The reaction to Narcissa and Fleur’s shopping pleased Hermione greatly. She had not anticipated morale wins to come so quickly. First, the comfortable accommodations and adequate supplies. It was beyond what she had hoped for in the short term.
A smile tugged at her lips when she heard the cadence of the heels behind her. She slowed her pace wanting the blonde witch to catch up with her. She found herself relaxing as they fell into step. They walked in silent understanding to their quarters, neither saying a word until they were within the warded shelter.
“That went well, my Lord.”
Narcissa slipped her arms around Hermione’s waist as she spoke. She stole a sweet kiss before she allowed the witch a response.
“It did. You more than exceeded my expectations. I don't mean to say that I doubted you. You've been amazing, and I am so grateful...”
Narcissa placed a cool, slender finger on Hermione’s lips to stop the flow of words.
“You are welcome, Hermione. I will always be happy to help your cause in any way I am able.”
The young which looked into the blue eyes. They weren't cool as they were in public, they were white-hot, and Hermione wanted nothing more than to dive into her depths. She gently wove her fingers into the blonde hairs at the nape of Narcissa’s neck. She watched as heat gave way to desire. As it reached a fever pitch, Hermione captured her lips. She tasted her slowly. She wanted to know every inch of the fascinating and complex witch in her arms.
“Hermione, ” Narcissa murmured, a bit breathless. “Remind me to shop more often if that is the reaction I get. I am dreadfully good at spending your money.”
“Lucky for us both, I have no idea how much money I have. Hard to be penny-pinching without any idea of scale.”
“That is lucky for us both, indeed, ” Narcissa grinned. “I can manage the household funds until the end of the war and beyond if you wish. While we don't technically have unlimited funds, I have no concerns about spending as I did today.”
“That is a relief. About the businesses, how much do you think I need to intervene?”
“Not much in the short term, I would imagine. Mostly we hold investments in various businesses through a third-party company that shelters our ownership from the public. I will set a meeting with the manager for you whenever you are ready. They are a paid employee, so I don't anticipate any issues, but of course, we can always change investments, ” Narcissa said thoughtfully.
“The stability is more than I could have hoped for. How securely can I meet with the manager? I don't want to put any of us at risk.”
“They will happily meet in muggle London. Ask Andromeda if she thinks it's feasible. If not, we will find a way.”
Hermione nodded. It was something she would need to deal with, but not tonight. She was to lead a team on a flashy sabotage mission. The goal was for Voldemort and his followers to be yet again rattled. She wanted to build on the momentum of the last mission. She wanted them to fear her.
“But, ” Narcissa said, “I do not believe that is an issue for tonight. You need to be focused. Come right this way, my Lord. I have battle clothing for you too.”
Hermione gulped. It was uncanny how Narcissa could turn on the seduction and have Hermione pliant and willing within moments.
“One might think, wife, that you are only interested in getting me out of my clothes.”
Narcissa batted her eyelashes prettily.
“Can you blame me, Hermione? I had a taste last night, but I am in no way finished with you. But duty calls. Let me show you what I bought for you.”
Hermione knew she was feeding directly into Narcissa’s game, but she could hardly be blamed. The witch was pushing her buttons, and she couldn't simply let it go unanswered. She strode quickly after the blonde, not just following her but gaining on her. Narcissa paused just inside their massive closet and turned. Momentarily, her eyes widened, but Hermione didn't allow her to comment. She pushed the blonde against the door and claimed her lips. She nipped Narcissa’s lower lip and felt the moan reverberate through the witch’s body. She broke away reluctantly.
Hermione knew she sounded breathless.
“Mmm, yes, ” Narcissa moaned and wiped the lipstick on her lower lip.
Hermione watched with affection that was beyond rational as the blonde gathered herself again.
“These are your robes for missions. I've chosen a more elaborate but still subtle black. Your soldiers will recognize you, but it won't put you in danger. Every imaginable protection has been applied to this cloth. That, however, does not mean you should be less careful. It is only an advantage if it doesn't get you killed.”
“Noted, ” Hermione agreed as she undressed. “I always consider the risks. Tonight is important but should be relatively low risk.”
“Do not underestimate them, ” Narcissa hisses.
“That would be ironic. I will do my best not to. We are always prepared for the unexpected and try not ever to get too comfortable.”
Hermione pulled on the clothing. It was very comfortable and like a second skin. She could feel the magic of the cloth pressing against her. Even that was less distracting than Narcissa’s eyes.
“This isn’t like the emperor’s new clothes. I am wearing clothes, aren’t I?”
“Yes. And it is truly a shame. I prefer to keep you here and permanently nude. But I suppose that wouldn’t be generous of me to those who have fought so steadfastly at your side.”
Narcissa’s words were teasing, and light but worry lingered in her eyes.
“I will keep that in mind and attempt to keep my clothing to a minimum whenever possible.”
“That is very considerate. There is only one rule for missions under my roof,” Narcissa said. Hermione suppressed a shiver at the tone. “With your shield or on it.”
Hermione paused and nodded solemnly at the reference. It was how she had always lived her military career. But for her very new spouse to say it out loud, it took on a gravitas it never had before.
“I will bring you no shame,” Hermione eventually said, breaking the silence.
“Good. I've had more than enough of that in one lifetime. While you are gone, I assume Severus, and I should prepare in case there are casualties?”
“Yes. And Andromeda. She is a fair healer as well.”
“Very well. I am well supplied. It will only take a little time to give them an overview. I realize that you do not wish to tell me where you are going or what you are doing, but how long should it last and how many will be with you?”
“Two hours total is our estimate, and only 5 of us are going, including myself. It will mostly be low risk and showy.”
“Very well, my Lord. We will be prepared. There will be food and beverage ready too.”
“Thank you,” Hermione muttered and kissed Narcissa gently.
She looked into the arresting blue eyes for a long moment, but she knew there were no more words that needed to be said. She picked up her wand and looked at the dagger. She could feel Narcissa’s eyes on her.
“Do you have another knife I could carry, wife?”
Hermione didn't turn around. Leaving the dagger was more challenging than it should have been, but Narcissa’s feeling on the matter was more important.
“Of course. I have one that is also well cursed and easier to conceal.”
Hermione still didn't turn even as she heard Narcissa moving through her drawers. She waited until her wife walked in front of her, extending a knife to her. It was beautiful in ways the other dagger was not. The delicate filigree etched in the blade's metal was clearly spell work, and the golden handle fit beautifully in her hand. It was well-weighted and very sharp.
“I enhanced the spell work myself over the years.”
Hermione closed her eyes and could feel the blonde’s magic. It was smooth and deadly, but it lacked the darkest undertones. She opened her eyes to meet Narcissa’s gaze.
“This is perfect. Thank you. Will you…”
“Of course. I will stow it away carefully in the event it is ever again needed.”
Hermione slipped the knife into her holster and watched as it magically adjusted to be a perfect fit.
“Now go, Hermione. I will see you in a few hours.”
With a curt nod, Hermione was out the door and moving quickly towards the library. Her magic was already pushing against its confines. It was going to feel good to let go of some of the restraint.
She was unsurprised when her team for the evening was already waiting for her. She knew they would be anxious to get going. Not only did they need a good fight, but Fred and George had several new devices that they were looking forward to field testing. Sirius and Tonks were relaxing by the fire, a nice counterpoint to the exuberance of the twins.
“Good Evening, General,” Sirius drawled.
Hermione nodded in greeting.
“Are we all ready?”
She looked around at the confident and excited faces.
“Has everyone seen the apparition point for emergency evacs?”
The group nodded in unison.
“Very good. Tonight we are going by broom because they think we don't like to use them. But do not hesitate to apparate or use these.”
Hermione handed them each a portkey.
“Use the usual close word to activate them. They will land you just outside the ward. Andromeda and Severus will be awaiting our return. I want a clean raid tonight. There is no need to engage in combat. Fred and George, I will lead until we are a mile out from the encampment. I will signal, and you two will take the lead. Sirius and Tonks, when I drop back, the three of us will hang back. Let Fred and George create chaos. Our goal is to take out water sources, weapons and decimate their supplies.”
“Latest intelligence has confirmed it is still an active encampment,” Tonks added. “None of the premier staff will be present, but it should rattle them all the same.”
“Excellent,” Sirius said, clapping his hands together. “Shall we?”
Hermione nodded and led the group out the back terrace. Fleur and Bill, we're waiting with brooms for them.
“Zes are ze fastest brooms on ze market,” Fleur said proudly.
Bill handed one to each of his brothers.
“I expect a full review, boys. Maybe the boss lady will let us use them for Quidditch if we are well behaved.”
Hermione took the broom Fleur offered her and mounted it.
“She picked zis out especially for you,” the French woman said quietly.
Hermione blushed but didn't respond. She kicked off the ground and hovered a few feet above the earth. She could feel Narcissa watching her and the pleasant tug of the bond, but she pushed it to the back of her mind. She needed to concentrate on the mission. There would be ample time for affection later. She waited until all of the others were floating around her.
“Hoods up,” she barked. “Let’s roll.”
The broom was even faster than she expected. It was an absolute joy to fly. She glanced over her shoulder and was happy to see the others having no issues keeping up. She headed northeast 18 marks. The encampment was only 50 miles away by broom. She assumed Voldemort's forces were too scattered to arrange for quick movement of such a camp. In the past few years, she had found their logistics to be lacking overall.
Their trip was eerily calm. The weather was good, and the moon was half full. They could see enough to stay together, but it wasn't bright enough that it would be easy to spot them from the ground. Hermione slowed their pace as they approached their target. She felt the others slow around her. With a hand signal, they sent them forward in the proper formation. She would follow behind them on the lookout for disaster.
George and Fred resumed their top speed before firing off their latest gadgets. The noisy and colorful contraptions dampened the magic of those close to them. It didn't permanently remove it, but it was enough to hint that the Order could do so. Sirius and Tonks set about burning down the buildings their intelligence had said were full of brooms, potions stores, and explosives.
Hermione felt the disaster the moment before it happened. It zipped through her magic, and she was barreling towards Tonks as fast as the broom would fly. She wanted to fire off a spell, but the asshole was moments from stabbing Tonks, and she didn't want to make the wound she couldn't stop from happening worse than it was already going to be. She hit the ground at a sprint, drawing her knife.
Hermione drew the knife across his throat and dropped him. In the same instant, Tonks realized she had been injured. She cast a gentle stasis spell over the wound to give her time to transport the witch. As she was digging the portkey out of her pocket, she whistled in a distinct warbling tone. When the others heard it, they would know she had been forced to return to base and would be quickly behind her.
She wrapped her arms around Tonks, taking her full weight and activating the portkey. She didn't close her eyes against the blurring of the world. She was far more concerned with the woman in her arms than nausea she couldn't feel through the adrenaline.