Hermione gazed steadily into the mirror. Unwaveringly she assessed herself. She was proud of the warrior looking back at her. She hadn’t dreamt this might be who she became, when they snuck into Hogwarts to begin what they had hoped would be the final battle. Like so much they planned in those early days, it hadn’t ended the war. Instead it marked the true beginning of it.
But Hermione Granger was above all adaptable and brilliant. With the unexpected mentorship of Severus and Andromeda, she blossomed as a strategist. Over a bottle of fire whiskey, they had been bemoaning the lack of use of military tactics and organization, when Remus walked through the room and casually mentioned that Kingsley could get her into basic training.
It led her to a collaborative exchange via the ministry with the British Army. She left the magical world for nearly a year to attend officer training at RMA Sandhurst. Looking back, the very human struggle and challenge of that program grounded her confidence in herself that the magical world couldn’t offer her. A part of her was grieved at her deception that she would not have the opportunity to serve at her classmates’ sides. But she knew from the beginning that her war was elsewhere. She and the other members of the Order of the Phoenix quickly realized that unless they wanted to lose as they had the first time, they would have to fight the Second Wizarding War differently.
For Hermione differently meant muggle military training, hand to hand combat, and dark magic. In the time where the war moved neither backward to forwards, she had explored the breadth of magic with Severus and Andy. She learned that balance in magic was more important than “light” or “dark.”
Her experiences through the war made her able to grasp dark magic in ways she couldn’t have before she was laid bare on the floor of Malfoy Manor. The blood curse inflicted on her that day taught her the power of a magic she didn’t even know existed. She was lucky that the blood that created that magic was shared by Andromeda. It hadn’t been easy to unwind, but the youngest Black sister had taken great pride in picking apart and destroying her older sister’s spell work.
She did not mention it at the time, but in Hermione’s core she knew that magic lingered. The witch’s crooked wand bonded to her in a way even a fairly won wand should not. There had been sparks the moment it hit her palm after a well timed expelliarmus that Bellatrix never saw coming. Not unlike the avada that came after it.
The wand recognized she had the soul of a warrior long before she did. With it, she learned how to mimic the magical signature of its original owner. A magic that shouldn’t have really been possible. It seemed just this side of resurrecting the dead. But her connection to Bellatrix, though undeniably fraught with pain, was written in blood. And there was no stronger magic.
The first time Hermione glamorized herself and cloaked herself in the dark witch’s magic, Andromeda sobbed, grieving the sister lost to her decades before. Hermione hadn’t really known what she was doing then. She was pulling and pushing the magic in and around the wand, experimenting and attempting to keep her too noisy brain quiet. At Andromeda’s insistence, they had practiced until she perfected it. It was exactly the type of unexpected edge that might tip the war in their favor.
Hermione looked over her attire with a critical eye that was required only by her. The crisp black suit and flashy gryffindor red shirt were meant to draw attention. And if the mission went to plan, her appearance would matter.
“Hermione, it’s time,” Severus’ voice boomed through the door.
Hermione touched her neat bun one more time before turning to go. She dropped her wand into her palm and pulled her magic around her. She had been preparing for months for this mission and she was confident that it would turn the tide of the war. They could not stay at their six year stalemate forever and she could see the exhaustion of the resistance.
Tonight she would take, in a single magical act, the bulk of the financing away from Voldemort’s forces. Finally the Order’s spies had found something solidly actionable. Naturally, it was a bold and risky mission. She would either come back victorious or she would be dead. There would be no in between for her. The ancient magics they would be pulling upon would demand a life and she hoped against hope that it would not be her’s.
“Are you ready,” Andromeda asked, ushering her through the door once she opened it.
“Yes, Andy. I know the layout of the manor. I know where he will be. And I will eliminate the target.”
Even to her own ears, her voice was the cool detached professionalism that had been drilled into her.
“Good,” the witch sounded not entirely relieved. “Come and let’s execute the spell. You’ll only have one chance.”
“I won’t fail,” Hermione said firmly.
She had no doubt that she would succeed. She had been over the scenario time and time again. They had rehearsed and trained for weeks. Both the physical and magical tasks were well within her abilities. It came down to timing. And her gut simply said it would go her way.
Andromeda didn’t say anything further for which Hermione was grateful. She took a deep breath and looked up to see Severus.
“It’s time,” he said in his resonate deep voice.
“It is. Do you have the portkey for me?”
He handed it over. Hermione flipped it over in her left hand. With a final affectionate look at the pair of them, she held the portkey tightly and waited for the pull of the magic.
She landed as gracefully as she could manage, quickly ducking behind a hedge. She landed in the back garden of the large manor home as had been promised. She paused to listen, holding her own breath. After half a minute, it was clear that there would be no immediate response. She was unsure if they had become lax in their defenses or if her magical cloaking in another’s magical signature had subverted the wards more successfully than she had hoped. They had assumed that Bellatrix’s magic would still be recognized by the wards, for who had time to alter them every time someone died during a war. Not to mention the magic Hermione was doing shouldn’t have been possible.
She would hold the dark witch’s magic around her until the last moment.
The final spell she would execute in her own magical signature. It was the spell that would change everything. She would not risk it going wrong.
She moved slowly and silently around the edges of the garden, working her way towards the back of the house. She was making her way to the third floor, fourth window from the left. The intelligence for this raid was incredibly specific. Almost too specific, the thought of which made Hermione pull the magic more tightly around her.
She paused at the edge of the hedge as two distracted guards passed within feet of her. They were too engrossed in their conversation to be of much use. She crept stealthily to the back of the house and plastered herself to it. When she finally reached the spot below the 4th window. She looked up to find the third story window was indeed illuminated. She cast the spell that revealed the “Sticky Trainers” substance on both her gloves and shoes. It would allow her to scale the vertical surface with relative ease. She has been practicing climbing in preparation. It was harder to use the magical substance than climbing a simple rock wall, but she could take the shoes and gloves anywhere with her.
Before starting the climb, she stowed her dagger back in the side of her boot and clinched the wand between her teeth. She could easily overpower a wizard at hand to hand combat if it came to that as she was climbing. Particularly with the goblin forged dagger she carried. She knew first hand the kind of damage it could inflict. It was the perfect and very personal reminder of how she had become the soldier she was.
The silence remained unbroken as she crept up the side of the building. She slowed her pace as she approached the muted light spilling from the window frame.
She could see that as promised the window was cracked and drapes drawn partially. It would give her some cover to enter the room without detection. Her mission would only take her a matter of seconds. With a deep breath she crawled up to the level of the window and retrieved a magical flash-bang grenade from her pocket. She balanced precariously pulling the pin and tossing it in the open window. She waited for it to detonate and then breached the window, wand in hand.
In three strides she was at her target. In one motion she dropped her magical cloaking and drew the dagger across his bare neck and whispered.
Et sanguis sanguinem. Quae tua fuit quondam, nunc meae.
She didn’t need to look down to see the life drain out of his eyes, she felt it. The magic racing through her was changing her permanently even as the wizard at her feet died. She clasped the crooked wand and raised her eyes waiting for the rest of the room to recover. She would fight anyone who didn’t surrender.
Somewhat surprisingly, it was the blonde witch who found her eyes first. She made a note to question how the witch recovered so much faster than the others.
“My Lord,” she said in a reverent tone that zipped down Hermione’s spine.
Hermione felt the tug of the marriage bond she had inherited. It begged for closeness and completeness that she couldn’t afford to be distracted by just yet.
“Wife,” Hermione responded simply and offered the witch her hand. She used the contact to move the blonde behind her, where she could keep her safe. With Narcissa secured, she refocused on the wizards now regaining their faculties.
“The house of Malfoy has fallen,” she pronounced slowly and clearly. “And Granger has risen in its place. All that once belonged to him,” she paused and pointed at the body below her, “is now mine.”
She dramatically let the murmurs travel through the crowd. “All who wish to remain loyal may stay. All others have 30 seconds before my wards forcibly remove them.”
She enjoyed the stunned looks on the Death Eater’s faces. She knew she had a mixed reputation among them and she had just killed one of their most senior leaders with her bare hands. A short stodgy wizard was the first to attempt to disarm her, but she reversed and amplified his spell on him without a sound. At the sight of his failure, the others disapperated without firing a single spell.
Hermione didn’t move until she felt her wards fall in place and the wizard before her vanished to outside the grounds. She relaxed a fraction.
“Do you know how many others there are?”
She looked over her shoulder at the blonde who seemed rather nonplussed at what had just occurred.
“25 or so, I believe. Though I very much doubt they are still here. That ward was like nothing I’ve ever felt before.”
The blonde’s eyes were sparkling with something so close to affection that Hermione had to intentionally remind herself to breathe.
“I will search the house for any that remain, if you would assist me.”
“Of course, my Lord.”
Narcissa sounded subservient and playful, which caused Hermione to pause. She had known that this spell would essentially make the witch a pawn in a larger game. And it was at Hermione’s magic it was done. Along with Lucius’ businesses and titles, she had inherited his spouse and heir.
“Not now,” the blonde interrupted gently. “We will have time to discuss what has happened later. Secure the house and finish your plans first.”
Hermione swallowed hard and nodded. She felt compelled to listen to the blonde. She didn’t have time to think about that or fight it. Instead she picked up her dagger and cast a cleansing spell on it. She could feel the blonde’s questioning gaze, but did not meet it. She was not surprised that the blonde witch recognized it on sight. She tensed and relaxed her neck finding her center again.
Dagger in her left hand and wand in her right, she systematically searched each room, with Narcissa wand drawn behind her. They worked seamlessly as a team, she noticed. They quickly cleared the third floor. Only elves remained and they were bonded to her by magic.
Before Hermione made it to the bottom of the stairs between the 3rd and 2nd floors, she heard movement. She raised her wand, but a slender hand grasped her wrist. Narcissa was plastered to her back.
“It’s only Draco,” she whispered. “Feel his magic. You will know it.”
Hermione closed her eyes at the gentle tone and did as the witch asked. She let Narcissa slip around her for the first time since she had taken the marriage bond (and her previous husband’s life). She waited and let the blonde go down alone.
“Draco, dear,” Narcissa said just out of eyesight.
Hermione couldn’t help noticing that it was hollow and defeated sounding.
“Where is she?”
“Just behind me.”
Hermione took her time walking down the last few stairs. She knew she looked formidable.
“Draco,” she said calmly.
“My Lord,” he answered, meeting her eyes. “Welcome home.”
She raised an eyebrow at his acquiescence. She expected it from Narcissa somehow, but it was a surprise from Draco.
“Help us search. Have you heard anyone else on this level?”
“Not since they all literally disappeared in front of my eyes. It was freaky, if not impressive,” he snarked lightly.
Hermione chuckled. “We will still clear it room by room all the same. I don’t want any surprises tonight.”
He nodded and drew his wand to follow her.
With their help the second and first levels cleared quickly. They finished ironically in a phenomenal library. Hermione would have liked the luxury of looking through the stacks carefully, but that would have to wait.
Hermione pulled her old well worn DA coin out of her pocket. She cast the spell with her coordinates.
“If you would both put your wands away for a few minutes, please,” she said over her shoulder. “I have some business to finish tonight before we can sit down and have the drink the three of us deserve.”
The blonde heads nodded in tandem, stowing their wands and looking uncertain.
“Just stay behind me. I will make introductions,” Hermione said as the first crack of apparition was heard.
She was happy to have gotten the instruction out, because she nearly tackled the moment Andromeda appeared.
“Hermione, are you alright,” the youngest Black sister said, patting her down.
“I’m perfectly fine, Andy.”
Hermione was a little shorter with the witch than she usually would have been, but she could feel Narcissa’s displeasure at the witch’s hands on her body. The rolling anger from the blonde was more than a little disconcerting, in part because she wasn’t sure who was in the line of fire. Andy, however, was not going to be dissuaded. She clasped Hermione’s face between her hands to look into her eyes. Hermione felt the tension rising, until it went deathly cold.
Narcissa’s voice was velvet. And her hand was warm and solid at the base of Hermione’s spine. Hermione held still, neither giving nor taking space. She knew she could not give into the shudder the contact wanted to shake loose.
“It’s good to see you, Narcissa. And bonded to a mudblood. How ironic. ”
“Don’t use that word,” the blonde witch hissed and looked with considerable concern at Hermione.
“Oh, don’t worry, baby sister. I removed Bellatrix’s spell from her. The word cannot injure her, physically at least.” She looked around the blonde witch. “And don’t be shy. Draco is it?”
Draco nodded and stepped forward slightly.
“I’m your Aunt Andromeda. It is nice to meet you,” she said and offered her hand.
He took it uncertainly.
“It’s very good to meet you,” he answered quietly.
“I assume others are coming,” Hermione said looking at Severus.
“They are. These two will need to be debriefed. I have convinced them to let me lead it.”
Hermione’s face went stoney.
“I will also be present,” she said firmly.
“Of course,” he acquiesced easily. “It’s your mission. Have you secured the house?”
“I have. Did you feel my wards?”
“Yes. I simply wanted to ensure we didn’t have any… hangers on.”
“We searched room by room. It’s just Narcissa, Draco and the elves,” Hermione said while stealing a glance at Narcissa and Andromeda talking to one another.
“How are you feeling,” Snape said low enough no one else would hear.
“There was certainly an odd sensation with the spell and then there is the bond… But my magic feels normal and stable.”
“Good. That’s good. Let me know immediately if that changes.”
Hermione nodded absently. Her attention was back on the blonde witch. She realized she could feel an echo of Narcissa’s emotions. Andromeda was good and truly already under her skin.
“Narcissa,” Hermione interjected, “is there a room suitable for a small meeting? We need to get as much information as possible from you and Draco.”
The blonde blinked at her before answering.
“Yes, of course,” she said stiffening. “Shall the elves serve dinner as well. I assume those attending will not have eaten?”
Hermione looked to Andy, who shrugged and nodded.
“Food is always welcome. I think the Order is perpetually hungry.”
Narcissa snapped and bent down to talk to the elf that appeared.
“What kind of venue would you prefer for a small meeting? A place where the group can gather around a table or something else,” she asked Hermione.
“A table would be nice, I think.”
Narcissa finished instructing the elf.
“It will be ready as soon as you have need of it.”
Hermione felt the need to touch the witch. To affirm something that she didn’t quite understand. But the roaring of the crack of landing apparition interrupted anything she might have said or done. Hermione drew her wand and again put herself physically between the blondes and everyone else.
“Hermione Fucking Granger. You are unbelievable,” Ginny Potter said as she re-oriented herself.
Hermione smiled at her boisterous friend.
“I can’t believe you doubted me. I’ve never failed at a mission,” Hermione said easily.
“I’m not surprised, but glad you aren’t dead all the same.”
“Thanks. Was everyone briefed while I was away?”
“Yep. I think everyone will largely be cool. Ron won’t be here, but he is still….”
The redhead trailed off remembering that the blondes were present.
“The same place as before,” Hermione asked.
“Yes. It will be easier without him. It will still take some time for them to accept your… family.”
Ginny sounded uncertain about what to call them.
Hermione felt Narcissa run a hand lightly down her back and smiled.
“We will figure it out in time. My family won’t be going anywhere,” Hermione said confidently. She rationally knew that the magical bond was guiding her, but she had never felt anything that felt more true. Narcissa’s joy seeped into her. It was intoxicating.
Ginny smirked and Hermione did her best to wipe whatever look must have been on her face.
“No doubt,” the red head snarked.
“Lord Granger,” Snape interrupted gently. “We are ready to debrief if you are.”
“Yes. Let’s get this over with.” She took two steps before pausing. “Actually, I want 2 minutes with Narcissa and Draco before we begin.”
“Of course,” the wizard said easily. He knew her loyalty was beyond reproach and that there were magical compulsions pulling at her.
“Thanks. Narcissa, would you lead the way?”
The blonde nodded and stepped ahead. Hermione watched appreciatively at the shape of the witch. She was well aware that she preferred the female form, but she hadn’t ever been so drawn to someone on sight. When they arrived in the room where they would be meeting, Hermione was not entirely certain that she would be able to walk back to the library. She slowly raised her eyes to Narcissa’s face and it was quite obvious that she had been caught. The blue eyes glimmered with amusement and warmth, which caught Hermione off guard. She cleared her throat in an attempt to regain her composure.
“We don’t have much time. I don’t think that I have to tell either of you how important it is that you are as forthcoming as you can be in the next few minutes. Tell us everything you can, magic compulsions aside. I would do anything in my power to protect you, but if you willingly join the Order you won’t need my protection. And I think it is clear after tonight which way this war will go.”
“We are prepared to fully cooperate,” Narcissa said shortly. “I don’t have the mark and took few vows. With Lucius dead, there are only a handful that endure. Draco, however, took the mark.”
Hermione nodded and looked at the young man sympathetically.
“Severus has found ways to lessen the effect until the urges disappear entirely. I am sure he will be happy to work with you.”
Draco let out a tense breath.
“That would be ideal. I had wondered how I would be of any use or resist his call.”
“We will help you.” Hermione’s tone had warmed slightly. “There is a lot we can teach you. I’m going to invite them in. Be yourselves and be honest. It will be fine.”
As soon as she opened the door, she was met with familiar green eyes.
“Hello, Harry. It’s good to see you.”
“And you, Hermione. Well done as usual.”
He hugged her tightly before stepping into the room. Severus and Andy followed him. Andy in particular looked far too happy and that never boded well for Hermione. Andy preferred when Hermione didn’t behave like the well trained soldier she was. She indulged the witch occasionally, but wasn’t amused with so much feeling new and uncertain.
“Sirius,” Narcissa whispered over her shoulder before Hermione could greet him. “I thought… Bellatrix said…”
“Hello cousin. You’ll find the rumors of my demise to be greatly exaggerated. Welcome to the right side of the war after all these years.”
The blonde looked torn between embracing him and slapping him. In the end, she kissed his cheek and let him pass.
“It’s good to see you, Draco,” Remus said close on Sirius’ heels.
“Thank you, professor. You too,” Draco said looking startled.
Hermione made eye contact with Severus. It was clear their intelligence network lived up very much to their expectations. They had deceived Voldemort and the Death Eaters significantly if they didn’t know which original members of the Order were still living.
After the others were seated, she guided Narcissa and Draco to the remaining chairs. She slid into the chair between Narcissa and Andromeda.
“Congratulations, Hermione. It seems like another perfect mission,” Sirius said, looking suitably impressed. “Being a Lord looks damn good on you.”
Hermione rolled her eyes and shrugged at him. She hadn’t really cared about the title. The only thing that mattered was ending the funding machine keeping Voldemort afloat. The other things were unexpected benefits.
“That’s enough,” Snape said, ever annoyed with the living Marauders. “Remus, will you please begin with the oath keepers? Narcissa and Draco, your… Hermione won’t be pleased with this request, but would you be willing to take veritaserum? It will make this much quicker.”
Hermione felt rage bubble up in her. The idea that they would lie in front of her was beyond insulting. A warm hand on her knee stopped her from opening her mouth and soothed her anger.
“Of course, Severus. There will be a few compulsions we may not be able to get around with only that,” the blonde witch said smoothly. “We are more than willing to cooperate.”
Draco nodded emphatically and hastily took the potion as soon as it was handed to him.
The intervening hour and a half were among the shortest and longest of Hermione’s life. Narcissa and Draco had supplied them with more intelligence than they had even hoped they might be able to. But after Hermione’s near temper tantrum, Narcissa’s hand had not moved from her leg. If anything, it had crept slowly upwards. It was possessive and damn attractive. Hermione had to focus very hard not to give in to the siren’s call of her touch.
She was beyond grateful when Severus and Remus called the meeting to an end. There would be so much work to do, but not until after they had a hot meal and good night's sleep.
“I assume there is food,” Andromeda asked Narcissa.
“Of course, sister. We should partake before we all retire. I assume this group will be staying overnight? Or is this not to be the headquarters now?”
Hermione coughed uncomfortably. They had considered it but had yet to decide. It was uncanny that the witch suspected such.
“If we can accommodate them for tonight, that would be ideal. It is already very late, and the risk of retaliation is high.”
“Of course, my Lord.”
Narcissa batted her eyes at Hermione in a way that managed to be both teasing and seductive.
“The house-elves have already cleaned all the guest rooms, and they will be ready after dinner. If you would all follow me to the dining room.”
Hermione was first on her feet, still unwilling to risk the safety of the blonde witch. She was pleased when Draco was immediately at her elbow. Ancient magic or no, he had the potential of being her right hand. When they entered the dining room, the somewhat rowdy crowd had already settled in and begun eating.
Narcissa stopped in her tracks at the sight of the open laughter and joy. Hermione touched her lower back, encouraging her into the room.
“Are they always like this,” she whispered.
“Pretty much,” Hermione answered. “Though sometimes they are worse.”
“It’s so… odd to hear laughter and see joy. I haven’t in….”
“Years.” Draco finished the sentence for her looking just as shocked.
“Come join in,” Hermione said. At their hesitation, she continued, “You will be welcomed. You are with me.”
They nodded, looking skeptical but did as she bade. Andromeda chose the seat next to Draco and leaned close.
“Always be wary of food from a Weasley. They are far too fond of pranks.”
Draco nearly choked on his wine.
“Yes, Aunt Andromeda. I will be mindful.”
The witch, who looked so like Bellatrix, looked him over carefully.
“I’m not her, Draco. Please, call me Andy. Everyone does. I am your family no matter what you call me.”
He nodded and looked a little lost. Hermione wanted to intervene, but that distracting hand was back on her leg and drifting higher.
“Narcissa,” she whispered, attempting not to whine.
“Leave them be, darling. Andromeda has it well in hand. What can I get you to eat?”
Hermione stuttered at the offer and gentleness. Since she had been through basic training, she has shied away from anything remotely gentle.
“A little bit of everything then,” Narcissa said, not missing a beat. She placed a full plate of food in front of Hermione. “Eat. You’ve had a long day that isn’t over yet. You promised me a nightcap.”
Hermione blinked at the command and picked up her fork.
“It’s good, isn’t it,” Ginny said, leaning around Narcissa to look at Hermione.
Hermione nodded. She was grateful for sustenance but had left behind being picky about it.
“Meeting go, ok?”
“Yes. Everything to plan. Today has gone so well. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s been eerie.”
“You were beyond well prepared. And for the last several years, your plans have been working. This one was just more out on a limb than the others.”
Hermione bobbed her head. She knew Ginny was right. It didn’t precisely loosen the knot in her stomach, but it was a comfort nevertheless.
As the meal was winding down, Narcissa squeezed Hermione’s leg gently before standing. Hermione couldn’t help but adore how graceful the witch was. The room naturally silenced and turned toward her.
“The elves have prepared your rooms for the evening and can take you there at any time. Please do not hesitate to call them if you require anything. Please make yourselves at home.”
Narcissa looked down at Hermione, who stood to join her.
“Have a good night, everyone. We are going to retire for the evening.”
Hermione glanced at Draco and raised an eyebrow seeing if he too needed an escape.
“If it’s not offensive, my Lord, I would like to spend a little more time with Andy.”
“I will make sure he behaves,” Andromeda chimed in.
Hermione snorted at that. Andromeda was far more likely to lead him astray than keep him in line.
“I’m sure you will. Goodnight.”
Hermione offered her arm to Narcissa and let out a breath when a hand slid along her wrist before coming to rest.
“Since Draco won’t be joining us, why don’t we have a nightcap in our rooms. It will be a good deal more … comfortable .”
Hermione didn’t manage to suppress the shiver at the way Narcissa whispered the end of the sentence. There was something about the witch. Not that she had ever allowed another person to touch her even as innocently as Narcissa was now. She knew it was a trauma response, as was her strictly military attitude. Instead of having an emotional breakdown because of the war, she had gone to a military academy. She had learned how to be strong and self-reliant in the face of ridiculous odds. It had made her a successful leader and strategist. She realistically knew that she had kept the Order afloat the last few years as everyone tired.
But none of that training or success prepared her for this situation with the blonde witch. Between the complex magical compulsions and how their joining came to be, it was just so damned complicated. She was distraught at the thought of magical compulsions not giving Narcissa a choice. Hermione hadn’t wanted to take that from her, not really. Killing Lucius and taking his empire was about the war, yet there had been no way to do it without also inheriting Narcissa and the marriage bond. It was the one element that had nearly made her call off the mission. But after another bloody skirmish, Hermione had no choice but to attempt taking the funding out from under Voldemort.
So here she was walking through the dark corridors of an unfamiliar mansion, with a beautiful witch plastered to her side. Narcissa was flirting, but Hermione knew it was impossible to separate the will of the witch from the will of the bond. And it felt immoral to accept the affection in those circumstances, no matter how much she craved it. And she did crave it. She was just a woman, after all.
She watched enraptured as a slender, beautiful hand rested for just a moment on the doorknob. The bright blue eyes that turned to her were sparkling with something Hermione couldn’t name, nor could she look away.
“This has only ever been my room. I do not want you to think that there are any ghosts of the past waiting for you… or me within these walls.”
Narcissa’s voice was gentle and intimate. The comment was so thoughtful that Hermione wanted to crumble. She nodded and felt her entire body stiffen. She let Narcissa guide her into the room.
“Thank you for being so kind and understanding under such difficult circumstances today. I know that it must have been a horrible thing to witness. I promise I will always be kind and protect you. I won’t ask anything from you. I know for appearances that we should share rooms at least for a time, but I will happily sleep on the floor. And I will do my best not to inconvenience you…”
Hermione knew she was rambling but couldn’t seem to make her mouth stop. She was more tired than she had realized. Hands grasping her lapel and tugging her close caused her to gasp and finally stop speaking. The warm, lithe body pressing fully against her’s was divine. She had no idea how she was going to resist Narcissa.
“And why would you resist me? I am your wife. You surely feel the marriage bond as strongly as I do. I know you could feel my emotions earlier. So why not give in to what we both want?”
Hermione shook her head, attempting to find words.
“Because you didn’t choose to bond to me. You deserve to be more than a consequence of a spell.”
Narcissa chuckled darkly, a sound that made Hermione quiver.
“I have no earthly idea what makes you think that a pure-blooded woman ever had any choice in marriage.”
“That doesn’t make it right,” Hermione interrupted in a throaty voice that she knew gave away her struggle.
Narcissa grinned a feral yet very attractive smile.
“We are agreed upon that, but I had a choice, my Lord.”
Hermione cocked her head, attempting to follow the line of reasoning.
“Hermione,” Narcissa purred, running her hand across Hermione’s cheek. She was so close that Hermione could see nothing but the blonde in her line of vision. “Who do you think the spy was? Who knew of a rare ancient spell and passed it to Andromeda?”
Hermione gasped as it dawned on her.
“Oh yes, darling. I initiated the events of today. My only request to Andromeda for passing the information was that she ensure that someone attractive and adequate be the one who executed the spell. I was shown a shortlist of candidates. Though I didn’t know who would be selected, but I must say that I am in no way disappointed.”
Narcissa’s hand slid down to her neck where her fingers splayed, holding her in place. Hermione did not doubt that she was moments from being kissed.
“You’ve saved my son and me from suffering. And the moment you came through that window, I wanted you for myself. Before you said the spell, before the bond was forged.”
The red-painted lips pressed against her own, and Hermione melted into it. She happily let Narcissa deepen the kiss. She clutched at the blonde’s robes in search of purchase in an attempt to stay upright. When they parted, Narcissa drew in a deep breath.
“You are far beyond my expectations, Hermione Granger.”
Hermione lunged forward and kissed the blonde again, with less finesse and more passion. She grasped the witch’s hips to start navigating them to a surface. Any surface.
Narcissa hummed when they broke for air.
“Yes, I think you will do nicely. But before you get into my bed, you will be clean. I have no objections to bedding a soldier. But the aftermath of battle is not appealing.”
“Oh yes, of course. Forgive me. You… you make me lose my head,” Hermione said sheepishly.
“I am remarkably not sorry about it. I am glad that you want me. Come, let me show you the shower. If you like, I would be happy to help you get clean.”
Hermione groaned at the thought of the witch in front of her in the shower and let herself be led into the bathroom.
The bathroom was luxuriously appointed. Hermione spun slowly, taking it all in. When she finished her revolution, Narcissa leaned slightly against the sink, watching her with a fond look on her face.
“I take it that this is a bit different from your usual accommodations?”
“You’ve surely been to Grimmauld Place. It is a Black family home, is it not?”
A look of pure disgust crossed the beautiful face.
“Oh, I know it,” she confirmed. “It was hideous 40 years ago. I can only imagine it has declined drastically.”
“It has,” Hermione said, stepping closer to the witch again. She wanted to feel her, wanted to fulfill the promise reflecting in Narcissa’s eyes. “May I?”
She gestured somewhat awkwardly toward Narcissa's dress.
“That would be most… chivalrous.”
The blonde turned slowly, giving Hermione adequate time to really see the dress. It was a work of magic itself. She was already a bit breathless when Narcissa gathered her long blonde hair and pulled it over her shoulder, so it was out of the way of the line of tiny buttons running the length of her spine. Hermione’s hands were steady, even if her breathing wasn’t. Each disengaged clasp exposed more of the silky skin, and she just barely managed to resist slipping her hands beneath the fabric. As the material slid free, Hermione’s mouth went dry at the sight. The black lace lingerie framed the perfect ass, and Hermione was certain she might combust when the witch turned to face her.
There was a red flush creeping down Narcissa’s chest that Hermione desperately wanted to follow with her mouth. Before she could follow up that thought with action, Narcissa lifted her hands and pushed Hermione’s suit jacket from her shoulders. Her movements were impatient. She managed only that piece manually before magically vanishing Hermione’s outer clothing.
“Oh, Morgana. I had forgotten how lovely a fit female form could be. And… it almost feels like she is here.”
Narcissa looked deeply uncomfortable at her admission. Hermione wanted to dig into how many fit female forms the blonde had seen, but she felt the magic of the bond nudge her away from it.
“I haven’t been able to find a documented reason in any books that I’ve had access to,” Hermione explained. She picked up the wand and dagger, handing them to Narcissa. “I believe that she bonded us in some way that day when she tortured me. Perhaps something similar to a horcrux…” Hermione shrugged uncertainly. “The wand chose me. I won it, and then she was gone. It’s powerful and loyal. It’s taught me more about magic than I could have imagined. And when paired with the dagger, I could feel the lingering traces of her magic, and they happily recreated it. I can’t do it indefinitely. It does drain my natural magic to attempt to stay cloaked, but it was a good way to enter the wards tonight.”
Narcissa looked breathless.
“That was a more attractive explanation than I could have even imagined.” Narcissa released the tight bun and ran her fingertips through the curls released. “You are… impressive beyond words. If the world were different… I think she would have liked you. If she hadn’t lost her mind in Azkaban… if”
Hermione slipped her arms around the blonde and held her close. She wasn’t surprised when she felt tears on her neck. Hermione knew that this new life if she were successful in her mission, would be complex. She knew it would require them all to confront their pasts and the trauma that still lingered. The young witch underestimated the blonde in so many ways. Hermione underestimated how clever she was, how attracted to her she was, and how damaged she clearly was by the lingering war.
Hermione squeezed her tighter, wanting to protect her in any way she was able. As the witch began to calm, Hermione traced her fingers soothingly over the mostly bare back.
“This is not how I intended to spend the first night of our bond,” Narcissa mumbled into her neck.
“At least you had a plan,” Hermione said with a self-deprecating laugh. “I didn't know exactly what to expect of the bond. And my access to written resources has been inconsistent.”
Narcissa detached from Hermione enough that she was able to look the witch in the eye.
“You mean to tell me that you executed that spell without understanding the soul bond?”
Hermione nodded slowly.
“It was the only choice. This war has to end. Lucius provided too much money to be ignored. I had to take the funding source away, and if possible, turn it towards the Order. We have a fraction of the funding yet haven’t been losing ground. Surely with it, we have a chance.”
“I don’t want to talk war tonight, Hermione. I have spent decades in a bond to someone I didn’t desire or even like the vast majority of the time. Something I want desperately and something I did choose is in front of me.”
“Oh,” Hermione gasped. Narcissa had taken off her own bra and was guiding Hermione’s hands to her breasts. The skin was silky under her fingers, and feeling the nipples pebble in her palms made her want to forget there was ever a war.
“Do you think you can just have tonight with me, Hermione?” The blonde’s voice was teasing and confident again. “It seems tonight fortune does favor the bold. You should be rewarded for such bravery.”
Hermione gulped as soft hands removed her bra and traced her rib cages lightly.
“Come, darling,” Narcissa commanded. She stepped away to lean down and to slide her own panties down, giving Hermione an incredible view of her ass.
Hermione thought it was impressive she hadn’t come just from being around Narcissa. She easily was the most seductive woman that Hermione had ever met. She watched transfixed as the blonde stepped under the flowing water and then disappeared from sight, moving further into the shower. She momentarily considered taking the wand with her but settled herself, knowing that she could call it to her wandlessly. She shucked out of her remaining undergarments and followed the witch.
She passed through the first downpour of water and wiped the water from her eyes.
“You have a waterfall in your bathroom?”
“We have a waterfall in our bathroom,” Narcissa answered lightly.
Hermione nodded at the correction, struggling to form words.
“It was an entertaining magical project to work on.” Narcissa reached for her as she spoke, pulling her closer. “My magic has been monitored by one group or another for decades. The Dark Lord permitted me to do this, as it was seen as women’s work. So I might have gone a little overboard, making sure that I fully exercised my magic. Sit. These rocks are warmed.”
Hermione did as she was asked and took the shampoo gratefully. She didn’t even have to hold it to her face to smell the perfume of the witch next to her. Just the scent of it made her heartbeat just a little faster.
“Let me help get your scalp clean,” the blonde offered.
Hermione shuddered as cool strong fingers scraped through her hair.
“Oh… fuck .”
“Not just yet, but we will get there,” she teased.
Hermione felt liquid at the touch. The tension she had been holding was melting away under Narcissa’s touch.
“Tip your head back.”
Narcissa summoned the water, wandlessly rinsing the soap from Hermione’s loosened curls.
“May I,” Hermione asked, hands outstretched.
The blonde nodded. Hermione could see nerves and interest lingering in the blue eyes. She suspected that Narcissa had not been shown kindness with any consistency. The blonde hair was like silk. Unlike Hermione’s, she was uncertain if it was actually dirty, but she was not about to question that. She had been longing to run her fingers through it. She took her time sudsing it from scalp to tip, before she mimicked Narcissa to rinse the soap away.
“Mmm. There is nothing more lovely than having someone wash your hair. Thank you for indulging me, darling,” Narcissa purred.
The blonde cupped her face and watched Hermione’s facial expressions attentively. She gently guided their faces closer together. Hermione held her breath at the proximity, not wanting to break the moment and certainly not wanting to stop Narcissa. The touch of warm soft lips made Hermione’s magic jump. She happily leaned into the sensation. She had never understood the appeal of kissing, but kissing Narcissa was a revelation. She was happy to let the blonde explore her lips. Eventually and reluctantly, the blonde pulled away, swiping her thumb over Hermione’s bottom lip.
“You are even more delicious than I thought. I could do that for a very long time, but we should get clean. Wash my back,” she asked with a mischievous look.
Hermione swallowed hard and took the sponge and soap. She attempted to keep her hands steady and tried to convince them to work together. Touching Narcissa was intimidating, and yet she wanted it so deeply. The blonde had moved her long hair and was looking teasingly over her shoulder. Hermione was faced with the expanse of the pale skin of her back. Before she started washing, she traced her fingertips down the curve of Narcissa’s spine as she had wanted to earlier. She watched in wonder at the goosebumps that erupted in their wake.
“Hermione,” Narcissa growled. “This would be an appropriate time to put your hands on me. I only have so much patience. And I was so very controlled during dinner. It is running thin now that I have you naked in the shower with me.”
Hermione ran the sponge along the deceptively muscular shoulders, just barely resisting the urge to trace the outline of each muscle. She methodically washed Narcissa’s back, sneaking her hands over sensitive sides.
She couldn’t help but enjoy the delicious sounds from the blonde. Feeling brave, she knelt so that she could wash her long legs. Narcissa’s gasp at the move was well worth the gamble. She washed slowly and thoroughly. When she finished with the back of the witch, she slowly turned her around and looked up at her. The look on the blonde’s face was more intense than Hermione had been expecting. Hermione rose to the challenge and washed her way up Narcissa’s body, watching for the most sensitive spots so that she could exploit them later.
“You are teasing me, Hermione. You should know that I will have my revenge tenfold.”
Hermione moaned at the statement and rested her forehead momentarily against the pale thigh, trying to slow her racing heart.
“Oh, I see, My Lord. You want to belong to me as much as I want you to. Do not worry, Hermione. I will take care of you as you took care of me tonight. I have been in the company of warriors enough to know when I am being moved into easily defensible positions. Being brave and the most capable fighter does not mean that in these walls, you have to be in control. I was raised to be control personified. I can more than handle you.”
Though Hermione hadn’t thought about it before, she was sure that there was nothing she wanted more at that moment than to be handled by Narcissa. She looked up at the blonde longingly.
“On your feet, Hermione. You are dawdling.”
The stern tone was irresistible, and Hermione did as she was told, leaning into the solid warmth of the witch. She ran her hands over Narcissa’s breasts and stomach. She didn’t linger, though she certainly wanted to. She pressed a kiss into Narcissa’s lips as she moved the sponge between the witch’s legs.
“Aren’t you cheeky,” Narcissa said with a gasp.
Hermione chuckled and attempted to look as innocent as possible.
“What you have forgotten, my darling is that I still need to wash you.”
Hermione had, in fact, forgotten that she was serving herself up to payback. But when Narcissa’s hands touched her, she couldn’t find that she cared. It felt so good to be touched by someone who so clearly wanted her. She was trembling practically from the first touch and was openly moaning before the blonde was done.
“Oh fuck, Narcissa. Please. I think I am clean enough,” she eventually begged.
“Oh Hermione, I think I could become used to the sound of you begging. But I suppose you are correct. We should get dry and more comfortable.”
Hermione smiled at the condescending tone. Narcissa was far more than Lucius Malfoy’s widow. There were depths that Hermione couldn’t resist diving into. She followed the blonde willingly. She watched as the muscles in her back flexed with each step.
“I can feel your eyes on me,” Narcissa purred.
“I’m sure you can, wife. Tell me, are you part siren?”
It was the blonde’s turn to laugh.
“No. I’m not, though there have been rumors. It was an accusation leveled against my older sister more than once.”
“I can see why they might have said that. There was a certain magnetism about her. I can even feel it in the echoes of her magic.”
“I have every intention of combing through every bit of information you have about that piece of magic. But not tonight, my dear. Tonight I plan on exploring more physical parts of you.”
“So, I’ve gathered,” Hermione laughed. “Will this change our bond?”
Narcissa turned, towel in hand. She handed it to Hermione before she answered.
“From my experience and what I have read, it will calm it significantly. The bond is on edge because it has not been confirmed by physical means or by blood.”
Hermione tilted her head in thought.
“Do you know if the two methods reach the same end? Or are the results slightly different?”
The blonde stopped moving and looked carefully at Hermione.
“To some extent, you reach the same end. They cement the bond, but they are perhaps not equal. The blood bond, in addition to the marriage bond, ties us more intimately than the marriage bond alone. It was more common several centuries ago when war was more prevalent. There are rumors that it may elevate magical abilities as it seems to pool magical power.”
“That is very interesting, though I suppose my genuine interest in the blood bond is that it doesn’t feel as compelled as the marriage bond does. In my bones, I know that I want to consummate or perhaps need to. I think we should consider that down the line if…”
Hermione’s voice became soft and unsure.
Narcissa smiled warmly, if not mysteriously.
“Then, after a time, a few months or perhaps a year, we should discuss the blood bond again. While it is very rare for them not to be performed at the same time. I don’t see a magical reason why they could not be done separately.”
Hermione blushed at the idea.
“It almost sounds like you want to court me, Narcissa Black.”
The blonde grinned wolfishly.
“Narcissa Granger, to be more precise.”
Hermione sighed, then straightened at her schoolgirl reaction.
“There is nothing wrong with being proud of me, you know.”
“You are entirely correct about that, Madame Granger. I have never seen a more beautiful witch, and you’ve made it more than clear tonight how cunning and clever you are.”
She dropped a gentle kiss on the blonde’s neck. She had intended to move away to keep talking, but Narcissa held her close.
Hermione kissed from earlobe down to collarbone. The skin was soft and warm under her lips. The blonde shuddered against her.
“We need a bed,” Hermione mumbled, not wanting to entirely break her contact to speak.
Narcissa reluctantly pulled back and grasped Hermione’s hand. She dragged her through the elaborate suite and magically threw back the bed coverings without pausing. She dropped Hermione’s hand and crawled into the center of the bed. Until the blonde was crawling on her hands and knees, Hermione had managed to keep her reactions under control.
“You’re staring, darling,” Narcissa teased. “You needn’t just look, you know.”
Though they were too far down this path for it to be genuine, Narcissa crooked her finger coyly beckoning Hermione to her. That gesture seemed to unglue her feet from the ground, where she was frozen in awe.
Hermione had expected to be nervous or to feel the bond pulling at her, but neither were at the forefront. She was aware of the connection between them, but her thundering desire overwhelmed any other emotion. She climbed on the bed and slid her body down against the blonde’s side.
Narcissa hummed quietly while reaching for Hermione and kissing her soundly. She didn’t rush, nor did she pull away as she had before. Each luxurious kiss led into the next, leaving Hermione positively drenched and restless. She shifted her body, leaning over Narcissa. She held herself up above the blonde, kissing her for a long moment before she lowered herself. She slowly settled her leg between the blonde’s.
“ Oh fuck ,” Hermione whispered as her thigh became slick.
“That is rather the point, yes. Please, Hermione. ”
Hermione couldn’t think of a clever response, so instead covered Narcissa’s mouth with her own. She was pleased with the subtle trembling of the body beneath her’s. As she kissed along the strong jawline and down the pale neck, Narcissa began pushing her hips up rhythmically into Hermione’s leg.
Hermione held her weight on her hands to hover slightly over the blonde so that she would have access to the lovely breasts that she hadn’t been able to keep her eyes off of. She confidently kept her knee firmly between the pale thighs. While she had felt the rush of magic power, having a witch as beautiful as Narcissa desperate for her was an addictive level of energy.
While she didn’t have a tremendous amount of experience in physical relationships, Hermione knew she was on the right path when Narcissa held her head in place as her lips closed over an already hard nipple. She moaned around the warm skin and sucked gently and then harder. When she tentatively bit and tugged, she felt the reverberations of the blonde’s moan through her chest. She reluctantly released her mouth when Narcissa pulled firmly at the hair at the base of her head. Hermione was disappointed until she realized she was being guided to the other breast.
Hermione hadn’t thought much about her sexual preferences in the face of war, but she could not imagine not have access to such beautiful breasts on a regular basis now that she had experienced it.
“I’m not made of glass, my lord . You don’t needn’t be so gentle.”
Hermione moved her mouth and inch over to the side of the soft skin. She knew that Narcissa was goading her, but she was happy to mark the woman as her own in an intimate way that only they would be aware of. There would be so much about their relationship that was for public consumption, but this was just for the two of them. She pulled the skin between her teeth and sucked hard. The arching of the blonde’s back caught Hermione off guard, but she slid an arm beneath her to help support her as she took her time marking her.
“ My Lord. ”
The blonde’s gasping plea was music to Hermione’s ears.
“You are close, aren’t you, wife?”
Narcissa whimpered and attempted to nod. As much as the younger witch wanted to take her time, she needed to feel the blonde come apart around her fingers. She maneuvered to her side beside the blonde. Narcissa captured her lips as Hermione slid her hand down her body. The older witch gasped, breaking the kiss as her spouse gently cupped her.
Hermione waited patiently until the blue eyes once again looked at her beseechingly. She held the gaze, and she touched Narcissa intimately for the first time. She could practically see the fireworks going off in her eyes. Her fingertips glided effortlessly through the wetness. She slid gently against her clit for a moment before moving lower. She paused again with her fingertips at Narcissa’s entrance. She could feel the building intimacy. There was no mistaking how much the witch wanted her, but there were no words needed for the connection that they were experiencing. Hermione held her breath as she slid a finger inside her lover. She was pleased with the slight widening of the blue eyes in pleasure. She stroked languidly, adding another finger as she went. She built an unhurried rhythm that she suspected would build easily to a climax. She relaxed her wrist so that her thumb could rest just beside the blonde’s clit.
The blonde began shaking as Hermione put her knee behind her hand, helping to maintain the movement. She greedily captured the blonde’s lips as if she could swallow her passion. In the middle of the kiss, Narcissa turned her head to the side to gasp. Hermione felt the body below her go rigid with the tension of pleasure for a long moment before she felt the blonde spasming around her fingers. She moved slowly and gently until she was sure that she had wrung every bit of the climax from the witch. She withdrew her hand as carefully as possible.
“I thought you were inexperienced,” Narcissa choked out on a dry throat.
“I am, though not unread.”
Hermione grinned cheekily, bringing her fingers up to just in front of her lips.
“You’ll be the first woman I taste.”
She playfully stuck her tongue out before drawing her fingers into her mouth and cleaning them thoroughly. She moaned and closed her eyes. The intimacy and knowing it was Narcissa she was tasting made her forget that she was teasing the witch. When she opened her eyes again, she saw a look of warning before she was pulled firmly into a kiss. Narcissa consumed her and used her teeth liberally.
Hermione was focused on the feeling of the kiss that she had been rolled onto her back without realizing that the blonde was plotting anything. The blonde’s skin was pink with exertion, and she looked altogether too pleased with herself.
“You look particularly good underneath me, Hermione Granger.”
Hermione squirmed at the statement. It was shockingly pleasant to be under the blonde, even with the obnoxiously triumphant look on her face. She wanted to kiss it off of her. As she tried to sit up, Narcissa placed a hand in the middle of the chest, holding her into the mattress.
“You will stay where you are, darling . I promise that I will take very, very good care of you. But you, for all of your power, need to understand that no matter what the public thinks about our relationship, you belong to me.”
Narcissa spoke very close to Hermione’s ear in a seductive tone that she was reasonably sure she couldn’t possibly disagree with. The blonde finished her statement with a bite to Hermione’s neck that she was certain would show in the morning.
“Is that so?”
Hermione attempted to sound indifferent, but it was one of the sexiest things she had ever heard.
“Don’t toy with me, little witch. You are welcome to fool the rest of the world, but you’ll never be able to lie to me. I can feel how very much you like the idea.”
“ Fuck ,” Hermione muttered. “I do. Just please.”
“Mmm, that’s a good witch. I will always take care of you, Hermione,” Narcissa promised. She felt the firm body beneath her tremble. There would be time later to take as much time as she wanted to explore the beautiful body. But it was clear that her wife was already on the edge of climax and desperate. It was already so late, but not so late that she wouldn’t make sure that Hermione knew she had been thoroughly taken before they slept.
She kissed her way down the tan and taut skin, nipping occasionally. The twitching muscles were beyond attractive, and she had every intention of slowly exploring that reaction when they had more time. She playfully licked inside the witch’s belly button, enjoying the gasp and clenching stomach muscles. She sat up and made eye contact with the deep honey-colored eyes. She smirked at the desire.
“Open your legs, darling. There is no need to be shy in front of me. And I am going to need some room to work.”
Hermione moved her legs and was attempting to remember how to breathe. Narcissa settled herself comfortably between the splayed legs. She looked up the lean body playfully.
“Has anyone else had the pleasure of being where I am, Hermione?”
The younger witch shook her head.
“Do you want me to be where I am?”
“More than anything,” Hermione moaned. “Please, Narcissa. Please touch me.”
Narcissa nodded and smiled. She leaned forward to place a slow and gentle kiss at the apex of the witch’s thighs. When the hips shot up, she adjusted slightly to pull them back down where she wanted them so that she could explore. She ran her tongue the length of the witch. The taste was sweet, and she would happily spend hours between these legs.
“Shit, Narcissa… I’m going to…”
“Not yet, Hermione. You will not climax without my permission. Soon.”
The whine from the witch above her was possibly the most beautiful sound that Narcissa had ever heard. She was well pleased, if not a little surprised, at the compliance. She knew that the witch had discipline in other parts of her life, but she was uncertain if it would translate into the bedroom. It was evident that Hermione was struggling as she clenched and unclenched her stomach muscles, attempting to remain in control of her body and its reactions.
Narcissa lifted her head and gently touched Hermione with her fingers. There was no doubt that the witch was close as wet as she was. She ran her fingers around the tensed muscle of her entrance. She glanced upwards and caught the rapt attention Hermione was paying her.
“Please,” the younger witch sighed.
Narcissa pushed gently in and recaptured the clit between her lips. She heard the hitch of breath when Hermione adjusted to the feeling of her finger. When she felt the muscles around her finger relax, Narcissa pushed forward. She knew it would likely not take much additional stimulation before the witch crumbled.
“More, oh Merlin. More, please.”
“Oh, you are lovely,” Narcissa moaned. She moved enough to add another finger. She pushed harder, meeting the desperate movement of Hermione’s hips. She rose up to improve her leverage. She couldn’t resist the opportunity to return the favor and marking the witch beneath her, particularly after the bold move on Hermione’s part.
“You can come for me now,” Narcissa said as she bit the tender underside of Hermione’s breast and sucked hard.
She wasn’t surprised that the warrior came apart at the combination of pleasure and pain. Narcissa lifted her head to watch the climax wash over her. Hermione was beautiful when she was out of control. She was grateful to get to witness it.
The warm eyes popped open and shaky arms pulled her back against the warm body.
Narcissa relaxed in the afterglow. She laid her head on Hermione’s chest and listened to the gradual slowing of her heart.
“Remind me to listen to you frequently, when you make suggestions,” Hermione said playfully, breaking the silence.
“Oh, don’t worry, My Lord. I certainly will. Would you mind casting cleansing spells? We need to get rest. Tomorrow we have to face the world again.”
Immediately, the blonde felt the tingle of Hermione’s magic over her skin. It was nearly as good as having the witch’s hands on her. She summoned the sheets up herself. She turned the almost asleep Hermione onto her side so that she could scoot up behind her and hold her close. She felt the witch drop off to sleep.
Feeling a peace that she had not known since she lived at Hogwarts, Narcissa clutched the warm body in her arms and allowed Morpheus to take her.
The sun was dancing across her face when Hermione woke. It was just after dawn based on the color of the light, but she had rarely slept as well as she had last night. In part, she was confident that it resulted from no longer feeling the stress of an upcoming mission and the physical exertion of the evening. But she had felt safe enough not just to sleep in a bed with another but to have been entirely enveloped in their embrace. Narcissa couldn’t have possibly known that it wasn’t something Hermione had ever allowed anyone. But she was grateful to feel refreshed and ready to face another day.
While she had been very successful yesterday, there would be a considerable amount of work to wrangle the vastness of Lucius’ networks and businesses. She would need to clean them up and turn the profit towards their side of the war. Fred and George would be tremendously helpful. Not only were they brilliant pranksters, but shrewd businessmen. Not to mention there was significant planning to be done on the war front. There was no doubt that the Death Eaters would be coming for retribution. She needed to make sure that every member of the Order was prepared for that eventuality.
“Darling, there will be plenty of time for everything. And Draco and I will help you. Why don’t you go and get in the shower? I am sure I have clothing that will either be suitable or can be transfigured for you. I will have breakfast brought for us before we join the others downstairs.”
Hermione let out a large breath and as much of her stress as she could manage. She rolled over in the blonde’s arms.
“Thank you,” she muttered.
She pressed a quick kiss to the pink lips in front of her and did as the woman suggested. She was halfway to the bathroom before she glanced over her shoulder. The sight of the blonde sitting up stretching was almost enough to distract her from the need to get her morning started. Narcissa caught her looking and winked. Hermione felt her cheeks go pink before she scurried off to the shower.
When she was alone, her ablutions were quick and efficient. She was pleasantly surprised when she stepped out, and there were clothes already waiting for her. Narcissa was a very efficient witch. Hermione inspected the clothing. Narcissa had thoughtfully provided her with practical black trousers and a shirt in Slytherin green. Hermione rolled her eyes. She went about transfiguring them to her preferences. With that done, she lifted the very lacy underthings that Narcissa left for her. She considered altering them into something more practical but decided not to. If the blonde witch wanted to play this game, Hermione would happily wear the skimpy underwear just to see what would come of it.
She was pulling her hair into a ponytail when there was a knock at the door.
“Come,” she said, automatically still focused on her hair.
“I knew that would be a good color on you,” Narcissa said haughtily.
“Oh, I am sure you did. Thank you for the clothing. It will work perfectly.”
“Yes, I can see that.”
Narcissa raked her eyes over Hermione making her skin tingle in memory of those hands and lips on her body. She looked down and realized that Narcissa was looking at the unopened shirt that Hermione hadn’t gotten around to buttoning yet. Cool fingertips touched the outline of her bra and traced down the middle of her abdominal muscles.
“I think I shall always dress you. I will go shopping today. You need a wardrobe befitting your new status.”
Hermione was going to interrupt that Narcissa could not possibly go safely out into the wizarding London today, but the blonde didn’t pause.
“Do not worry yourself, Hermione. I will be going to Paris. While word may have already spread, the French never liked Lucius particularly and are very open-minded.”
“Would you take someone with you if I ask? I know you are capable, but I do not wish you to face danger alone.”
Narcissa tilted her head and considered closely.
“It would depend on who it is. I do still have a reputation to uphold.”
Hermione wanted to roll her eyes at the tone but recognized the discomfort the witch had to be feeling after such dramatic change.
“Of course. I would never want you to be unhappy with your company. I believe that I could easily talk Fleur Delacour into accompanying you. She is from one of the old French families and has many strong ties in France.”
“And what will you do with Draco?”
Hermione internally celebrated at her suggestion being accepted.
“I believe he wants to work in intelligence organizing with Andromeda. I will ask her to train him if that suits you and him. He has the mind for it, and Andy has been doing it alone for a very long time.”
“Will he be kept safe?”
Hermione could hear the fear and tears in Narcissa’s voice.
“As much as possible. I will ask Andy to evaluate his skill and train him accordingly. He is in no way expendable to me. He is our heir. While I know that I have thoroughly fucked the spacing of generations, I know how important his well-being is to you. I will make every accommodation I can to make sure his future is better than it would have been without me involved.”
The blonde looked stunned for a moment and then launched herself into Hermione’s arms. They took a silent moment, just enjoying the connection of their bodies.
“Quite enough of that, darling. Go eat breakfast. The others are just starting to stir. I expect Miss Delacour to be ready by the time I am downstairs.”
Hermione laughed and left the beautiful witch to get ready for the day.
When Narcissa walked down the grand staircase, Hermione and Fleur were standing discussing potential escape routes in France. Hermione had never been so grateful that they had kept such close allies in France. While the war hadn’t spread there yet, she did not doubt that going across the channel would be Voldemort’s first move if he ever truly was able to take over Great Britain. Fleur unexpectedly stopped talking in hushed French and stared over Hermione’s shoulder. She turned to see Narcissa looking immaculate. She looked somehow younger than she had the day before. Hermione wasn’t sure if she was seeing her with rose-colored glasses or if there was something about her clothing.
“I assume you are ready to depart?”
“I am, Madame Granger. It was not hard to convince me to take a day shopping in Paris. It has been far too long.”
“On that, we certainly agree.” Narcissa turned to Hermione and kissed her on the cheek affectionately. “I will see you when I return. Have a good day.”
“See you soon,” Hermione said with a squeeze of her hand.
Hermione was not accustomed to sending members of the Order off for shopping expeditions, but it was important for Narcissa to feel independent and welcome to do as she pleased. And Hermione knew well that it was just as crucial for the members of the Order to see the trust that Hermione had in her.”
“Are you ready to organize the raids for this month,” Ginny said, pulling her from her thoughts.
“Absolutely. Is everyone gathered?”
“And ready to go,” the redhead chirped.
“Excellent. Is there coffee?”
“Why in the world would we forget the coffee just because you are rich and have a title now,” Ginny snarked.
Hermione rolled her eyes but walked at the witch’s side. When she entered the room, Harry snickered. “Nice shirt there, general.”
“I think it brings out her eyes,” Luna said placidly as only she could.
Hermione took the coffee that Molly offered her.
“Speaking of my shirt, I think the first order of business is to determine if we should move headquarters here.”
The heads around the table nodded in agreement. Hermione waited patiently for someone to speak.
“Ok, fine. Someone has to say it,” Ron said sheepishly. “I know we have all been thinking that it was a creepy house until now, but it is so nice here. And Grimmauld is….”
“So not nice,” Sirius offered.
“I like that all the portraits have already been removed from what I have seen,” Tonks mentioned. “No one yelling about blood status or anything else they think of is a rare treat.”
“The training facilities, potions rooms, and makeshift hospital are strategic advantages we have struggled to maintain simultaneously.”
“It’s a good point, Sirius,” Hermione agreed. “Are there any weak points we haven’t thought of, Draco?”
The blonde young man looked thoughtful for a moment.
“Forgive me. There are some compulsions we have not broken yet. I am trying to find a way to say it without triggering the consequences. There are three less well-known…”
“Entrances. Don’t confirm. It’s the same as saying it,” Hermione said quickly. “Severus, how long until he can speak freely?”
“48 more hours. It is already half done.”
“Yes, thank you. I do appreciate your help, Professor. I believe your wards are far more substantial than the previous ones. I would suggest perhaps additional fortification on the grounds. That was obviously a weak point,” Draco smirked at Hermione. “We should also make it unfindable on maps. We should also probably cut off the floo networks. I know it's convenient, but there is a rundown cottage not terribly far from here that we could consider connecting. It’s technically on my family’s land but has been long leased to a muggle.”
“That’s very clever,” Andromeda said, looking pleased.
“Any objections to moving?”
The room was silent. Hermione wasn’t surprised this was a tremendous upgrade.
“Very well. Welcome home, everyone. I don’t want anyone retrieving personal items. Draco, can you choose the elves on staff best at defense? I would like for them to find their personal belongings and bring them here. And have them bring Kreacher back while you are a hit. Tell him Master Black is here, and he needs to join him at Malfoy Manor.”
He nodded and looked pleased. She hoped that he felt included in her trust.
“Andy, securing the premises is your domain. I believe that it is our very top priority today. I only ask that we make sure that Narcissa and Fleur can return in a few hours. Shall we get after it?”
The group was nearly instantly on their feet. They hadn’t started out a motivated group of fighters, but time had changed that. This place was the first bit of good news for several years. It had put fire in them that Hermione had hoped it would. She watched as Harry and Ron both approached Draco and shook his hand. She kept an eye on the interaction out of instinct. He was Narcissa’s son, and there was no way she would let anything happen to him.
“Put your dagger away, love,” Andromeda whispered. “You are so similar to her at times it takes my breath away. He is fine. Those boys aren’t half as good at dark magic as he is even with your tutoring. But look at their body language. They are forming the kind of alliance we need them to have. I want you to work with me today. We have things to discuss, and I could make use of your magical ability.”
“Alright, everyone,” the older witch drew the attention of the crowd. “There are three secret entrances. Fred and George, please find them and make them unusable from the outside. I would like them left as escape tunnels. Sirius and Remus, can you please sweep the house for any dark objects or warding that may be lingering and manage it. The rest of us will start outside. In groups of two, if you will. The normal routine and booby traps.”
Andy stayed close to Hermione, and they watched as the group efficiently paired up. Hermione couldn’t help but smile at Harry and Draco walking off together. She wondered if the darkness drew them together. Whatever the reason, it was a relief that he fitted in quickly.
“I think we should start at the hedgerow, don’t you? I hear it requires a bit of repair. And we certainly don’t want to go giving the baddies any ideas about how to get in.”
“I doubt any of them have even considered that I might have come that way, but I agree. You know I enjoy a good organic trap. They are fun.”
“You are a twisted witch, Hermione Granger.”
“I suppose. I am married to your sister. And my son is… younger than me… I hope. Merlin, I hadn’t thought of that.”
Andromeda laughed at her friend’s pale face.
“He is by a very long three months. Your lives have been very different. He looks at you like you walk on water. After all, you did rescue him and his mother from abuse. Lucius was a git, and everyone knew it. He is far better off being a Granger.”
Hermione took a deep breath.
“I certainly hope so. I am not sure I really thought through the human fall out as I should have.”
Hermione noticed that Andromeda looked noticeably guilty.
“Is there something you would like to share with the class, Andy?”
“I… may have had a hand in making sure that the human fall out, as you called it, was not catastrophic.”
Hermione attempted to keep her face neutral.
“Oh, I see,” Andy replied, voice shifting. The rising tension reminded Hermione of Bellatrix. Reflexively she gripped her wand tightly and took a deep breath. “My baby sister gave us up so easily, did she? Well, I will say this, she must fancy you. She did initiate this. She will be the least known hero of the war. But what she wanted was her freedom. When I showed her the possible candidates, she never even considered the others.”
Hermione preened internally. She wanted Narcissa to desire her.
“Who were the others?”
“That, my dear, would be sharing classified information. They were all also desirable and single. Any of them would have been good candidates. You were a standout, but when are you not.”
The Black middle sister shrugged at her conclusion. Hermione waited until the dark eyes met hers again.
“I am fortunate to have been chosen. I didn’t know that I needed someone like Narcissa, but…”
She trailed off, trying to keep emotions from bubbling up.
Andromeda grinned victoriously before schooling her expression.
“I had my suspicions. I hope that you two will be happy for many years.”
“Morgana willing,” Hermione answered. She wanted to agree, but hope was a fragile thing. She didn’t dare speak the words. She stopped when Andy did in front of a very familiar bush.
“Would you like to do the honors, Lord Granger?”
Hermione drew her wand. She paused before she cast, wanting to choose just the right jinx for her first hiding place. She was satisfied when the red glow died away.
“An interesting choice, but I suppose an explosion would stop them from doing what you did.”
Hermione chuckled darkly.
“That is the goal. I don’t intend to die young. I have a family to care for, after all.”
Her tone was glib, but she knew Andromeda would see the raw truth of the statement.
“We are close to the boundaries of your blood wards, are we not?”
“Yes, we should be. Why do you ask?”
“I think this evening that we should conduct a small family ritual. There are bloodstones near the perimeter, if I recall. If we invite Narcissa, Draco, Remus, and Tonks, we can pull on the magical lines of the Black house in addition to Granger. I don’t imagine that his followers would ever truly conceive that our lines would join so easily.”
“I like the idea of a line of family wards inside my blood wards. It’s from the ancient branch, is it?”
“Perfect. I am finding that forgotten magic is an asset. Any other obscure spells the Black sisters would like to share would be appreciated.”
Andromeda smiled with the enigmatic expression that told Hermione she would never know all the secrets.
“I am sure we can be convinced to share a fair few spells.”
Hermione didn’t want to admit how worried she had been in the hours that Narcissa and Fleur were in France. She knew it was the safest possible supply trip. They had been covertly getting supplies through the port at Calais for years, but for the two of them to go shopping openly in wizards to Paris was another thing entirely.
But she knew the moment Narcissa came back through her wards. She didn’t entirely run toward the feeling, but she did awkwardly leave a meeting. She walked through the halls until she found Narcissa, Fleur, and a small army of elves weighed down with packages of all sizes.
“Hello, darling,” Narcissa greeted sweetly, kissing her cheek.
“Welcome home,” Hermione muttered. “What is all this?”
“Well, you see, Miss Delacour rightly pointed out, our home was designed for different purposes under the… last regime . It is no doubt aesthetically a mismatch, but she suggested several things essential to the sort of organization you run. In addition, we took the opportunity to entirely re-stock our potion supplies as well as other things that I believe the Weasley trouble-makers can make use of.”
Hermione opened and closed her mouth a couple of times, looking for the appropriate words to express her appreciation.
“That’s perfect. Thank you, Narcissa.”
The blonde looked up from the bag she had been sorting through and looked a little startled before her face warmed.
“Don’t worry, darling,” she said teasingly, “I am very skilled at making use of your money. It will only get worse, I assure you.”
“Your wife is as good at shopping as she is at sending icy glares,” Fleur interjected.
Hermione was poised to come to Narcissa’s defense, but the older witch giggled adorably at the statement.
“Yes, yes, Miss Delacour. I am terribly terrifying.”
Her deadpanned expression while checking her nails sent Fleur into a laughing fit.
The entire interaction left Hermione a little lost, so she chose to sidestep it entirely.
“Is there anything I can help with,” she asked, looking over the mountains of bags and boxes.
“Aren’t you gallant? No, the elves will move and store these items for us. There are some supplies that we will set up in the ballroom by person, and perhaps you would like to accompany me to make sure that each of your people gets what they might require.”
“Of course, I would be happy to.”
Hermione looked to Fleur.
“Andromeda has summoned me. It sounded like there have been some warding changes that they wanted to run past me and for my testing. I shall see you both at dinner.”
Hermione was not sad to see the witch leave. She craved a few minutes alone with Narcissa for reasons she simply wasn’t ready to put words to. The blonde reached out and grasped Hermione’s elbow, slipping her hand into the crook of it. Hermione welcomed the warmth of their sides pressed lightly together. They walked silently through the hallways. Hermione took a deep breath as she realized what room they would be entering.
“We can change locations if…”
“Not necessary. This is our home. I will not be afraid of a room because of the past. I don’t let ghosts run my life,” Hermione said simply.
Narcissa paused, causing Hermione to stop and look at her. The blonde looked her over carefully, no doubt looking for any attempt to lie about it. She pulled Hermione to her for a moment and kissed her slowly and thoroughly. They were both breathing hard when they parted.
“You are a remarkable witch, Hermione Granger.”
Narcissa took her hand and intertwined their fingers as they walked the rest of the way. Hermione took a deep breath when they stopped in front of the large doors. Without prompting, Hermione took out her wand and waved it over the wood of the doors. Her magic danced over the surface, changing the elaborate decoration into forms that represented the Order.
Narcissa opened the doors and waved her wand to illuminate the candles floating.
“I have every intention of redecorating this room before many others,” she said, watching Hermione’s reaction.
“I’m sure I will like any aesthetic choices you make. Thank you for being so thoughtful.”
Hermione hadn’t let anyone offer her comfort for what had happened in this room until now, but Narcissa truly understood what had transpired without Hermione saying a word.
“But first,” Narcissa said with excitement in her voice once more, “we have supplies to hand out. Please know that I mean no offense, but it is clear just from the state of your soldier’s clothing that you all have not had monetary resources. I have acquired appropriate attire to have all of the most modern spelled protection on their person. It’s better than anything Lucius would have ever bought the others. But I get the distinct feeling that these people are more to you than just your colleagues and allies.”
Hermione thought that rambling Narcissa might be the cutest version she had seen yet. She closed the distance and kissed the witch passionately.
“This was all so thoughtful of you. They are family. You were right about that. I still don’t know quite what to say.”
Narcissa looked her up and down salaciously.
“I think you’ve made a good start on thanking me. I think I would be happy to let you finish doing so later. Once I brought up the idea, Fleur had some of the most amazing contacts. They had technology like nothing I have ever seen here.”
“The French Syndicate has been one of the most advanced in the magical world since the fall of Grindewald. We are fortunate that they view us as allies and are willing to help us at their own risk. What supplies did you have questions about? Should we arrange it by person?”
“That does seem most logical. The elves should be here momentarily.”
As Narcissa spoke, the elves started popping in, which caused Hermione to jump before the sound registered fully.
It had taken several hours to separate all of the things that Fleur and Narcissa had purchased for the members of the Order. The blonde relished in having impressed Hermione. Each of the key members had a sizable pile of things specifically for them. There were also supplies for the resistance itself and the supplies to redecorate key rooms. Narcissa had insisted that the Order make themselves properly at home. She firmly believed that if they were family, then they shouldn’t be made to feel like guests. They hadn’t finished until nearly dinner, so they chose to hold the surprise until after the communal meal. Hermione and Narcissa walked into the chaos of everyone finding seats arm in arm.
Andromeda beckoned them over, two seats already saved for them.
“How was the rest of the afternoon,” Hermione inquired of the witch.
“It went very well. I believe that the warding passed Fleur and Bill’s high standards. We have closed off all floo connections for security. We have greatly improved our position from how this location had been secured previously, and it's even better than Grimmwald.”
“I am happy to hear that. It would have been a shame to have needed to return after we had just been reacquainted with comfort. Anything that remains doing?”
“We haven’t quite finished our fortifications ,” George Weasley interjected mischievously.
“Anything that is going to backfire on me in those fortifications ,” Hermione asked suspiciously.
“Not this time, General. We’ve been able to tune them to intent, a lovely bit of magic if you ask us. The objects can detect if you’re acting on behalf of he-who-shall-not-be-named or if you have recently. The young mister Malfoy…”
“Granger,” Draco shouted from the other end of the table.
Fred grinned broadly.
“As I was saying, the young mister Granger helped us test them. His intent did not trigger a reaction, but his past actions did for some of them. He helped us set them, so they know him. However, Madame Granger…”
Before Hermione could intervene, Narcissa spoke.
“Aside from housing and organizing meals for those that lived under my roof, I have done nothing on his behalf in years. I would be happy to test one of your devices if you need proof.”
Hermione looked at the Weasley twins, who looked far too excited at the prospect. She pointed her dinner knife at them as she spoke.
“If you so much as harm a blonde hair on her head, you will answer to me. And while you two are the best at what you do, you both know I will get a spell off before you realize you need one.”
She was satisfied when they visibly gulped.
“You’ve got yourself quite the husband … or is it wife, Madame Granger,” Fred said in the middle of the tension.
“I’m rather certain she is my wife, even if she is also my Lord. I checked thoroughly.”
The last sentence she said was only loud enough for the twins to hear.
“Well fucking done, Hermione. You’ve done us proud, you have,” George added in.
“Enough interrogation, you hooligans. Let them eat in peace,” Andromeda cut in, killing the inevitable spiral of the conversation.
“So what is the surprise that you two were working on,” she asked Hermione.
“And spoil the surprise,” Narcissa answered.
“You know I hate surprises,” Andromeda whined.
“I do, sister. And yet, you shall have to wait along with everyone else. I assure you that it will be well worth it.”
“Have you told Severus?”
“Told Severus what,” he shouted from the other end of the table.
“Nothing,” the three women said in unison before dissolving into laughter.
Hermione was the first to get the laughing fit under control. She could not believe how happy and free the Order was feeling. She knew it was both needed and risky if it wasn’t tempered and reigned in.
“Now that we have a secure location, Andy, how quickly do you think that we can start taking out our previously identified targets?”
“Within the week. And we will certainly be able to start paying informants and buy people off who are on the fence. From there, we need to make our work quick and efficient.”
Hermione nodded. She knew that they had taken a day to make sure that they were safe and secure but that they needed to strike back as quickly as possible. If they had unsettled the Death Eaters, they should almost make sure to capitalize on it. She made eye contact with Snape, and it was clear he was thinking exactly what she was. She glanced at Andy. The nod was almost imperceptible, but it told her everything she needed to know. It was time to put in place the rest of their plans. They were well-rested and well-fed. There was not going to be a better time.
A warm hand squeezed her thigh affectionately. She looked into Narcissa’s blue eyes. It was clear the witch could feel her emotions. Hermione knew that the thrill and nerves of going back into the field had to be clear. The blonde smirked and rolled her eyes. It was clear that she had already discovered that there was no distracting Hermione from her goals.
“After you are all done eating, we are having a meeting in the ballroom. I know we have had a fun day, but there is still so much work left to do.”
Most of the heads around the table nodded. The group before her was still in good spirits, but Hermione knew she needed to harness it to meet their goals.
“Why that room?”
Andromeda leaned over and asked protectively.
Hermione was going to answer but didn’t have the chance to open her mouth.
“It was the best space for what Lord Granger needs to get done,” Narcissa whispered sharply.
Andromeda started the sentence but did not finish the sentence at the thunderous look on Narcissa’s face. Hermione was grateful that Andy didn’t keep speaking. Much of her trauma under Bellatrix’s wand had been kept very private. No one except Narcissa knew the true extent, certainly not the Weasley family or Harry. And Hermione had every intention of keeping it that way.
“I’m finished. I will be in the ballroom when everyone is ready to join me,” Hermione said abruptly.
Andromeda attempted to stand up with her.
“No, please. Finish your meal,” Hermione said, attempting to gentle her voice. “No need to hurry.”
Hermione did not run from the room, but she moved with military efficiency. She wasn’t sure exactly what she had just witnessed between Andromeda and Narcissa, but she wanted away from it while preparing to go back into the field. In a few moment's walk, she stood outside of the big doors. She could practically feel the vibrations in her magic at the power of her memories. She knew that it was ghosts and the past haunting her. Magically that didn’t necessarily make it less powerful. But it did mean that Hermione could harness or dismantle it to her advantage if she only focused. She pulled the dagger from her boot. She held it tightly as she opened the door and dropped the wand into her hand before stepping in the room.
It was quiet and well lit, just as she and Narcissa had left it a few hours earlier. She walked to the middle of the room. She paid attentionn to keeping her breathing calm and even. The fear she had felt in those moments tried to creep up her spine, but she pulled her magic tightly around herself. She started the process of cloaking herself as Bellatrix when Narcissa ducked into the room. The blonde stopped respectfully, watching her decide what to do.
“You don’t have to stop,” the blonde whispered, though it managed to fill the whole room.
“I shouldn’t have been…”
Hermione trailed off.
“You keep the nightmares and fears of her at bay by becoming her, don’t you love?”
Hermione tilted her head. It wasn’t exactly how she had previously thought of it, but it rang true all the same.
“It’s ok, Hermione. I am not upset with you. I, too, experienced my sister’s violence and… affection, if you can call it that. There is an intimacy in the way she delivered it that doesn’t just vanish because she is dead. I do understand the urge. It’s remarkable that you can actually do it. Will you show me?”
Hermione nodded slightly. She wasn’t sure what exactly to do with the information that Narcissa had just shared. It was far easier to focus herself on executing the magic and preparing for what she would need to do to make the Order successful. She took a deep soothing breath and re-centered herself, and drew her magic. She focused on the items in her hands and even the location. She tasted the dark magic on the back of her tongue. It crackled around her. She finally slowly opened her eyes. Narcissa was looking at her with both fear and awe. Hermione dropped the magic far faster than she conjured it. She hated the look in Narcissa’s eyes and never wanted to see it directed at her again. She slowly stepped towards her wife, reaching her magic out gently.
“That was unsettling, Hermione.” Narcissa shook her head as if to banish the ghost of her dead sister. “I think you already know that I do not particularly wish to see that again. I can understand if it is necessary in certain tactical situations, but the end of her life was tortured and that is what you are accessing.”
Narcissa embraced Hermione lightly and kissed her gently.
“We can talk about it more later,” the blonde said quickly. “Your soldiers are going to start walking through that door in just a moment.”
Hermione stowed the dagger and wand. She straightened her posture and waited for the group to come through the door. It was no surprise that they were coming in a group. They almost always did. She suspected that there was likely some psychology about safety in numbers that contributed to the behavior. As the doors opened, Hermione lifted her wrist to check the time.
“We aren’t that late,” Harry said jovially. “You did say to take our time.”
“So I did. But thank you all for not taking all evening. Narcissa and Fleur were able to travel to France and gathered the supplies we have been dreaming of. As I am sure you have all assumed, we need to resume our activities tonight for those who are magically capable and on the schedule. In a moment, I am going to leave you all to walk to the table behind me and find the gear labeled for you. There are some common items and some custom items. All of it should help you considerably in the coming days. The clothing is spelled for protection, so please do wear it. Those who have activities for tonight should meet me in the library in one hour.”
Hermione could see the sheer excitement practically floating in the air.
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.
Hermione had carried back wounded and even dead more times than she cared to think about. But the emotional impact of holding Tonks’s dead weight was extreme. It had broken her battlefield stoicism, which was something she had not experienced since she entered the academy. There was no denying that the magic had changed her now. Part of her wanted to blame the bond that echoed between her and Narcissa that the body she held tightly was that of her niece, not just a dear friend.
But even in such an emotionally charged moment, Hermione could not lie to herself. Perhaps the magic had some impact, but she had opened herself emotionally to Narcissa. Maybe the bond had encouraged it, but more than that, Hermione had desperately wanted to feel the connection offered by the blonde. Nothing in her training had prepared her for the intensity of the positive and negative emotions swirling in her.
As the world came back into focus, Hermione landed solidly on her feet, even with the unfettered weight of Tonks in her arms. Narcissa and Severus were immediately in front of her. Their wands were raised and at work before she could offer any information.
For a brief moment, blue eyes flicked up to hers. She felt every bit of Narcissa’s love and competence in the bond. The look held the promise of later—the need to affirm that they were both alive and well was nearly tangible. Though the connection lasted only the briefest moment, Hermione felt like she could breathe again, and her mind was once again clear.
The weight of her soldier’s body was lifted from her arms as Severus levitated it to a bed to heal her further. Hermione was comforted by the steady rise and fall of breaths though the witch’s eyes had not yet opened.
“My Lord, do you know who wielded the knife?”
Narcissa’s voice sounded in her head.
“McNair. He is dead by my blade,” Hermione answered in kind.
There was no response, but Hermione could feel her wife’s approval. Her enjoyment of the feeling was interrupted by Andromeda’s arrival. It wasn’t the first time that Tonks had been injured, but she imagined it never got more manageable for a mother in the middle of a war.
“You’re covered in blood, general,” Fleur whispered, coming to stand next to her. “Your sister-in-law does not need to see such a thing. May I?”
Hermione nodded. She had been so focused on her feelings and Narcissa that she hadn’t even considered what a sight she must be, even clothed in black. The soft touch of the French witch’s magic was nothing like the sensation of Narcissa’s, but the soothing care of a friend only further settled her.
Straightening her posture, Hermione strode over to where Tonks lay surrounded. She was relieved to see her eyes open and hear her voice.
“Hiya, boss. Thanks for the ride back,” she said casually.
Hermione snorted. It was entirely like the witch to behave like such an injury was commonplace. Her humor was only outdone by the Weasley twins.
“How is it?”
Hermione looked at Severus as she asked.
“It’s a clean wound. She lost some blood, but it could be much worse. Your stasis spell held well even with the portkey. We have found no curses, but we will continue to monitor. Tonks will bunk with Andy until we are certain.”
Hermione nodded at the good news.
“I will debrief the others now,” she said as the others started to appear. “Severus, would you please do the same with Tonks? Teach Narcissa the protocol. Andy, are you coming with me or staying here?”
She observed as Andromeda looked at Tonks. The worry on her face was evident.
“I’ll come with you. I want to discuss how security protocols broke down with the others. Tonks, I will do the same with you after Severus. Cissy, take care of my baby.”
“Like she is my own,” the blonde answered quietly.
With a nod, Hermione turned and walked towards the group chattering excitedly. She raised an eyebrow as she walked by, which caused them to follow her obediently.
“Draco, with me,” she said as she approached him in the hallway.
“My Lord,” he said, falling into step with the group.
They settled into the comfortable chairs in the library, and she could practically see the adrenaline of the fight wearing off to be replaced by exhaustion.
“Anyone who would like a drink is welcome to it,” she offered.
Most of the group nodded, and Draco retrieved what looked like a very good bottle of fire whiskey and glasses. He set it in the middle of the table, pouring one for those who looked interested.
“Fred and George, how did the tests go?”
“The magic dampening was 70% successful based on our calculations. There was very clearly a gap where Tonks was injured. However, I believe it was only partial,” George answered.
“We know how to test and improve it,” Fred added quickly.
“It seemed to scare the shit out of them,” Sirius added gleefully. “I’ve not seen them so confused in quite some time. It was glorious.”
“Very good,” Hermione said. “We didn’t expect it to be flawless the first time out. But very well done. It’s the sort of magic that is a game changer. We’ve shown them twice in short order that we are not to be underestimated. I am expecting reprisal.”
“We are ready, General,” Andy interjected. “Draco and I have greatly improved our security position. The blood wards are old and will kill first; ask questions later.”
“Sirus, what did we manage to destroy?”
“All targets were eliminated. There was an additional storehouse of weapons that we were unaware of, but it was also destroyed.”
“Meet with Andromeda and review how we missed it on intelligence reports. But that can wait until morning,” she added, suddenly feeling overwhelmingly exhausted. “Excellent work today. Don’t stay up too late. There is more to do tomorrow.”
She stood and waved them off as they began to stand out of respect. Only Andy stood to leave with her, falling into step beside her naturally.
“Thank you for saving, Tonks,” she whispered.
“You don’t need to thank me, Andy. We will ensure that the same weakness does not endanger anyone again.”
Andy gently placed a hand on her arm. The contact was enough to stop Hermione’s determined walk. Andy stepped in front of her and put her hands on either side of her face.
“Thank you for saving my daughter’s life, sister.”
Hermione barely restrained her tears at the statement. A week ago, she couldn’t have imagined that a single sentence would have such an impact on her. Though the Order had been her family for years, she had undoubtedly kept everyone emotionally at arm’s length. There was no denying that there might be cracks in the armor around her heart.
“You’re welcome, sister,” she hesitantly whispered back. She wasn’t entirely sure she knew how to be someone’s sister.
“That’s much better.”
Andy embraced her for a moment.
“There you are.”
Narcissa’s voice was warm and cool at once. Hermione decided that she very much liked being looked for by the blonde.
“Are you done for the evening, wife,” the blonde continued.
“I am. Andy, will you go wrap up with Severus and make sure they both get some sleep?”
“Would be my pleasure. See you both in the morning,” the dark-headed witch said before moving quickly towards the room that held her daughter.
“Do you not wish to have a drink with your soldiers,” Narcissa asked gently.
Hermione tilted her head and thought. She often would have, but tonight she had no interest in drink.
“I don’t want a drink tonight. I want a warm bath and you,” she answered slowly. She hadn’t even known what she wanted until the words were coming out of her mouth.
“Very well, my Lord.”
Narcissa sounded pleased, and it sent a tingle up her spine.
Hermione resisted the urge to sigh as Narcissa took her hand. It was such a simple and touching gesture. She found it shocking how much she liked it. She hardly noticed walking; she was so focused on the feeling of Narcissa’s fingers intertwined with her own. They just fit.
The blonde led her directly into the bathroom and wordlessly undressed her. Wandlessly, Hermione filled the bath behind her.
“Undress for me,” she said, staring into blue eyes. She enjoyed the unmistakable spark of arousal at the words.
Hermione was speechless in the face of such beauty. As each piece of clothing was carefully removed, she practically had to restrain herself from reaching out and touching. There would be plenty of time for that, but the anticipation stretching out between them was delectable.
“You’re beautiful,” she said, looking into the depths of her lover's eyes.
“As are you, Hermione.”
Narcissa said her name slowly, like she was tasting it. The sound made the need in Hermione grow past her control. She pulled Narcissa into her arms. The feeling of their skin touching was electric. She held still, committing every sensation to memory. She ran her fingertips slowly over the curves of Narcissa’s back. The witch shuddered and pushed herself closer. Hermione had planned on waiting until they were clean and in bed, but with Narcissa melted against her, there was no chance of that now. She needed to be inside the witch now.
“Narcissa,” Hermione whispered into her love’s ear before running her tongue teasingly over the shell of it.
The blonde’s breath shuddered against her neck, and her hands clutched at her sides. Hermione captured her in a deep kiss and slipped her tongue past the soft lips. When Narcissa groaned, she walked the blonde back without breaking their embrace until her back touched the cool tile wall. The kiss broke as the blonde gasped at the change of temperature.
Hermione took the opportunity to cast a gentle sticking spell. She had every intention of making it very hard for Narcissa to remain standing under her own power, and she had plans for her own hands. At the feel of her magic, a blonde eyebrow rose, making Hermione grin.
“Safety first, love,” Hermione said, moving back just enough that she could run her fingertips over Narcissa’s neck and shoulders. The blonde hummed in pleasure.
“You only needed to ask me to stay still.”
“Oh, I know, darling. I plan to make it excessively hard to keep your feet under you.”
As she spoke, Hermione traced her hands over Narcissa’s breasts, stopping to pay attention to the hard nipples under her palms. Anything else that the blonde planned to say seemed to escape her.
“I’ve never wanted anyone as much as I desire you, Narcissa. Even in moments that desire should be far from my mind, I can’t seem to tear my mind away from the memory of your body.”
Hermione watched the beautiful face transform in pleasure as she nudged her legs apart and cupped her. The witch was trembling and wet for her. She leaned into her kissing her neck gently for a moment. She couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful than this feeling, aside from being inside her love.
“You’re fucking perfect, Narcissa,” she said as her fingers finally made direct contact. She touched carefully, avoiding the witch’s clit. She wasn’t in a hurry and wanted to feel every bit of her.
“Hermione,” Narcissa whined.
“I’ve got you.”
She knew what the blonde needed even without the bond practically screaming it through her blood. She slowly pushed two fingers into her, enjoying how Narcissa’s body stretched around them and how it stole her breath for a moment.
“You feel so good. I could be inside you all the time and never tire of it.”
“I cannot think of anything better than you asking so nicely, baby.”
Hermione thrust her fingers steadily and deeply. She wanted Narcissa to feel it throughout her entire body.
“That’s it, darling. You take me so well. You look so perfect with me inside you.”
She changed angles causing the most delicious gasp from her wife. Narcissa’s hips rolled sexily, fighting against her spell just enough to be able to move more firmly into her.
“Fuck, you’re so sexy,” Hermione muttered. She pushed into the witch, resting her thumb on the swollen and slick clit. She was still for a moment, letting Narcissa rut against her hand. She slipped her other arm behind the blonde’s waist eliminating the final space between them. She fucked her in earnest and could feel the blonde hovering on the edge of climax immediately.
“You’re so close, Narcissa. Cum for me.”
Hermione nearly screamed at the pleasure and pain that coursed through her body as Narcissa clamped her teeth into her shoulder as she orgasmed. She didn’t cum herself but nearly felt as though she had. She was undoubtedly wet enough, and satisfaction settled into every fiber of her.
“Oh, Hermione,” Narcissa mumbled before kissing her languidly.
With some regret, Hermione moved her hand from between the blonde’s legs and released the spell. She steadied her in her arms as her chest was still heaving.
“I was promised a bath,” Narcissa said, once again sounding like her arrogant self.
Hermione shook her head in amusement.
“So you were.”
The blonde playfully shoved her toward the water, making Hermione smile. Narcissa guided her into the water and then settled behind her. Hermione relaxed into the capable arms. The stillness and peace of their connection was so unlike anything she had ever experienced before. But its alluring comfort was something she could imagine she could get used to.