess who I found in the Forbidden Forest," he murmurs against her temple. He can feal her shaking and knows he has to calm her down, before she has a complete outburst in the Gryffindor Common Room.

"Really?" she asks, her voice cracking. "Oh, Draco..."

She turns in his arms so that her face is buried into his neck and the bloody cat is squished between them. Crookshanks doesn't seem to mind, however, which is good, because his sharp claws are near an important part of Draco's anatomy.

"I didn't do anything other than bring him to you," he whispers against her hair. 

"But-"

"The cat wandered back looking for you, obviously."

He wants to make a comment about her now having two felines that adore her, but refrains. After all, they do have an audience.

"Can we go to bed early?" she asks, her voice cracking slightly. "I..."

"You should have gone straight to my bed rather than trecking up here," he reminds her. They both know how tired she can get around the New Moon, and the walk up to Gryffindor Tower is no laughing matter. "Think you can walk?"

She nods a little, and sniffs once again, so he helps her onto her feet. There's sounds of papers around the room being shuffled about, a bit of murmuring as well, but he knows that, out of the corner of every young Gryffindor's eyes, they're watching him. Watching to see what happens next. Watching for confirmation.

Hermione turns towards him, and he steps forward, one arm sliding around her lower back while he bends down to kiss her. He freezes at the last moment, giving her space to complete it, and she does without a moment of hesitation, pressing her lips to his. He tries to not moan at the taste of her, but he is addicted and simply can't quit her.

He'll blame it on the whole soulmate thing.

As their lips separate, his eyes flick up, and then around the room. He locks eyes with every single person staring. He wants it to be clear. H wants it to be understood.

He, Draco Malfoy, is bloody in love with Hermione Granger who, by the grace of Merlin himself, not only tolerates his presence, but also loves him back.

And, he just brought her damned cat back to her.

"Do you need to get anything from your room?" he asks as he looks back down at her, once again resuming ignoring the gathered audience.

"I have another uniform in your room, and my books are in my bag," she says with a shake of her head, and turns to grab it. He beats her to it and quickly lifts the strap up onto his shoulder with ease.

In love, proud of it, and carrying her books

One of them should write that to Potter.

"Let's get you into bed," he murmurs, taking her free hand in his, and he leads her out of the room with a cool and calm presence, and all of the bearing of a Malfoy. After all, while it is very important that everyone see their relationship, see their love for one another, and understand the circumstances...

Well, a Malfoy does not allow others to judge them. After all, everyone is beneath a Malfoy. He lifts his chin as they walk out, only lowering his head and his gaze to look at her.

She's so high above him...

The portrait door closes behind her, and she stops in her steps, giving him a moment of fear. Had that been too much? Had she not been ready to go public?

He turns and sees a smile on her lips, not that it soothes him at all.

"Did you enjoy that?" she teases, still smirking up at him. "Preening under their gaze?"

"You mean showing off that you're my girlfriend?" he corrects, taking a step closer to her. Her eyes go wide almost immediately, and he realizes that this is the first time he has ever called her such a thing. Of course, that feels a bit juvenile on his lips, but it is what others would say.

"Is that-" she begins, but he cuts her off, already knowing the question and the answer.

"You're my soulmate," he corrects, and brushes her lips against her forehead as he pulls her close. "You're my partner. My other half. My much better half. You're the witch that I am wholly unworthy of having, and yet you are also the witch that has chosen to tolerate me."

He wants to add on something more... that she will one day be his wife, that she's the witch he'll spend the rest of his life loving, the woman he'll love for an eternity, and yet... something holds him back. Something stills his tongue.

"I don't think the common room caught all of that," she answers softly, still smiling up at him, although a bit shyer now. 

He doesn't care. He wants it to be clear to her just how he feels.

"Let me take you to Hogsmeade, next weekend."

"For protection?" she asks, but he shakes his head.

"Because I love you," he corrects, his face taking on a serious look. "And because everyone should know it."

He holds himself back in his kiss as his lips press against hers, because she's weak and tired from the New Moon, and because Crookshanks is in her arms, but he knows she can feel it, can sense it.

He loves her, and he's tired of hiding it.

Chapter Text

27 March 1999 - 4 Days Before the Full Moon

“Are you sure about this?” Hermione asks again, clenching his hand tighter. She had been asking the entire walk, but now as they approach the town, she’s even more nervous. He kind of understands. He’s not really certain about this.

But, he needs to be confident for her. He isn't really sure Madam Rosmerta will allow him entry, even after his apology the week before, but he's willing to try. For Hermione, he has to try.

But Hermione's concerns are not his. While Draco is worried about whether or not the townsfolk will allow him to enter their businesses, she's worried about something worse.

What if someone hexes him? What if someone tries to lash out? What if? What if…

Because how will she respond? What will she do?

Will she rip them apart, piece by piece, lashing out? Will she use her wand, hexing and destroying any in their path? Will she half shift, claws and teeth?

And suddenly, his concerns are the same as hers. He worries for her, not for himself. He’s used to people hating him, but her? Her well-being and her protection are most important. Always her. Never him.

He has to be strong. They can’t hide away forever. Particularly if they’re going to be staying here, teaching here… While the town might hate him, and his family, they can’t hate Hermione. Not after all she’s done.

And yeah, maybe he’s using her as a shield in that way, but, he had been into town the previous week, and no one had tried to kill him. One step at a time.

“Yes, I’m sure,” he says, sounding far more confident than he feels. “I’m sure that I want to go on a date with you. I’m sure that I want people to see me with you. I’m sure that I want everyone to know that Hermione Granger is mine.”

He’s going to ignore the rest of her unspoken question.

They stay silent as they enter Hogsmeade, and he’s glad for it. Her hand is still tightly wrapped in his, and he knows it’s because she’s nervous, but to everyone else… well, he can make a wild guess, seeing the other couples wandering around the village.

They likely look as though they’re attached to one another, not wanting to let go. This isn’t a first date, nor is it something new. They’re holding onto one another because they want to. They look as though they’re in a committed relationship.

Good.

“Everyone is looking at us,” she says as he leads her to The Three Broomsticks. She’s not wrong… sort of.

No Slytherin is looking their way. Enough of them have seen him carrying her through the Common Room before, and they know better than to ask questions. He also has a sneaking suspicion that Theo has been paying for their silence.

As for the Gryffindors, maybe a few are looking their way, but they look more on guard than anything else, like they’re ready to defend Granger. After all, most of her house had seen him wrapped around her a week and a half earlier, ugly orange cat in tow. Since then, he had been up in the tower more than a few times.

It’s everyone else… the Ravenclaws that think they know everything, and the Hufflepuffs that know absolutely nothing. It’s also the townsfolk, the ones that know what he has done and have watched them grow.

They’re all staring, but he forces himself to look away.

“Come on,” he urges, tugging on her hand. “Let’s find a table.”

The last time they had been in Hogsmeade together had been what felt like years before, when they had met his Aunt Andromeda at Hog’s Head Inn. He had more or less slipped into town, hidden, and hidden himself under his cloak as he left.

Now, it’s different. Now, he’s himself, his hair out and his chin raised.

There are already a number of students in The Three Broomsticks, but everyone goes quiet as he and Hermione enters. He can feel how tense she is, but he keeps himself relaxed, even though he knows she can likely hear his racing heart. Even if she can sense his wariness, no one else should. After all, half of the game of staying one step ahead of everyone else is by pretending like you belong, as though you're the one in charge. 

It was one of the many lessons his father had passed down to him. Funny, how he is using it now.

As they reach a corner booth, Draco sits down and pulls Hermione with him, on the same side. Forget sitting across from one another - neither of them want their back to a room, and besides, he plans on snogging his girlfriend. That's what a normal Hogwarts student would do - they would sit in a corner, drink butterbeer, and snog their girlfriend.

He's going to do it, today. Him and Hermione.

She shifts a bit as they settle, her bag hitting the floor and her wand in her jacket sleeve, but he ignores that as he wraps his arm around her shoulder, pulling her close. His hand runs into her hair, tugging at the hair at her neck gently, and she turns to look at him, eyes questioning. With a grin, he leans in and kisses her, casually, like he's done it thousands of times before.

And just like that, sound starts again around them. He knows that half of the students are whispering about them, but he pays them no time as he parts his lips, kissing her harder, then slower. She responds to him, softening in his hold, then suddenly stiffens.

Pulling away from her lips, Draco turns to see Longbottom sitting across from them, three butterbeers now on the table. He blinks, then glances to the bar. Madam Rosmerta is glaring at him, but she doesn't have her wand out, and she's not yelling.

He wonders if he should worry about poison in his drink.

"Mornin', Hermione," Neville says as he picks up a beer and raises it to his lips. "Funny seeing you here, doing the same thing you're always doing lately."

"It's called snogging," Draco quips as he picks up a butterbeer from the table and raises it to his lips. "Should try it some time."

"I might, but not with you," Neville retorts. 

The two of them stare at one another, and then Neville gives him a grin, a sure sign that, well, there's no tension. There hasn't been any tension any time Draco has seen him previously, but in the Greenhouses and outside of the Gryffindor Common Room is completely different from a pub in the middle of Hogsmeade.

"I thought you had a date with Luna," Hermione asks, and he watches as she pulls a butterbeer towards her, but doesn't drink it. Nerves, then. She's still fighting her nerves... and likely the nausea from the upcoming Full Moon. 

Wait, did Hermione just say Longbottom had a date with Lovegood? Is the girl even still a student at Hogwarts? Bloody hell, she had been locked in his family dungeon for months. He had been worried about a villager attacking him, but what if-

"Not really a date," Neville mumbles out. "Just... I don't know. Luna is nice and all, but she's not..."

Okay, so no Loony Lovegood shooting hexes at him that are covered in ribbon and knives, or something equally unexpected. Very well then.

"I'm sorry to hear that," Hermione says, and finally picks up her butterbeer. "You know, Hannah was asking about you."

"You've been talking to Hannah Abbott?" Longbottom questions, and Draco has much the same. When had Hermione found time to talk to other students? Is this something new? Is this progress?

"I overheard the other girls talking about it," she says with a shrug. "If you're interested, then-"

"I need to go," Longbottom says, grabbing his butterbeer and taking another swig. "She'll be checking on Aberforth's goats at this time."

And with that, the other Gryffindor is gone, leaving him and Hermione alone once more.

"Longbottom was seeing Lovegood?" Draco asks carefully, uncertain how to form any words. "You know... she was... uh... I mean..."

"Luna doesn't hold any ill will, if that's your concern," Hermione answers, clearly already knowing where he's going with his thoughts. "Although, I doubt she would say no to an apology."

Right. An apology. Of all of the students in Hogwarts that he owes an apology... well, Hermione had always been the top of the list, but Lovegood is pretty high up there. Dean Thomas as well, but he hadn't returned for another year of school. Probably others, but Lovegood... 

How could she hold no ill will?

His look of confusion and distress must have been obvious on his face, because suddenly, Hermione is leaning in towards him. Her lips press against his, and he forgets everything, forgets Longbottom and Lovegood and goats and apologies, and-

A throat clears nearby, and Draco pulls away to see Theo and Blaise standing at the end of the table, both holding a drink. 

No one speaks, because Draco doesn't really know what to say, and he knows that Theo has spoken to Hermione in regards to his attack, but do they even know one another, and Blaise, fuck. What does he say? How does he respond?

"Snogging in the middle of The Three Broomsticks? How fifth year."

Just like that, Theo's words break the ice, and he sits down across from them, Blaise joining him. They're not drinking butterbeer, and Draco has half an urge to reach over and steal one, but he won't.

He needs to be on his game, aware, alert. Just in case. Just in case the worst comes to pass.

"I didn't realize you were allowed out of Hogwarts," Blaise says casually, but almost immediately, Draco is on edge. Bloody hell, he had been so worried about taking Hermione on a date, showing her off, showing the entire school that he had reformed, making amends...

He had been heading out of Hogwarts frequently, between staying with Hermione on the Full Moon and heading into the forest to pick potion supplies. He had completely forgotten this boundaries set in place by the ministry. Of course, McGonagall was supposed to be monitoring those, and she had fully approved of his endeavors, and yet...

If he ended up in Azkaban because of Hermione Granger, it would be worth it, but damn would it suck.

"Special permission from McGonagall," Hermione answers, and he doesn't know if that's the truth or a lie, but he'll go with it. "After all, he is with me."

Both boys, in sync, raise their glasses towards her then take a sip. Very well then.

"What are your plans beyond this?" Blaise asks as he sets his glass down. "Don't tell me the two of you headed here just to snog. Could have done that in your room, or any Common Room you so choose."

Theo elbows Blaise, although Draco can't guess why. After all, the two of them had known for some time that he was with Hermione, and they haven't been keeping their relationship secret any longer. Was it the fact that they knew about Draco in the Gryffindor Common Room? Draco is no idiot - he knows that Theo knows things, and isn't going to bother questioning any of it.

"We're going to Scrivenshaft's after this," Hermione answers for them, shocking Draco with how clear her voice is. She had been the one to be nervous on their journey down, uncertain of being out. They hadn't even discussed anything further than Draco taking her out on a date, not that he had two coins to rub together. He had nicked the ones he had for butterbeer from Blaise.

Of course, then Longbottom had brought drinks over to them. Did he have enough to purchase her a few quills? He hoped so.

Bloody hell, he isn't used to having to worry about coin. As a Malfoy, there had always been a plethora of galleons in his pocket, and if he had ever run out, the shopkeepers always knew that he was good for it. After all, his family had more wealth than Slytherin. 

But now? Now, he didn't have an estate and he didn't have his vaults and he didn't have his father, and the only thing he does have is a single trunk of clothes and books and a girlfriend that deserves everything and he's sitting there like a clodpot worrying about buying her quills and-

There's a sudden weight in his pocket, something heavy. He recognizes the feeling of it immediately. No, bloody hell, no. Theo always knows everything, but there's no way he can know what is racing through his mind. Is it even Theo that did it? Blaise? Neither of them are looking at him, so he can't gauge who did it, but he can't take their pity.

There was a time when he was the one tossing out coin, purchasing all of the treats on the cart, buying a round for everyone. Now... now he's...

"Draco, are you alright?" Hermione asks, pulling him out of his concerns.

Blinking, Draco looks down at Hermione, who has a worried look on her face. She clearly has no idea as to what sort of turmoil he's going through, only that there is turmoil.

He'll... he'll have to count it, keep track. McGonagall is going to pay him once he's a professor, right? He can pay them back, obviously. Or... or will he not be paid the first few years while studying for his mastery? Bloody hell, his father had called it becoming a benefactor, supporting a young wizard with promise. Is that what is going to happen to him? He's going to need his friends to become his benefactor? Of course, that had been for politics, but-

"Draco?"

"I'm fine," he answers, covering her hand with his and forcing a smile over his lips. He tries to relax, but he feels ill. It's not fair to her, not fair to their friends... and really, it's actually not fair to him. How long will the ministry keep everything? Even his vault as an heir? Even his mother's family vault?

But what can he say or do? What other choice does he have?

"You know, the pair of you should actually sit in the Common Room and do more than snog," Blaise points out as he nearly drains his drink. "Loathe as I am to admit... I wouldn't mind doing well on my NEWTs."

And just like that, Draco can breathe. Money? Vaults? Wealth? All too overwhelming. The nearly exhausting Wizarding tests he'll have to take and pass in order to find a future and a career within the Wizarding World? He can handle those.

"Well now you've started it," Draco answers with a grin, and lifts his butterbeer to his lips. "You know, she's not as bad as she used to be, constantly walking about with a stack of books, but sometimes her hair grows twice as big as it normally is, and-"

Her lips are on his out of nowhere, silencing him from teasing any further. He loves her hair, and she knows this, loves everything about her. He loves how studious she is, and organized as well. In the past he had mocked her for it, but now...

Well, being a werewolf had forced her to balance her life a bit better, because otherwise, she would break.

As Hermione pulls away from the kiss, there's a twinkle in her eye, and he smiles back. Yes, he can talk about NEWTs. He can do that. Because that... he can handle.

 


 

"What was bothering you, back at The Three Broomsticks?" Hermione asks softly as they walk back up to Hogwarts.

He has a pocket filled with galleons, and he doesn't know how to answer. 

How can one even answer that?

"You can tell me anything, you know?" she presses again. 

"I know," he says with a nod, and runs his hand over it.

He should... he should write to the ministry. Tell them of his plans to stay at Hogwarts, to train for his mastery there and to work. He should talk to McGonagall. Perhaps... perhaps between the two of them...

But these galleons... they'll last him months.

With these coins, he could buy her a ring.

A Ring ...

He stops in his steps and stares at her, his eyes wide. She stares back, the concern written across her face. He can't have that. He can't let her know. He can't even think too loudly about it, or she might figure it out.

He drops the bag with their purchases on the ground, and pulls her to him, his lips pressing against hers. She squeaks but doesn't pull away, instead melting into his kiss.

A ring... he can buy her a ring...

Chapter Text

31 March 1999 - hours before the Full Moon

"We shouldn't still be here," Draco groans, but he knows his words are far from being heard. Bloody hell, he can't even believe he's saying them, but his cock is in Hermione's mouth, and the sun will be setting in just over an hour, and they're technically currently skipping class, and his cock is in her mouth.

He can't believe he actually let her lead him up to Gryffindor Tower to 'grab a few things'. She had returned quickly with her bag, and then pushed him onto the Gryffindor couch and tugged down the front of his pants. 

The Common Room is empty, given that the other students are still in class, and it's bloody fucking hot, getting his cock sucked by the Swot of Gryffindor in Gryffindor Tower, but they need to go .

He doesn't want to move a muscle.

She moans around the head of his cock, and he watches in amazement as her hand disappears under the front of her skirt, likely to touch herself. He's about to fuck her right here in front of the Gryffindor fireplace if she isn't careful. This shouldn't be so hot. He's not into voyeurism. He doesn't want to share her in the slightest.

Oh fuck, he can't feel his legs any longer.

He's just on edge, ready to blow, when her lips pop off of the head of his cock, and she tries to tuck him back into his trousers.

"Someone is coming," she gasps, and she pushes herself up before grabbing her bag. "Hurry up."

He has to blink a few times to even understand what is happening, and it's only with a half second to spare that he manages to close his robes over the front of himself, keeping the entering Fourth Years from seeing anything. 

Alright, that's it, they're going straight to the Shack, where he is going to fuck her into the floor.

"You are evil," he taunts as he passes by her, grabbing her hand at the last moment. "Let's go."

They pass a number of students, and more than one teacher, as they head down towards the dungeons. Let everyone think she's spending the night in his room with him - that's for the best, and it surprises no one anymore. At the last second, they make a veer, out into the courtyard, and then out of a side gate, heading towards the willow. 

As soon as they reach the passageway, Draco is ready to pounce, but he has a few surprises in his own bag this evening, and they're operating on borrowed time.

When they reach the shack itself, Draco opens up his bag and pulls out a blanket, the same blanket that he has used to cover himself time and again. The rest of the bag is left outside of the shack itself, so that, if things go wrong, the contents will survive the night.

He doesn't need her destroying the change of clothes he brought for both of them, along with the breakfast he had packed them.

After spreading the blanket out on the floor, he sets up a few warming charms about the place. Having a fire last time was a stupid risk he won't repeat, but he also doesn't want them to freeze this cold spring evening.

"How are you feeling?" he asks, and he prepares himself to look over his shoulder and see her pacing, but instead, she's bouncing in place. She's excited. She's ready. She's...

She's absolutely beautiful, with her curls bouncing with her and her smile spreading over her face. She's radiant, even. For the first time in a long time, the stress lines between her brows are gone. She's ready to transform, to be her wolf form, and for the first time ever, he'll be spending the entire night with her. 

He can't wait.

"Nothing hurts yet," she says with a smile, and she comes to him, squeezing his hand as she does so. "I can feel the moon, but I feel energized."

Not sick, like the potion normally makes her feel. Not anxious, like the transformation normally does. Energized.

He has to assume that his presence is the difference, but really, he has no idea.

"I love you," he says with a grin, and he tosses aside his robe as he starts to undress himself.

From there, they are both a frenzied mess.

His pants rip at some point, and her bra is still on, but one moment they're standing and fully clothed while the next they're on the blanket, her body over his as they kiss. She pumps him, two, three times, and then she's lowering herself onto him. He grabs her hips as she settles, and as she arches her back, he can do nothing but watch this magnificent creature.

Hermione Granger, riding his cock, in the Shrieking Shack. A year ago... two years ago... three...

All of the bloody mistakes in his life have led him to this moment, but he can't find it in himself to regret any of them.

With a practiced ease, he finds her clit and rubs his thumb over it, knowing that she only needs the slightest of pressure when she's on top to reach completion. Her back arches and her hips slow, but he rocks her through it with one hand on her thigh, keeping her going as he reaches his own peak.

Hermione Granger, his soulmate, a werewolf, the love of his life, his everything, his future...

She's magnificent, and she's all his.

With two more thrusts, he joins her over the edge, groaning as he empties himself inside of her. He doesn't know how long they've been on the floor, or if he even lasted more than thirty seconds, but she had been teasing him for so long up in the castle, and she had found her own pleasure, he doubts she really cares.

Also, he doesn't want to have his prick inside of her when she starts transforming, no matter how good she feels right now.

Her body falls over his, and he wraps his arms around her as he rolls onto his side, still breathing hard. His head is whirling and everything feels out of focus, but he knows he'll catch up in a minute. 

Is the sex getting better with time? Somehow, he thinks the sex might be getting better with time.

"The moon is close," she gasps out of nowhere, and he blinks, focusing on the way her brow furrows. Alright, he has a plan this time. Once she says she can feel the moon, he's going to shift, and stay shifted until morning. When she's at her worst, he'll be there purring, comforting her. 

He doesn't know if it's a good idea or not to stay for the actual transformation, but he's going nowhere. 

"Should I shift?" he asks, pushing himself up on one forearm while the other runs into her damp hair, brushing it back from her face. More lines are appearing across her forehead, the worrying ones that tells him she's upset. He hates them, but there's nothing he can do to stop them.

"Not yet," she whispers, and she reaches for her wand, just above their heads, to cast the Tempus Charm. They still have a twenty minutes until the sun will be set. "Will you hold me?"

He can do that. He can do that and more.

His arms wrap around her body as he pulls her onto his chest, and she half splays out on top of him. He can feel her heart racing, and he doesn't know if it's from the sex or the running there or fear, but he wishes he could soothe it. If only he could both hold her while also purring like a cat...

"I'm so glad you're here," she whispers, and he feels his heart skip a beat. He knows she's glad he did this for her, that he has become an animagus, but to hear her say it, for her to say it out loud...

"I'm glad I can finally be here," he answers, voice just as soft. "And we'll never be separated again."

"Promise?" she whispers, and he can hear her voice crack slightly. "Because I can't... I don't..."

"I promise."

His words have a sense of finality to them, but they are final. It's not a question, and it's not something he wants her to worry about. They won't be separated again. Even if he has to go on the run from the ministry, break out of Azkaban, whatever... he won't be separated from her, no matter what.

Soulmates are not meant to be separated. She'll never be without him ever again.

***

Watching her transformation while in the room with her is entirely different than watching through the window. Through the window, he had always felt so helpless, unable to do anything but watch her agony. She had always writhed in pain, reaching for him, screaming for him. It had cut him to the core.

This, however...

He can see, with his cat eyes, and hear with his cat ears, every moment of the transformation. He can hear her bones cracking, can see how her body twists and contorts. He can see the hair sprouting out of her skin, and can hear every little sob.

And yet, every moment it looks to be too much for her, like she can't take anymore... he's right there, purring, just at her side. She reaches out for him, and he never flinches away. She pets his head, hugs his body, and when tears run from her eyes, he licks her face clean. 

When she's more wolf than witch, she finally settles, but the claws become a bit much. 

With an ease that he can only attribute to frequent practice in the Forbidden Forest, Draco jumps up onto the table and sits to watch the rest of her transformation. There's a small urge to clean himself, to lick one massive paw and groom his hair, but he resists. Coughing up a hairball is nothing sort of an embarrassment, and he refuses to do it while in human form later.

He can see the moon through the window, rising high, and he knows it shouldn't be much longer until her transformation is complete.  The Wolfsbane Potion, thankfully, makes her tired, at least normally, and in the past, when things all go according to plan, she had always slept after finishing her transition. 

Of course, in the past, she had been alone. 

He watches as she arches back, howling. The ringing in his ears is painful, but as the echoes subside, he's pleased to see her settling... sort of. 

She's not tearing and ripping things apart, which is a good sign, but she is paying, or better yet searching. No, sniffing. She's seeking out a scent of some sort. 

Assuming it's himself, he leaps down from the table, but he's immediately ignored. She sniffs across the room, near the bed, by the fireplace, at the table he had just been on, and then... she drops onto her front paws and starts sniffing the floor, where she seems to find her answer. 

Her nose digs into the blanket they had been on earlier, the one he had brought with him. It had always kept him warm while he was on the outside, and he had hoped it would be a source of comfort now. 

Her face brushes against the fabric, and like a dog either in heat, or just trying to get comfortable, she rubs herself against it, over and over. Is it the scent of them? Of them having sex?

She finally settles with the blanket gathered under her head, but as she curls into a ball, it more tucks itself against her neck and chest. Draco watches with interest, and once she's still, he carefully steps around her. 

She had paid him no mind, which is better than her attacking him, but he's not sure what to do next. Should he lay down? Keep watch? Try to leave?

Something, or someone, yanks him down suddenly, and he finds his head pressed against the quite literal belly of the beast. On instinct, he starts to purr, to soothe, and in minutes, the tight hold on him loosens. 

He looks up to see she's asleep, still hugging the blanket. She's at peace. She's resting. It's better than he could have ever imagined. 

Stepping carefully, Draco rises up and walks around the sleeping werewolf a few turns, looking for exactly the right spot. He wants to be close to her, but not too close. A comfort, but not in danger. 

He settles for probably the worst spot, but he doesn't care. He's a feline now. Doesn't that come with extra lives?

Settling down beside her head, his chin rests on his front paws as he stretches out. Just a nap. A cat nap. 

Just... a quick... warm... nap. 

***

When Draco next wakes up, it's just like the dreams he's had in the past. He's naked, on his back, with an equally naked wild haired woman on top of him. His cock is nestling between her thighs, already hard, and he can feel her heat and wetness soaking his length. 

Fuck, is he going back to the dreams again? Is this cheating on his soulmate, having a sex dream about her in it? Is she having one with him? Or is...

Wait. Why is he in the Shrieking Shack? Why is there daylight shining in through the window? Why can he see her face?

"Draco, wake up," a soft voice murmurs, and he blinks to see it's Hermione, her lips trailing over his chest. Oh... oh fuck . It's not a dream. It's real. It's real, they're together, it's daylight, he's no longer an animagus, she's no longer a werewolf, and...

He cannot fall asleep again in the future, because what if he had changed back while she was still a werewolf? Oh fuck, he wants her so fucking badly.

"Hermione," he groans, leaning forward to kiss her. "Fuck, you are-"

"Don't let me go," she whispers against his mouth. "Don't let me-"

He leaps up from the ground, no longer a human, once more a lynx. The first rays of sun are on the horizon, and he whips around to see Hermione shifting back, still asleep and holding the blanket. He won't turn human himself until her transformation is done, but...

Don't let her go? That's not... that's not possible. He can't let her go. He won't let her go.

He's...

He'll speak to McGonagall. To Andromeda. To the ministry, if he must. Even Harry bloody Potter.

Is it a sign? Is it a warning? Will she know about this?

"Draco?" she whispers, and he watches as she blinks and looks around the room. He's still a lynx, and he watches as she groans while sitting upright, the blanket sliding around her shoulders as she tugs it on.

He breathes, two, three, then shifts back into human form, his body equally naked. 

He tells himself to be calm, to give no sign that anything is wrong, but... How can he hide it when everything suddenly feels so wrong?

"How are you feeling?" he asks as he goes onto one knee, tugging the blanket tighter around her shoulders.

"Tired and sore," she whispers, and he brushes a hair out of her face for her. "But... I'm not bleeding. I didn't destroy the room. I think I only slept."

"That's good," he confirms. "Yeah, you settled early. I have breakfast and a change of clothes for us in the bag outside the door, okay?"

She nods, and he goes to get the bag, taking a moment to breathe.

First thing... first thing, he'll talk to someone about this.

He won't be separated from her. He won't let her go.

Chapter Text

3 April 1999 - 3 Days after the Full Moon

While Draco isn't surprised that they've once again been called to the Headmistress's office, he is surprised at how long it has taken. After all, they've been sneaking around the school making out, he's been in and out of the Gryffindor Common Room, she's been in and out of the Slytherin Common Room, and they had most certainly been late to class the morning after the Full Moon.

What's more, he's surprised that the Headmistress hadn't been interested in hearing about his success during the Full Moon. After all, she had seemed so invested before, both in his progress as an Animagus and in Hermione's acceptance of her new future. Shouldn't the woman be caring more? Why wait for three days to summon them?

He has to assume that she waited because it's now both the weekend and the start of Easter Break. Yes, that makes sense. For the next two weeks, the school will be filled with minimal staff, a few students, and the pair of them. Most other Eighth Years are, after all, grown witches and wizards. He's going nowhere because the ministry has ordered he stay, and Hermione... he doesn't know if she actually has anywhere to go, but given how she is a werewolf and he is her soulmate, why would she go anywhere else?

They're sitting together in front of her desk, a tea tray beside them, not that they'll serve themselves. It would be rude to go ahead, and besides, perhaps their meeting will be brief? A simple check-in? Perhaps he can finally discuss with the witch about his future. 

After all... it's the start of April. It's time to start making actual plans for their future.

"You didn't do anything, right?" Hermione asks again, for at least the tenth time. Draco reaches over and squeezes her hand - he can somewhat understand her anxiety, but a little bit of faith in him would be appreciated.

"I've done nothing," he reassures her gently. "Perhaps this is about our masteries? Perhaps you forgot to turn in an assignment?"

"Don't be ridiculous," she snaps at him, but he can see the teasing in her eyes. There she is, more and more. He can see her slowly peaking out, the Hermione of old, the one that had once lost her mind over every test and every question. 

What an idiot he had once been, to mock her and her passion. Now that he knows what it is to be loved by her, to have all of her attention... he was a foolish boy, but he would never make the mistake of taking her for granted ever again.

"Perhaps there's news about my case?" he prompts again. although... 

No letters from his mother. No letters from the ministry. His Aunt had also been unable to start correspondence with his mother. He doesn't even know how she is, where she is, what she's doing...

No, he can't think about that. There's nothing he can do, save for not pissing off the ministry. So long as he stays out of trouble... well, there's no guarantee of anything changing or getting better, but pissing them off will certainly make things worse.

"My apologies, Mister Malfoy, Miss Granger," the headmistress calls out as she enters the room. "Please, have a cup of tea."

There's a pleasant smile on the woman's face, but it's fake. Draco can spot it immediately. There's a slight twitch in the old witch's eye, and there are even more lines in her forehead.

She's upset, and something is wrong. She wants to soothe them with tea. Calm them before she tells them what it is.

He's not having it.

"What is it?" he asks, wanting the truth out immediately. He'll take it blunt rather than dragged out. "What has happened?"

"Draco?" Hermione questions, no admonishment in her tone.

"Is it the ministry? My mother? Is it-"

"The students that were previously expelled will be returning to Hogwarts after the break."

McGonagall's blunt words should be welcome - it's what he wanted, after all, to simply have the words out in the room so they can talk about it, but now that he hears them...

He wonders what had happened. He wonders who pulled what strings.

He wonders... No. He has to know.

"Why?" he asks, blinking as he looks up at the witch. He can feel Hermione's hand still in his, gripping him tight, but she's still silent.

"The ministry has decided that their attack was understandable, and forgiveness should be granted."

He chokes out a peal of laughter, glad he has no cup of tea. Forgiveness? So they nearly kill him, but he, who never actually cast a spell against anyone, is under probation and loses everything? Funny, how the ministry treats those within their pocket and burns those that they can.

"It's not fair," Hermione whispers, and he looks over at her, ready to squeeze back and calm her, but the rage... He can see the rage in her eyes.

"Nothing about life is fair, but it will be fine," he soothes, trying to cast her fears aside. He'll figure something out. He'll never be alone. He'll stick with Longbottom or Hermione or even Theo and Blaise. He'll-"

"I'm going to kill them," she chokes out, and he knows it's not a threat. It's a worry. If they return to the school after what they did to him... she might actually kill them.

"I won't let you," he insists, but if she, in a fit of rage... 

He looks up at McGonagall, helpless. They can't return to the school. It's why he had told McGonagall about who had attacked him. He didn't want Hermione to do something she couldn't take back.

Her bloodthirsty nature was bloody hot, but not right now.

"They have all been cautioned to keep a wide berth, and have all agreed that their previous actions were... misguided . I have also warned them all that you now have friends amongst most of the other houses. Your being seen together has done quite well for your social standing."

He doesn't like hearing that. It bothers him, the idea that he's using Hermione just to keep himself from getting attacked. He loves her, wants to be with her. He's her soulmate. Sure, he would like to not be hexed, but being with her has nothing to do with that.

"It's not enough," he insists, shaking his head. "What happens when we near a Full Moon? What happens if she lashes out? What happens if-"

"You will need to learn to control it," McGonagall says as she sits down. Draco nearly snaps at the old woman, but she takes off her glasses and pours herself a cup of tea with such a heaviness in her shoulders, that clearly this is weighing on her.

"I tried my best, Mr. Malfoy, but it is out of my hands. I did, however, tell the ministry that I intended to offer you a position here at Hogwarts."

It's what he's been wanting to hear. What he's been wanting to talk about. Just because he has an offer for a mastery and a job, doesn't mean the ministry will approve of it.

"And?"

"And, your behavior in the coming months will decide your fate."

Right. So, play nice with his attackers, and he'll have a future. Give into them... Azkaban.

"I'm going to-"

"I know," Draco says, cutting Hermione off. He already knows. He...

Bloody hell...

Running his free hand over his face, Draco squeezes her hand one more time, then pushes himself to stand. This is... not the sort of news he had expected to hear from McGonagall. This is shit. This is absolute horseshit. This is... 

This is the Ministry, continuing to meddle and ruin his life. This is good torturing evil, and he's on the losing side. This is life, and he can only make the best of it by staying alive, staying away from trouble, and keeping Hermione away from it.

"Miss Granger, I am very sorry about this... but consider it a test of your control. If you are to be-"

"Please excuse me," Hermione says, cutting the headmistress off as she stands. She lets go of Draco's hand and rushes out of the office, leaving him behind with the batty old witch. Great. And now, Hermione is going to be a mess of emotions, all mixed in with the stress of their coming NEWTs. How she's supposed to keep her emotions in check, he'll never know.

He has a sudden urge to slink down to the dungeons and sip firewhiskey with his friends.

"Please tell me you at least have some good news for me," Draco says with a groan as he sits up somewhat. "My mother. Have you heard anything about her? Is there any news?"

"Your mother remains under house arrest within your family's manor," McGonagall says slowly, almost as though hiding something. "However, she cannot receive correspondence."

And that answers his next question - has she heard from his Aunt in regards to his mother's well-being. He himself hasn't written to his Aunt, far too busy with Hermione's care and their relationship, but... maybe he should write.

"Professor," Draco begins, then goes to correct himself, only to stop. No, she's still his professor, no matter her higher title. "If I were to perform well in my NEWTs and the Ministry approves of my Mastery being completed here... I was wanting to discuss the future. My future, with Hermione."

There's no movement on McGonagall's face, nothing to hint whether she is interested in his words or shocked by them or... well, anything. Of course, McGonagall has known for some time that they are together, but him wanting to discuss further plans? Surely that has to be some sort of a shock...

"Would it be possible to arrange a meeting with you and my Aunt, in the near future?"

Think positively. Think ahead. Think life with Hermione. Think...

He needs to think about something other than the fact that Hermione is likely to kill a few students over the next few weeks.

"With yourself and Miss Granger, or only yourself?" McGonagall prompts.

Oh, that's a... no. Just... he can't get Hermione's hopes up quite yet.

"Just me," he confirms.

"Very well then," McGonagall agrees, taking a piece of parchment from her desk. 

He takes that as a dismissal, but as he goes to leave, he has one last warning from McGonagall.

"The Halls of Hogwarts will be safe one day, Mr, Malfoy, but for you... that day is not this one. I am sorry for that."

Taking in a deep breath, Draco can only offer her a nod.

Hermione. He needs to find Hermione.

Perhaps he'll be able to distract her with sex.

Perhaps sex will keep her from turning too bloodthirsty.

Perhaps...

... He's actually turned on by the thought of her killing for him.

Shit .

 


 

"Hermione-"

"I know that life isn't fair, but it would be nice if things could start working out for us," Hermione sobs out.

Bloody hell. When Draco left McGonagall's office, he had knew exactly where she would go, and had headed up to their tower immediately. He had expected her anger or her frustration, but this... her agony...

And of course, it's not her own well-being that she's worried about, which is only concern. After all, if it gets out that Hermione is a werewolf, then everyone in the Wizarding World would know, and she would be sent away, and her life would be over. They finally have some sort of a future planned, one where they can be together and happy, and safe. 

They'll be safe at Hogwarts, at least, in a few years. 

But if he's attacked, she'll attack, and...

She should be more worried for herself, but instead, she's crying because she's afraid someone will hurt him.

"It's going to be fine," he insists again, his fingers curling in her hair. He knows that touching it will only somehow make her hair bigger and poofier, but she needs some sort of comfort, and he doesn't know what else to do. "I'll stay with you, always. Perhaps we can bring a bed up here and permanently kick the Astronomy Class into another tower. Or perhaps we can-"

"You know I can't be with you always," she sobs, still clinging to his shirt as she continues weeping. "What if they attack you from behind, or-"

"They only got me last time because my guard was down," he insists. "Have a little more faith in me. I'll keep my guard up, especially when I'm not with you."

"Promise me you'll fight back."

It's the one thing he can't do. They both know it. They both know that he can't fight back, because one wrong move, and the ministry will throw him in a cell. One wrong move, and they'll be separated. What happens when a wolf and their soulmate are torn apart?

"I promise."

It's a lie, and she knows it, and he hates it, but-

"I love you," he murmurs and presses a kiss to her hair. "It's only a few more weeks. You should be crying about your NEWTs, not about this."

"Don't remind me of exams," she chokes around a laugh, and he knows she's smiling against his skin. 

She's still crying, but at least she's not sobbing, and any progress is good progress.

"Come on. Dry up your tears, and we'll spend the afternoon in the library." It's not his favorite place to be, but the smell of books will comfort her, and other students forced to be quiet, not that there are many in the school, will be soothing to her. "You can ask me all of your exam questions."

She sniffles one more time before wiping her eyes, and he knows he has won. An end to her tears is a victory he'll gladly take.

"What did you talk about, after I left?" she asks, taking the handkerchief he offers her to blow her nose. 

"My mother," he answers quickly. It's not a lie, but... "The ministry is still not done with her, nor with me, nor with any of my family property. I imagine they're still hoping that I'll break probation and then they won't have to return any of it to me, nor allow me communication with her."

"I'll write to her."

Her words make him freeze, and Draco stares at her, confused. It's the first time, ever, that Hermione has mentioned writing to his mother... or to anyone, for that matter. As far as he's aware, she has no communication with anyone save for those within the school... and even then, the number of persons she speaks to is few.

"You'll... you'll write to my mother?" Draco asks, startled. "Wha-"

"If that's alright," Hermione adds on, and tucks some of her hair behind her ear. He can tell she's embarrassed, now, and perhaps even regretting her words. "I won't mention you, because I imagine that would keep the letter from going through, but I could thank her for saving Harry in the forest. That way, we could see if the letter goes through her, and if she can respond."

A war hero writing to thank someone who, in a moment of bravery, saved the hero of the Wizarding World... Of all the letters that could get through to his mother, he imagines that one might just be the best bet, save...

It's no secret within the school that he and Hermione are now a couple. He wonders if it's known in the ministry. He wonders if...

"Thank you," he chokes out. It's worth a shot. It couldn't hurt anything. "I... I just want to know if she's alright."

He wishes he could talk to her, but anything is better than nothing.

"Come on," Hermione says as she pushes herself up off the ground. "You promised me an afternoon in the library."

He did, and the fact that she is no longer crying makes any sacrifice worth it, not that spending time with her is any sort of sacrifice. 

He just wishes he could do something more. Something else. Something to...

"And exam prep."

With a groan, Draco pushes himself up off the ground and brushes at his clothing. Right, the exam prep.

Something to take their minds off of things.

"I feel like I've made a mistake," he mutters.

Her smile is better than her tears... 

Particularly given how scared he is.