Actions

Work Header

Not While I'm Around

Chapter Text

AN: Trigger warnings to many things are present in this story. Don’t like, don’t read.

I don't own Harry Potter.

All spelling mistakes are my own. There are my own Original Characters in this at times.

.

.

Hermione frowned as she stood outside Flourish and Blotts, studying the window display intently. Her mind was distracted, as it had been since the war. It had been six months since Voldemort was defeated. Six months since Bellatrix had been killed. Six months since she had discovered that not all was as it seemed, her mind was no longer her own. She hadn’t told anyone of course, knowing they would believe she was crazy or suffering some form of PTSD from the torture she had gone through at the woman’s hands. The only one who knew was her new house elf, which was strangely her only confidant besides the other voice in her mind.

Admit it, it wasn’t that bad. It could have been worse. You’ve seen the things I’ve done long before you came along.

She grimaced at the woman’s voice, not wanting to agree but being unable to. She agreed that it could have been much worse than a cursed dagger carving ‘Mudblood’ into her creamy skin. However, neither of them knew just what curse that dagger had, though the fact that Voldemort had given it to Bellatrix should have been a clue.

Cackling laughter filled her mind, Very true Muddy. I should have guessed he would find another way to torment me. And using a Mudblood was perfect torture for me.

She grimaced as she shook her head, turning from the shop and heading towards Gringotts, “Torture for the both of us.”

Bellatrix laughed again, a sound that she had come to find soothing in the darkest of night. To think that she would find comfort in Bellatrix Black of all people had boggled her mind for the last few months, but they had been forced to share everything. She had seen all of Bellatrix’s memories; felt everything the woman had felt. Nothing was a secret between them anymore. Just as she had seen Bellatrix’s life, Bellatrix had seen her own. They had so many similarities that Hermione couldn’t help but feel emotional when it came to the woman.

Awe I’ve come to love you too my Muddy. Bellatrix’s voice was soft and warm in her mind, soothing her sudden rush of emotions.

Something they both had to come to terms with was feeling each other. They could feel what the other was feeling, overwhelmingly so. Hermione had one too many times lost herself to anger over something little and had to rush away from friends and family to calm them both. It had gotten so bad when Ronald had been drunk one night and called her a mudblood that Bellatrix had somehow taken control of her body and nearly hexed him into next week. Thankfully Ron had passed out in his drunkenness and didn’t remember a thing the next day.

She had only gone on a few dates with Ron after the war, but knew it wasn’t what she wanted. Ron had never gotten over Fred’s death and had turned quickly to drinking to forget that his brother had been killed. All of them had tried to help him over the last six months but until he was ready to deal with Fred’s death, they couldn’t do much.

George had stopped talking to Ron all together, dealing with his own grief and not needing Ron’s problems to contribute to his own. He was running the joke shop on his own now and everything new he created he made in honor of Fred. It was his way of keeping his twin’s memory alive and well, while also feeling like he could move on with his life. She and George had grown close over the last six months, so much so that they met twice a week for lunch.

Bellatrix was annoyed with it but understood that the loss the man had was something that she had slightly been responsible for. She had blasted the hole in the side of the castle that allowed her fellow Death Eaters into the corridor that Fred had been in, and she knew that was where he had been killed. The guilt she felt had been all consuming the first few times Hermione met with George, but it was slowly helping the dark witch see that George had forgiven her.

“Life’s too short to hold grudges ‘Mione.” George had said when she asked if he could ever forgive Bellatrix, if she were still alive. He had only shrugged and grinned at her, not knowing that Bellatrix was very much alive and listening, “Fred died fighting for us, for his family and I know he would have some witty comment about it. Something along the lines of wanting Bellatrix to teach him that spell.”

Hermione let the subject drop after that as Bellatrix retreated deeper into her mind to process her strange new emotions. Hermione loved showing Bellatrix that things had changed since the war. People, attitudes, places, all had changed because of the war. Lucius was still his egotistical self at the Ministry the last they had seen but Hermione was struggling so much after the war that she had given up on her quest for working at the Ministry for the time being.

She made her way into Gringotts and stopped near the head goblin, a slight satisfaction that Griphook had been killed by Voldemort, which made Bellatrix snort with laughter. No one liked Griphook, the goblin was a nasty being that no one really cared when he disappeared.

There had been a strange new development in the last six months that neither Hermione nor Bellatrix had been expecting. Two months after discovering Bellatrix inside her own body, she received a letter from the Ministry, something that later she made sure no one else knew about. It informed her of her status, blood, and name change. At the time her blood had run cold at the information and sent her and Bellatrix into such a deep research mode that they were even using their newfound mindscape to search through the books that Bellatrix could remember at Black Castle library.

Hermione was now a pureblood, The Noble House of Black pureblood line. She was no longer Hermione Granger but Hermione Black and though she wasn’t named the Head of Black House she had a feeling that Bellatrix was still the head and somehow the Black ancient magic knew the woman was still very much alive. She had been given access to the Black family Vault which Bellatrix was thrilled over, yet also slightly worried about.

They both knew that they wouldn’t be able to keep it secret much longer, but they were already in the process of moving all of Hermione’s things into Black Castle. The trip to Diagon Alley was the last thing they needed to do, and they each wanted to check on the Vault and make sure that Bellatrix’s interests and incomes were still being respected.

She dealt with the goblin, feeling Bellatrix’s annoyance at the way Hermione was being treated by the creature, but she managed to sooth the woman before they both lost control. The trip to the vault had her reminiscing over the time she Harry and Ron had broken into Gringotts with Griphook’s help and fleeing on the back of the dragon that had been chained deep beneath the ground.

Once they stopped the goblin sneered at her, “All investments and incomes have been steadily coming in uninterrupted. We’ll need the payment to increase the vault size soon as it is becoming filled to its maximum current size.”

Hermione nodded, “I’ll grab the amount while I’m in there.” the goblin only nodded before settling back into the rickety cart to wait for her.

She took a deep breath and moved towards the large vault, holding her hand out to the shimmering mist that covered the archway. The sharp prick to her palm made her hiss quietly as her blood was drawn before the mist encompassed her and drew her deeper into the vault, recognizing her as its owner.

Alright Muddy. On the far left are the three books that should help us figure this out. Take as much gold as you can and don’t forget to grab extra for the extension charm for the vault. Oh and grab the necklace on the far right behind the armor stand.

She smirked at the overflowing vault, her sarcastic tone clear as it bounced around the vault, “Yes your majesty. I live but to serve you.”

Bellatrix’s cackling laughter was the only answer as Hermione began to gather all the requested items and the gold. The fact that she and Bellatrix were actually getting along was something she never thought would happen and while everything she had come across said that Bellatrix would die if they tried to remove her, she couldn’t accept it. Wouldn’t accept it.

She had grown fond of the older witch, even grown to love her, though she didn’t want to dive into that with Bellatrix still swimming around her mind. Even Bellatrix cared about her, more than she ever thought possible but they both were shying away from the feelings, desperate to keep at least one thing hidden from each other.

Bellatrix scoffed, both knowing it wasn’t working very well.

She frowned as she found the necklace in question and ran her fingers over the Black house crest, “Why do you want this?”

Bellatrix’s soft smile entered her mind before her gentle voice echoed through her mind, It’s for you. I want you to wear it. You’re my Muddy now and I want everyone to know it. When you’re ready to wear it at least you’ll have it. Once you put it on however, you won’t be able to remove it. Only an original Black can remove it. Me or Cissy or Andy.

She couldn’t stop the smile that pulled at the corner of her lips, “Never thought I’d hear Bellatrix Black actually cares about someone.”

A scoff, We’re sharing a body Muddy. You hurt I hurt. Let’s just say I’ll protect my current body until I get my own back.

Hermione laughed, hearing the lie in the words but not commenting on them. Instead, she wrapped the chain around her neck, “Well then I guess we’ll have to figure this out soon so you can take this off me.” She latched the clasp behind her neck and felt the warm sensation as the necklace heated up against her chest, recognizing a Black, before it grew cool again.

Bellatrix’s voice was low and husky in her mind, I’ll never take it off my Muddy. You’re stuck with me pet.

She slung her bag over her shoulder as she turned back to the vault door, “I can live with that.” She grinned as she exited the vault and climbed back into the cart.

Once back on the surface she paid for the extension before heading back out to Diagon Alley. She made her way back towards the Leaky Cauldron but froze when she spotted a familiar blonde head heading straight for her, the Boy-Who-Lived beside him. She grimaced knowing they had already seen her, and she had nowhere to hide in the middle of the street.

Harry frowned in concern at her, “Hermione! Where have you been?”

She pulled her mask into place and put on a fake smile, “I’ve been busy Harry. In fact, I’m in a rush right now but we’ll talk later.” She moved around him, but he caught her wrist.

“Hermione we’re all worried about you. You’ve shut yourself off from everyone. What’s going on?” Harry was genuine in his concern.

Hermione shook her head, as Bellatrix’s annoyance came through at the boy touching her. No one touched what was hers. Hermione nearly rolled her eyes but quickly caught herself before pulling away from Harry, “I really can’t talk now Harry.”

Draco caught her arm tightly, the grip hurting slightly, and Bellatrix’s anger flared alive as the boy pulled Hermione closer, “Where did you get that necklace? That’s Aunt Bellatrix’s.”

Hermione jerked away from him as Bellatrix forced herself front and center, taking control of Hermione’s body. Hermione’s voice became distinctly not her own as Bellatrix hissed into her nephew’s face, “If you know what’s good for you boy, you’ll leave well enough alone.”

Hermione reached through her mind and yanked Bellatrix back, retaking control before she glared at Draco and Harry’s shocked faces, “Nice seeing you both.”

She spun on her heel and apparated back to her apartment before snapping angrily, “What was that? You could have gotten us caught.”

Bellatrix’s anger was still building, You are mine Hermione. No one is allowed to touch you, not to mention the fact that he was hurting you! I won’t allow anyone to hurt you. Body be damned!

Hermione sighed as she leaned on the counter of her nearly empty apartment, “Kreacher!”

The usually angry and hateful elf appeared with a loud pop, “You called Missus?”

“Take the rest of this stuff to the Castle please. Is everything ready for my arrival?” She could feel Bellatrix’s anxious pacing, knowing the woman was going to be stewing on the event in Diagon Alley for the rest of the night.

Kreacher smiled slightly at her, “Yes Missus.”

She nodded with a smile, “Alright. I’ll be there in a few minutes.” She waited until the elf disappeared before sighing, “Bellatrix, please calm down. You’re making me anxious.”

Bellatrix growled angrily, I can’t help it. You have no idea how hard it is to not curse everyone that thinks they can touch you, let alone hurt you.

She refused to think about what Bellatrix’s growl was doing to her and instead focused on calming the woman, “I’m fine. No harm done and I do have an idea. I share your thoughts remember.” Bellatrix scoffed, the image of her arms crossing over the woman’s corseted ample chest filling her mind. She groaned in frustration, “Not fair.”

If you’ve forgotten, I have to suffer too when you shower. Bellatrix grinned, pride filling Hermione’s chest.

She rolled her eyes but didn’t comment back, desperately trying to ignore her body’s reaction to the woman filling her mind with increasingly naughty images. She shook her head and placed her apartment keys on the counter before taking one last look around the place, making sure she hadn’t forgotten anything. Once she was done, she apparated to the large gate at Black Castle.

The large building lived up to its namesake. The Castle was larger than Malfoy Manor and designed in a normal-ish castle like way. The large stones that made up the exterior wall were black and shimmered with runes, ranging from protection to other darker wards. Two towers stood out on either side of the main section of the castle, and she was already curious about what they held. The parapet at the top of the building held crenellations wide enough for two people to stand side by side. The large wrought iron gate swung open as she approached, and she could feel Bellatrix slowly begin to relax as she passed through the protection ward that surrounded the property.

No one without Black blood can get in here. You’ll be the safest here. Bellatrix spoke softly in her mind, all traces of anger long gone now that they were safe.

She smiled as she made her way down the rocky path lined with perfectly trimmed hedges, ranging in forms from creatures to people. The wide large stone steps narrowed leading up to the castle entrance and she couldn’t help but admire the care with which the place had obviously had over the years. She could feel Bellatrix’s nervousness slowly fading the more she admired the Castle grounds.

Entering Black castle was a feat in itself as the door required a blood donation to confirm the subject’s relationship status to the Black family. She held her breath for a moment as the door seemed to be assessing her, before the door quickly swung outward to allow her entrance. She stepped hesitantly into the grand entrance foyer, taking in the polished white marble floors, antique furniture that had obviously been there for centuries. A large crystal chandelier hung high above her head, the candles all lit, the flames dancing with the soft breeze that the open door provided.

Double stairs twisted up towards the second floor in front of her with a long corridor stretching underneath the second floor, where a smiling Kreacher was standing. The dark walnut wooden railing lined the second-floor walkway that stretched and disappeared in either direction. Curiosity was slowly getting the better of her as she wondered which corridor led where, until she heard Bellatrix’s cackling laughter fill her mind.

Kreacher smiled at her, “This way to the kitchen Missus. Food awaits.”

She smirked at the house elf, “As you wish.”

She followed the house elf down the hallway and made a right near the end, her mouth gaping as she took in the very modernized kitchen. The white and black, more black than white, marble counters were pristine and shiny, as were the black appliances that dotted the area. She frowned in confusion for a moment, “I didn’t think you would have a refrigerator.”

Kreacher chuckled, “My Mistress enjoyed ice cream and always requested it be on hand. The kitchen was mostly used by me and to make potions. So really no magic to speak of in here is allowed.”

She was impressed and could feel Bellatrix practically preening with the compliments. She rolled her eyes again, “Never ceasing to amaze me, even after all this time.”

Bellatrix’s smile floated across her mind, I will always do my best for you love.

Hermione felt her heart stutter in her chest at the word but quickly forced it out of her mind. She could feel Bellatrix’s hesitance at realizing the word she used and didn’t want to make the woman uncomfortable or force her to focus on something neither one of them were willing to admit out loud just yet.

Instead, she hurried across the kitchen to the island counter where stools sat, a plate of food steaming and waiting for her. Her mouth watered as she inhaled the scent, and quickly dug into the meal, “This is amazing Kreacher. Thank you.”

Kreacher grinned at her, hanging his head shyly, “I’ll admit Missus Hermione, that I never expected to be treated so kindly. My Mistress was…” He frowned, his hands beginning to tug at his large floppy ears.

Hermione quickly reached across the counter and took the old elf’s hands, “None of that. She is sorry for how she treated you, but things change and most of the time they are for the better.”

Kreacher lowered his hands with a nod, his frown remaining as sadness entered his large round eyes, “I miss my Mistress.”

Hermione smiled at the way Bellatrix felt happy and guilty for that, “She misses you too Kreacher and I’m going to try my hardest to figure this out.”

Kreacher’s head jerked up, “There are some books in the library that may help. I was dusting them as you asked. I can pull them for you.” He smiled, bright and happy to have purpose again.

She chuckled and nodded, “That would be helpful thank you.” A loud pop filled the room as the elf disappeared.

I thought he would hate me for how I treated him. I still don’t think I’ll ever get used to how much things have changed Muddy. Bellatrix’s vulnerability was showing.

Hermione smiled as she swallowed her bite of roast, “That’s what you have me for. I’ll always help you.” She continued eating, enjoying the happiness that Bellatrix was feeling.

She spent the rest of the day exploring the castle, hearing Bellatrix tell her stories of her childhood with her sisters, or the torture she suffered at the hands of her father. She hated what Bellatrix and her sisters had gone through but that was in the past and neither one of them could change that. She moved from room to room until she came to Bellatrix’s bedroom.

It wasn’t surprising to see the familiar green and silver of Slytherin house all over the room. The bed sheets were even a deep green with a silver duvet draped neatly over it. Pictures dotted the room, all moving and all of Bellatrix and her sisters. She smiled as she took in Andromeda’s smile as the young woman stared at her two sisters.

That’s the one thing I regret the most. I never should have turned my back on her. While I did what I had to do to protect her, I wish I could have told her the truth.

Hermione frowned, “What do you mean?”

Bellatrix sighed heavily, When our father found out about Andy’s relationship with Ted, I knew what would happen. I begged Ted to take Andy away, to hide the fact that I was going to hurt Andy in order to protect her. I outed her when Ted agreed, and he helped me set everything up only after Ted had a plan to hide Andy in place. I refused to let Andy suffer the same fate I had. Rodolphus was a nasty man and while I’m glad he’s now dead, I knew at the time Andy would be betrothed to his brother Rabastan. I couldn’t let that happen.

Hermione shook her head, “So all this time you let Andy believe you betrayed her?”

I had to, Bellatrix snapped angrily, her voice becoming shrill, If anyone, especially Voldemort or Dumbledore found out, Andy would have been targeted by both sides. Father would have hunted her down and forced her to wed Rabastan and I couldn’t let that happen. Bellatrix heaved a sigh, Cissy was adamant that she follow me and before I knew what was happening she was betrothed to Malfoy. Lucius wasn’t as bad as Rodolphus or Rabastan but he’s still up there. I couldn’t stop it after the fact and Voldemort hadn’t told me it was happening until after I returned from my mission two days later. I would have stopped it if I had known…

Hermione took a moment to absorb all the information before she called out to Kreacher. Once the elf arrived, she smiled at him, “Will you please move all my things in here. I’ll be leaving in a few and I would like it done before I return.”

Kreacher nodded, “Of course Missus. Mistress won’t be angry for you being in here private space, will she?” he asked hesitantly.

She waited a moment before Bellatrix grew angry at her for even thinking it. She chuckled as she shook her head at Kreacher, “No. She wants me in here.”

Kreacher smiled widely, “It shall be done Missus.” He disappeared with a pop.

Bellatrix was suddenly on edge, What are you planning Muddy? I can’t make sense of these thoughts. They’re going too fast. Anxiety crept into Bellatrix’s voice, but Hermione had already made up her mind.

She moved through the castle and hoped that the Floo was still in working order and that she could get to where she wanted to go through it without having to take a million detours. She could feel Bellatrix’s confusion and anxiety at the unknown that they were going into. She only hoped that Harry and Draco hadn’t beat her there first.

She called out ‘Tonks Residence’ clearly and felt the familiar rush of green flames swallow her. Bellatrix’s anger was burning in her chest as she stumbled out of Andy’s fireplace, shaking her head against the rage. Don’t you fucking dare tell her anything Muddy! She doesn’t need to know now. It’s too late anyway.

She straightened up and dusted soot off her robes as Tonks entered the room, “Hermione!” The woman’s bright pink hair shifted to a bright excited green as the woman wrapped her arms around her tightly, “Where have you been? We’ve been looking all over for you lately.”

She smiled at the woman, ignoring the jealousy that Bellatrix was projecting to her, “I need to speak to your mother.”

Tonks frowned at her, her hair slipping back to pink, “She’s really worried about you Hermione. I think-“ Tonks’s eyes widened for a moment before her hair shifted to a blazing red, “Who put that on you?”

Hermione frowned before following Tonks’s eyes to the necklace resting against her chest. She shook her head, “None of your business.” She swallowed thickly as she struggled with Bellatrix’s anger and her own annoyance, “I need to speak with Andy, it’s really important.”

Tonks frowned and opened her mouth to speak but Andromeda Tonks entered the room, her worry plastered on her face, “Hermione, dear where have you been. I just spoke to Harry and Draco.”

She curled her lip in disgust, Bellatrix’s voice speaking through her, “They need to mind their own business.” Hermione mentally scolded Bellatrix before shaking her head, “I need to speak with you privately.”

Tonks shook her head, her hair still a bright red, “How about you tell us who put that necklace on you first?”

Andromeda frowned as she finally noticed the necklace, “Hermione?”

Hermione rubbed her temples, a headache quickly surging forward as Bellatrix’s anger rose even more, “It’s not what you think. Please Andromeda there’s something I need to tell you.”

Andromeda frowned, taking a step back from her, “You never call me that.”

Tonks pulled her wand out and aimed at Hermione, “Who are you?”

“Oh, for the love of Merlin,” Hermione snapped, her own anger surging forward, “I came here to tell you that Bellatrix and Ted planned everything that happened. You were going to be betrothed to Rabastan and Bellatrix refused to let that happen. Ted knew the entire time and once he had a place to hide you, they put the plan into motion. Bellatrix never betrayed you and only did what she did to save you. Unfortunately, she couldn’t do the same with Narcissa.”

Hermione felt the pain searing her mind and Bellatrix’s voice was suddenly concerned, Hermione what’s happening? Are you alright?

She shook her head and looked back over at Andromeda, “When you’re ready to listen you can send me an owl.”

Andromeda frowned, “Hermione you’re bleeding.”

She felt the trickle under her nose, and she quickly brought her fingers to it, finding blood on her fingertips when she pulled away. She frowned, “Owl me when you’re ready to listen.”

She spun on her heel and rushed back into the fireplace, calling out ‘Leaky Cauldron’ as she dropped the floo powder. Once she was back home, she stumbled into Bellatrix’s bedroom and collapsed on the bed, falling unconscious before her head hit the pillow.

.

Hermione awoke to Kreacher frowning down at her, “Missus, there’s an owl for you.”

Bellatrix’s voice was rushed and laced with worry in her mind, Hermione, are you alright? I’ve been so worried. You’ve been out for two days. I hate not being able to help you.

She grinned before climbing out of bed and hurrying to the closed window where the annoyed owl was waiting. She frowned as she took the letter from the owl’s leg and asked Kreacher to get it a treat. She tossed the letter onto the bed and entered the large ensuite, sighing happily at the overly large tub on the left side of the room under a floor to ceiling window.

I always loved the prefect tubs at Hogwarts. Bellatrix’s smile entered her mind as the words almost caressed her soothingly. She enjoyed her soak, letting the hot water sooth her tense muscles. Bellatrix’s soft soothing voice a constant stream in her mind, the woman desperate to help her relax since she couldn’t help ease anything physically.

Once she was dressed in a pair of loose black sweats and a t-shirt she sat on the bed and finally pulled the letter out, recognizing Andromeda’s handwriting.

Hermione,

We are all worried about you dear. Please tell me what’s going on. Harry and Draco said you weren’t acting like yourself. Nymphadora and I saw that for ourselves. We are worried about you. How did you get that necklace, let alone who put it on you? Please don’t shut us out anymore. We only want to help. We tried looking for you at your flat, but the manager said you no longer live there. Please tell me what’s going on. Please come to me Hermione. Let me help you.

Yours always,

Andromeda

Hermione smiled at the letter, knowing that Andromeda was worried and wouldn’t be pushing so much if she wasn’t truly concerned. She fell back on the bed and stared at the ceiling. She had worked so hard over the last six months to keep this from everyone, deciding it was best that no one knew about it. She didn’t want Bellatrix to be hunted down or imprisoned back in Azkaban, not when she had worked so hard to help the woman heal. She also didn’t want to be taken from Bellatrix once she did figure out how separate them.

I won’t let anyone take you from me pet. There will be hell to pay if anyone so much as tries, Bellatrix’s voice held the threat strongly and Hermione was slightly reassured.

She sighed and made her way down to the library, deciding to spend the day researching. She knew the ritual to bring Bellatrix back was going to be consuming, in more ways than one, but she was reluctant to bring anyone else in on it. Bellatrix would be weak when returning and would need as much help as she would in the days after the ritual, if Hermione survived it. That thought alone sent Bellatrix into a panic and it took most of the night to calm the woman enough for them to sleep.

The next week she spent most of her time in the Black library, writing and researching. It was quiet and peaceful and for that she was grateful while she worked. Something that Harry and Ron had never understood during their time at Hogwarts. She always worked better in the silence of the library, surrounded by the musty smell of old books and parchment. It was calming in a way, and she had been pleased when Bellatrix confessed that she felt the same way.

.

By the start of the following week, she was tired. She had spent two days not sleeping as she finally had a breakthrough. She knew what the ritual would entail and had a list of the ingredients she would need before performing it. Thunder shook the castle as the rain poured, beating against the windows as Hermione bounced between three different tomes. Bellatrix was silently contemplating, giving Hermione a chance to focus, and wondering if this would actually work without hurting either of them.

Kreacher appeared with a pop startling both Hermione and Bellatrix, “Missus someone has come through the floo.”

She frowned, “I thought it was sealed?” She moved towards the door.

Kreacher nodded, “Against everyone but a Black.”

She slipped out into the long dark corridor, gripping her wand tightly in her hand. Bellatrix’s wand was tucked away in the ankle holster attached to her leg, a backup as Bellatrix refused to allow her anywhere without double protection just in case. She had only had to use Bellatrix’s wand a few times, but it reacted to her just as it did Bellatrix. She moved barefoot and silent down the corridor, extinguishing all lights with a silent wave of her wand. Flashes of lightning lit the castle through the open windows, illuminating everything for a few moments before throwing it back into darkness.

Her heart pounded in her chest, Bellatrix’s unease and worry flaring hotly in her chest. Blood rushed through her ears as a loud crack of thunder echoed throughout the empty castle. She strained to hear anything as she pressed her back against the wall, her wand raised slightly as she peeked around the corner into the study, where the floo was. A flash of lightening lit up the room brightly and there was no one.

Kreacher tugged on her sweats, speaking quietly, “No one left.”

She nodded and whispered, “Find them.”

The sound of his bare feet slapping gently against the marble floors was the only sound until it faded away. She grimaced as she eased up the staircase in the entrance foyer, trying desperately to remember which steps creaked. Once on the second floor she turned right and kept her back against the wall, moving quickly yet silently down the dark corridor, checking each room as she went.

Her adrenaline was the only thing keeping her from completely freaking out as the storm raged outside, the silence filling the gaps between loud claps and rolling thunder. She could hear Bellatrix whispering in her mind to be careful, to ready a few spells or curses before checking a room, and to keep Protego on the tip of her tongue in case they were crept up on. She listened both to Bellatrix and the castle, hoping that she wouldn’t be snuck up on but wanting to be ready just in case.

She neared what used to be Narcissa’s bedroom, hearing a soft shuffle coming from the open door, a door that she hadn’t opened since the first time she had arrived at the castle and Bellatrix gave her a tour. She raised her wand and moved towards the darkened doorway; readying Stupefy so she could cast it soundlessly. Just as she approached the door a loud crack of thunder shook the castle and a hex clipped the wall near her head, putting a hole in the wall.

She dropped to one knee and spun around the open doorway, sending her silent Stupefy at the shadow darting across the room. Bellatrix whispered a curse just as another blast caused Hermione to roll further into the room, trying to avoid the falling door as it was ripped from the hinges. She rose to her feet, wand aimed perfectly and the curse that Bellatrix readied flew at their target.

The shadow ducted and rushed forward wrapping arms around Hermione’s waist, knocking the wand from Hermione’s hand. Hermione’s back hit the floor hard, knocking the air from her lungs for a moment as the shadow above her pressed a wand to her throat, the tip digging into her skin. She felt the adrenaline and fear from both her and Bellatrix collided, causing to jerk her entire body around. The shadow was dislodged, and she snatched Bellatrix’s wand from the ankle holster as she surged to her feet.

A wand aimed directly at her face as she aimed Bellatrix’s curved wand at the shadow in front of her. A soft gasp echoed through the room, “Bella?”

Hermione frowned as Bellatrix’s voice shouted through her mind, Cissy!

A flash of lightning lit the room and Hermione stared into the utterly shocked face of Narcissa Malfoy. She shook her head as the light disappeared and silently lit the candles in the room. Narcissa lowered her wand quickly as Hermione rubbed her aching neck, moving towards the open door, “Didn’t anyone ever tell you to knock?”

Narcissa hissed angrily, “What the hell is a mudblood doing here?”

Bellatrix surged forward, taking control of Hermione, spinning to grip her sister’s neck tightly, “Do not call her that.”

Hermione had half a mind to let Bellatrix deal with her sister but knew the woman’s anger wouldn’t do anyone any good. She forced herself back into control and quickly released Narcissa, shaking her head against the slight pain that Bellatrix’s possession usually caused. She could see the fear in Narcissa’s eyes before she turned away from her, snatching her wand off the floor even as she repaired the damage that Narcissa’s spells and curses had done.

She exited the bedroom without a word and made her way back towards the stairs, “Kreacher!” the elf appeared right next to her with a loud pop. She smiled at his fearful expression, “Everything is fine. It’s Narcissa Malfoy.”

Kreacher relaxed visibly as he glanced behind them, seeing the woman for himself, “Would you like me to remove her and her access from the property Missus?”

Hermione paused at the top of the stairs for a moment, letting the question float to Bellatrix for an answer. She felt Bellatrix shrug and she sighed as she shook her head, “No but I want you to make sure no one else can get in here. Black or not.”

Kreacher nodded, “Right away Missus.” His loud pop echoed throughout the castle.

Hermione descended the stairs feeling Narcissa’s eyes on her as the woman followed silently. She reentered the library and moved towards the window, rubbing her eyes as she stood in front of it. Rain pelted the glass as the wind whipped around the castle, the trees waving violently in the storm.

Narcissa hovered nearby, fear radiating from the woman, “How did you get in here?”

Hermione scoffed, “Does it matter?”

Narcissa frowned, “Draco and Harry told me about what happened at Diagon Alley and Andy has been a mess since you haven’t responded to her. No one knows where you are. At least that has been solved.”

Hermione’s body tensed, “Good now you can run back and tell everyone you know where I’m at. Run along now.” Bellatrix snorted but remained silent, curiosity burning as to why her sister was in their childhood home once again.

Narcissa frowned at the girl’s tense body. There were dark deep circles under the young woman’s eyes, the lack of sleep obvious in every movement and word the girl made. She felt her heart ache at the sight, having seen it on many faces after the war. She had always been attracted to the young woman, the day in Malfoy Manor when she was forced to watch her eldest sister torturing the poor thing still weighing heavily on her. She ached to reach out to her, to comfort her. She hadn’t quite believed Andy when the woman explained to all of them what had happened that day when Hermione had randomly shown up in her house.

Even Tonks had been concerned and her niece was someone that just rolled with the punches. To see both her sister and niece as concerned as they were, on top of Draco and Harry’s worry, it had been intriguing. Now she understood their concerns were valid and needed. This girl was not the same girl she had once been but the reason as to why was not easily discernable.

Narcissa frowned as the girl crossed her arms over her chest, tense and ready to drop from exhaustion, “Do you want me to tell anyone?”

Hermione scoffed, “I just want people to leave us in peace.” Narcissa didn’t miss the plural to that statement but let it go while she focused back on what the girl was saying. “I haven’t done anything to anyone. I did my part during the war now why won’t every just leave me in peace.” Hermione shook her head, feeling Bellatrix trying to sooth her inner turmoil.

Narcissa had a strange feeling that Hermione’s seclusion had nothing to do with the war, but she couldn’t be positive. Draco had suffered after the war, dealing with how he had been tasked with killing Dumbledore but not able to, dealing with his true feelings for Harry Potter after tormenting him all those years. She had watched Draco go down a dark path, unable to help her only son while Lucius ignored everything. Lucius had changed after being in Azkaban and the only reason they were even still married was because Lucius didn’t want to go through the pain of a wizarding divorce. Narcissa wouldn’t feel it and Lucius wasn’t strong enough to survive the ripping of the bonds, archaic and barbaric as they were.

She frowned at Hermione, seeing the girl recede into herself, as if listening to something that only she could hear. Narcissa hesitated before speaking, “I won’t tell anyone if you promise me somethings.”

Hermione’s head snapped around to face her, anger dancing in very dark eyes, “I don’t owe you anything.” Her voice was dark and dangerous and Narcissa instinctually took a step back. “I remember staring into your eyes while I was tortured. You did nothing to help me so why now? You think I want your help? You think you can make up for what you did?”

Bellatrix’s voice was tense and sad in Hermione’s mind, I tortured you Muddy, not her. She was as powerless to stop me as you. I would take it all back if I could, you know that, but please don’t take it out on her. Please love, don’t drive her away.

Hermione felt the desperation in Bellatrix’s voice and that word, that one word was enough to sooth her quickly as she watched the fear dance in Narcissa’s eyes.

Narcissa frowned down at the floor before taking a deep breath and holding her head high, “You don’t but I’m asking you to promise me that you will call on me if you need anything. Call on me if you just need someone to talk to, someone to be angry at. Call me if you can’t sleep.” Narcissa swallowed against her dry throat, “Call me if you need relief of any kind. Let me help you if you won’t let Andy or Tonks or your friends.”

Hermione frowned as she studied the woman. Long blonde hair draped perfectly over each shoulder as deep blue eyes pleaded with her. Her sharp jaw and high cheek bones set her apart from her sisters more than the hair did. The woman was sophisticated elegance walking and knew how to use it to her advantage. She commanded attention the moment she walked into a room and held it for the entire time she was in it. She was strong and unrelenting in her demands, the epitome of power that others only dared to desire.

Hermione knew all this, and she felt herself being drawn to the woman, as if being pulled into Narcissa’s atmosphere by an unseen force. To be allowed in her orbit was something that Hermione could only dream of, but here the woman was. She was there offering her a place, offering her something so powerful that she was struggling to deny it. She wanted it, needed what Narcissa was offering but how could she trust this woman after everything she had been through.

She could feel exhaustion creeping into her mind and Bellatrix tried to help her relax, Let her help us. She only wants what best for us. I can see the pain in her eyes Hermione. I can see her struggle. She doesn’t have anyone. She wouldn’t dare ask her son for help and Lucius, as we both know, is as useless a husband as he is a man. Maybe we can convince her to get a divorce, maybe force Lucius to go through with it if we can guarantee him life afterwards.

Hermione scoffed at Bellatrix, turning back to the window, “Spineless is an understatement.”

Narcissa frowned as she watched Hermione’s body slowly begin to relax, speaking to someone or something that Narcissa couldn’t see. She felt the fear invade her body as Bellatrix came to mind. She had seen Bellatrix lose herself, especially after Azkaban. Bellatrix had never been the same and now she was watching it happen to Hermione. A young woman who didn’t deserve it just as much as Bellatrix hadn’t deserved it. She refused to stand by this time. She may have been unable to help her sister, but she would help Hermione in every possible way.

Bellatrix’s cackling laughter filled Hermione’s mind, That’s my little Gryffindor. Let’s save my sister and then us, shall we? I have a few tricks up my sleeve that will get Lucius to bow down to every request we have. I know all about his mistress’s, and the misters he keeps company with.

Hermione snorted, grimacing at the thought, “I could have lived without knowing that.” She had honestly forgotten that Narcissa was in the room.

Until the woman spoke, “Knowing what?”

She jumped slightly before her eyes darted to the blonde. She frowned shaking her head, “Nothing sorry. Lost in thought.”

Bellatrix chortled, Whose thought? Yours? Mine? Ours? Can we even tell the difference anymore?

Hermione struggled to stop the laugh, but a slight chuckle escaped anyway. She sighed heavily as Narcissa frowned at her, “I’ve not slept in a few days. I apologize.”

Narcissa frowned at her, “Then you need to sleep. Please allow me to help you.”

She hesitated for a moment, listening to Bellatrix agree first. She nodded, “I promise to call if I need anything, but I don’t want anyone else here. This is my home and I like my privacy.”

Narcissa frowned for a moment before nodding, knowing not to push. The Black Castle never would have let Hermione in if it didn’t recognize some sort of family bond in the girl. So instead, she nodded, “I will only tell them I have spoken to you and that you wish for some privacy at this time. I’ll be at the Manor if you require anything.”

Hermione nodded and watched Narcissa hesitate for a moment before leaving the room. She listened to the sound of the floo carrying Narcissa away before she relaxed completely, “This ought to be interesting.”

Bellatrix’s laughter filled her mind, The fact that you have the hots for two of the Noble and Ancient House of Black sisters?

Hermione scoffed as she exited the library, “Do not.”

You can’t hide from me my little Muddy. I know you inside and out now, Bellatrix purred into her mind.

This was one time she really hated this arrangement, which only made Bellatrix laugh excitedly. She rolled her eyes as she showered then climbed into bed for the first sleep in two days, resigning herself to not call on Narcissa unless absolutely necessary.

Chapter Text

AN: Trigger warnings to many things are present in this story. Don’t like, don’t read.

I don't own Harry Potter.

All spelling mistakes are my own. There are my own Original Characters in this at times.

.

.

Two days later Hermione found herself in a predicament that she never thought she would find herself in. Bellatrix’s laughter was echoing through her mind, hysterical and high-pitched cackling laughter. She could only be annoyed not only with herself but also with the woman laughing at her. She had only meant to test a few of the runes that were going to be needed for their ritual to separate Bellatrix from herself.

Though she should have known it would backfire. The first rune had worked perfectly, increasing Bellatrix’s and her excitement at the possibility of all this working. The second however was less amicable. The moment it was on the dungeons stone floor a large heavy chain had descended from the ceiling, wrapping around her right ankle and yanking her right off her feet. In the process of being strung up from the ceiling she had not only dropped her own wand in shock, but Bellatrix’s had slipped right out of her ankle holster once she was dangling upside down.

The blood was quickly rushing to her head now that she had been dangling there for the last twenty minutes. Bellatrix had been no help, her hysterical laughter filling her entire mind and making her unable to think of the counter spell to this situation. She crossed her arms over her chest as her body swung gently back and forth, a sneer on her face as she threatened Bellatrix with every curse she could think of once she was back in her own body.

Finally, Hermione ignored the dark witch in her mind and called out, “KREACHER!” her anger fueling her shout.

The elf appeared below her, his body upside down to Hermione and his eyes widening in shock, “You called Missus?”

She narrowed her eyes at the elf, “Can you get me down?”

He frowned as he snapped his fingers, but nothing happened. After a few more tries he frowned, “Something is preventing my magick Missus. I’ve never known anything to block elf magick.”

She frowned, “Runes?”

Kreacher thought silently for a moment, “Only the darkest kind or possible blood magick. Strong Family blood magick.”

She sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose as she mumbled, “Of course, because this isn’t humiliating enough.” She grimaced at the house elf, “Kreacher please find Narcissa Malfoy,” she pointed her finger at him becoming stern, “Do not tell anyone anything, but bring Narcissa here. Tell her it’s an emergency of sorts but don’t worry her. After all I don’t think it’s life threatening.” Kreacher nodded and disappeared with a loud crack.

Don’t worry love, sometimes seeing things upside down can help righten the world, Bellatrix snorted. She really couldn’t help herself.

Hermione groaned, “I really hate you right now.”

Bellatrix suddenly grew quiet before whispering, No you don’t. You love me.

Hermione fell silent, unwilling to admit it to the voice in her mind. She knew she had developed feelings for Bellatrix over the last six months, but she couldn’t face them without worrying about what that meant about her. She knew she was slightly dark, hell everyone had a dark side. Whether they wanted to admit it or not. She just didn’t know if she would be rejected by the woman for these unprovoked feelings.

I will never reject you Muddy. You are mine and even though neither one of us can say it right now… We both know what we’re feeling. Bellatrix’s voice was soft, vulnerable, a moment that would only ever be for Hermione and no one else.

She smiled despite her situation, allowing her body to relax. One day she would admit it, but it wouldn’t be until she could actually look into Bellatrix’s face, see the love in the woman’s eyes shining back at her. A silent agreement passed between them that they would wait until that day before they said the words out loud.

A few minutes of silence later Narcissa’s worried voice echoed down the dungeon’s stairs, “Hermione! Where are you?”

She grimaced once again, “Dungeon!”

Narcissa rushed down the stairs, eyes widening at the image in front of her, “What happened?”

Hermione rolled her eyes, “Miscalculation.”

Narcissa’s wand swirled through the air quickly and the chain released her ankle, dropping Hermione on her head. Narcissa gasped and rushed forward, “I’m sorry.”

Hermione rubbed her head as Narcissa helped her sit up, “It’s fine. I’m sorry I interrupted your day. I dropped my wands and then Kreacher couldn’t even release me.”

Narcissa frowned as she stood and took in the rune circle on the floor, “You’re using our families Dark Arts, blood magick. Why? Hermione are you out of your mind? This could kill you if done wrong or it realizes you aren’t a member of the family.”

Hermione scoffed, her and Bellatrix’s anger rising at that, “Spare us the lecture Cissy.” Bellatrix’s voice was thick as it flew through her lips. She shook her head, forcing Bellatrix back down.

Narcissa’s eyes widened slightly as she backed away from the young woman. She couldn’t help but see the similarities once again between Hermione and Bellatrix. The girl was losing herself and she wondered if that was why Black Castle had accepted her as a member.

Hermione frowned at her, “I’m sorry. I keep frightening you and I don’t mean to. Thank you for your help.”

Narcissa frowned at the girl, “Have you had lunch yet?”

Hermione cocked her head as she turned to pick up her wand, but didn’t reach for it yet, “I don’t remember the last time I ate.” Her eyebrows rose for a moment, “A question for Kreacher I suppose.” She shook her head as she picked up hers and Bellatrix’s wands.

Narcissa watched Hermione pick up Bellatrix’s wand gently, holstering it in the ankle attachment under her sweat pant leg, before sliding her own wand into the forearm holster. She hadn’t seen the girl without the holster on her forearm yet and she wondered if Hermione slept with it at night or whenever she did sleep, if she slept. She didn’t like the idea of Hermione going without food and decided to remedy it.

“Well then you are going to join me for lunch,” she motioned for the girl to follow her.

Hermione glared at her, “Do not tell me what to do.”

Narcissa’s anger flared as she spun back to the girl, moving into her personal space, face to face, “I will when it comes to your health. You will eat lunch with me every day and if I have to, I will be here for dinners as well.”

Hermione could see the fire in the blazing blue eyes, the refusal to back down in this argument. Bellatrix’s chuckle filled her mind heartily, She’s always been the caregiver. I wouldn’t tempt fate with that. She’ll pin you to the floor and force feed you if she has too. After the image of Bellatrix’s words passed through her mind, though without the force feeding and no clothes, they were both too stunned and turned on to do anything else. Bellatrix’s hoarse voice filled her mind huskily, On second thought, tempt it pet.

Hermione’s synapses were misfiring at the image that Bellatrix had put through her mind, so much so that she couldn’t even speak let alone move, her mouth too dry suddenly. The English language, (what was that exactly?), had completely abandoned her in that moment and she could only be dragged back up the stairs by Narcissa’s hand wrapped around her wrist. The touch alone was sending a fire blazing across her bare skin, a tingling shock filling her chest at the firmness of the grip.

She was powerless to resist as Narcissa shoved her down onto a stool at the island counter in the kitchen, “What would you like to eat? I can make whatever you wish.”

Hermione felt Bellatrix poke at her mind, an elbow to the ribs for her mushy mind, causing her to startle into a response, “Whatever you want.” Bellatrix’s snort filling her mind again, had her glaring at the counter even though it was meant for the older woman in her mind.

Narcissa pulled her travel cloak off, revealing a deep green dress that was beyond stylish and expensive, hugging her curves perfectly. Hermione had to stifle a moan while Bellatrix did it for her in her mind, I know I’ve explained the pureblood family closeness to you, but I don’t think I ever described the bodies of my sisters to you. I can give descriptive and creative images if you like.

Hermione choked on her own spit at the thought and quickly shook her head as Narcissa frowned at her, “Are you alright Hermione?”

Hermione nodded quickly as she rubbed her aching chest, “No!” She blurted to Bellatrix as the woman sent a quick flash of smooth pale skin through her mind. Seeing the worry in Narcissa’s eyes she quickly corrected herself, “I mean yes. I’m fine.” She heaved a heavy sigh; this was going to be more complicated more than she thought.

Bellatrix chuckled, This is why we have been spending so much time alone love.

Hermione could only nod at that since Narcissa was still watching her while pulling ingredients from the refrigerator, “You can talk to me if you need to. I’m a great listener.”

She frowned as she looked down at the countertop. While she believed Narcissa, she didn’t want to be seen as crazy. Besides she wasn’t sure how Narcissa would take the news that she was sharing a body with her dark oldest sister. Would she fear her even more than she already did? Would she refuse to help her anymore? Rescind her offer to be called upon anytime of the day or night?

Bellatrix was unusually silent as she was unable to answer those questions, her own thoughts following the same line. She ached with how much she had hurt her baby sister. She loves her sister, but everything had happened so fast after she had escaped Azkaban, so much so that she had been unable to truly process how much she had missed her family. Voldemort had kept them going nonstop and while Bellatrix loved the destruction, she had hoped to spend time with her baby sister after the war had ended. It never occurred to her that there wouldn’t be time for that.

Hermione processed Bellatrix’s emotions and thoughts as she continued to stare at her hands on the counter, the words spilling quietly from her mouth before she could stop them, “Do you forgive Bellatrix?”

Narcissa spun to face her, the sizzling on the stove suddenly forgotten with the quiet question that came from the younger witch. She had spent the last six months wishing she had been able to help Bellatrix, to save her from the darkness. Six months she had wondered what if, but never once did she ever think about whether or not she forgave the woman she loved with all her heart.

She took a deep breath as she searched her heart for any hatred for her oldest sister but found none, “I forgave her a long time ago. I only wished I could have helped her more. Stopped her from falling into the darkness that consumed her in the end.”

Bellatrix’s raw sorrow broke through Hermione’s heart. She felt her tears sliding down her face, but they weren’t her own. Bellatrix was crying, upset that her baby sister was blaming herself in a way. Hermione shook her head and tried to internally sooth Bellatrix, trying to find a way through the sudden barrier that Bellatrix had put around her consciousness.

Narcissa frowned as she looked up at Hermione’s tear streaked face, “I didn’t mean to upset you Hermione, I-“

Hermione shook her head as she stood quickly, “Not you.” She gasped before sprinting out of the room.

She took the stairs two at a time before locking herself in Bellatrix’s bedroom and throwing herself onto the bed, allowing her body to relax completely so she could enter the mindscape she had carefully constructed with Bellatrix.

.

.

She sprinted through the study, bookshelves lining the entire room. A large fireplace sat at the head of the room with a roaring fire, surrounded by sofas and overstuffed armchairs. She dropped to her knees and wrapped her arms around the sobbing woman on the floor in front of the fire. Bellatrix’s body instantly curling into her chest, gripping her shirt tightly in her fist. She hated watching the woman come undone. She was so strong and stubborn that seeing the woman fall to pieces had startled her at first. Now she found that it was something that only she would ever witness, whether in the mindscape or real life didn’t matter. Bellatrix would only show her soft side to Hermione and that was good enough.

“She loves you so much.” Hermione rubbed soothing circles on Bellatrix’s back.

Bellatrix nodded as she buried her face in Hermione’s chest, “She blames herself and it’s not her fault. She couldn’t help me because I wasn’t ready to help myself. You must help her understand that. Please Muddy, I can’t let her live with that any longer.”

Hermione nodded, “I’ll do my best but she may not truly believe me until you can tell her yourself.”

Bellatrix pulled back slightly, tear-streaked face looking up at her hopefully, “But you’ll try? For me.”

Hermione grinned at her, pressing a soft kiss to Bellatrix’s lips before pulling back, “Of course I will. Now let’s just relax for a while, just the two of us.”

Bellatrix grinned and nodded before pulling Hermione up with her and leading her to the sofa. Hermione stretched out on the sofa and opened her arms, smiling when Bellatrix stretched out on top of her body, “I can’t wait to do this for real.”

Hermione chuckled, “Me either.” She began to hum softly as she ran her fingers up and down Bellatrix’s back, listening as the woman slowly drifted off to sleep, before she was pulled into darkness too.

.

Hermione jerked awake with a headache, her eyes feeling thick as the throb in her head pulsed wildly. She groaned as she checked the time with her wand and frowned. She rolled out of bed and stumbled to the ensuite to shower and find something for her head, not having any potions on hand at the moment. She headed back downstairs and slipped into the kitchen finding Kreacher setting a plate of breakfast on the counter.

“What day is it?” She asked quietly.

Kreacher frowned at her, “Thursday Missus. You’ve been locked in your room for the last three days. Madame Malfoy has been sending an owl every day. The letters are right here.” He pulled them out of his t-shirt that she had custom made for him and sat them beside the plate.

She began to eat as she tore into the letters, hearing the anxiety and desperation in the words growing more and more worried with the lack of response. She sighed as she rubbed her head, frowning at her half-eaten plate of food, “Go ask Narcissa if she would mind coming here. I’ve got a killer headache.”

Kreacher disappeared and the loud crack that echoed through the room caused her to wince and hiss in pain as she clutched at her head with both hands. She would have to warn him to go to another room next time. She groaned as the ache increased and Bellatrix’s voice rolled quietly through her mind, Holy hell pet, why does it hurt so much?

She frowned as she pushed the plate away, “No idea but I’m hoping Narcissa has a potion or can make one.”

Better tell her about our mindscape. That could have something to do with it.

She stood and stumbled her way out of the kitchen, “Are you saying you want me to tell her about us?”

Bellatrix was silent for a moment, No. I mean I don’t want to push away the only person willing to help you at this point. Your safety is my first concern right now love.

Narcissa arrived in the kitchen with Kreacher, her heart dropping at the lack of Hermione. Kreacher had been adamant that the girl was in there, waiting for her. She hurried from the room as she heard Hermione’s voice coming from down the hall. She slowed to listen to the girl’s tired rough voice as she followed her quietly.

Hermione frowned as she entered the living room, “You really think she’ll turn on me because of this? That she’ll look at me in disgust because of it?”

Bellatrix hesitated before answering, I just don’t know honey. I would hope not but I did a lot of bad things in our lives, especially during the wars. I don’t know what she would do or how she would react and that’s what worries me.

She dropped onto the sofa resting her elbows on her knees and her head in her hands, “Maybe your right. Maybe she will turn on me when she finds out and cast me aside without another glance. Is it a risk worth taking though? I won’t go back on this and if I have to do it alone I will.”

Narcissa’s heart ached to understand what was going on with Hermione, but she was also slightly disheartened to know that Hermione was thinking she would turn on her so easily, “Do what alone?” she entered the living room quickly, as the girl jumped to her feet.

“Fuck Narcissa! Where the hell did you come from?” Hermione’s heart was pounding in her throat at the sudden appearance of the blonde.

Narcissa frowned at her, approaching slowly, “You weren’t in the kitchen where Kreacher brought me. He said you’re in pain.”

Hermione nodded before collapsing back onto the sofa, “Killer headache.”

Narcissa summoned a potion from her private collection, “Take this. It might taste bitter at first.”

Hermione took it eagerly and downed it in one swallow, gagging at the taste, “Bloody hell that’s awful.”

Narcissa smirked at her, “It’s not supposed to taste like peaches little one.” Hermione shook her head as the aftertaste hit the back of her throat and she coughed. Narcissa sat beside her quickly and gently patted her back, “It should pass in a moment.”

Hermione sucked air back into her lungs as the pain began to recede from her head, “That was a new experience.”

Narcissa nodded, “My private stock.”

She eyed Narcissa for a moment, “You make potions?”

The blonde nodded with a smile, “Healer, potion maker, well rounded you could say.”

Hermione nodded, “You’re amazing you know that.” She watched the smile fade from Narcissa’s face suddenly.

“No, I’m not.” Narcissa stood and moved away from her, “What happened?”

Hermione felt Bellatrix’s curiosity at Narcissa’s sudden change, “You are beyond amazing Narcissa. If no one has ever told you that then they’re bloody idiots.”

Narcissa shook her head, wrapping her arms around herself, the robes she was wearing shifting slightly to expose some bare skin on the older witch’s arms, “Don’t change the subject.”

Hermione stood quickly, “You’re the one changing the subject. I think you’re amazing and I’ll keep telling you until you listen to me.”

Narcissa turned to her with anger, and tears in her blue eyes, “STOP! You have no idea what you’re saying. You don’t know me.” The woman hurried out of the room, the sound of the floo taking her away.

Hermione frowned as she stood stunned into silence, “Did you see what I did?”

Bellatrix’s anger flared in her chest, I’ll kill him if you don’t.

Hermione ran her hand up her body, pulling on Bellatrix’s power to change her clothes. She summoned her black travel cloak and pulled it on over her black slacks and black silk button up blouse. She moved through to the study, grabbing a hand full of floo powder and saying clearly, “Malfoy Manor.”

The rush of green flames swept her away quickly and she found herself once more in the Malfoy Manor Hall, where she had been tortured. She brushed the soot off her shoulder as she stepped out of the fireplace, her ears straining to hear Narcissa’s voice. She could hear a soft shout coming from upstairs and she hurried forward, ignoring the image of herself lying on the cold floor screaming in pain as Bellatrix carved into her skin.

She could hear Narcissa’s sob once she reached the top of the stairs, her heart slamming into her chest as she let her wand slide into her hand. She rushed towards the sound of Narcissa’s pleading voice, “Please stop. I didn’t do anything. Stop!”

Hermione blasted the door off its hinges as she let her and Bellatrix’s combined angers rage through her system at the sight in front of them. Lucius glanced over his shoulder from the large bed in the center of the room, the anger and shock clear on his face. Hermione moved without a thought into the room, her heart lodging in her throat at the sight of Narcissa’s ripped clothing and hands bound above her head. The red shape of a handprint on the woman’s pale face was almost pulsating at her, tears streaming down her face, as she turned her anger to Lucius, sending a powerful stupefy at him and sending him flying off the bed, and off Narcissa.

Bellatrix’s rage course through her veins, mixing with her own, forcing her to move towards Narcissa as the woman jerked on the ropes around her sore wrists. She released the binding that was holding Narcissa’s hands captive as Lucius rose to his feet, wand aimed at her. His long blonde hair pulled back out of his face as he glared at her.

His hand shook as he sneered, “Filthy little mudblood. How dare you interrupt me with my wife.”

She smirked, the hatred and darkness beginning to consume her thoroughly, “She’s no longer your wife.” She flicked her wand at the man and his scream of pain ripped from his chest, “If you survive,” She appeared in front of him with apparition, “You best hope I never see you again.” She flicked her wand again and Lucius collapsed in an unconscious heap on the floor.

Bellatrix’s rage filled voice filtered through her mind, Well that’s one way to start the annulment. I was just going to suggest divorce, but annulment is so much more painful. Well done pet.

She grimaced at her reflection in the window before she spun around, taking in the fear on Narcissa’s face. She couldn’t stop herself from shaking her head, knowing that she had just forced something on the woman that the blonde may not have wanted. She was no better than Lucius.

Bellatrix’s snarl ripped from her own throat, “You are nothing like him pet.”

She forced herself back into control before moving towards the door, “Shut up. You know just as much as I do.”

Her body jerked to a stop as Bellatrix surged forward again, spinning to cock her head at Narcissa, “You really believe that? You really think you are no better than Lucius of all people?”

Hermione let out a huff of frustration as she retook control, seeing the shock on Narcissa’s face, popping her neck before responding, “I know I’m not. Now stop it.” She frowned up at Narcissa, shaking her head, “I’m sorry.” She spun on her heel and hurried back down to the floo, shouting, “Black Castle,” as she threw the floo powder into the fireplace and stepped in.

She ripped her travel cloak off and tossed it on the sofa, “Why must you fight me on this?”

Because you’re wrong! You are nothing like him. Narcissa never wanted to marry him in the first place. You did nothing wrong. You gave Cissy her freedom back. Bellatrix’s voice was full of rage yet still the tone was soft.

She shook her head as she stormed into the dungeon, “No I took another choice away from her. I forced the annulment on Lucius which took the choice from Narcissa. That is no better than him taking what he wanted from her.”

She released her power at the first thing she spotted, a wooden chair. The sound of the blast echoed through the stone dungeon. She felt the sparks between her fingers as her rage and self-loathing filled her body, threatening to consume every part of her being. She may be dark, but she never wanted to take a woman’s choice away. Another blast burst through the stone wall across the room.

Love, calm down. You can’t destroy the castle. Please Hermione! You’re going to hurt yourself. Love, I’m begging you to stop. You did nothing wrong; I swear. You’ll see soon. Narcissa will come for you honey. Please take a deep breath.

She could feel Bellatrix’s worry, but it did nothing to help sooth her anger. The image of Lucius on top of Narcissa filtered through her mind again and she couldn’t control the angry silent scream that got stuck in her throat. A burst of magick ripped from her uncontrollably and she heard the sound of stone crumbling above her, a large chunk being ripped from the ceiling of the dungeon. She cried out in pain as the stone slammed into her right shoulder, knocking her off her feet, where she hit her head on the floor.

.

.

Narcissa quickly changed, already feeling the marriage bonds dissolving. She couldn’t move fast enough as she used her magick to send all of her things to Black Castle, knowing she would need to hide for a while once Lucius awoke, if he lived through it. She couldn’t explain the feelings she had at seeing Hermione enter the bedroom. The rage in the girl’s eyes had been terrifying yet arousing at the same time. The girl had saved her from something that would have been much worse if Hermione hadn’t arrived when she did. It wouldn’t have been the first time, but this time would be the last and thankfully it hadn’t started before the girl arrived.

She ran through the Manor and flooed straight to Black Castle. She could hear cracking as she stepped out of the fireplace, just as an anguished scream split the air. Her heart thudded in her chest as Hermione’s face came to mind and she ran for the sound of the scream. She made it to the dungeon and quickly shouted, “Arresto Momentum!”

The crumbling stone floated in midair as her wide eyes landed on the unconscious and bleeding girl in the center of the room. She quickly repaired the dungeon as she rushed towards the girl, kneeling beside her, and gently touching her pale face. The young witch’s skin was cold and clammy and Narcissa quickly cast a diagnostic spell, needing to see exactly how the girl was hurt. The young witch’s life force was low, and her magickal store was nearly depleted, her right shoulder was dislocated, and her right arm was nearly severed.

She began to cast all the healing spells she knew to raise the girl’s life force before focusing on the girl’s arm near her elbow. She knew it was going to scar, and she wondered if Diffendo had been cast at the girl. She knew no one could have been in here with Hermione and that scared her even more. Had the girl done it to herself?

She shook her head of the thought as she bound the girl’s arm tightly, not willing to risk the girl waking and moving it while she was still trying to mend it. Ten minutes later the skin was slowly knitting back together, a spiral of a scar already beginning mid bicep and swirling down to the middle of the girl’s forearm, but at least she would have use of it. She used a feather light charm to get the girl back upstairs and into Bellatrix’s old room, where the girl had been sleeping apparently.

She quickly spread her potions out on the chest of drawers across the room and summoned a chair to sit beside the bed. She refused to leave Hermione’s side until the girl was out of the woods, though she wasn’t sure if even then she would be willing to leave the girl’s side until she knew for sure how all that destruction happened in the dungeon. She changed into comfortable slacks and a blouse before she sat in the chair, her eyes refusing to leave the young witch’s pale face.

.

.

Hermione slowly began to wake as Bellatrix’s soothing voice called to her, Don’t startle Cissy. She’s asleep beside the bed. She’s been watching over you.

She felt the pain in her body, and she couldn’t contain the soft groan that slipped from her lips. Her right arm was on fire as she became fully conscious, finding that it was completely unmovable. Her eyes fluttered open, and she took in Narcissa’s sleeping form. The woman was sitting in a chair beside the bed with her head on her hand, her chest rising and falling with every soft breath. The top three buttons were undone on the deep green silk shirt and the black slacks were crisp and loose around the woman’s long legs. Long blonde hair draped over her shoulders and Hermione couldn’t help but wonder if it was as silky smooth as it looked.

Even more so, Bellatrix spoke softly. She was worried about her young witch, but the knowledge that her sister was watching over them had her relaxed.

Hermione tried to shift into a sitting position, but the movement jostled her right arm and she gasped as the pain flared hotly up and down her arm, bringing tears to her eyes. The bed dipped beside her, and a cool hand cupped her face gently, “Don’t move little one. I had to bind your arm so it would heal. It’s going to be a few days before you can move it.”

She blinked, feeling the tears slip from her eyes as she looked up into the deep blue eyes of Narcissa Black, “I’m so sorry.”

Narcissa frowned at her, “For what Hermione? You didn’t do anything wrong.”

She shook her head, ignoring Bellatrix’s subtle ‘I told you so’, “For what I did to Lucius. I shouldn’t have. I took your choice away.”

Narcissa blinked in confusion at the younger witch, “My choice would have been to have you do what you did, no matter what. I’m very grateful to you for what you did. If Lucius survives, I’ll need a place to hide for a while.” Hermione frowned up at her. Was the woman truly okay with what she did or was she just placating her because she was injured? Narcissa shook her head, seeing the question in the girl’s eyes, “I mean every word, whether your hurt or not.”

Hermione felt the tension leave her body as she nodded, accepting the woman’s words for what they were. She was exhausted and in pain, but she knew she wouldn’t be able to sleep now, “I’m still sorry that I took that choice from you without thinking.”

Narcissa chuckled as her thumb absentmindedly stroked across the young witch’s lips, “Thank you for it all the same. Let me get you a potion so you can sleep.”

Hermione shook her head, “No. I don’t like that stuff.”

Narcissa frowned, “Hermione you need to sleep and to let your body heal.”

Hermione shook her head again, “I’ll be fine. I have work to do anyway.”

Narcissa gripped her shoulders, “Fine. I won’t give you a potion to sleep as long as you stay right here.”

Hermione sighed, “Fine, but will you stay?” Narcissa smirked at her and moved to stand up, but Hermione caught her wrist, “Lay with me?”

Narcissa frowned down at the girl for a moment before nodding and moving to the other side of the bed. It felt good to stretch out after having been in that chair for most of the day. She left a slight distance between her and Hermione’s right side, but she couldn’t stop the soft moan that slipped through her lips, she had forgotten how comfortable their old beds had been.

Hermione grinned at her, “Comfy?”

Narcissa nodded a slight blush on her face, “I forgot how comfortable these beds were.”

Hermione felt her arousal rise at the red tint on Narcissa’s face that ran down her neck and disappeared under the blouse. She cleared her throat as Bellatrix’s cackling laughter filled her mind at the thought. She shook her head and took in Narcissa’s relaxed appearance, “Did you stay in here the whole time?”

Narcissa nodded, a soft bashful look crossing the older witch’s face, “I was worried you would try to move around,” she narrowed her eyes at her suddenly, “which was proven right.”

She chuckled, her own blush rushing down her neck, “I don’t like to stay still for too long.”

Narcissa nodded, rolling to her side to watch Hermione’s face, “What happened down there?”

Hermione frowned up at the ceiling. How could she tell the woman beside her that she hated what she saw? That she saw red and nothing else mattered anymore? How could she tell Narcissa of all people that she wanted to go back and finish the job? Would the woman hate her? Reject her? Bellatrix’s own worries were flaring in her body on top of her own and she couldn’t stop the sadness that crept into her chest. She didn’t realize tears were falling until Narcissa’s fingers brushed across her face.

“Don’t cry little one. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” Narcissa whispered as she shifted closer, still mindful of Hermione’s injuries, resting her head next to Hermione’s on the same pillow.

Hermione swallowed past the lump in her throat, “I want to kill him for what he was doing to you.” The words were nothing but a whisper, but they sounded too loud in the silent room. She was tired of hiding things, of holding everything in.

Narcissa moved her hand to Hermione’s chest, gently laying it above the girl’s heart, “It doesn’t make you a bad person little one.”

Hermione shook her head, “Doesn’t it though? All it takes is one thought, one split second decision that could change everything.” She had seen it throughout the war, they all had.

Narcissa frowned at the girl, “No, it doesn’t. When you act upon it, that’s when it becomes something. There have been a lot of times that I have wished for Lucius to die, to never come back from a mission that… He…” She took a deep breath as if preparing herself for something hard, “That Voldemort sent him on.”

Hermione finally turned her head to look into those deep blue eyes, seeing the understanding shinning back at her.

Narcissa smiled at her, “Yes we all have those sorts of thoughts. Doesn’t make us bad people. We all have darkness in us, but what we choose to do with it is what makes us different.”

Hermione frowned as she looked back up at the ceiling, Bellatrix’s soft sigh vibrating her mind. The dark witch was relaxed for once, content to just listen to Narcissa’s soothing voice. Hermione agreed that Narcissa had the soft soothing voice that could relax anyone.

A feeling of safety and comfort rolled through her body and Bellatrix chuckled, Told you. You have the hots for both of us.

She groaned a quick rebuttal on her tongue, but Narcissa’s worried and tense voice sounded first, “Are you in pain little one?”

Hermione shook her head, ignoring how the nickname made her feel every time it was said, “I’m fine, just tired.”

Narcissa relaxed slightly, “Sleep, I’ll be here if you need anything.”

She closed her eyes before reaching up to Narcissa’s hand on her chest, loving the feel of the cool hand beneath her own. She let herself enjoy the safety and comfort that Narcissa was providing for both her and Bellatrix. Her mind slowly shut down and she drifted off to sleep without realizing it.

.

.

Hermione jerked awake as the nightmare ended, feeling Bellatrix’s worry and relief, Nightmare love. It’s okay. You’re safe now. She took comfort in Bellatrix’s words before glancing over at the sleeping form of Narcissa beside her. Sweat coated her body as she struggled to slow her breathing and pulse. Climbing out of bed gently, so she wouldn’t wake Narcissa, she made her way towards the door.

She made her way towards the library, keeping her arm firmly bound to her body. She didn’t want to incur the wrath of Narcissa for moving her arm before it was fully healed but she couldn’t sleep anymore. She needed to get her mind back on the task at hand. She slipped into the library and lit the fireplace before lighting only the candle on the table to read by. She sat in her usual chair and pulled a book towards her, focusing on the task at hand.

She knew that the magickk needed for this ritual, to give Bellatrix her body back was going to be harder than anything she had ever done before. The Runes alone would take at least a week to do, having to draw them in her own blood for this particular task. She was slightly annoyed that Peter Pettigrew had gone the easy route, but then she really wasn’t surprised since Voldemort was more snake than human at that point.

She still needed ingredients and some of the runes weren’t as available as others. A particular book she needed was locked deep inside the restricted section of Hogwarts. McGonagall was always offering Hermione a chance to return to the school, to take her final year since she had missed it. The woman knew how important it was to Hermione about her education, but Hermione had been stalling an answer. She wasn’t sure she could return, not after everything that happened.

Besides trying to deal with lessons and having Bellatrix Black in her mind was not a good combination.

Bellatrix snorted, shoving an image of Hermione in class raising her hand to answer an unknown question. Once she was called on Hermione opened her mouth to answer but what came out instead was the dirtiest moan Hermione had ever heard in her life.

Hermione shook her head, “Really? You would do that to me in the middle of class?”

Bellatrix smirked, Every time you were called on. Come on pet, it would give us both a thrill.

Hermione shook her head, “You are-“

Irresistible? Hot? Brilliant?

Hermione rolled her eyes, “For one not hot, gorgeous and two insufferable.”

Bellatrix’s mind short circuited, leaving her speechless. A smug smirk pulled at Hermione’s lips. It wasn’t often she could shock Bellatrix into silence so she took it when she could get it, refocusing on the large book in front of her.

She had been working for a few hours before the storm started outside, thunder rumbling through the silent castle and lightning flashing every few minutes. She sighed heavily as she tossed her current book back onto the table, annoyed, “If this is going to be possible, I’m going to need something stronger than blood magick alone.”

Bellatrix hummed in response, Sex magick is stronger than blood but it would still have to be someone with blood related to me.

Hermione frowned as she stood, moving towards the large window and watched the lightning light up the sky around the castle. She would need to take a trip to Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley soon in order to get all the ingredients that she needed for the ritual. There were only a few in the castle and she needed a few artifacts as well that she was positive she could find at Borgin and Burkes.

A loud crack of thunder burst suddenly through the silent night and Hermione startled slightly before shaking her head, “I don’t think that’s necessarily a good idea. Sex magick could be risky if not done between two who truly care for each other.”

True however I know for a fact that you care about two people. I’m, unfortunately the reason you even have to do this. The other is just getting out of a nasty marriage, which could complicate things. Bellatrix’s voice was soft and soothing, a far cry from the demanding woman she had been six months ago. Hermione frowned as she watched the trees moving on the castle grounds below. Letting herself get lost in thought as she tried to figure out where she could get the things she needed, without having to go to the black market.

The doors burst open, and Hermione startled slightly as she turned to face Narcissa, “Are you okay?”

Narcissa crossed the room in a hurry, her arms wrapping around Hermione’s body without thinking, “I woke up and you were gone.” She pulled the girl tighter against her body, careful of Hermione’s injured arm.

Hermione smiled as she winced slightly in pain but ignored it as she wrapped her left arm around Narcissa’s neck, holding the woman closer, “I’m sorry. I couldn’t sleep and decided to work.”

Narcissa pulled back with a frown, “What is all this work you’ve been talking about? Harry and Draco said you quit the Ministry before you could even get started.”

Hermione pulled away from the woman, frowning as she looked back out the window. Bellatrix’s voice was hesitant in her mind, Whatever you decide love, I’ll support.

She struggled to start, not knowing how one should tell another that they’re sharing their body with someone else, and that someone happens to be that person’s sister, that everyone thought was dead. Or the fact that she’s trying to bring her back, so they won’t be sharing a body anymore. It wasn’t something she could just blurt out, was it?

Narcissa sighed, “I won’t push Hermione, but I am here for you.”

She turned to the woman, watching as Narcissa made her way back towards the doors, “What if I told you that Bellatrix isn’t dead?” She wondered if easing the woman into it was the right course of action.

Narcissa frowned as she turned back to Hermione, feeling like she needed to sit down for this conversation. She moved across the room towards the sofa near the fireplace, “Okay.” she frowned as she sat down, watching the girl fidget nervously, “I would be happy about that. It would also be disconcerting because of who she was.”

Hermione nodded, Bellatrix’s voice quickly becoming a hesitant excitement, Would she believe that I changed? Would I have to prove it in certain ways?

Hermione grunted, “To her and everyone else.”

Well duh pet, but I mean would she accept me back? Would she be willing to give me that chance after everything I put her through? Bellatrix was suddenly nervous again, anxiety creeping into her feelings.

Narcissa frowned as she watched Hermione’s eyes go distant before coming back again, the girl seemingly having a conversation with someone else as she spoke, “Family is supposed to.”

Narcissa frowned, “Hermione? Are you alright?”

Hermione’s head jerked up, a grimace on her face, “If she was alive, would you give her a second chance? A chance to prove she’s changed?”

Narcissa felt her body tense, “Hermione you’ve become awfully obsessed with Bella lately. You’ve been speaking about yourself in the plural sense, as if you aren’t alone. Is Bella haunting you?”

She snorted, feeling Bellatrix’s amusement rolling through her body. She took a deep breath, “Would you?”

Narcissa frowned, her frustration growing at the girl’s one-track mind, “Yes. I would. If given the chance I would. Things would have to change for me to forgive her, but I would be willing to try. Andy is struggling with what you said to her, but she knows there’s no chance to fix it now.”

Hermione grinned as excitement flooded her body through Bellatrix, Tell her love. The worst she could do is call you crazy and leave. Tell her about us.

Hermione nodded, “Narcissa the last six months have been,” her eyes widened, and her eyebrows rose as she searched for a word, but nothing was coming to mind. “Confusing, to say the least. Do you know anything about the dagger that Bellatrix used that day?”

Narcissa frowned, worry quickly entering her eyes as she stood, “No, only that Voldemort gave it to her.”

Hermione nodded, “It was a cursed dagger. Though at the time Bellatrix didn’t know what the curse was.”

Narcissa froze, her body clenching in fear, “At the time?”

Hermione nodded, moving away from the suddenly fearful woman. She swallowed, her throat suddenly dry, and looked back out the window, “Voldemort knew he was going to lose the moment we began destroying the horcrux’s. He wanted a failsafe for Bellatrix. He thought she deserved a second chance at life and since her soul was already torn…” She turned to face the woman, moving towards the table between them.

Narcissa shook her head, tears filling her eyes, “Please don’t be Bellatrix.”

Hermione looked down at the table, slightly confused by what the woman meant. She could feel Bellatrix recoiling at Narcissa’s words, the fear of rejection springing forward.

Narcissa snapped angrily, “Please tell me you didn’t take over Hermione’s body.”

Hermione’s head snapped up, “What? No, I’m still me. Horcrux Narcissa. The dagger was cursed to create a horcrux. When she carved into me, I became one. Bellatrix is a part of me, inside me.” She pointed to her chest.

Narcissa relaxed slightly, “That’s why it seems like you’re talking to yourself. You are actually talking to her.”

Hermione nodded, “Yes and she’s terrified you will reject her. She’s come a long way in the last six months and I’ve…” She shook her head quickly, “Doesn’t matter, the point is she isn’t the same person she was. She misses you and wants to fix things between you two.”

Narcissa’s tears fell quickly, “Oh Bella.”

Hermione sighed and smiled sadly at Narcissa, “Thanks for not calling me crazy.” She closed her eyes and shoved Bellatrix forward, relinquishing all control to the woman.

Bellatrix frowned suddenly her voice coming from Hermione’s mouth, “Hermione what are you doing?”

Hermione remained silent, letting her thoughts disappear and her emotions fade to nothing. She knew Bellatrix needed this, needed to feel safe while talking to her sister. But at the same time, she needed a break, a break from everything. From feeling, from searching, from being overwhelmed. She could feel Bellatrix’s panic building, but she just needed this moment as much as Bellatrix did.

Bellatrix began to panic as she felt Hermione disappear, “Hermione stop! Where are you?”

Narcissa hurried across the room, “What’s happening?” Her heart tightened in pain as Bellatrix’s dark eyes looked up at her, fear and confusion written across her face.

Bellatrix frowned at her youngest sister, “I don’t know she forced me into control and….” She shook her head, “I don’t feel her.”

Narcissa frowned as she took in Hermione’s face but Bellatrix’s dark eyes, “Bella, I’ve missed you.”

Bellatrix smirked at her, “I’ve missed you too Cissy. I’m so sorry for everything. I know it doesn’t mean much right now, but I promise I will make it up to you.”

Narcissa raised an eyebrow at her, “She’s changed you, hasn’t she?”

Bellatrix grinned, “In all the best possible ways. I’m in love with her Cissy. I can’t live without her, and I won’t. Even if I have to stay hidden here in the castle.”

Narcissa smiled, “She has that way on people. We’ll talk more once you have your own body, now what’s going on?”

Bellatrix frowned as she searched through their mind, struggling to find her young witch, “I don’t know how she did it. I can’t feel her, but I know she’s in here somewhere.” Bellatrix struggled to reach for Hermione, knowing that the girl needed to come back, “Hermione please. I don’t like this.”

Hermione remained silent and Bellatrix shook her head, “I know she wanted to give us time but I can’t… I don’t like not having her with me.”

Narcissa studied the woman in front of her. This was a side of Bellatrix she hasn’t seen since they were young children. She could see the fear so clearly in dark onyx eyes, even the set of Hermione’s mouth was more Bellatrix. She motioned to a chair near them, “Sit and take a breath Bella.”

Bellatrix collapsed in a chair, “All the things I thought, during the war, I don’t think them now. I just wish I could have seen it then. I wish I could have seen Hermione then, and not the way I did.”

Narcissa nodded, taking a chair near her sister, “After the war I helped rebuild the castle. I reconnected with Andy, and we talked through a lot. It’s a work in progress but Hermione was the one that forced us to talk.” She chuckled remembering it so vividly, “She threatened to lock us in the Room of Requirements until we either ‘fixed our shit’ or killed one another.” She raised her hands at Bellatrix’s incredulous look, “Her words not mine. Or were they yours?”

Bellatrix chuckled, a slight cackle escaping, “I guarantee they weren’t mine. At first, I was fighting her. Trying to force myself into control. I think its why she pulled away from everyone. We fought constantly and argued about everything.” She smirked, a soft glint coming to dark eyes.

Narcissa frowned at her, “What changed?”

Bellatrix’s smirk disappeared and pain seemed to blaze back into her eyes, “We lost control. I didn’t realize how much I was draining her when trying to force myself forward. It was too much for her one day and she collapsed.”

Narcissa gasped, “Andy said that Hermione had to be taken to St. Mungo’s during a family dinner at the Weasley’s. Everyone said she looked tired, but she brushed it off.”

Bellatrix nodded, wiping her hands on Hermione’s pant legs nervously, her panic slowly returning the more she searched for her young witch and couldn’t find her inside, “We had been arguing all day and I wasn’t paying attention to her like I do now. I wasn’t concerned about her, at least I didn’t realize it until then. When she collapsed, I felt the pain she was hiding from me. It was like an explosion in my mind, overwhelming, all-consuming and I hated it. I hated that I made her hurt like that.” Bellatrix’s dark eyes finally looked up at her, “That’s when I knew I was falling for her. That she was special, that I didn’t want to live without her.”

Narcissa smiled softly, “She has a way about her.”

Bellatrix nodded, reaching deeper, searching for any trace of her little witch, “Hermione please…” she begged, “I don’t… Come back…”

Hermione sighed heavily, I’m here love. The word had slipped but she refused to focus on it.

Bellatrix relaxed instantly, letting out a sigh of relief, “Don’t ever do that again pet. You scared the hell out of me.”

Hermione allowed Bellatrix to recede again and retook control, “Well you needed to speak with your sister.”

Bellatrix’s anger flared in her chest, Not like that. You are the most important thing to me. I can’t lose you and that was too much.

Narcissa frowned, slightly in awe of the easy transition between the two. Hermione’s amber eyes stared back at her and Narcissa shook her head, “Can we not do that again or at least warn me first?”

Hermione shook her head, “I’m sorry but Bellatrix wouldn’t if I didn’t force it.” She frowned again as she stood, “I need some sleep but then I need to gather a few ingredients in order to rebind Bellatrix’s soul. The only problem is the power aspect of the ritual.”

Narcissa moved closer to her, needing to touch the girl, “What do you mean?”

Hermione held her hand out to the woman and smiled as Narcissa took it instantly. She pulled the woman out of the room, “Family blood magick isn’t strong enough, but Bellatrix thinks that, plus sex magick, would work. She just doesn’t want me to have sex with anyone else besides you and her.”

Narcissa snorted, “You are wearing the Black family necklace, you wouldn’t be able to. You belong to us now. Which also includes Andromeda.”

I didn’t even think of Andy. Bellatrix’s voice was speculative, I doubt it though, considering our… History.

Hermione chuckled, leading Narcissa back into Bellatrix’s old bedroom, “I don’t think she’ll take this news as well as you.”

She let go of Narcissa’s hand and entered the ensuite. She showered quickly, grimacing at the lack of use of one arm before shaking her head and doing the best she could. Once she was done, she returned to the bedroom to find Narcissa freshly showered and changed, sitting in the armchair near the window. She leaned her uninjured shoulder against the door jamb and studied the older witch.

Could Narcissa really be accepting of all this? Or was she trying to earn her trust in order to lead her into a trap that would end with her locked in St. Mungo’s?

Easy pet. You’re paranoia is showing. Bellatrix tried to lighten the sudden mood shift with a joke but she could feel Bellatrix’s own curiosity picking at the back of her mind. Bellatrix was just as worried about this as she was but neither of them knew how to stop worrying. Hermione shook her head, exhaustion pulling at her more than her concern over whether or not Narcissa believed her. She moved towards the bed finally catching the attention of the blonde.

Narcissa smiled at her softly, standing and moving towards the door, “I’ll be right across the hall if you need anything.”

Hermione frowned, “You don’t have to go.” She didn’t want to admit how much she and Bellatrix wanted the older woman to stay. The way the woman drove the nightmares away so easily.

Without a word Narcissa moved across the room and climbed into bed beside Hermione, careful of her still healing arm. She smiled at the blonde before silently eliminating the candlelight around them, leaving only the fireplace across the room blazing for warmth. She let her body relax, slightly shocked when Narcissa’s hand came to rest on her chest, above her heart. She smiled into the darkness, allowing her eyes to finally close and sleep to claim her.

Chapter Text

AN: Trigger warnings to many things are present in this story. Don’t like, don’t read.

I don't own Harry Potter.

All spelling mistakes are my own. There are my own Original Characters in this at times.

.

.

Hermione jerked awake the following morning at the sound of a loud cracking sound. The wand she kept permanently attached to her forearm was in her hand in an instant as she launched herself out of bed. Her heart beat painfully hard in her chest as she blinked the sleep from her eyes and scanned the room for danger. A large crack down the windowpane across the room drew her attention and she approached it cautiously, wand gripped tight and aimed at the window. A bang sounded on the window as a large brown mass slammed into the cracked pane, causing Hermione to jump in startlement.

“Stupid bloody bird,” she snapped angrily as she quickly holstered her wand and moved to the window to allow the pest in.

Narcissa’s sleepy voice sounded from the bed, “Are you expecting to be attacked in Black Castle Hermione? You know, no one without Black blood can get in here.”

Hermione raised an eyebrow at the woman still lying in the bed, blonde hair mussed to the point that Hermione’s next words sounded strangled, “You’d be surprised.” She shook her head of the sudden arousal she felt, ignoring Bellatrix’s hum of pleasure that she felt more than heard.

The brown owl swooped into the room and landed on the small round wooden table near the fireplace, extending its leg with not one but two envelopes attached, the other leg having one attached. Hermione quickly took them, summoning a few treats for the bird before frowning at the thick envelopes. She recognized the handwriting on the front of them, her name and nothing else since no one knew where she was.

Narcissa frowned at her, sitting up in bed, the sheets falling away from her torso, “What’s wrong little one?”

Hermione’s eyes trailed over the creamy bare skin that was on display, Narcissa’s shirt being twisted and hanging off one shoulder. She swallowed thickly as Bellatrix’s curiosity rose as quickly as her impatience, You’re very popular today pet. Anything in particular you’ve forgotten or missed, hmm?

Hermione blinked, quickly turning away from Narcissa, trying to force her libido back into control. However, try as she might, Hermione couldn’t think of any events or social obligations she had. She had done all of that in the first few weeks after the war. While there had been a lot of interviews, Rita Skeeter not bothering with interviews as usual, she and Harry had quickly learned how to dodge those types of things. Some events they couldn’t miss, things for Hogwarts mostly. Ron had fallen in love with the attention, loving being the center of it. She couldn’t really blame him, after all their years in school and being treated almost as bad as her. Almost. It was one of the things she couldn’t stand about him now, even though they were still friends.

She slowly opened the envelop that was the smallest and smiled at McGonagall’s elegant handwriting:

Miss Granger I request your presence at Hogwarts as soon as possible. Please be discrete as I do not wish to involve others at this time. I’ll await an owl with your response.

Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,

Minerva McGonagall

She frowned at the letter as Bellatrix’s voice asked worriedly, Do you think something is wrong? Hermione shook her head. McGonagall and she had gotten closer after the war. Rebuilding Hogwarts had done that to people, even bringing enemies together and proving that no one was left unaffected by the war. McGonagall had been worried about Hermione, going as far as to offer her a place at the school as a teacher just to keep an eye on her. She didn’t think anything was wrong but then the woman always knew how to hide things better than Dumbledore or Voldemort ever could.

Bellatrix snorted, That’s the truth. She was always covering for me with Dumbledore when I would pull a prank.

Hermione chuckled, “Why don’t I doubt that?”

“Doubt what?” Narcissa asked from right behind her. Hermione nearly jumped out of her skin, having completely forgot about the woman being in the room with her. Narcissa frowned at her, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” She took a step back slowly, her eyes down and a slight pink tint to her cheeks.

Hermione shook her head, trying to slow her heart rate. She closed the distance between her and Narcissa cupping the taller woman’s face gently, waiting until the woman’s blue eyes met hers before she spoke, “You have nothing to apologize for. I’m not used to having people around anymore. I’m sorry.”

Narcissa frowned, “Everyone said you pulled away starting five months ago.”

Hermione dropped her hand and grabbed the other letters, “I did. Come, let's have breakfast. Kreacher has gotten used to having food ready early.”

She moved out of the room, the uncomfortable shift in conversation making her want to run from the room, letting her mind spiral while she moved on a subconscious level. She didn’t want to talk about the first few months after the war. Everyone had their demons to deal with after the battle, after the loss. Hers just happened to be in her mind twenty-four seven. She had fought against Bellatrix, trying to prove to herself that what happened in Malfoy Manor didn’t bother her, didn’t mean anything. She tried to tell herself it wasn’t a part of her but that wasn’t true. What happened in Malfoy Manor had changed her, torture had changed her more than she ever thought she could change. The scar on her arm was a constant reminder that she was no longer the girl she used to be.

“Hermione?” Narcissa’s soft voice pulled her from her thoughts.

She frowned across the table at the woman, not even aware of the fact that they made it downstairs and into the dining room while she had been lost in thought, “Sorry?”

Narcissa frowned at her, “You’ve been silent for the past hour. I didn’t mean to upset you. Kreacher will reheat your food.” Narcissa gasped slightly as she watched Hermione’s face, seeing the girl’s normally bright amber eyes shift quickly to dark onyx, a blank faraway look coming to her face before bright amber return. It began to flicker between the two and she knew Hermione was lost in thought with Bellatrix. It was slightly terrifying but also intriguing to watch. She had seen the shift the day before, had seen Bellatrix coming through. But how did others not even notice? How did her friends, the people she called family not notice these shifts?

Hermione frowned down at the untouched plate in front of her before sighing and relaxing back in her chair, one hand coming up to toy with the Black family necklace around her neck. Bellatrix’s voice was soothing in her mind, Let her in love. She wants to help. She cares about you more than I thought.

She frowned, How do you know that?

Bellatrix rolled her eyes so hard Hermione could feel it, I can see it in the way she looks at you. The way she touches you, the way she reaches out to you but pulls back in fear of rejection.

Hermione snorted, Runs in the family then.

Bellatrix scowled, Fair enough pet. But I know what I’m talking about. She’s worried.

Narcissa frowned down at her plate, knowing that if the girl didn’t want to talk, she wouldn’t. It was another way Hermione was like Bellatrix and it frightened her slightly. She pushed her plate away and eased her chair back ready to stand when Hermione spoke.

Hermione’s voice was low, devoid of all emotion causing a chill to run down Narcissa’s spine, “Five months ago was the first time I heard Bellatrix’s voice. She did everything in her power to make me hate myself.” Hermione could feel Bellatrix’s anger at herself for how she had treated Hermione in the beginning. “She called me worthless, a mudblood that was good for nothing and never would be anything more. After a while it stopped bothering me because I knew she was wrong.”

Narcissa stared at the dull amber eyes that were locked on the plate of food on the table, “I’m sorry.” Hermione turned her head and Narcissa gasped at the emptiness to them. The lack of any emotion, the life that seemed to have disappeared from them.

Hermione continued to stare at her as an eerie monotonous tone came from her lips, “I obliviated my parents before the war. I knew that they would be targets because of me and I didn’t want their deaths on my hands.” Narcissa felt her blood run cold as Hermione’s eyes slowly moved away from hers, still empty and almost haunted. “I went to find them two months after the battle. They were supposed to be in Australia, but they weren’t. I tracked them back to London, back to my childhood home.”

Hermione stood suddenly, causing Narcissa to startle slightly, a cold ghostly voice that shouldn’t be coming from Hermione’s lips echoed around the otherwise silent room, “’And he bathed in their blood under the moonlight. A beast so vicious, so callous that none could oppose him. The only sounds were the screams that slowly died on a gurgle and the snapping of bones breaking against his teeth.’” Hermione looked back up at Narcissa, dull lifeless amber eyes trained on her face but not really there, voice strained with so much pain it tore into Narcissa’s heart, “No one knows, not Harry or the Weasleys, and I would like to keep it that way. Bellatrix is the only one that knows, and now you.” She spun on her heel and disappeared from the dining room.

Narcissa felt the tears rolling down her cheeks as she stared at the spot Hermione had disappeared. Her heart ached to comfort the girl, but she didn’t know if Hermione would allow it. If she wanted it. She knew how much the war had done to the Golden Trio, the pain they suffered, the loss that Potter had gone through.

But this was something else entirely.

She never wanted to see that look on Hermione’s face again, hear that kind of pain in her voice. It took everything she had to not chase after the girl, to return to her room to shower and change, tears falling silently. She knew she had been falling for the girl over the last few months but now she knew for sure she was in love with Hermione Granger.

.

.

Hermione frowned as she compared the two large texts that she was studying, “This earth-based rune is similar but not quite…”

Bellatrix scoffed, Detailed?

Hermione sighed, leaning back in her chair and rubbing her aching temples, “It has to be perfect. One mistake and…”

I know love, Bellatrix’s voice was soft, trying to sooth the headache that Hermione was trying to fight off. I think it's time for a break don’t you think. You’ve been at this all day and night.

Hermione stared at the open book on the table for a moment, losing herself in thought. The magick’s that she would need to tap into were more than she ever thought possible for one person. She was beginning to think the idea of this just being a horcrux was wrong. There were too many variables that made horcrux impossible. Voldemort had made so many of them, and she had researched enough about them to know that this was shaping up to be something different entirely. Delving into blood magick and sex magick was over the limits of even the Dark Lord, which Hermione was positive was something he wouldn’t have done to begin with. Dark Magick was one thing but what she was going to have to use was something completely different.

Bellatrix sighed, knowing Hermione had a one tracked mind, and once she was onto something she rarely stopped until forced, Is it worth it though? I will not let you risk your life for me. Not after everything I’ve done to you and in the past.

Hermione frowned at the table, “It's time to leave the past behind, don’t you think? There’s only so much one can handle.”

Bellatrix scoffed, You’re one to talk. You keep thinking that it's your fault, that you could have stopped it and you couldn’t. How is that any different than what I think?

Hermione felt her frustration building but instead of snapping back she shook her head, ready to get back to working when Kreacher appeared with a loud crack. She gasped and clutched her head between her hands, eyes shut tightly. When she finally opened them, she narrowed them at Kreacher, “What do you want?”

Kreacher frowned at her, “Missus Narcissa is sick, and I thought you’d want to know.”

Hermione’s head snapped up, her heart quickening in pace, “Narcissa? Take me to her now.” Kreacher gripped her hand and with a loud crack apparited them upstairs to Narcissa’s old room. She could hear Narcissa through the bathroom door and glanced at Kreacher, “Bring water and leave it over there. Narcissa?” She moved towards the bathroom door quickly, hoping the woman hadn’t locked it.

Just as she was about to reach for the knob it opened and Narcissa’s pale face appeared, a sheen of sweat shimmering on her forehead, “I’m fine.”

Hermione shook her head, instinctually reaching for the woman and pulling her tight against her body, “You are not fine. What’s wrong?”

Narcissa’s heart swelled at the worry and care that Hermione was showing and she couldn’t help but lean into Hermione’s body, “The annulment is in its final stages. Lucius will be waking up soon if he survives these last few hours.”

Hermione nodded as she guided the older woman to the bed, “What happens then?”

Narcissa sat on the edge of the bed, her body shaking slightly with a chill now that she was no longer against Hermione’s warmth, “The Ministry will automatically send out letters to Lucius and I. More than likely, he’ll keep the Malfoy assets, the Manor, the money and such.”

Hermione rolled her eyes, because of course pureblood laws chose the husband over the wife, “And you?”

Narcissa looked down at the floor, not wanting to see the pity in Hermione’s eyes, “I’ll find something.”

Hermione frowned, her heart aching at the sudden change in Narcissa’s mood, “What do you mean? This is your home Narcissa.”

Narcissa shook her head, sadness creeping into her words from her heart, “Bella is the Head of House, and this hasn’t been my home in a long time.”

Hermione knelt in front of the woman, “I have access to the Black vault, this castle, everything. You are a Black. This is your home.” She gently took the woman’s hands in hers, waiting until Narcissa’s eyes met hers, “Unless you don’t want to be here with me.”

Narcissa’s chest tightened painfully, shaking her head quickly, “Of course I want to be here with you. Hermione, I…” she frowned as Hermione’s words caught up with her, “Wait how do you have access to everything?”

Kreacher reappeared with an earsplitting crack and Hermione growled angrily, wincing against the pain that felt as if an icepick was being drilled into her head. She turned to glare at him, hissing between her clenched teeth, “What now?”

Kreacher frowned at her, “I was informed that your shipment at Borgin and Burkes is ready. You wanted to know as soon as possible Missus Hermione.”

She sighed, letting her anger fade away, “Yes of course. Apologies Kreacher. Thank you. Alert Borgin that I will be there shortly to collect it.” He nodded and she groaned, clutching her head as he apparated with what seemed an even louder crack than before.

Narcissa surged forward, catching Hermione’s shoulders before the girl could fall backwards, “Hermione what’s wrong?”

Hermione rubbed her face before shaking her head, “Headache.”

Narcissa summoned a potion from her personal stash, “Take this.”

Hermione grimaced at it, the bright blue liquid shimmering slightly, “Is this the same one as before?” Narcissa nodded and Hermione’s lip curled in disgust, causing the woman to chuckle. She downed the bitter liquid and shook her body, “Bloody hell that was worse than the first time.” Narcissa rolled her eyes, causing Hermione’s eyebrow to raise in amusement, “Did The Narcissa Black just roll her eyes at me?”

Narcissa snorted, taking the bottle from her, a small smirk on her lips, “Don’t be ridiculous.”

Hermione scoffed as she watched the woman cross the room to the chest near the ensuite door, a smirk dancing on her face, “Your lips tell me no, but your blush tells me otherwise.”

Narcissa felt a flutter of nerves in her stomach at the tone of Hermione’s voice, the way it made her heartbeat faster, “Then you need to get your eyes checked because you’re seeing things.”

Hermione moved closer to the woman, a curious frown on her face, wondering why the woman wouldn’t look at her, “I think I’m seeing clearly for the first time in my life.”

Narcissa gasped slightly as she spun around, finding Hermione’s body a few inches away. There was a sparkle in the girl’s bright amber eyes that she hadn’t seen before, and it was intoxicating. She couldn’t stop the question that spilled from her lips, knowing she was entering dangerous territory, “And why is that?”

Hermione couldn’t stop herself from closing the distance between them, inhaling the delicious scent that was all Narcissa, “Sometimes all it takes is one person to show you the world, to open your eyes like they’ve never been open before.” She felt a flutter of nerves in her stomach, dragon wings flapping wildly.

Narcissa’s eyes darted to Hermione’s lips, and both knew what they wanted, what they needed in that moment. Hermione wanted to taste those pink lips, to know how the woman tasted. She wanted to hold her, to feel the woman’s body against her own again. She couldn’t stop herself from leaning forward slowly, her eyes darting between pink lips and bright excited blue eyes. They shared the same breath and Narcissa’s body shifted closer, leaving no room between them.

The screech of an owl alerting to the post made them both jump apart, startled out of the moment they had been locked in. Hermione felt the heat rush across her face and burn the tips of her ears as she looked away from the beautiful woman in front of her, “I better…” She spun without another word and hurried from the room; her heart lodged in her throat.

Narcissa knew her blush was covering her entire face, even the tops of her breasts were tinted pink. She had to close her eyes and take slow deep breaths to calm her heart, and body from a height it had never achieved before. The girl could make her feel things she never had before. Things she didn’t think were possible in pureblood society. While she was slowly losing that mentality it still had a tendency to pop out at the most inopportune times, something she wished she could just magic away.

Hermione rushed downstairs finding the owl perched in the study, an envelope tied to its leg. She frowned as he detached it, then groaned. She had completely forgotten about her promise to be at George’s brand-new reveal that afternoon. She had promised weeks ago and had lost track of the days. She shook her head, “Brilliant.”

Bellatrix’s voice was husky as she finally spoke, cracking slightly halfway through her sentence, Well at least it will be a distraction.

“From what?” Hermione frowned as she read the reminder for her to be there by two that afternoon.

From the fact that you just nearly kissed my sister. Something that, by the way, I was looking forward to. Bellatrix smirked, sending a naughty image through Hermione’s mind.

Hermione shook her head, “You are evil.” Bellatrix’s cackling laughter filled her mind as Hermione headed for the stairs.

She slowed near Narcissa’s room, finding the door still wide open. She had the urge to tell Narcissa she was leaving, something about leaving without telling her didn’t feel right. It made her uncomfortable, which was confusing enough. She took a deep breath before knocking on the open door, not seeing the older woman in the bedroom.

Narcissa appeared from the ensuite with a soft shy smile, “Yes?”

Hermione swallowed thickly, her mouth suddenly dry, before she said, “I’m heading into Diagon Alley.”

A crease appeared between Narcissa’s brows, “I was going to say the same thing. I need a few potion ingredients. What you took was the last of that one and I figured you might need more.”

Hermione leaned her shoulder against the doorjamb, crossing her arms over her chest, a frown on her face, “What about Lucius?”

Narcissa shrugged, her carefully constructed mask slipping back into place before she turned to her vanity, “He’ll be weak if he survived. I’ll be there and back quickly.”

Hermione shook her head, hating that the woman was quickly putting distance between them again, “No.”

Narcissa’s head snapped around to look at her, tone low and dry, “Excuse me?” Anger burned in her chest. She would not be told what to do anymore.

Hermione shook her head again, “I don’t like the idea of you being alone right now. Especially not out in public. How about we go together?”

Narcissa’s anger was extinguished instantly, her mask falling from her face, “You would do that?”

Hermione snorted, “Escort a beautiful woman to Diagon Alley? Of course. Protect you from anything and everything? With my life. Is that so hard to believe?” She raised an eyebrow at the woman, curious if she was revealing too much.

Narcissa stared at Hermione in shock, the feelings that she had for the girl, which had been hidden, began to surge to the surface. Her heart fluttered quickly in her chest as the girl’s words sunk into her mind, into her heart. She didn’t think the girl meant them the way she hoped she did. Could she? She knew Hermione was falling for Bellatrix, that was plain to see in just the short amount of time she had been privy to the information. But could Hermione feel that for her too?

Hermione frowned, feeling as if she overstepped and quickly shook her head, “I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to stop you from going. Please be safe.” She turned and hurried towards her room, her heart aching in her chest.

Bellatrix frowned inside her mind, Is it just me or are we getting whiplash from too many emotions?

Hermione sighed heavily as she reached their bedroom door, “Not just you.”

“Hermione?” Narcissa’s voice made her pause, but she didn’t turn to face the woman, “I’d love to go with you.”

Hermione’s wide smile crossed her lips without warning. She entered the bedroom as her heart swelled with excitement and Bellatrix’s cackling laughter echoed through her mind. As it slowed, her voice flowed warmly through her mind, Two Black sisters and a Mudblood walk into a potions shoppe…

.

Hermione stepped out of the fireplace in the back room of the Leaky Cauldron, turning just as another burst of green flames lit up the darkened room. Narcissa moved towards her, her hand brushing across Hermione’s shoulder to remove the soot without thinking. Hermione smiled at the woman, watching her curiously. The woman’s deep green dress clung to her curves before flaring below her waist. The silver elegant design reminded Hermione of a snake, circling her body, as if to embrace her.

Her own wardrobe had changed dramatically in the last five months. She refused to wear a corseted dress that Bellatrix begged for and instead settled on black slacks and black silk button up blouses. When she wasn’t out in public, she had an assortment of Dragon hide pants that Bellatrix insisted she could not live without, which Hermione quickly found that she couldn’t. She loved the feeling of them against her skin, the comfortableness of them she hadn’t been able to find in anything else, even her beloved muggle jeans. She secretly believes Bellatrix was poisoning her mind against muggle clothes when she was sleeping, which the dark witch could only laugh at.

“Now I have to go Slug and Jigger’s Apothecary, so I’ll meet you-“

Hermione shook her head and pulled the woman against her body without thinking, “We’ll stick together. I’m not letting you out of my sight.”

A small smirk pulled at the corner of Narcissa’s mouth, “Fine, but the same goes for you my dear.”

Hermione’s mind melted a little, but she chuckled and followed the blonde out into the pub area of the Inn. Eyes turned to them, some narrowing and others widening. She rolled her eyes and kept close to Narcissa, not trusting anyone. Bellatrix snorted, And I thought I was the only one with trust issues Golden Girl.

Hermione knew Bellatrix didn’t mean anything by it, but the words still hurt. She hated being called the Golden Girl of the Golden Trio. In fact, all three of them hated the term that had come to represent them. It was a term that the three of them had deemed off limits to those closest to them. She quickly hid the hurt but with the sudden shock coming from Bellatrix she knew the woman had felt it.

The sun was bright and warm as they stepped out of the chilly Leaky Cauldron. Diagon Alley was packed full of witches and wizards going about their daily lives while families rushed to buy last minute Christmas gifts before their children returned home for the holidays. Hermione’s skin crawled as her eyes darted around, uncomfortable and paranoid. She hadn’t spent much time around people in the last six months and it was making her anxiety rise considerably faster than she thought it would. So many people smiled at her as they passed, some even scowling at her as if she had ruined their lives.

Which she knew in a way she had. There were still plenty of Voldemort supports scattered around, and some who just wanted revenge on the Golden Trio for something or other. Harry was fully committed, as an Auror, to capturing the small groups that were still voicing and acting upon their dislike of the way the war had ended. Most people just wanted to move on, to let go of the past and rebuild a better future.

She clenched her teeth tightly against the sudden rush of nerves that twisted her stomach. Bellatrix’s voice was oddly calm inside her mind, It’s alright love. It’ll be a quick trip to Knockturn Alley and then you can stop at Weasley’s shoppe and be done with it. Hermione knew she was right but it didn’t make it any less terrifying.

Narcissa’s arm wrapped around hers, leaning into her side and lowering her voice so only Hermione could hear, “Everything is going to be fine dear.” Hermione glanced gratefully at Narcissa, focusing on the woman’s touch to keep her grounded, and followed the woman down the narrow cobblestone street.

A bell rang above their heads as they entered the small shoppe. The sound of sizzling filled the air along with a strange perfumy aroma that Hermione couldn’t identify. Along the wall to her left sat a counter covered in different sized and shaped beakers, some with different colored liquids while others were empty. To her right was the window display with rows of shelves beyond that, that disappeared into the dimly lit store, filled with different ingredients. The counter across from them held test tubes with varying substances and a Florence flask that was suspended above a flame.

The grey-haired woman behind the counter was busy swirling a deep blue liquid in the Erlenmeyer flask, a smirk pulling at her pale pink lips. Hermione was transfixed as the woman used a pipette to drip a single drop of pink liquid into the flask. A puff of smoke rose slowly, a mushroom cloud of purple expanding outward with a hiss. The blue liquid shimmered to a bright violet and the woman chuckled, happiness radiating from her.

Narcissa leaned into Hermione’s body, a smile on her lips and eyes on the flask in the woman’s hands, “Potion making is an artform to some of us.”

Hermione could see the sparkle of excitement in Narcissa’s eyes, the way her smile seemed to brighten up the dark room appearing like a beacon to guide her. Her heart skipped a beat as she watched the blonde’s eyes drinking in the sight before them, a happiness that bubbled just beneath the surface waiting to explode. She couldn’t stop the smile that pulled at the corner of her mouth as she saw the woman’s usual mask slip away, eyes bright and a youthful expression cross her face. She had never seen someone so excited or happy from walking into a shoppe before.

But then you’ve never seen yourself walk into a book shoppe either pet, Bellatrix spoke softly in her mind, almost a whisper, not wanting to frighten her in this quiet moment.

The woman behind the counter glanced over at them, “The ones of us with brains and class anyway. Madame Malfoy, it’s been a while.”

Narcissa smiled kindly at the woman, “Actually it’s Black now Brunhilda.”

Hermione raised an eyebrow at Narcissa, curiosity pulling at her mind. How long has Narcissa known this woman? How long has she been coming here? Were they friends? Were they more? Hermione shook her head, rolling her eyes at her own insane thoughts.

Bellatrix snorted, At least you caught yourself spiraling.

Hermione scoffed, which pulled a confused frown from Narcissa. Hermione smiled politely at Narcissa, “I’ll be over here.” She pointed her thumb over her shoulder and hurried away, muttering under her breath, “You were spiraling too.”

Narcissa frowned as she watched Hermione disappear down a long row of shelves. She had seen the slight color change to the young woman’s eyes, and it was starting to worry her slightly. She figured she would get what she needed and collect Hermione quickly, unsure what Bella was telling the girl.

Bellatrix chuckled, Yes but I’m not the crazy one right now. I know Cissy has been coming here for years. Where do you think Draco gets his astounding reputation for potions from?

Hermione sighed, “Why did I think this would be an easy day? Apart from visiting with George.”

He said it was an early reveal so no one else will be there. We’ll be fine love. You are worrying way to much for my Zen-ful state of mind.

Hermione snorted, a chuckle slipping from her lips, “Since when does Bellatrix Black do Zen?” She felt her body relaxing as she browsed through the silent rows of potion ingredients.

I don’t, but it got you to laugh right.

She could see Bellatrix’s smile in her mind, and it brought out one of her own. She shook her head as she rounded a corner and found a box near the back wall, a slightly dark mist hovering over it. She frowned and moved closer, trying to remember what ingredient would do that. She peered over the side of the box and her eyes widened, her grin spreading across her face faster than her heart was beating.

Is that void salt? How the hell did she get it? This is one of the rarest ingredients on earth, mainly because getting to it is not only dangerous but next to impossible. Bellatrix’s voice sounded almost in awe and Hermione couldn’t stop the feeling of shock from coursing through her body. Bellatrix scoffed suddenly, I am not, I just know how rare this ingredient is and that we need it so stop staring and buy it.

Hermione grunted as she picked up the whole box, “So bossy.” Bellatrix’s laughter warmed her insides as she carried the box towards the front of the store. As she neared the front of the store she paused out of sight, hearing Narcissa’s voice.

“I’ll need a steady supply of this for a while, so I’ll be in every two weeks to pick it up.”

The woman behind the counter sighed, concern lacing her voice, “Is everything alright Mrs. Malfoy? You usually don’t need this much. This potion is one of the strongest strengths out there.”

Narcissa’s tone turned cold when she answered, “I told you it’s Black now and I know exactly what this potion is. I’ll be in every two weeks to resupply. If you’ll excuse me.”

Hermione took that moment to move forward, carrying the box to the counter, “I would ask how you got all this, but I doubt you would tell me.”

Brunhilda shook her head, a small smirk coming to her lips, “If I told you, I would have to kill you dearie. How much of it would you like?”

Hermione grinned at the older woman, catching Narcissa’s body tensing out of the corner of her eye, “All of it.”

Brunhilda’s jaw dropped, “A-a-all of it. Dearie it’s worth two hundred thousand galleons for this little bit.”

Hermione nodded, “I’ll take it. Pack it up tight and add Narcissa’s order to it.”

Brunhilda stared at Hermione for a moment before smiling widely, “Pleasure doing business with you.”

Hermione nodded, her eyes catching on a few items she could use, “Throw in the Calcinator too.” She glanced back to Narcissa, “Anything you need?”

Narcissa frowned at her, “Hermione are you alright?”

Hermione looked away from her as Bellatrix’s voice came out of her mouth, “Perfectly fine love. We need to be hurrying on. Have a package to get before heading to the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.” She turned back to the woman, leaning on the counter, a playful smirk crossing her face, “Be a dear and slip a few boomslang skin into the order.” She ran her finger lightly over Brunhilda’s hand that was resting on the counter in front of her.

A blush rushed up Brunhilda’s neck before she cleared her throat and nodded, “Is that all Miss…?”

Bellatrix smirked, seeing the anger and jealousy on her little sisters face, “Black. Hermione Black.”

Brunhilda’s eyes widened for a moment before she nodded, “Where shall I be sending this Miss Black.”

Bellatrix twirled towards the door, “Our house elf, Kreacher, will be retrieving it in an hour.” She pushed out the door with a cackling laugh.

Hermione forced her way back into control, fuming as she snapped quietly, “That was risky Bella.”

Bellatrix chuckled, Oh come now love. It was just a little teasing. You can’t expect me to not have some fun every once and a while.

Hermione shook her head, “That’s not the point. People will begin to think I’m…” She grimaced.

The word you are looking for is Crazy. Come on Muddy. It was too good to pass up. Did you see the jealousy on Cissy’s face?

Bellatrix’s joy was coursing through Hermione’s body, and she couldn’t resist the smile that pulled at her lips. It had been a while since Bellatrix had felt this much joy and Hermione didn’t have it in her heart to be angry. Of course, that didn’t stop the hand that wrapped tight around her arm before jerking her into the narrow alley near the shoppe, and her back was pressed against the cool stone wall.

Narcissa’s anger was palpable as she hissed quietly, “What the hell was that?”

Hermione frowned at the woman, “What was what?”

Narcissa’s lip curled in disgust, “You were flirting with her.”

Hermione’s eyebrow rose and Bellatrix’s laugh echoed through her mind, Told you love.

Narcissa frowned as amber shifted to onyx before quickly shifting back, “What’s going on?”

Hermione shook her head, “Nothing and I wasn’t flirting.”

“Like hell you weren’t,” Narcissa snapped angrily, her eyes blazing with jealousy.

Bellatrix surged forward, onyx eyes looking slightly worried. She had seen Cissy’s jealousy in full force and it was something she wouldn’t wish on anyone, well mostly anyone, “It was me Cissy. Muddy didn’t know I was going to do that.”

Narcissa’s eyes darkened, “What did you call her?”

Hermione slipped forward, her hands reaching for the older witch. She pulled Narcissa closer, “Relax. Everything is fine.”

Narcissa shook her head, “No. She can’t just…” she rubbed her temples, feeling a headache coming on, “Hermione, dear please don’t let her-“

Hermione’s anger flared, causing her to snap in her sudden need to defend Bellatrix, “She isn’t doing anything.” She shook her head and moved away from Narcissa, “See. This.” She motioned to Narcissa and then herself, “Right here, is why I didn’t want anyone to know.” She could see the sudden hesitation in Narcissa’s eyes, the worry that she was slipping.

Narcissa frowned, reaching out to the girl, “Honey please I just-“

Hermione shook her head, flinching away from the blonde, “No. Everyone is going to think that I’m crazy.” Her voice was a little louder than she intended, and a group of passersby glanced curiously at them, but continued walking passed. Hermione rubbed her eyes for a moment, exhaustion pulling at her mind, “Forget it.” She moved towards Diagon Alley.

Narcissa caught her arm quickly pulling her back into the shadows, “No. I will not forget. Hermione, I don’t think you’re crazy.” She ran her finger gently down the side of the girl’s face before tucking a stray curl behind her ear, “I’m worried about you, about your health, and about Bella.”

Hermione frowned, not wanting to believe that someone actually cared about her and Bellatrix. She shook her head and took the woman’s hand, kissing the back of it, “I have to get to Knockturn Alley. Why don’t you head home?”

Narcissa shook her head, gripping her arm, “I’m not leaving you. We came together, we’ll return together.”

Hermione smiled softly at her before leading her back out into the street. They walked closely as Hermione tried to dampen down the anxiety that was rising. More and more people were smiling at her, nodding and waving as if they knew her. She smiled politely but ignored everything else. She didn’t want to interact with people, she just wanted to get her things and leave.

Narcissa felt Hermione’s body getting stiffer as they walked, the unease and anxiety quickly appearing on her face. She wrapped her arm around Hermione’s and leaned closer, “What are you looking for at Borgin and Burkes?”

Hermione’s brows creased together as they made their way towards Knockturn Alley, “He was able to procure an item I need for the ritual. He has a few contacts in the Black Market and was able to locate the rare item.”

Narcissa felt Hermione’s body relaxing, “Do I get to be in the know?” she asked softly.

Hermione smirked at her as they turned down Knockturn Alley, “Not until we get home. Besides it must remain in the dark. It can’t see the light of day, or the enchantments would have to be replaced and it wouldn’t be as strong.”

Narcissa frowned, “Why not?”

“Druid priests placed them during a new moon at a power circle during the winter solstice. It was costly but well worth it. It will help me immensely when I start the ritual.” Hermione grinned, her excitement for knowledge showing clearly in her bright amber eyes.

Narcissa was about to speak when Gregory Goyle Senior appeared in front of them. The man’s tall, heavyset frame would be intimidating to those who didn’t know him. Narcissa tensed but Hermione remained completely at ease, “Granger, just the person I was looking for.”

Hermione nodded at the older man once, “Goyle. What can I do for you?” Narcissa frowned at the pleasantries being exchanged, an unease twisting her stomach.

Goyle leaned closer to Hermione, lowering his voice, “We still on for Friday?”

Hermione snorted, “Really?”

Goyle leaned back a grin spreading across his large face, “Can’t be too careful about certain-“ His lip curled up as he finally noticed Narcissa, “What are you doing with Malfoy?”

Hermione narrowed her eyes at him, “She’s Black again. Spread the word for me would you. Lucius took the annulment.”

Goyle’s eyes widened even as a smug smirk crossed his face, “You finally did something about it then? Good on you. Tell me, did he survive?” He chuckled, a dark glint to his eyes.

Hermione glanced at Narcissa for a moment, chuckling at the look of shock on the older woman’s face, “Don’t know. Haven’t heard a peep out of him and so far, neither has anyone else.”

Goyle nodded, “I’ll check on him later,” he snorted, “just to make sure.”

Hermione grinned at him, “To answer your question, yes. Is there room for one more?” She glanced at Narcissa, “I’d like to bring a second.”

Goyle’s laugh was genuine as he patted her shoulder, “We all bring our mistress’s Granger. No need to hide it.”

Bellatrix’s cackling laughter ripped from Hermione’s throat as Narcissa’s eyes widened to saucers. Hermione turned back to Goyle, “Me and my… Mistress, will be there Friday. Oh, and warn Crabbe that the group is onto him. Fenrir is threatening to eat him if he tries to cheat one more time.”

Goyle chuckled before dipping his head, “Have a lovely day ladies. See you Friday.”

Hermione looked over at Narcissa, unable to stop her laughter as the woman stood gaping at the retreating Goyle, “You alright there, Mistress?”

Narcissa’s jaw shut with an audible snap as her eyes narrowed at Hermione, “What the hell was I just forced into?”

Hermione shook her head, continuing down the narrow cobblestone street, “You aren’t being forced. You are more than welcome to decline and stay home.”

Narcissa hurried to catch up to Hermione, suddenly needing to touch the younger woman. She wrapped her arm around Hermione’s again, “If you want me to go, I will gladly accept.”

Hermione turned to her, stopping just outside Borgin and Burkes, her amber eyes darkened slightly, “Thank you Mistress.”

Narcissa rolled her eyes, “Keep it up and I’ll show you just how much of a Mistress I can be.”

Hermione’s jaw slackened, her mind short circuiting instantly. Bellatrix’s cackling laughter echoed through her mind. Her mind swan dived into the gutter, a hundred different images of her, naked, at Narcissa’s mercy crossing her mind. Bellatrix’s laughter cut off with a lustful moan, You just had to go there didn’t you love.

It wasn’t as if she meant to.

Right and I’m a saint, Bellatrix snorted.

She grimaced as she shook her head, Narcissa’s fingers touching the bottom of her jaw and pushing her mouth closed, “Close your mouth dear, you’ll catch Trollcleg shit.”

Hermione grimaced as she pushed the door to the shoppe open, “There’s no Trolls around here for those flies.”

Narcissa chuckled as she entered, “The sentiment is still the same.”

A grin pulled at Hermione’s lips as she followed Narcissa into the dimly lit room. Dust coated most of the shelves, the artifacts on full display were the less dark of Borgin’s stock. Hermione moved towards the counter as the tall thin man appeared from behind a curtain, “Ah, Madame Black.”

Hermione raised an eyebrow at him, letting Bellatrix take over, “You dare prevent my house elf from retrieving my package.” Narcissa’s eyes widened as amber turned to onyx. “I’ll be sending Kreacher to pick it up. Do not disappoint me again Borgin.”

Borgin nodded quickly, “Yes Madame. I’ll have everything ready for him when he arrives.”

Bellatrix nodded before turning to face Narcissa, a smirk dancing on pink lips, “Good. Cissy shall we or was there something you needed?” Narcissa shook her head at a loss for the sudden change. Bellatrix grinned and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, guiding the woman from the shoppe and towards the dark narrow alley beside the building.

Narcissa gasped as her back hit the wall, their forms hidden in the darkness, “Bella what are you doing?”

Bellatrix’s soft laughter filled the alley, “Showing my girl how to properly seduce someone.” Her hands caressed over Narcissa’s torso brushing across her dress covered breasts and pulling a gasp from the woman. “I know every inch of your skin and I want to show her exactly how to work you up.”

Narcissa’s moan caught in her throat as pressure was applied to her straining nipples, “She already does.”

Bellatrix pulled back slightly with a frown, but Hermione quickly forced herself into control before she could comment. She jerked back, her breathing too fast and her mind spinning dizzily, “I’m sorry.” She turned and hurried away from a panting Narcissa. She shook her head as she muttered, “What the absolute fuck Bella?”

I don’t understand. If she gets worked up by you, then why is she holding back? Bellatrix began to pace within Hermione’s mind.

Hermione winced at the pain that began creeping in, slipping into an alcove to lean against a wall, “She just got an annulment, for one.”

Semantics, Bellatrix rolled her eyes.

Hermione frowned, “Why is it so important that anything happens between Narcissa and I anyway?” She felt the pressure building near her temples and tried rubbing them.

Bellatrix’s voice softened and a wave of care washed over Hermione, Because I think you two are perfect for each other. I love Cissy just as much…, she trailed off suddenly before determination emanated from her. If anything happens to me during this ritual at least I know you’ll both have someone there.

Hermione sighed, “Nothing is going to happen. You will be fine and back to your usual self at the end of this.”

“Hermione?” Narcissa’s voice was hesitant as she approached. “Are you alright?”

Hermione shook the fog from her mind, ignoring the pain in her head, “I should be asking you that.”

Narcissa moved closer, getting as close to the younger woman as possible without touching her, “Why? I know what Bella was doing. I don’t ever want you uncomfortable.”

Hermione shook her head and looked away from the older woman, “I wasn’t.”

Narcissa cupped the girl’s cheek, stroking her thumb across the dark circle under her amber eyes, “Neither was I.”

Hermione felt her heart swell as she looked into honest blue eyes, “I don’t know what this is Narcissa, but I know I don’t want it to end.”

Narcissa smiled at her, “Neither do I. How about we figure this out together?” At Hermione’s nod Narcissa stepped closer, pressing her body into the younger woman’s, “Then its settled.”

Hermione swallowed thickly but still managed a smirk, “Yes Mistress.” Her smirk turned smug when Narcissa’s blue eyes darkened dangerously. A group of people laughed pulling them from their private moment and Hermione stepped out of the alcove, “We should get going before George sends a search party.”

Narcissa took a deep breath, trying to calm her raging libido and heart rate, “I’ll follow your lead.” She hesitated as she watched amber shift to onyx for a moment.

Bellatrix snorted, Out in public maybe.

Hermione groaned, “Why must you do that?” She shook her head and looked back up to Narcissa, “Let’s go before we both lose control.” Bellatrix’s laughter ripped through her mind making her wince in pain as she guided Narcissa back towards Diagon Alley.

Weasley Wizard Wheezes was unmissable in Diagon Alley, almost as much as Gringotts. While the outside was a considerably moderate brick the inside was a different story. Bright colors illuminated the different trinkets and gadgets that Fred and George had created over the years. After Fred’s death George had considered selling the shoppe, but he couldn’t bear to part with it. He wanted to keep his brother’s memory alive by creating things that they would have done together anyway. Ron was a co-owner and helped run it when he wasn’t busy as an Auror.

The shoppe always reminded her of the Burrow. The enchanted floors kept getting added as George expanded his inventory, creating multiple floors that staggered each other. Hermione smiled as she entered the bright friendly atmosphere, glancing at Narcissa, curious how the woman would react. She watched as a small smile appeared on pale pink lips before the woman caught her watching, “What?”

Hermione shook her head, “Oh, you know, you just took my breath away for a moment.” She grinned as Narcissa gasped in shock before she moved forward. She moved through the narrow shelves, hoping she didn’t run into anyone she knew, and headed for the office near the back of the store. She reached behind her and gripped Narcissa’s hand, pulling the woman closer to her as they neared the back door.

George’s voice called politely, “Enter,” when she knocked, and his bright smile made her heart ache as they came face to face. “Blimey Hermione, people were beginning to think you disappeared.”

She chuckled as she closed the door behind Narcissa and crossed the room to embrace him tightly, “I wouldn’t without alerting you George.”

He grinned as he leaned back, “Where have you been hiding all this time?”

Hermione raised an eyebrow at him, “You know I can’t tell you that.”

George chuckled, “I thought we were passed secrets?”

Hermione shook her head, stepping back and returning to stand beside Narcissa, “That’s no fun.”

George grinned at her, eyeing Narcissa Malfoy nervously, “Care to explain then?” Hermione motioned to the door behind her, and he nodded, “Go ahead.”

She warded the room so they wouldn’t be interrupted nor eavesdropped on before turning back to him, “She’s Black now. I forced the annulment on Lucius.”

George nodded, motioning to the two chairs in front of his desk, “We should sit for this.” When they were seated, he nodded at Hermione, “Go on.”

Hermione sighed, “I can’t tell you where we are staying but I’ve got a few more items that I need.”

George nodded, “I assume this has to do with the reason that your eyes shift colors?” Hermione gaped at him, and he laughed, “Hermione I’ve spent enough time with you to notice these things. How the others haven’t is beyond me.”

Narcissa scoffed, “I spent a few hours with her and noticed.”

George smirked at the older woman, “Yes well, the family probably doesn’t spend as much time as you, staring into her eyes.”

Narcissa’s jaw dropped at the boy’s boldness, but Hermione’s laugh cut her anger off, “Easy there George, or my Mistress will boil you alive.” She smirked as a pink tint rushed up Narcissa’s neck.

Narcissa shook her head, “You both are insufferable.” Hermione and George laughed, an honest laugh since they couldn’t deny it.

It felt good to laugh, something George hadn’t done much since Fred’s death. He still liked to crack jokes, though as he put it, during one of their lunches, it didn’t feel the same without Fred there to play off of. In a way George had found himself being drawn to Hermione. She was levelheaded and just like himself, was going through something that she didn’t want anyone to know. Sure, everyone offered their condolences over Fred, and yes, his family grieved for a lost son and brother. But Fred wasn’t just his brother, he was his best friend, his confidant. Hermione had been the only one that didn’t offer condolences. Instead, she sat with him, alone in the shoppe, just sitting together as they were lost in their own thoughts. He felt her comfort even though she didn’t touch him, her love even though she didn’t say a word to him.

Hermione smiled at George, feeling lighter than she had when she entered the store, “It’s complicated but I promise I’ll be safe.”

Bellatrix scoffed, So you say. Tell him what your little plan is pet. Tell Narcissa even. Bellatrix’s anger flared throughout Hermione’s body and the pain in her hear increased.

Narcissa’s hand on her thigh made her look up in confusion, “Sorry?”

Narcissa shared a concerned glance with George before she spoke softly, “We wanted to know why you want to keep it secret. Are you alright?”

Hermione rubbed her head and nodded, “Its-“

Tell them or I will, Bellatrix snapped. She could feel Hermione’s strength waning.

Hermione stood suddenly, shaking her head, practically snarling her words at the woman in her mind, “Stay out of it.”

Narcissa’s eyes widened as she stood, “Hermione?” George stood, leaning against his desk as he watched curiously, his mind racing.

Bellatrix refused to give up this time, You said yourself that this is going to be complicated. I thought you were going to let Cissy in? Why not George too? You know he will help as much as he can and keep it a secret from everyone.

Hermione closed her eyes as the pain flared wildly, “I know what I said, but it doesn’t change anything. Why should I risk it, risk them? Weren’t you the one that wanted to keep this quiet until we knew for sure it would work?”

Yes but this is getting more and more complicated and you’re going to need the help pet. I can feel how tired you are. You’re pushing yourself too hard. They can help you with research, with locating items. You know George could get whatever you need much faster than Borgin. Bellatrix was on the edge of begging her girl. She didn’t want Hermione getting hurt during all of this and the fact that the girl was getting weaker every day, was starting to worry her more and more than getting her own body back.

Narcissa moved towards the younger woman, “Hermione you’re bleeding.”

Hermione frowned as she reached up to her nose and found fresh blood. George quickly held a handkerchief out to her, and Hermione took it with a small, “Thank you.”

Narcissa closed the distance between them, “We need to get you home so I can run a check on you.”

Hermione took a deep breath. She knew Bellatrix was right, but it didn’t mean she had to like it. She was getting more and more tired, weaker. She couldn’t keep pulling all-nighters and still running errands the following day. But she also didn’t want to endanger anyone else. This was her problem, her task to complete. The pain in her head settled slightly but the throbbing was persistent as she nodded at the older woman.

She stared at Narcissa as she spoke, “George Bellatrix is alive.” His eyes widened slightly, his shock forcing him into silence. She frowned as she turned to face him, “She’s not the same person she was but, well…” She grimaced, “She’s technically not in her body at the moment. She’s in me.”

George frowned as he stood straight, “Cursed dagger?”

Hermione nodded, “Yes. Come to the Black Castle tomorrow and I will explain everything to you and Narcissa, but this can’t get out. Bellatrix isn’t the same person she was, and I will not let anyone hurt her or take her to Azkaban.”

George raised his hands placatingly, “Hey I got your back ‘Mione. If you say she’s changed then she’s changed. Besides it sounds like she’s the one pushing you to tell us.” She grimaced as Bellatrix laughed.

Bellatrix slipped forward, “She’s stubborn and won’t listen to me. She’s in so much pain Cissy,” she turned to her sister, “Please help her.”

Narcissa frowned, eyeing George for a moment, “What kind of pain?”

Bellatrix frowned, “Her head. It’s so painful. It gets worse every time we argue. When we fight it’s like it-“

“Its tearing you apart?” George asked, his eyes wide.

Bellatrix nodded, raising an eyebrow at him, “Yes?”

George turned to the bookshelf behind his desk, “I’ve read something about that. Fred and I were working on a new object a few months before…” he quickly shook his head. He scanned the book spines as he continued, “Anyway, we were trying to come up with an item that could clone someone, at least for an hour or so. We couldn’t do it because it actually needed a part of the soul in order for the replica to have that person’s personality.” When he couldn’t find the book, he was looking for he turned to them with a frown, “I’ll see if I can find that book and bring it tomorrow.”

Bellatrix smiled at him, “Thank you. I know I don’t deserve-“

George shook his head, a small smile pulling at his lips, “The war is over Bellatrix. I only have one request.” At her cocked head he smirked, “Fred would have wanted to know that spell you used to blast through the castle. Can you teach me?”

Bellatrix laughed, a cackle that sounded different than her battle one, “You got it, but not on my castle. Hermione would kill us both.”

They shared a laugh before Narcissa shook her head, “Oh Merlin, I’m going to have my hands full once you have your body back and you three are finally in the same room at the same time.”

George grinned widely at Bellatrix, “How are you at practical jokes?”

Bellatrix smirked, a dark glint in her onyx eyes, “Wait until you hear about what I did in my second year.”

George’s eyes danced with excitement, but Narcissa shook her head, “No. No way. Not now, not ever.”

Bellatrix winked at him, “I’ll get Hermione to keep her occupied for a while.”

George burst into laughter as Narcissa glared at her sister, “Hermione, get out here. Now.”

Bellatrix continued to laugh even after she relinquished control to Hermione, “Yes Mistress?” Another round of laughter from George and Bellatrix ensued but Hermione could only smirk smugly at Narcissa as the blonde blushed profusely.

Narcissa shook her head, “What have I done in a past life for this?”

Hermione couldn’t control her laughter as she dropped the wards around the room, “Something either heroic or idiotic. Take your pick.”

George chuckled as he followed them out into the shoppe, “I’ll get that book to you tomorrow ‘Mione.”

She nodded as she turned back to face him, pulling Narcissa against her side, “Thanks George, for that and not calling me crazy.”

He grinned at her, “We’re all crazy here ‘Mione.” He motioned around them, and she smiled.

“Where the fuck have you been?” A low, dark tone came from behind her.

Hermione froze, her blood running cold. She knew that voice, and she knew what the person attached to that voice could do to her if provoked. She swallowed thickly as she turned to face Andromeda Black Tonks.

Chapter Text

AN: Trigger warnings to many things are present in this story. Don’t like, don’t read.

I don't own Harry Potter.

All spelling mistakes are my own. There are my own Original Characters in this at times.

.

.

“Where the fuck have you been?” A low, dark tone came from behind her.

Hermione froze, her blood running cold. She knew that voice, and she knew what the person attached to that voice could do to her if provoked. She swallowed thickly as she turned to face Andromeda Black Tonks.

The woman’s anger was blazing in her eyes, a scowl forming a crease between the woman’s brows. To Hermione the woman looked as beautiful as ever, but she could see the resemblance to Bellatrix in the woman’s current state.

She raised an eyebrow at the woman, “Someplace no one would think to look.” Narcissa shifted closer to her unconsciously, wanting to comfort the girl.

Andromeda’s look darkened as she crossed her arms over her chest, “Well you are good at running from things.”

Hermione’s anger flared, clenching her hands into fists at her side. She glared at the woman, hurt forcing her words into a harsh tone, “Excuse me?”

Andromeda’s tone was low, an edge to it that made Hermione’s heart ache, “You know exactly what I mean.”

She could feel Bellatrix’s confusion circling her body, What’s going on Muddy? Hermione shook her head, ignoring the woman in her mind, snapping just as harsh as before, “And once again you’re good at jumping to conclusions without all the information.”

Andromeda’s eyes flashed with hurt for a moment before it was quickly hidden, “You haven’t shown yourself in over a month and when you do it was to give me a story…” she shook her head before taking a deep breath, “It’s been two weeks since I’ve seen you. You haven’t even responded to my letters.” Frustration was causing her voice to rise.

Hermione felt the guilt instantly, but she couldn’t push passed the anger, “I wanted to be left alone and no one seems to get that.”

Narcissa leaned into Hermione’s body, “Hermione calm down.”

Hermione looked at Narcissa, amber eyes shifting to onyx. Bellatrix’s voice snapped angrily, “Don’t tell us what to do.”

Narcissa’s eyes widened slightly, “Now is not the time.”

Onyx shifted to amber, and Hermione turned to look back at Andromeda, “We were just leaving.”

Andromeda shook her head, “I deserve an explanation Hermione. What the hell are you doing with Narcissa?”

Narcissa frowned as the tension rose around them, Hermione’s need to defend Narcissa beginning to combine with Bellatrix’s anger. Her tone dropped low, a dangerous note of power slipping through the words, “That is none of your business unless Narcissa wishes it to be.”

“Let’s all just take a breather,” Molly Weasley appeared between Hermione and Andromeda, face tight with worry.

Narcissa slipped in front of Hermione, placing her hand on the girl’s chest, rubbing a gentle circle as she leaned into her body. She stared into blazing amber eyes, “Let’s go home.”

Hermione stared into the bright blue in front of her, feeling a strange calm slowly entering her mind. Bellatrix sighed heavily, She’s right pet. Let’s get out of here before they decide to seal us in this shoppe.

Narcissa watched Hermione’s eyes shifting color quickly, the girl’s brows drawing together for a moment before relaxing again. Hermione looked back up at Andromeda, her heart aching. She knew she needed to talk to the woman, to explain things before their relationship was permanently ruined. Everything had been happening so fast around them that they never had a chance to talk, to explain things properly.

Andromeda frowned as she watched her little sister seeming to sooth Hermione. It was painful, to know that the girl had pulled away from her. She didn’t regret what happened between them, in fact she wanted that more than anything again. However, Hermione had seemed to change completely within a month. She couldn’t get close to the girl again and she worried that she had done something wrong. Had she hurt the girl? Had she pushed too far? Did Hermione not want what happened to happen? If not, then why didn’t she say something? They hadn’t talked since that night, and it was killing her not knowing what was going on with Hermione.

Molly Weasley smiled at Hermione, “It’s good to see you dear.”

Hermione nodded at Molly, “You too. I’m sorry I haven’t been around much.”

Bellatrix snorted, No you’re not. You’ve been actively avoiding them for months.

Hermione shook her head in response to Bellatrix while Molly moved closer, “That’s alright. Why don’t you come for dinner tonight?”

Hermione flinched away from the woman, putting distance between herself and everyone else, “I’ve already made plans with Narcissa.” The blonde nodded and moved closer to Hermione, taking her hand without thinking, trying to calm the sudden panic that was flaring in bright amber eyes.

No one missed the movement, the way Hermione refused to let anyone but Narcissa touch her. Molly frowned, “Why don’t you both come then? It’ll be a family get together. Ron would like to see you, as would Harry. They’ve been concerned about you.”

Hermione narrowed her eyes at the woman’s soft tone, “How did you even know I was here?” She glanced at George in question.

George held his hands up in surrender, “I swear I didn’t tell anyone ‘Mione.”

Molly shook her head, her face tinting pink, “Well we’ve sort of…”

Ginny rolled her eyes, appearing from behind her mother, “They’ve been asking around and asked people to alert them the moment you were seen in Diagon Alley.”

Hermione grimaced, “You’ve been waiting to spy on me?” Bellatrix began to seethe with rage. Narcissa’s anger rose to the surface, her bright eyes shifting to a deep blue, startling everyone in the vicinity. She shifted to put herself between Hermione and the others.

Molly shook her head, “It’s not to spy. We haven’t been able to get you to respond, you moved without telling anyone. You disappeared and we’ve had enough of that to last a lifetime.”

Narcissa glared at the woman, “Do not make her feel guilty for anything she has done. Obviously, she needed space and wasn’t getting it from you lot. She did what she had to do.”

Arthur Weasley frowned at her, “This doesn’t even concern you Malfoy.”

Hermione snapped, Bellatrix helping to fuel the fire raging through the girl’s body, “Watch your tongue, Arthur.” Onyx eyes glared at the man, rage pulsing through every vein in her body, “You will respect her as you would anyone else.”

Narcissa leaned back into the girl’s shaking body, knowing that both Bellatrix and Hermione were beginning to lose control. Hermione wrapped her arms around Narcissa’s body, needing the comfort. Her amber eyes met Andromeda’s, “You want to talk but then you all appear in a pack, ready to attack like vicious dogs.”

George eased himself in the middle of the group, “Alright. Enough is enough. This is my place of business, and I don’t need rumors flying. Everyone out. Hermione, Narcissa, I’ll see you both tomorrow.”

Hermione and Narcissa nodded, Hermione’s smile being genuine as she spoke, “See you tomorrow, George.”

Molly frowned, “Please come to dinner tonight, Hermione. Both of you are welcome.”

Hermione opened her mouth to snap at the woman, to tell her off for having people spying on her but Narcissa quickly cut her off, “We’ll think about it Mrs. Weasley. Thank you. Let’s go darling.”

Hermione closed her mouth as she raised an eyebrow at Narcissa, following the woman silently towards the door. Andromeda’s hand caught Hermione’s wrist tightly, pulling the girl against her body and lowering her voice, “Please Hermione. Talk to me.”

Hermione kept her face blank, “Some place no one would think to look.”

Andromeda frowned as Hermione pulled away from her and took Narcissa’s hand, exiting the shoppe. She hated the coldness, the mask that the girl was wearing. She didn’t want Hermione to hide from her. But then if she was hiding why did she say those words the way she did? Was Hermione giving her a clue, some kind of hint as to where she was staying?

.

Hermione let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding as Narcissa guided her towards the Leaky Cauldron. She needed a drink after all that and quickly pulled the woman with her down Knockturn Alley. It wasn’t that she had run from Andromeda. In fact, that had been the last thing she wanted to do. There just never was a time for them to talk while rebuilding the school, and Andromeda was making up with Narcissa.

The White Wyvern was dimly lit, but warm and inviting. Booths lined the wall to the right of the entrance while tables littered the floor in the center of the room. A wide-open space in the back of the pub looked like a makeshift dance floor and Hermione couldn’t help but roll her eyes at the new addition. She led Narcissa to the bar and collapsed on a stool, hoping that she wouldn’t be questioned as usual.

Bellatrix snorted, Like Raeburn will let you get away with bringing Narcissa in here without explaining yourself.

Hermione snorted, “Not like I usually come in with anyone else.”

Exactly pet. Not only do you actually come in with someone, that someone is the one and only Narcissa Black, well Malfoy until word gets out. Bellatrix’s grin flashed in Hermione’s mind.

Hermione sighed and Narcissa frowned, watching the girl’s eyes flipping between amber and onyx quickly. She could still see the tense set to the girl’s shoulders, a stiffness to her posture that was becoming a regular thing. She was about to ask a question when a tall heavyset man appeared with a smirk on his mustached face.

“Well, well Hermione. I see Goyle wasn’t kiddin’ was he.” The man glanced at Narcissa before leaning on his elbow in front of Hermione.

Hermione rolled her eyes, “No he wasn’t. I didn’t think he would start spreading the word that fast Raeburn.”

Raeburn chuckled, “You know Goyle and gossip. Dragon Barrel or Firewhiskey?”

“Dragon, I beg of you, my friend.” She practically groaned.

Narcissa eyed the man curiously, not liking the way he was looking at Hermione.

Raeburn glanced at Narcissa, “Anything for you Mrs. Black?”

Hermione snorted, “Narcissa doesn’t drink during the day.” Bellatrix guffawed inside, rattling her mind slightly, causing Hermione to wince.

Narcissa glanced at Hermione for a moment, “I’ll have the same.” Raeburn nodded and turned to get the drinks. Narcissa took a stool beside Hermione, “Come here often?”

Hermione laughed, but Bellatrix’s voice spoke, “Hell of a pickup line Cissy.”

Narcissa scoffed, “If I was going to use a pickup line on Hermione, dear sister, it sure as hell wouldn’t be that.”

Bellatrix’s cackling laughter filled the mostly empty pub, “So you’ve been thinking of pick-up lines to use then?”

Narcissa glared at the onyx eyes that were watching her with mirth, “So what if I was?”

Bellatrix smirked at her sister, “You don’t have to use a line on her. She likes you as it is.”

Hermione mentally reach out to strangle Bellatrix but only managed to jerk the woman back and put herself back into control, “I will kill you when I get you back.”

Bellatrix’s laughter filled her mind, Oh you’ll do something pet, but it won’t be killing me.

Hermione rubbed her temples before reaching for her glass, “You three are going to be the death of me.” She downed her Dragon Barrel Brandy in one swallow, enjoying the burn that rushed down her throat.

Narcissa frowned at her, “Three?” She didn’t want to jump to conclusions, but the way Andromeda had acted with Hermione told her something had happened between them already.

Hermione held her glass up and stared at Raeburn as the man glanced at her from down at the other end of the bar. She didn’t want to have this conversation, and especially not in this public of a setting but she knew Narcissa deserved to know. Hell, even Bellatrix deserved to know, though how she had kept it from the woman sharing her mind and body she didn’t know. She waited for Raeburn to pour her another drink, downing it instantly before she turned to Narcissa, “Not here.”

Narcissa wanted to know more, wanted to know what happened between Hermione and her sister but she also didn’t want to push Hermione. She sipped her drink as Hermione was poured another and she swallowed it in one gulp. She placed her hand on Hermione’s back, “You should slow down.”

Hermione snorted, her mind pleasantly buzzing, “Don’t need you to tell me what to do.” She slid from the stool, tossing a small pouch of money onto the counter. She leaned on the counter next to a confused Narcissa, her voice dropping low, “Bellatrix is right you know, but then I think you’ve known that for a while.”

Without another word Hermione hurried from the pub. She hated that drinking lowered her mask, that her vulnerability showed even if she didn’t want it to. She hated that her heart was getting in the way of what she should be doing. She needed to focus on Bellatrix, of getting her back into the living. She couldn’t stop to figure out what her heart wanted because Bellatrix was what she wanted. Why she was letting the rest get to her was an issue for another day. When she was on the street once more, she spun on her heel and apparated away, her anger fueling her destination.

.

.

Nausea threatened to make Hermione’s drink come back to haunt her as she stared at The Three Broomsticks. She felt her heart race, her mind flashing with images she didn’t want to have. She closed her eyes tightly, trying to force the images out of her mind. The crumbling castle walls. The face of Fred Weasley, slack and peaceful looking, pale and slightly dirty. Classmates that didn’t make it, all lined in the Great Hall as she moved through the room with Harry. Seeing Ron holding onto George as they cried for their loss.

“Hermione Granger?” Hermione’s eyes snapped open, finding Madame Rosmerta smiling widely at her, “I haven’t seen you since…” a frowned crossed the woman’s face suddenly.

Hermione nodded, “I could use a drink Rosmerta.”

Bellatrix’s frown crossed her mind, You think that’s wise pet? You’re already three sheets to the wind.

Hermione ignored the older witch and followed Madame Rosmerta into The Three Broomsticks. It looked and smelled just as she remembered it did. She could still see her and her friends, drinking butterbeer and pumpkin juice in the back booth near the far-left side of the room. She shook her head and took a seat at the bar.

Rosmerta frowned at her, “You sure you want more?”

Hermione narrowed her eyes at the woman, “Not you too.”

Rosmerta snorted and sat a shot glass and a bottle of Firewhiskey on the bar, “Never. Shot for shot this time?”

Hermione grinned, “Double or nothing?” Rosmerta winked at her as she poured their first shot.

.

Hermione gasped as a bright light burst through her closed eyelids, her tongue feeling heavy in her mouth. She was lying on her stomach, her face pressed against soft pillows that smelled faintly of lavender. She groaned softly and gripped her head, not sure where the hell she was.

A soft chuckle followed by a voice clarified the where, “Morning Miss Granger.”

Hermione groaned for an entirely different reason this time, burying her face deeper into the soft pillow, “Please tell me I at least didn’t do anything stupid last night.”

“No, but you were the life of the party until closing. I’m still curious how you managed to not pass out on the way here,” The woman chuckled softly.

Hermione forced one eye open and found Minerva McGonagall smirking at her, nursing a cup of tea between long delicate fingers and sitting on an armchair nearby. She grimaced, “Why do I always end up in your bed when I get bombed at Rosmerta’s?”

McGonagall barked out a laugh, “Because you trust me and after everything we’ve been through, you know I would never allow you do something stupid or embarrassing. Now how are you feeling?”

Hermione pushed up onto her elbows, still lying on her stomach, “Like someone duct taped my tongue to the roof of my mouth.” Her brows drew together as she struggled to find Bellatrix inside her mind.

Bellatrix grunted at her, Just wait until I get my body back. I’m going to make your head explode for this.

Hermione laughed, actually laughed, for a moment before McGonagall gave her a quizzical look. She shook her head and rolled onto her back, “It’s been a long few months.”

McGonagall nodded, “For all of us.” A moment of silence stretched between them until McGonagall sat her cup down on the bedside table, “I’ve heard you disappeared on everyone.”

Hermione glared at the ceiling, “Everyone seems to be so focused on where I am. Why can’t people just leave us alone?”

McGonagall cocked her head at the girl she watched grow up, “Us?”

Bellatrix grunted, Still drunk love? Or is that the hangover trying to out us hmm?

Hermione rolled her eyes and mumbled, “Both,” causing Bellatrix to laugh a little too loud for her hungover mind.

McGonagall frowned at the young woman lying in her bed, “I won’t force you to talk but since you’re here to help me with my problem, maybe I can help you with yours.” She refilled her tea and brought it to her lips for a sip.

Hermione let her head loll to the side, watching McGonagall curiously, “How do you feel about Blood Magick and Sex Magick?” McGonagall inhaled her tea, burning her throat in the process causing her to cough violently.

Bellatrix’s cackling laughter erupted in Hermione’s mind, Way to kill our favorite Professor pet. Didn’t know you had it in ya.

Hermione grimaced and sat up, throwing her legs over the side of the bed. Nausea rushed from her twirling stomach, through her chest and up her esophagus. She covered her mouth quickly, squeezing her eyes tightly closed as she struggled not to let all the Firewhiskey and Dragon Barrel Brandy she consumed the night before out. After a moment she took a hesitant breath before speaking, “Are you alright Minerva?”

McGonagall sat her tea on the bedside table, clearing her throat a few times before speaking, wiping tears from her eyes, “Why do I get the feeling you are once again involved in something dangerous? Although I gather that Potter and Weasley don’t know about this one.”

Hermione studied McGonagall as she spoke slowly, “You would figure right on both accounts, but this is for someone that means everything to me.”

McGonagall frowned, trying to decipher what the girl was saying, “So you are helping someone that you care for?” At Hermione’s nod McGonagall pursed her lips, watching as amber turned to onyx for a moment before shifting back. Her eyes widened as she stared at Hermione, seeing a slight difference to the girl she once knew. “You are sharing a body with someone.”

Hermione’s jaw dropped, “How did you know?”

McGonagall sat back in her chair, fingers tapping on the soft arm of the armchair as she studied her favorite student. Everything she knew about Hermione said the girl wouldn’t dabble in that sort of dark magick unless it was absolutely necessary. However, the fact that she was sharing a body with said person meant that person was in Hermione’s mind and could be telling her anything. But she knew Hermione was a very intelligent young woman, always had been, so she wouldn’t be so easily swayed. So that left only one important thing, and that was that Hermione trusted this person.

“I’ve read about this before. One other time specifically. I can only assume that it has to do with the scar on your arm. Which means…” her eyes widened as the realization set in. “You can’t be serious Hermione!”

Hermione winced at McGonagall’s high-pitched shout, “I am serious. She’s changed and I will fight anyone and everyone that tries to either stop me or come for her.”

McGonagall raised an eyebrow, “She could be lying to you.”

Hermione narrowed her eyes at the older witch, “This has only been recorded once before and I’m guessing not everything was laid out.”

McGonagall shook her head, “No, they didn’t survive the separation.”

Hermione felt Bellatrix’s instant worry but focused on convincing the woman in front of her, “Well I can honestly say, I can see everything. She’s seen my life and I’ve seen hers. I know her better than she knows herself now. I see her thoughts and she see’s mine. We have no secrets.”

Bellatrix’s warmth surrounded her, Maybe we should think about this some more pet. If the only other case of this didn’t survive, we need to talk about this.

She shook her head, “I already told you-“

McGonagall frowned as she watched Hermione’s eyes shift colors again.

I know what you told me. Bellatrix snapped angrily. I will not let you risk yourself for me after everything I’ve done.

Hermione shook her head, pinching the bridge of her nose, “I’m not in the mood to argue with you Bellatrix.”

McGonagall raised an eyebrow, “Well if there is anyone that can match Bellatrix, it would be you. We’ll deal with this when you aren’t hungover.”

Hermione smirked at the older woman, “So what’s your problem?” She scooted back on the bed, crossing her legs.

McGonagall grimaced, “Well let’s just say both our problems stem from the war.” She sighed heavily, rubbing her temples, “When I used Piertotum Locomotor during the battle I thought it would be fine, I thought I would have full control. However afterwards, I realized a few of our, statues, were missing.”

Hermione snorted, “You lost a few statues?” She tried to suppress her laughter as Bellatrix’s cackling laughter ripped through her mind, “Where? How could you lose them?”

Bellatrix snorted, Aren’t some of them like ten feet tall? Hermione covered her mouth as a bark of laughter tried to escape.

McGonagall glared at the girl, “We both would like to keep our secrets private, yes?”

Hermione looked up at the ceiling, trying to keep her laughter inside but her shoulders were shaking too hard. She cleared her throat before speaking, looking back at McGonagall, “Yes,” she chuckled slightly, “Professor.” She shook her head before swallowing thickly, “How am I supposed to find them?”

McGonagall rolled her eyes, “We will both be going into the Forbidden Forest to find them. They seem strange, as if they actually have a mind of their own.”

Hermione frowned, “If I remember correctly that’s not possible unless they were once alive.”

McGonagall nodded, “Which means they were alive at one point and cursed into this existence, and I don’t know how they ended up in Hogwarts. They are killing everything they come across out there and they are slowly working their way back towards Hogwarts.”

Hermione nodded, “I’ll look for them while you work. We don’t want to alert anyone and the Headmistress disappearing into the Forbidden Forest will be suspicious for everyone.” She smirked at the older woman, “Besides, I have the best dark arts witch with me.”

McGonagall sighed, “Oh Merlin, we’re all in trouble.”

Hermione glared playfully at the woman, “Ha. Ha. May I shower before I head out?”

McGonagall chuckled, “Of course dear. Your clothes are in the usual place.”

Hermione thanked the woman before heading into the shower. She didn’t feel weird about McGonagall knowing the truth. In fact, it felt good to tell the woman, to tell someone the truth and not feel like she was going to get called crazy instantly. She knew Bellatrix trusted McGonagall over anyone else, so they were both feeling settled now that the older woman knew. Once her shower was done, she found her Dragon hide pants and a black button up blouse.

McGonagall was waiting for her when she exited the ensuite, “I’ve got your travel robes here. Does anyone know you’re here?”

Hermione felt her heart drop suddenly, “No. I was with Narcissa when I…” She frowned. She had gotten angry and left without telling the woman where she was going to be. Then again, she never expected to show up at Hogwarts.

McGonagall frowned as she watched Hermione’s face fall slightly, “If you need to send an owl you may. I’m sure Narcissa Malfoy will be able to keep a secret.”

Hermione sighed, taking the armchair McGonagall had been in, “It’s Black now. I forced Lucius into an annulment. I’m also a Black now.”

McGonagall’s eyebrows rose, “So it’s true. Your blood has become one with Bellatrix?”

Hermione nodded, “I received an owl from the Ministry about it, so it’s official. Give me an hour, I think it’s better if I go to Narcissa. She deserves an explanation.”

McGonagall nodded, “Of course. We’ll speak later. Send your Patronus if you need anything.”

Hermione nodded and watched the older woman leave her quarters. She sighed, leaning back in the armchair for a moment while deciding what to say to Narcissa. She hadn’t meant to get so angry, to let herself feel that vulnerable around another person that wasn’t Bellatrix.

I’m touched. Bellatrix smirked, Tell her the truth.

Hermione rolled her eyes, “Don’t start.”

You’re the one who’s been introducing me to all those muggle films you love so much.

Hermione narrowed her eyes, “You didn’t have to watch them too, nor pay attention to my thoughts during them.” Her wand slid into her hand, casting her Patronus, not knowing what to say to Narcissa in person, “Find Narcissa and tell her I’m at Hogwarts.” She watched the blue dragon disappear through the wall in a puff of smoke.

Bellatrix’s shock was radiating through her mind, Your Patronus is a dragon? Since when?

Hermione sighed, pulling her travel cloak over her shoulders, “Since all of this started. It used to be an otter and then I didn’t try it again until after the war. I don’t use it often because everyone knew it to be an otter.” She hurried from the Headmistress’s quarters and made her way through the familiar corridors of Hogwarts. She hadn’t been back inside the castle since helping with the rebuild, and now she was starting to remember why.

She could see the faces that they lost; the people she had once known that had lost their lives that day.

Bellatrix’s sadness and regret flood her mind, All we can do is move on, change for the better and remember the dead as we once knew them.

Hermione nodded but remained silent as she passed the Great Hall and hurried out of the castle towards the Forbidden Forest. She grinned as she walked beside Black Lake, remembering the merpeople that watched over her during the Triwizard Tournament, not that she really remembered much about being down there. Bellatrix had found it fascinating that she had been apart of that even though she knew about Potter’s roll in it all, after she had been broken out of Azkaban.

Seeing Hagrid’s hut made a familiar excitement rush through her body, but she shook her head, turning into the tree line. There would be plenty of time to visit with Hagrid later. She made her way carefully through the foliage, only getting caught once in the face with a thorny branch. Bellatrix’s laughter kept her company as she moved deeper into the forest, noticing the sudden lack of creatures and sounds.

Bellatrix fell silent for a few minutes before her nerves began to make Hermione uncomfortable, I don’t like this pet. Where are all the animals? Birds even?

Hermione cocked her head, standing completely still, “I don’t hear anything.” Her wand dropped into her hand as she slowly turned in a circle.

A few of the trees had deep gouges in their trunks, as if something dragged their claws down it. A clearing had been made as something, or things, large, had trampled over the bushes and plants that sat around the area. Hermione frowned as she spun around seeing individual flattened grass patterns, her heart slamming into her throat, “Oh fuck me.”

Bellatrix’s voice was hesitant yet filled with a nervous energy, What is it pet?

Hermione grimaced as the sound of a snapping branch met her ears, “We found a nesting ground.” A chill ran down her spine as the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. She desperately didn’t want to turn around but knew she’d have too eventually. She contemplated casting a silent knockback behind her before turning but if it was a normal forest creature, she would only piss it off.

Slowly she turned and her eyes widened, her head tilting back to follow the rough stone chest up to the neck and then the face. The grey stone looked weathered and cracked, pieces of its stone shell missing from the battle it had been involved in. Its helm sat atop it’s head the eyes glowing a bright golden yellow with a nose guard between its eyes. A jagged crack ran from its right eye across its nose towards its stony cracked lips. Slowly the lips parted showing a black pit, as an eerie grotesque moan echoed around the clearing.

Bellatrix’s grimace filled Hermione’s mind, Oh, that’s not normal. Hermione took a hesitant step backwards, and then another until Bellatrix’s shout filled her entire being, RUN!!

Hermione shouted, “Bombarda!” before spinning on her heel and sprinting towards the trees on the far side of the clearing. Bellatrix was readying a few curses as she ran, knowing that this wasn’t going to be as easy as McGonagall originally thought. The ground shook beneath her feet as a stone monstrosity gave chase, she didn’t have the courage to look over her shoulder, to see if it was the one she had hurt, or an entirely different one. She aimed her wand over her shoulder, allowing Bellatrix’s silent curses to be let loose.

Once in the tree line she glanced over her shoulder, seeing four creatures kneeling around a fifth. She shook her head as she watched them. Seeing the obvious conversation that was being had even though no words were being spoken. She frowned, could they be communicating telepathically?

It’s possible. If they were cursed into this form, then it had to have been a punishment of some sort. They could have figured out how to connect through their minds when they were frozen in Hogwarts. They were just waiting for the right moment to escape, Bellatrix’s guess was their best bet at this point.

Hermione grimaced, whispering quietly, “Then why are they getting closer to Hogwarts? Shouldn’t they be going the other way?”

Bellatrix was silent for a moment before a smirk crossed Hermione’s mind, Unless the counter curse is hidden somewhere in Hogwarts. Or the only person who can counter it is in Hogwarts. That would be reason enough to return to their previous cage.

Hermione nodded, “How the hell do I get them to listen?”

Bellatrix snorted, Not sure pet. Try offering a buff to spruce them up. Hermione desperately wished she could glare at the woman. Bellatrix laughed, There’s no telling if they even know language. Who knows how old they are.

Hermione shook her head, shifting closer to a tree and accidently rustling the foliage around her. All five stone heads popped up and stared right at her. She grimaced, “Great.” She held her hands up, “I come in peace.”

She dropped to the ground as a large boulder flew towards her, hitting the tree beside her. Loud crackling sounds filled the air as the tree broke in half. The loud boom echoed around the forest when the tree hit the ground, shifting the earth beneath her body violently.

Bellatrix’s scoff echoed through her mind, And you’ll be leaving in pieces if you don’t get the hell out of here love. Move your ass!

Hermione pushed herself to her feet and into a sprint as the ground shook behind her. She knew their size and strength gave them an advantage over her, but magic was on her side. She headed in the general direction of the castle as she pulled on Bellatrix’s magic, combining it with her own as she spun on her heel and aimed at the stone statue gaining on her, “Bombarda Maxima!”

The blast sent the beast flying backwards but the force sent a shockwave out from the contact. Hermione gasped as she was lifted off her feet and thrown backwards, out of the trees. She braced herself the best she could, letting most of her body go slack before she fell back towards the earth. Her bones shook violently as she landed on the hard ground, sliding backwards with the force. Cold water rushed around her as she finally came to a stop in the shallow part of Black Lake, causing her to gasp for air.

“Hermione!”

Narcissa’s shout filled the air around her, but she was still struggling to catch her breath and couldn’t assure the woman she was fine. Splashing noises sounded nearby and suddenly Narcissa was kneeling beside her, worry flickering in her bright blue eyes. She shook her head as she slowly tried to sit up, her body in pain from the landing. She could feel the road rash like scrapes on her back and knew she would need some help in healing them.

Narcissa placed a knee behind Hermione’s back, her heart beating frantically as the girl struggled to regain the ability to breathe, “What the hell were you doing in there?”

Hermione snorted but Bellatrix’s voice came out in a gasp, “Taking a lovely little stroll. What the fuck do you think Cissy?”

Narcissa glared at the onyx eyes in front of her, “Bella you are going to get her killed.”

Hermione shook her head, “It was my idea Narcissa. Leave Bellatrix alone.” She groaned as she tried to stand.

Narcissa gripped the girl’s shoulders, “Stay for a minute. Let me check you out.”

Hermione smirked, “I thought you already did that?”

Bellatrix’s voice quickly added, “And liked what you see.”

Narcissa rolled her eyes with a scoff, “I’m going to kill both of you in a minute.”

Hermione grinned at her, “That can wait. I need to speak to McGonagall. This is more complicated than we thought.” Narcissa helped her stand, and she pulled the woman close to her body once she was on her feet, “Thank you.”

Narcissa felt her heart skip a beat at the sudden closeness, “I was worried about you all night. When you didn’t come home, I thought…” She frowned and looked down at the scratch on Hermione’s chest, the ripped fabric of the blouse she was wearing covered in tacky blood.

Hermione sighed heavily, “I’m sorry about that. I don’t anyone to see me so weak.”

Narcissa’s head snapped up, “You are not weak Hermione. Look at everything you accomplished in your time at Hogwarts not to mention the fact you are sharing a body with my dark twisted sister.”

Bellatrix surged forward for a moment, “Hey, watch it Cissy.”

Narcissa chuckled, “Hermione, you are the strongest woman I have ever met. Don’t ever forget that.”

Hermione felt Bellatrix’s mental shove and she smiled as she leaned into the older witch, “I guess if I have to be vulnerable at times, it’s okay to do it with you. We’ll finish this conversation later.” She brushed her lips across Narcissa’s, “When we get home.”

Narcissa’s hands slid up into Hermione’s hair and she pulled the girl into a full kiss. She moaned softly as Hermione’s tongue flicked against her lips and she parted them to allow the girl entry. Hermione’s arms wrapped around Narcissa’s waist, pulling the woman tightly against her as she deepened the kiss. Her entire body was set on fire in more than one way. Her heart beat painfully against her ribcage, not that she was complaining. She wanted the woman, in every way possible, but she also knew she had to focus-

Stop over thinking and enjoy the moment love. She cares about you, probably even loves you just as much as I do. Just let it happen. I’ll still be here pet.

Hermione listened, for once. She gave herself over to Narcissa, letting her mind fill with nothing but Narcissa. Her scent, her touch, the way their bodies fit together as if they were made for each other. She brushed a few soft chaste kisses across Narcissa’s lips before she pulled back to smile at the woman, “We’ll finish this later too.”

Narcissa grinned, pressing a kiss to the girl’s cheek, “You bet we will.”

Hermione took Narcissa’s hand and began to limp back towards the castle while filling Narcissa in on what she knew so far. “What we saw was definitely a higher awareness.”

Narcissa moved closer to Hermione, knowing the girl was in pain. When Hermine grimaced and sucked in a breath, Narcissa wrapped an arm around her waist, “What hurts the most?”

Hermione leaned against the woman, letting Narcissa help her, “Back.” She shook her head, trying to shake off the pain long enough to get to McGonagall’s office. For once she let Narcissa help her up the stairs, taking a few of the secret passages to avoid interaction with students. Reaching the two stone gargoyles Hermione felt her legs shaking and her body getting weaker. She frowned at Narcissa, “I may need you to apparate us back home.”

Narcissa nodded as the gargoyles began to move and the staircase appeared, “I won’t be leaving your side again.”

Hermione smiled at her, brushing her lips across Narcissa’s pulse point, “Promise?”

Narcissa got lightheaded for a moment, forgetting how to breath as the girl’s soft lips brushed across her sensitive neck, “Guarantee it.” She swallowed thickly as the girl chuckled and moved away from her, “That’s cheating.”

Hermione chuckled and began to climb the stairs, “All’s fair right?”

Narcissa wrapped her arms around the girl from behind, mindful of her injured body, “Right, so don’t blame me when I can’t control myself.” She felt Hermione lean back against her and carefully guided her to McGonagall’s door, knocking and waiting for the woman to grant them access.

McGonagall frowned and stood as Hermione limped into the room, “What happened?” Narcissa helped Hermione ease down into a chair before she stood beside her, one hand on the girl’s shoulder.

Hermione let out a heavy sigh, “We think the higher awareness is proof of the human inside. Bellatrix thinks they are coming to the castle because the counter curse could be here.”

McGonagall sat back down, slouching slightly, “I was afraid of that. I don’t know where it would be if it is here.”

Bellatrix’s voice slipped from Hermione’s lips effortlessly, onyx eyes watching McGonagall curiously, “Is there anyone here that would know?”

McGonagall studied the dark eye color and the voice that came from Hermione’s mouth. It was slightly unnerving but if Hermione trusted the Darkest Witch, then she would too, “Not that I’m aware of.”

Hermione’s voice was soft in Bellatrix’s mind, Restricted section. I can also snag the book that we need for our ritual. I’ll need explicit permission from McGonagall to get into the oldest section. Madame Pince is a stickler for that.

Bellatrix cocked her head at McGonagall, “We’ll need access to the oldest section of the Restricted Section. On top of that there is a few books we’ll need to… Borrow.”

McGonagall pursed her lips for a moment, “For how long?”

Bellatrix waited a moment for Hermione to answer, noticing the girl’s voice sounding weaker than before, Until we finish the ritual. Then we can return them together.

Bellatrix glanced worriedly at Narcissa before focusing back on McGonagall, “Until we are done with what we need them for.”

McGonagall eyed the young woman in front of her, knowing that she was talking to Bellatrix and not Hermione, “How long has this been going on?”

Bellatrix felt Hermione’s consciousness slipping, “Give or take six months. It didn’t happen right away but close enough. Probably a month before I finally was aware enough to understand what was happening.” She frowned her heart dropping slightly, “I didn’t make it easy on her at first, but I’ve come to care for her a lot. I’ll do whatever I have to, to make sure she survives and is happy.”

McGonagall nodded, “I remember you when you were at Hogwarts Bellatrix. I know we don’t have time to talk about it now, but I would eventually like to know where it all went wrong.”

Bellatrix nodded, “Soon Minerva, but we have to go. We’ll be back in a week to start the search in the library.”

McGonagall nodded, “Take my floo. It’ll be safer for Hermione.”

Bellatrix glanced at Narcissa, “We need to hurry. I can’t hold on for long once Hermione passes out.”

Narcissa nodded and helped Bellatrix to her feet, “How bad is it?”

Bellatrix shook her head, “Bad. Get some blood replenishers ready. We may need Andy if you can’t…”

Narcissa nodded guiding her to the fireplace nearby. She glanced over at Minerva, “I’ll keep you posted.”

McGonagall nodded, “Thank you. If you need anything let me know and I’ll do what I can. I know she doesn’t want anyone else to know.” Narcissa nodded once more before they stepped into the fireplace and the green flames swallowed them.

Chapter Text

AN: Trigger warnings to many things are present in this story. Don’t like, don’t read.

I don't own Harry Potter.

All spelling mistakes are my own. There are my own Original Characters in this at times.

.

.

Andromeda Tonks watched Hermione walk away, having taken one step towards her only to be stopped by Molly Weasley. The older woman had shaken her head at her, a silent warning to let Hermione walk away. She frowned once Hermione was out of the shoppe, her mind swirling with anger. What was Hermione doing with her little sister? Why had she pulled away so damn fast? Had she done something wrong to push the girl away or to frighten her away?

She knew she held a strong resemblance to her older sister, but Hermione had already assured her that she didn’t see Bellatrix when she looked at her. However, Hermione had pulled away completely after that night, the night they shared too much and yet not enough. She couldn’t deny that she was in love with Hermione, something she had discovered at the most inopportune time of their lives.

Rebuilding had become a priority after the war. She spent most of her time at Hogwarts with Hermione in that first week, getting to know her as they repaired the castle and treated the wounded. She was surprised that the girl was so confident and knowledgeable in her work, considering she hadn’t even gotten to go to her last year of school. She could hold a very enlightening and sophisticated conversation with a girl a little over half her age and the girl didn’t even bat an eye as she kept up with her.

Although she had seen the haunted look on the girl’s face more than once, especially when they would enter the Great Hall for meals. She didn’t blame her of course, and she wished she could take all the pain away, but she couldn’t. Hearing of the betrayals that had come to light after the war had shocked everyone, even sending a few into denial. In the first two weeks after the war Andromeda had retaken her position as head of St. Mungo’s, offering to treat anyone that had been involved in the war at Hogwarts with Madame Pomfrey if they wished.

However, those first few days after the battle were heavy in her mind and chest. She had been in the battle and quickly found herself in the Great Hall to tend to the casualties that were beginning to flood into the room. Poppy Pomfrey had coordinated most of the triage area, separating the dead from the severely wounded and the wounded that could wait. It was there that the trickles of betrayals began to come in as she worked with her old mentor. As she left George’s shoppe she couldn’t help but let herself fall back into the memories, images she would rather forget but couldn’t.

.

.

Andromeda shook her head at Pomfrey, “There’s nothing more we can do for him now.” She pulled the white sheet up, covering the young third year Hufflepuff’s blood covered face. She knew the moment she had seen him that he wouldn’t make it, but she had tried to save his young life anyway. The idea that werewolves were taking this chance as the moment to turn more children made her feel sick. Her hands were stained red as she washed them, something she would spend more than a week trying to get rid of, even if it was all in her mind at times.

Pomfrey nodded, a saddened look crossing her face, “I’m afraid he won’t be the last.”

Two sixth years struggled with a familiar face as they dragged him towards the empty bed behind her, “We found him under some rubble near the astronomy tower.”

Andromeda turned to the boy while Pomfrey rushed to get potions, “What happened?”

Red hair shook slightly as his head slowly moved back and forth, blood trickled from the scratches littered around his face, his eyes distant and unfocused. Tear stains streaked down his dirty face, “Bellatrix blasted into the castle through the wall.”

The blonde sixth year boy frowned as he shook his head, “Fred was killed on the wall.”

Andromeda’s heart slammed into her throat, causing her next words to come out slightly breathless, “Nymphadora? Tonks? Was she with him?” She couldn’t feel her heart beating anymore, and just for a moment she wondered if this was where she would die. If this was the moment that her entire world came crashing down around her.

“Don’t call me Nymphadora mother.” Tonks snapped, half annoyed and half relieved to see her mother alive. She took in the sight of the nonserious wounds on her mother’s right shoulder and back but relaxed when she found nothing other than scratches elsewhere.

Andromeda spun to her daughter, pulling the woman into a tight embrace as her relief filled her eyes, blurring her vision. She had been so busy with everything that she hadn’t even spared a moment to look for her only child. The thought alone sent the tears rushing down her face as she held the woman tighter, burying her nose in her daughter’s neck and breathing in the scent of Nymphadora, blood, sweat, and battle. Her heart gave a painful thump in her chest, reminding her that she was, in fact, still alive and so was her daughter.

Tonks held her mother just as tight, having worried about the older woman throughout the entire battle. She had heard the sounds of fights, of screams and people taking their last breaths as she worked her way through the castle. Chasing a once friend now turned foe. They had stood just below the astronomy tower with Fred Weasley, as they listened to the silence that began to press in on them. They could see the protection around the castle failing, see the rush of people as they began to charge the now vulnerable castle.

She glanced over at him frowning at the look of triumph on his face as he smirked at her. She could see the darkness in his eyes, see the thrill that was beginning to consume him as he shot a stunner at her before turning to Fred Weasley and uttering the words that she never thought she would ever hear from his mouth. She didn’t even have a chance to defend the boy, to save him as the green flash slammed into his chest, reflecting in his dark eyes as he understood exactly what had just happened before his life was ripped from him.

She lunged to her feet and chased the man, refusing to let him get away after murdering an innocent boy. She felt the shake of the castle as the blast blew apart the stone walls, taking a moment to be thankful that she had given chase and not stood there to die helplessly. She heard the walls fall and her aunt’s cackling laughter rip through the stone corridors’ amplifying the chilling sound as she raced after the man that betrayed all of them in the worst way possible.

She wasn’t aware she was crying until her mother’s voice sounded in her ear, “It’s alright. We’re both alright.”

Tonks shook her head, “It’s not. He was never on our side. He was the snake in all of this. Potter needs to know.”

Andromeda frowned at her daughter as she took in the stress in the woman’s face and words. She didn’t know what her daughter was talking about, but she knew it was important if Tonks needed to tell Potter.

“I need to know what?” Harry asked as he helped a limping Neville into the room and to an empty bed. His dirty face was covered in scratches and dried blood, but he had a smile on his face that seemed almost out of place for the moment they were in.

Tonks turned to him, glancing at Ron for a moment before nodding towards the door, “It’s best we discuss this in private first.” Harry frowned at her but didn’t argue and followed her from the room.

Andromeda wanted to follow, to know what was so important but a flood of wounded was being charmed into the room and one look at Pomfrey said that they were about to be overwhelmed. She rolled her sleeves up and nodded at the older woman before turning back to the doorway and to her patients.

.

.

Andromeda stood in the middle of the Ministry, waiting for her mind to make itself up. She knew this was an invasion of privacy, but she couldn’t help it. Hermione had been acting strange for a while now and she was determined to find out what was going on with the girl. All she had to do was to walk into the Ministry and she would have access to everything she needed. She took a deep breath before taking the first step and then another, making her way towards the records department.

.

.

Andromeda entered the Great Hall, having moved the patients up to the newly extended hospital wing of Hogwarts. The house tables were firmly back in place as the new Headmistress was eager to fix the castle back up, as a new beginning rising from the ashes of victory. She couldn’t help but smirk as she looked up at the staff table, seeing McGonagall in her rightful spot at the head of the table. She hated to think that Dumbledore was gone but she couldn't think of no one better to run the school than Professor Minerva McGonagall. The woman lived for the school, and it shouldn't be any other way.

She glanced at the Gryffindor table and found the Weasley’s mourning the loss of their son, their brother. Ron sat with Ginny, Harry on the girl’s other side as they all smiled and told stories of Fred. She noticed George was missing and wondered where he was but didn’t want to interrupt a very private moment. Instead, she moved towards the Slytherin table where she found Tonks and Draco speaking quietly. Narcissa and Lucius were frowning at each other, a heated discussion taking place that Tonks was apparently distracting her little cousin from.

In a way it warmed Andromeda’s heart to see her family sitting together, speaking as if they had done so all their lives. On the other hand, she wasn’t ready to forgive Narcissa for the things she had done or said over the years. There was too much pain in everything to just be easily forgiven and forgotten.

She smiled at her daughter and nephew as she approached and they glanced up at her, “This seat taken?”

Shockingly, to her at least, Draco smiled up at her, his blonde hair hanging in his eyes, “Only by you if you want.”

Tonks snorted, “Kissing ass already cousin? Auntie Andy has a lot of time to make up for.”

Andromeda narrowed her eyes at her daughter, “Nymphadora.” Draco coughed to cover his laugh.

Tonks’s hair turned a deep red as her eyes landed on her mother, “Don’t call me Nymphadora.”

Andromeda held her head high, pulling on all of her Slytherin qualities as she looked at her nails, “Tis your name and I will use it.” Draco couldn’t hide his laugh this time as his green eyes sparkled with mirth.

Tonks glanced sideways at her cousin, “Just you wait. She’ll come up with a nickname for you Drakey,” she smirked as Draco’s eyes narrowed at her. A look that she realized was from the Black side of the family, since her mother and herself had the same look at times.

Draco grimaced as he looked over at his aunt, “Please don’t.”

Andromeda chuckled as she shook her head, “I’m afraid it runs in the Black family Draco.” Draco groaned and dropped his forehead onto the thick wooden tabletop.

Narcissa turned to her son, hearing the loud groan followed by a heavy thump. She froze for a moment as she stared at her older sister, seeing Bellatrix in the woman’s face. It had been so long since she had seen the woman that she had forgotten just how much like Bellatrix the woman looked. For a split second her heart beat faster as fear flooded her veins, the mere thought of Bellatrix being alive scaring her more than Voldemort ever had. Meeting Andromeda’s eyes she knew the woman wasn’t ready to talk, and to be honest neither was she. There had been too much pain and suffering for each of them to just pick up their relationship where it had been so many years ago.

Besides she really did love her oldest sister. Bellatrix had protected her for years, long after Andromeda had been gone. She couldn’t just ignore the feelings she had for her sister, nor the pain she felt now that the woman was gone. She was grieving, something that Lucius didn’t understand. He wanted her to forget Bellatrix, to ignore the painful throb in her heart, the gaping hole that had been left when the woman had been killed by Molly Weasley, of all people.

Love for a child had started this war, and love for a child had ended Bellatrix’s life too soon.

She couldn’t just forget it. She couldn’t just let it go. It was painful for her even if no one else wanted to accept it. She would grieve for her lost sister whether anyone liked it or not.

She frowned at Draco, rubbing his back gently, “Are you alright dear?”

Draco shook his head back and forth across the table, “Nicknames.”

Narcissa couldn’t help but glance up at her sister for a moment, a small smile pulling at her lips, “It’s a Black family tradition.”

Andromeda shared a small smile with her sister before Harry Potter approached them hesitantly, breaking the moment unknowingly, “Draco may I have a word?”

Draco looked grateful for the distraction as he jumped up, banging his knee on the table in the process. A smile crossed Harry’s face as Draco’s pale face suddenly flushed with color matching the Weasley’s hair. Tonks’s laughter didn’t help, and he shot his cousin a scathing look that was identical to his mother’s cold icy glare.

Once the boys were out of the Great Hall Tonks turned back to her mother, “Mother, how’s the patients?”

Andromeda sighed heavily, “Healing. We lost two last night, but their wounds were too severe.”

Tonks frowned, “Werewolf?”

Andromeda shook her head, “One was crushed by the crumbling walls near the library and the other was cursed so much that the counter curses were interacting with each other to an extent I’ve never seen before. Poppy and I couldn’t do anything for her.”

Tonks nodded sadly, raking her eyes over the people filling the Great Hall, “There’s more work to be done. Potter is being asked to lead the taskforce of Auror’s in tracking down the remaining Death Eaters.”

Andromeda felt her heart drop. She knew her daughter well enough to know the woman would be going with them. It made her proud that her daughter wanted to help, to know that she raised a strong and caring woman, but it didn’t stop the fear she felt when her daughter rushed off to put her life at risk. Even if it was to protect others. She glanced out over the hall, seeing the smiles and laughter that had seemed impossible two days ago. Knowing that her daughter had a hand in that made her smile.

When she turned back to Tonks she nodded, “When do you leave?”

Tonks smiled at her mother, having seen the fear and acceptance in her eyes before she looked away, “I’m not.”

Andromeda’s head snapped back around so fast she was positive she just gave herself whiplash, “What?”

Tonks chuckled, her eyes sparkling with amusement, “I said I’m not. I’m not going. I had a chat with Potter…” She frowned down at the table, the image of Fred’s face flashing in her mind, “I need a break… To take a few to myself for a while. I told him what he needed to know and when the time is right, he’ll tell everyone else. Until then I just need to breath. You know?” she looked back up at her mother with teary eyes.

Andromeda nodded, “I know.” She hated that her daughter was in pain and that there was nothing she could do for her. She took a deep breath, “I was visited by Kingsley Shacklebolt last night.”

Tonks raised an eyebrow at her mother, her hair shifting colors to a bright curious yellow, “What did he want?”

Andromeda smirked at her, “He offered me the head position at St. Mungo’s.”

Tonks grinned, “Yeah? You gonna take it?”

She sighed, a frown crossing her lips, “After everything that happened over the last year…?”

Tonks nodded, “Everyone needs someone they can count on, that they can trust to help them heal. Everyone knows you mum. They know what you’ve been through. Dad was killed over a year ago and yet you still pressed on. You still fought back and helped in the aftermath more than anyone. If it wasn’t for you, there would be more dead than living right now.”

She shook her head, chuckling slightly at the determination on her daughter’s face, “Will you come home?”

Tonks nodded, looking towards the doors as Hermione stood in the doorway, “Yes, if you’ll have me. I need to be home for a while.”

Andromeda followed Tonks’s frown to the doors and found Hermione rubbing her temples as she leaned against the wall for support, “What’s wrong with Hermione?”

Tonks stood quickly, a frown pulling at her lips, “I don’t know but she looks awfully pale.”

Andromeda ran beside her daughter, reaching Hermione as the girl collapsed, catching the younger girl in her arms. She felt too light, malnourished from their time on the run for the passed year. She quickly floated the girl to the Hospital wing and began a diagnostic while Tonks ran to find Harry.

.

.

Andromeda entered the records room, her eyes taking in the multiple long rows of shelves. She grimaced at the thought of having to search for Granger, but she was rescued by a short woman with long grey hair, “You looking for something in particular, Ms. Tonks?

Andromeda nodded, not wanting to ask how the woman knew her by name, “Granger, Hermione. I needed to see her records.”

The woman raised an eyebrow at her, silvery eyes studying her intently, “I see only worry and no ill intent. Very well. Row six thousand and thirty-one. Forty paces to the left, make a right and another two hundred and thirteen paces. You’ll find it on the middle shelf at eye level. No removing anything without permission and summon the cart when you’ve finished.” The woman led her to a small cart similar to the ones at Gringotts.

Andromeda eyed it warily even as she took a seat, feeling a slight nervousness as the cart began to move and the woman disappeared. She frowned but didn’t have a chance to look back as the cart picked up speed before it hurtled into the blackness of the room. She gripped the side of the cart much like her first time at Gringotts, hoping that she wouldn’t be thrown from the rickety thing.

She quickly let her mind wander, to focus on anything but the blurring rows around her.

.

.

Andromeda frowned as Hermione tried to get off the bed in the hospital wing, “Where do you think you’re going?”

Hermione glared at her, “I’m fine. It was just a headache.”

“One in which you passed out?” Andromeda raised an eyebrow at her questioningly. “I don’t think so. You aren’t going anywhere until I’m positive that nothing is wrong.”

Harry nodded, “Listen to her ‘Mione. Look, I’m even letting Pomfrey tend to me finally.”

Ron rolled his eyes, “You are both babies when it comes to the healers.”

Hermione narrowed her eyes at him, “Shut it Ronald.”

Andromeda smirked at the girl, “Please.” Hermione groaned, dropping her head back down onto the pillow and staring at the ceiling, a pout on her lips.

Harry snorted before whispering something to the young woman. Hermione glared at him and shoved him away from her, nearly falling off the bed herself. Andromeda quickly steadied the girl, “No rough housing in the hospital wing children.”

Hermione glared at her again, muttering, “I’ll show you children.”

Andromeda felt a slight fire light inside her body, causing her to turn away quickly. She shook her head, not wanting or needing to focus on that, at all. Half an hour later she was satisfied that Hermione was indeed fine and reluctantly let the girl leave with her friends. For the rest of the day, she couldn’t get her mind off the young woman, knowing that the girl had been through a lot. They had only met and spoken a handful of times since the girl’s fifth year but then they had gone on the run, and she had lost her husband.

Now however she was seeing the girl in a whole new light. Over the next week she spent more time with Hermione as the girl helped in the hospital wing. She had engaged her in conversation on multiple occasions, sometimes well into the early hours of the morning. They learned more and more about each other, but it wasn’t until after she accepted head of St. Mungo’s from Kingsley that she learned of the torture at Bellatrix’s hand at Malfoy Manor.

She had just finished setting up her office at St. Mungo’s when a nurse walked in, holding a file out to her, “This is the top case according to the new Minister, Kingsley Shacklebolt. The Golden Girl came in at the end of last week to see if we knew anything about it.”

Andromeda frowned as she read over the file before looking up at her, “It bleeds from time to time?”

The woman nodded, “Yes, and it lasts for a while before it finally stops. She was hoping we could find something to stop the bleeding when it starts. We believe it’s a curse, but I’ve never seen anything like it before. None of us have.”

Andromeda shook her head, “Neither have I. How many times per day?”

The woman shrugged, “She wasn’t exactly forth coming with information. Don’t blame her myself since there were a lot of people around. She was also complaining of a headache, so we gave a simple potion for it, and she left. There isn’t much we can do but the Minister believes you may be able to find something.” With that the woman left, closing the door behind her.

Andromeda flooed to Hogwarts, knowing that Hermione would be there, helping with the rebuilding. She had agreed to take the position on the terms that she was still allowed to help with the rebuilding at Hogwarts, which Shacklebolt readily agreed to. She found the girl near the Charms classroom, alone and fixing a wall that had been blown apart, “Hermione?”

Hermione turned to Andromeda, “Hey. What are you doing here? I thought you accepted Kingsley’s offer?”

Andromeda nodded, stopping in front of the girl, “I did but I also want to help here. I was handed your file this morning. Shacklebolt says its priority number one unless there’s an emergency.”

Hermione rolled her eyes in annoyance, “I told him to let it go. I don’t know the curse, so I don’t know the counter curse for it. I just needed something for the bleeding.” She turned back to her work, focusing on her spells carefully.

Andromeda smiled as she watched the girl’s intense concentration, the precision in which her wand moved effortlessly, “Well its at the top of my list now. I’ll figure this out.”

Hermione paused, amber eyes looking at her with doubt, “Maybe you will. Andy I-“

“Hermione!” Ron Weasley’s voice called out as he hurried towards them, “We still on for tonight?” He came to a stop beside them, not realizing he was interrupting them.

Hermione sighed heavily, but nodded, “Yes Ron.”

He grinned at her before smiling at Andromeda, “Hey. I’ve been looking for you. Madame Pomfrey is asking for you.”

Andromeda kept her eyes on Hermione, “Tell her I’ll be there in a few minutes.” She knew Hermione wanted to talk to her. She could see it in the way the girl was looking at her. Something in her bright amber eyes was calling out to her but she couldn’t put her finger on it.

Hermione shook her head, “No its fine. We were done.” She turned back to the wall, raising her wand once more. Andromeda frowned at Hermione’s back before shaking her head and following Weasley towards the hospital wing.

.

.

Andromeda clutched the swaying cart as it slammed to a stop near a dimly lit row of shelves. She couldn’t see anything beyond the cart beside her and she guessed that the light was to light up the path she was to take. Legs shaky, she stepped down from the cart, not surprised to see it shoot off once the small door was closed to it. She turned to the left and counted out forty steps before turning right. A small ball of light followed her, hovering above her head to light up a circle around her.

She hated being in an unknown dark area, but this needed to be done. It wasn’t until the fiftieth step that she noticed she was in the B’s and not the G’s. She frowned, hesitating, thinking she had to be in the wrong row. She looked around her but all she could see was what the ball of light illuminated in the small circle around her. Taking a deep breath she pushed forward, counting out the rest of the steps, deciding to see where she was being led.

On the One hundred and thirteenth step she searched the shelf to her left, finding the Black family records. Her heart began a painful beat against her ribcage as shaking hands reached for the box. She sat on the floor with the box and lifted the lid as her curiosity rose. An extension charm on the box made the task of looking through the files slightly difficult but she soon found hers and her sisters files. Hers and Narcissa’s files were untouched, but Bellatrix’s had an attachment.

Andromeda frowned as she pulled Bellatrix’s file from the box and flipped to the attached file. Her eyes widened as she saw Hermione Black etched into the file, a small picture of the girl next to the name. She swallowed thickly, her heart pounding her chest, as she opened it. Her eyes darted back and forth as she read the words, having to re-read them a few times to make sure she wasn’t seeing things.

Hermione Black was now a pure-blooded witch, with the blood of the Black line flowing through her veins. All traces of Hermione Granger had been erased as the Black blood now rushed through the girl’s body. All vaults and assets were transferred into Hermione’s name, giving the girl complete control of The Most Noble and Ancient House of Black.

Andromeda’s blood rushed through her ears as she read and re-read the file front to back, before she quickly flipped to Bellatrix’s file. Wondering why the girls was attached to her eldest sisters. Her heart nearly stopped when she read the line of Bellatrix’s status.

Alive.

Alive.

Bellatrix was alive.

Andromeda’s body felt cold, the blood draining from her face quickly. How was it possible that her oldest sister was alive? She had heard of Molly Weasley’s defeat of the darkest witch. That Hermione had been battling Bellatrix, holding her ground even after she saved Luna from the woman. Then Ginny Weasley had appeared, and Hermione had deflected Bellatrix’s curse which headed straight for Molly’s only daughter. Molly had let the anger take over in that moment and Bellatrix hadn’t stood a chance. Hermione had felt guilty for a while for nearly causing Ginny harm, but Andromeda knew the heat of battle. She knew that sometimes things happened, and no one could do anything to stop them.

She frowned suddenly as she re-read the files again, realization dawning on her finally. Hermione’s words echoed through her mind again, ’Some place no one would think to look.’ She stared at the files and knew exactly where the girl would be. She gathered everything, returning it to their rightful place inside the box, before placing it back on the shelf.

A dark fire began to simmer inside her chest. The thought that Bellatrix could have Hermione, could be hurting her, pushed her into a rage she hadn’t felt in a very long time. She refused to let the girl be hurt, to let the woman she loves but used by a woman that didn’t know the meaning of love and family. She would do whatever it took to help Hermione, to save her from the woman that had tortured her, that tried to kill her many times over just because she was born to muggle parents.

Then she would try to figure out how all this happened.

But she would save her lover first.

.

.

Andromeda yawned, rubbing her tired eyes as she leaned back in her chair. She had spent the last few hours dealing with the last few causalities of the war, the ones that were least injured during the battle. It had been a month since the battle, a very long and tiring month, but she knew it was only going to get better. Victory parties were still being held across all of the wizarding world and people were literally still dancing in the streets. They had lost so many lives during the battle. So many friends had turned against them and even as she stretched in her chair, Potter was leading a taskforce to capture the remaining Death Eaters and Voldemort supporters.

She had been helping at the school as much as possible but today she was need at St. Mungo’s, to do a final check up on the least wounded patients she had, along with paperwork. It wasn’t the most exciting work but compared to that first week, she would take it.

A knock on her office door had her eyes rolling and a soft groan escaping her lips before she called out, “Come in.” Hermione’s bright smile lit up the room and Andromeda was suddenly wide awake, “Hermione, what are you doing here? I thought you were going out with Ron.”

Hermione’s smile disappeared instantly but the girl still took a seat in the chair across from her desk, “I cancelled that. It’s just not working.”

Andromeda felt her heartbeat rise slightly, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

Hermione shook her head, “It’s for the better. Have you come up with anything for this?” She motioned to her forearm.

Andromeda frowned at the bandage across the hideous word, blood seeping through slightly, “Again? For how long this time?” she rose from her chair and moved towards the counter on the right side of her office, where her potion supplies were bubbling softly.

Hermione stood, following the older woman, “Two hours.” Andromeda shot Hermione a scolding look over her shoulder, and Hermione quickly added, “I would have come sooner but I was helping McGonagall with something near the astronomy tower.”

Andromeda shook her head, frustration coating her words, “You should have come right away. I could have helped and had you back within five minutes.” Hermione was oddly silent, and it made Andromeda turn to the girl, “Are you alight?”

Hermione nodded, a slight pink tint to her pale cheeks, “Fine.”

Andromeda frowned, setting her decanter back on the counter to turn her full attention to the younger woman beside her, “You’re lying.” She studied the girls face before Hermione turned away from her, “Hermione what’s going on? You’ve been avoiding me all week.”

Hermione sighed, moving towards the large window on the other side of the room that looked out over the city.

Andromeda watched the stiff movements, the tension tightening the girl’s back as she stood still, looking out the window. She couldn’t deny that she felt something for the girl. Her body reacted almost instantly the moment Hermione walked into the same room. Just the thought of seeing Hermione made her heart skip a beat and excitement flood her veins, as if she were a school girl with a crush. She had tried to ignore it, tried to push the thoughts and feelings away but she couldn’t. She knew how precious time was, how every moment should be lived to the fullest.

Hermione’s voice pulled her from her thoughts, “I like you Andromeda.” She turned to face the older woman, “More than I probably should.” She shook her head, moving towards the door, “I shouldn’t have come.”

Andromeda was across the room before she could even contemplate the consequences of her actions, her hand firm against the door, stopping it from opening and placing her body right against Hermione’s, “Is that such a bad thing?”

Hermione looked up at her, a small shake of her head answering the question, “What would you want with someone like me?”

Andromeda frowned, “A strong caring woman that put her life at risk time and time again for her friends? A woman who obliviated her own parents to save their lives, knowing how much it would hurt when they didn’t recognize her at all anymore? Hermione,” she slowly raised her hand, cupping the girl’s cold face, “there is no one in this world like you and you should be proud of that. You are an amazing young woman that has seen and done too much in your young life.”

She couldn’t help but smile when Hermione leaned into her touch. A spark of arousal simmered just below the surface, her entire being aching to hold the girl but she didn’t want to push her too fast, to scare her away from this. Whatever this was. It took her a moment to realize that Hermione had backed her against the wall but the girl’s breath brushing across her lips brought her to full attention. Her senses were more alert than ever before as a tingling thrill rushed down her spine as she stared into Hermione’s bright amber eyes.

Hermione stared up at the woman, a seriousness in her amber eyes that was beyond her young age, “Tell me to leave and I will.”

Andromeda shook her head, “I don’t want you too.”

Without another word Andromeda leaned into the young woman, pressing her lips against the softest lips she had ever felt before. The kiss was slow, a soft caress, an unknown feeling lighting a fire that she didn’t know could exist in a human body. She had loved her husband but there was something very different about Hermione, about the way the girl made her feel. The fire spread through her chest, making her feel more alive that ever before, something to look forward to in a future that had once seemed so bleak.

She cupped the girl’s face gently, running her tongue along a soft bottom lip, needing to know what Hermione tasted like consuming her thoughts. A soft moan left her throat when Hermione instantly parted her lips, allowing her the precious acceptance that she never thought she would get. She wasted no time deepening the kiss, pulling the girl’s body tight against hers in a primal need she couldn’t explain.

A shocked gasp left her lips when Hermione pressed her back into the wall, tongue darting into her mouth, meeting her just as furiously. Their dance was just beginning and, by the goddess how she didn’t want it to end. She wrapped her arms around Hermione’s neck, locking the girl in place, not wanting to be separated from her anytime soon. Her body tightened with anticipation when Hermione’s hands stroked her back, keeping a firm pressure on her that confirmed the girl was at the same conclusion as her.

After what seemed like hours Hermione pulled back, just enough to rest her forehead against Andromeda’s, “I don’t want this to end.”

Andromeda smirked, “Neither do I.” Her Hermione fogged brain wasn’t prepared for the words that slipped from her lips uncontrollably, “Come home with me?” She froze instantly, pulling away from the girl quickly. She hadn’t meant for that thought to see the light of day but now she wasn’t sure how to take it back.

Luckily, she didn’t have to as Hermione grinned widely at her, “Are you done here?”

Andromeda nodded quickly, “Let’s go.” She took the girl’s hand and led her to the floo down the hall from her office, not knowing where the night would take them, but needing to find out.

Chapter Text

AN: Trigger warnings to many things are present in this story. Don’t like, don’t read.

I don't own Harry Potter.

All spelling mistakes are my own. There are my own Original Characters in this at times.

.

.

Hermione groaned as she awoke, her head throbbing with a dull ache. She vaguely remembered making it to McGonagall’s office but not much after that. Opening her eyes, she found herself back in Bellatrix’s room in Black Castle, the sound of rain tapping against the windowpane. She couldn’t remember how she got there, and she only hoped that she hadn’t made a fool of herself at any point. She climbed out of bed and entered the ensuite, wanting a shower. Undressing slowly, her eyes widened as she took in the massive bruising that covered her back and wrapped slightly around her sides. Twisting slightly to see in the mirror she gasped as pain radiated through her entire ribcage, causing her to lean on the counter for support.

Bellatrix’s voice sounded relieved in her mind, Easy, you gave us a hell of a scare pet. You ever do something so foolish again…

“Me?” She snapped, frowning at the mirror, “You were right there with me Bellatrix. You didn’t try to stop me. Where’s Narcissa?”

Like I could have if I did. Bellatrix’s anger began to flare, but she tried to reign it in as she answered the girl’s question, She had to pop out to Diagon Alley for a moment. We thought you’d still be asleep.

Hermione rolled her eyes before slipping into a steaming shower, the heat feeling amazing on her aching muscles. She listened to Bellatrix’s recount of what happened after she came out of the forest while she dressed, taking note of the fact that she would have to deal with McGonagall’s relentless questions the next time she saw her. She slowly made her way out of the bedroom, ignoring the fact that she once again had a slight limp. She could feel the exhaustion creeping in as she made it to the stairs and had to take a moment to catch her breath, leaning on the banister.

Bellatrix’s concern circled her mind, but she only shook her head and continued down the stairs, “I’m fine, just tired.”

Yes and you should be in bed. You need your rest. Narcissa will be pissed when she returns home and finds us in the study.

Hermione sighed heavily, “I have work to do. Not just for McGonagall. I have an idea about the ritual, but I need to double check a few things.”

Bellatrix rolled her eyes, That can wait Hermione. Right now your health is more important.

Hermione scoffed, her anger rising, “If you have forgotten my health is directly related to you right now.”

No I haven’t, I’m reminded of it every fucking second, Bellatrix snapped angrily. I’m constantly worried that we’ll discover that you have even less time than we thought. Do you really think that I-

“No, I don’t think you don’t care. Can we just drop this for now?” Hermione made her way towards the library, needing the distraction of books more than ever. Bellatrix fell quiet as they entered the library and Hermione set to work, pulling a few large ancient tomes from the shelves.

Hermione lost herself in her books, searching for an answer to McGonagall’s problems, while keeping an eye out for the information she needed for the ritual to separate her and Bellatrix. The rain had only grown harder and louder outside and it acted like music to Hermione’s ears while she worked. In a way it was soothing, to let herself forget all the worries as she tried to find solutions, but on the other hand it only made her focus more on the same worries that she wanted to forget.

She frowned as she read a passage out loud from one of the older books, “The creature inhabiting the statue itself may not be human but wanting to be. It is possible to coax the creature from the statue if given the right incentives or by giving the creature what it wants.”

Bellatrix frowned, What the hell does that mean?

Hermione sat back in her chair, “They could be referring to the same ritual that we’re exploring for you. I don’t know of anything that can turn a creature into a human.”

Could the ritual be connected to this? I mean, does it mention anything about restoring a soul to a body?

Hermione pulled the book towards her, needing to let her body relax for a few moments as she read. She shook her head a few minutes later, “I’m not finding anything about a ritual or a way to do it. It’s as if they don’t want to explain how but only vaguely hint that it’s possible.”

Bellatrix began to pace mentally, losing herself to her own thoughts.

Hermione grimaced as her headache grew but ignored it to focus on her research. She knew Bellatrix didn’t want Hermione to sacrifice herself, but at the same time Hermione knew the possible outcomes of what she was trying to do. She had kept most of them hidden from Bellatrix the same way she had kept her secret about Andromeda from the older witch.

Which only made her heart ache painfully, the thought of what she had with Andromeda, what she wanted with Andromeda. Now she had Narcissa and Bellatrix and no Andromeda and it was painful to say the least. She only hoped, given enough time, she could explain everything to Andromeda and not lose the woman forever. She had lost enough during and after the war, something she still hasn’t told anyone other than Narcissa and Bellatrix about.

They all had.

She only hoped she’d get the chance with Andromeda and Bellatrix that she has with Narcissa.

.

.

A few hours passed before Hermione was interrupted by the library doors opening and a disheveled Narcissa strode into the room.

“I have been looking all over for you. Should have guessed you’d be in here,” the woman scoffed at her own annoyance.

Hermione glanced up at the woman before returning to the page in front of her, “I have work to do.”

Bellatrix scoffed, More like avoidance of feelings to do.

Hermione narrowed her eyes at the words on the page, “I said drop it Black.”

Narcissa froze at the end of the table, seeing the anger on Hermione’s face. The young woman’s shoulders were tense as she stood hunched over the table, books spread across the entire surface and open to differing pages. Hermione’s eyes shifted to the deep onyx of Bellatrix as they began a conversation that she couldn’t hear.

Yes and I did to let you work. Hermione you are working yourself to death. Rest isn’t going to take too much time and you know it. Bellatrix pleaded, knowing the girl couldn’t resist the desperation she was feeling.

Hermione rubbed her temples, the throbbing in her head having only grown while she worked. She hated that she was worrying Bellatrix, that the woman was becoming desperate to make her take care of herself, but she needed to figure this out before she couldn’t anymore, or before she lost Bellatrix forever. They both knew the consequences and she was willing to do whatever it took to get Bellatrix back alive.

Finally, she shook her head, “I’m going to need a horn of a unicorn, which as we all know can only come from the market.”

Narcissa inched closer, “Hermione?”

Hermione shook her head even as she looked up at the blonde, “Also the blood of a vampire, that’s going to be the most difficult.”

Narcissa wrapped her arms around the girl, “Hermione listen to me.” Hermione finally began to relax in the woman’s arms. “We’ll find everything I promise. Right now, you need to rest. You’re healing and it’s taking a lot out of you.”

Hermione sighed heavily, her eyes barley focusing on the woman less than an inch from her face, “Right. I know but-“

“No buts,” Narcissa said firmly but softly. “You need rest if you want to get this right. McGonagall is worried as much as I am and I’m guessing Bella too.”

Bellatrix forced herself forward, which wasn’t hard since Hermione was so exhausted, “Yes but the brat won’t listen to me.”

Narcissa chuckled, “Sounds like someone else I know.” She let go of the girl’s body as Hermione’s eyes shifted colors once again.

Hermione shook her head, “You two can’t gang up on me and expect me not to fight back.” She moved away from Narcissa, “I-“ A loud boom echoed through the castle and both she and Narcissa had their wands in their hands instantly. She focused on the library door as a pop echoed through the room, “Kreacher what was that?”

The small elf coward behind her leg as another boom shook the castle walls, “Someone is trying to blast their way in Missus.”

Narcissa took a step forward but was caught by Hermione’s hand. She glanced over at the girl and gasped as bright amber swirled with the deep onyx of her sister. She took a step back and watched Hermione move forward as the girl spoke, “How strong are the wards?”

Narcissa followed Hermione slowly out of the library as another boom echoed through the castle, dust falling from the ceiling around them, “No one knows what they are because there are so many and their old. There’s only one way past them and that’s to move them aside slightly but only a few people know…” Narcissa trailed off, her eyes widening.

Hermione frowned as she watched the look of horror cross Narcissa’s face. She stopped at the base of the stairs as the large front doors shook violently with another boom, “Who Narcissa?”

Narcissa swallowed thickly, “Well Lucius since he technically became related by marriage.”

Hermione’s anger mixed with Bellatrix’s as she raised her wand at the door, “Have you seen him?”

Narcissa frowned at Hermione, “No of course not. I had lunch with Draco and Harry today, which is why I was gone for so long. I told him about the divorce.”

Hermione smirked as she turned to Narcissa, “And how did he take it?”

A pink tint began to colour Narcissa’s face as she avoided eye contact, “He said it was about time, and asked if I was sleeping with you in the same sentence.”

Hermione snorted a laugh, raising an eyebrow at the woman, “And you said…?”

Narcissa rolled her eyes, the pink tint growing redder as the woman scoffed, “I’m not discussing my sex life with my son of all people.”

A cackling laugh erupted from Hermione’s chest as Bellatrix took over for a moment, “Prude.”

Narcissa glared at the young woman in front of her, “Shut up Bella!”

Hermione shook her head, trying to hide her smile, “So we have a sex life then? Did I miss something when I was sleeping?” Her tone took on a teasing quality, which made Narcissa’s blush deepen.

Narcissa’s jaw dropped, “What?! No! I would never.”

Bellatrix snorted inside Hermione’s mind, She desperately wanted to though.

Hermione laughed, a softer cackle than Bellatrix’s, and Narcissa glared at her, “Not fair. Whatever she’s telling you isn’t fair unless I can defend myself.”

Bellatrix finally rolled her eyes, her voice coming from Hermione’s mouth, “Can we please focus on the problem at hand? Then we can have tea and discuss this some more like the Noble Black’s we are.”

Hermione wanted to respond but the sudden silence surrounding them put her on edge. She frowned as she glanced at Narcissa, “It’s too quiet.”

Suddenly the large doors in front of them burst open, slamming into the stone walls with an earsplitting boom. Hermione stood with her wand raised as the dust slowly faded and a figure stepped into the castle, wand up and aimed at Hermione. Hermione’s eyes widened as she took in the woman in front of her, anger blazing in the deep brown eyes that were narrowed on her and Narcissa.

“Who the fuck are you?” Andromeda’s voice was deeper than usual as her rage coursed through her body.

Hermione frowned at the woman, “I’m Hermione and this is Narcissa. You know this.” A blinding red light flew directly at Hermione’s chest, and she flew backwards with the powerful Expelliarmus Andromeda used. She landed hard on her back, her wand rolling away and out of reach.

Narcissa frowned at her sister, “Andy stop!”

Andromeda aimed her wand at Narcissa, “Bellatrix is alive and suddenly I find you two here at Black Castle. Hermione would never be here of her own free will.”

Hermione coughed up blood as she laid on her back on the cold stone floor, struggling to breath. Bellatrix’s voice was soothing in her mind, Leave it to Andy to make one hell of an entrance. Whether she likes it or not she is one hundred percent a Black.

Hermione couldn’t help but laugh at the situation, the sound quickly becoming a cackling laughter that echoed through the castle. She slowly rolled to her side, easing Bellatrix’s wand from her ankle holster as she moved, trying not to draw attention to the movement. She smirked darkly up at Andromeda, “You honestly think I’d let Bellatrix control me for longer than a few hours? That I wouldn’t be able to get myself out of it?” She surged to her feet, Bellatrix’s twisted wand in her hand.

Andromeda glared at her, gripping her wand tightly, “Where’s Hermione?”

Hermione curled her lip at the woman, “This is me. Stupefy!” Andromeda flew backwards, not having expected the spell from Hermione. “Why do you automatically assume that just because Bellatrix is alive that I would fall so easily to her? Do you think so little of me?”

Narcissa frowned as blood dribbled from the corner of Hermione’s mouth, “Hermione stop,” she rushed forward, “You have internal bleeding. Please.”

Hermione shook Narcissa off her as Andromeda stood, wand at the ready, “Hermione wouldn’t be caught dead here nor with Bellatrix. You expect me to believe that you aren’t being controlled by the dark witch? Then how did you know about Ted and Bellatrix?”

Hermione scoffed, “Because I talk to Bellatrix. I trust her with everything that I am. She’s not the same person she was.” Her entire look darkened as her voice lowered, a slight rasp entering her throat, “And neither am I. Once again you are jumping to conclusions before gathering all the information.”

Andromeda shook her head, not wanting to believe that the woman she’s in love with could change so drastically, “Brain washing, something she’s good at. At least I’m not running from this. Now where is she?”

Hermione smirked darkly, eyes shifting to onyx, “She’s right here.” Andromeda’s spell was silent, but Bellatrix knew it was coming and easily dodged, casting one of her own.

Narcissa quickly put herself between them, “Would you two stop it?! Andy we can explain if you’ll let us.”

Andromeda gripped Narcissa’s wrist and jerked her baby sister behind her, “I won’t let you take the two most important people from me again Bella.”

Bellatrix’s cackling laughter filled the room as she raised an eyebrow at her sister, “You think they didn’t come to me willingly? That’s what you do Andy. You don’t listen and always push away the ones who love you the most. When will you ever learn?”

Spells flew so fast from Andromeda’s wand that Narcissa was positive that Hermione would be hit but Bellatrix was not known as the best dueler in the world for nothing. That combined with Hermione’s own talent and Narcissa knew she had nothing to be worried about, but the girl was already injured before this.

Bellatrix’s laughter grew higher pitched as she danced around her sister, remembering just how much she loves a good duel. Hermione was giving Bellatrix her own energy to make her more powerful and Bellatrix was quickly becoming intoxicated by it. Unfortunately, Hermione was quickly tiring, and she knew the girl would collapse soon if she didn’t put an end to it. She could feel Hermione’s pain flooding through her consciousness and began to worry that more damage had been done than she thought.

She quickly flicked her wrist with a silent Expelliarmus, sending Andromeda’s wand flying from the woman’s hand before she pinned the woman to the wall, digging the tip of her wand into Andromeda’s throat, “Enough! I don’t have time to finish this, but you will listen to Hermione before you make your judgment. Cissy,” she turned to her youngest sister, “She’s fading fast. I’m not sure how much damage has been done. She’s in so much pain.”

Narcissa rushed froward, “Let’s get you upstairs before she fades. Hermione, I know you can hear me. I’ll be right here when you wake up. I promise.”

Onyx shifted to a bright amber and Hermione gripped onto Narcissa as tight as she could, “I believe you. Kreacher?” The elf appeared with a pop and Hermione struggled not to grip her head in pain, “Seal the castle. No one in or out until I say so and Narcissa is in charge until I’m awake again.”

Kreacher nodded, his large ears flopping back and forth, “As you wish Missus.” He snapped his fingers once before he disappeared with another pop.

Hermione shook her head, trying to keep her eyes open, “Narcissa, I can’t…” She watched the black dots dance in front of her vision until Bellatrix took control.

“Cissy, she’s fading.” Bellatrix felt the panic welling up in her chest as Hermione lost consciousness, “I only have a few moments.”

Narcissa nodded, glancing back at a confused Andromeda, “We’ll deal with you later. Kreacher,” the elf appeared with a worried look, but she smiled at him, “take us to the bedroom quickly.” They disappeared with a pop, leaving Andromeda alone in the foyer of her old childhood home.

.

.

Hermione knew she was awake, but her body refused to move. She tried to open her eyes, but nothing happened. Panic and fear swelled in her chest, but she couldn’t even scream, a nightmare come to life, frozen and unable to do anything about it. She searched her mind, body and soul for Bellatrix but couldn’t find the woman, leaving her even more terrified than before. She had grown so used to having Bellatrix inside, her comforting voice soothing her fears after a nightmare. Now, not having it was more terrifying than anything she had ever experienced in her life.

She struggled against the body bind curse that was pinning her until Bellatrix’s groggy voice entered her mind, Easy Muddy. Stop struggling. When Hermione calmed Bellatrix smiled, I’m here love. I was napping. You’ve been out for a few days. Narcissa had to give us a sleeping potion when you awoke last time.

Hermione frowned, speaking through her mind, I was awake?

Bellatrix chuckled, You were pretty out of it. You kept begging me and Cissy to never leave. Something about you know you aren’t the best person, but you would do anything to keep us. Scared the right hell out of Andy too.

Hermione focused her magick on the body bind curse and easily countered it, releasing her body. She gasped in pain as her eyes snapped open and found that she was in complete darkness. Bellatrix chuckled inside her head, but Hermione asked quietly, “Does she know?” her throat was dry, making her voice slightly raspy.

Bellatrix scoffed, No. Narcissa refused to speak of anything until you were awake and then we agreed that Andy should hear it from you. Andy is staying in her bedroom since Kreacher sealed the castle. Narcissa has been in here with us the entire time. She must of gone down for dinner.

Hermione groaned as she rolled over, slinging her legs over the edge of the bed, “How much damage was done?”

Bellatrix’s concern reached every inch of Hermione, A broken rib punctured your lung. The rest was mostly just internal bruising. Andromeda feels horrible but she’s still adamant that somethings not right.

Hermione sat on the edge of the bed for a moment, catching her breath as she took stock of all the pain inside her body. The worst part of it all was that she was stiff from the body bind curse, which made her relax slightly because she knew that would wear off the more, she moved around. She entered the shower with a moan as the hot water beat against her sensitive skin. When she was done showering, she dressed as quickly as she could, only pulling on a pair of dragon hide pants and a loose button up. Still moving stiffly she headed out of the room in search of Narcissa.

She was angry that Andromeda had stormed Black castle without so much as a warning. On top of the fact that the woman really believed she would fall for the old Bellatrix’s mind games. Andromeda knew her better than that, or at least she thought the woman did. She had gotten close to Andromeda after the war and that one night meant so much to her, she had hopped it meant just as much to Andromeda, but apparently, she was wrong.

She found Kreacher at the top of the stairs, peering through the banister down at the muffled shouts coming from the study, “What’s going on Kreacher?”

The elf jumped, startled, and hit his head on the hard wood with a grunt. He rubbed his head slightly as he turned a guilty look up to her, “Missus Narcissa is yelling at the mean lady.”

Hermione bit her lip against a laugh, one that Bellatrix willingly gave inside her mind. Finally, she shook her head unable to stop the small chuckle, “Kreacher that is Missus Andromeda Tonks.”

Kreacher snorted, “The other Black sister.”

Bellatrix laughed, That’s one way to put it.

Hermione made her way down the stairs, “What are they yelling about?”

Kreacher gripped the back of her pant leg, “You and Missus Bellatrix.”

Hermione’s anger flared again. She knew Andromeda deserved an answer, and yes, she had given the woman a hint as to where to find her, but she didn’t think that Andromeda would storm the castle, blasting first and asking questions later. She had made a promise to Bellatrix and Narcissa that she would protect them against everyone and she damn sure was going to keep that promise.

She flicked her wrist and the doors to the study blew open, causing Narcissa and Andromeda to spin towards her. She narrowed her eyes on Andromeda, “You come blasting into my home and think I will not retaliate.”

Narcissa rolled her eyes with a groan, collapsing into the oversized armchair beside her, “Of course you two broke my curse. Why do I even bother?”

Andromeda raised her wand, but Hermione was ready this time, casting a silent disarm. She caught Andromeda’s wand as she moved forward, “You will sit down and shut up while I explain and if you still want to leave, I will allow you too, but I will not be allowing anyone back in. I will make sure this place is more protected than Voldemort or Dumbledore could ever hope to achieve. Am I understood?” She moved towards Andromeda until the woman was forced to sit on the sofa.

Andromeda swallowed thickly as she nodded, unable to speak even as Hermione handed her wand back.

Hermione sighed and collapsed in the armchair across from Narcissa, glancing into the fire that was warming the room, “It was after,” she looked directly into Andromeda’s eyes, “that we both became aware of each other. Bellatrix assumes that Voldemort did this to punish her. Whose body would be better to stick the Bellatrix Black in than a Mudblood? At first it was hard. Bellatrix was… Well, Bellatrix.”

Bellatrix surged forward, “But things change Andy. I’ve changed. Hermione has a way with shoving the truth in one’s face even if they aren’t prepared for it.” She smirked before she allowed Hermione take control again.

Hermione grimaced, “Like you’re any better?”

Narcissa glanced at Andromeda and shrugged, “You get used to them arguing. It’s downright entertaining at times.” She looked back over at Hermione, “Once you get passed the creepiness of the sudden shifts.”

Hermione raised an eyebrow at Narcissa, “I’ll show you a shift soon.” Bellatrix snorted a laugh as Narcissa’s eyes widened and a blush crept up the pale woman’s neck.

Andromeda frowned at Hermione, “Is this why you pulled away from me?”

Hermione frowned, looking away from Andromeda and into the fire, “I know how you feel about Bellatrix. I didn’t want to see the disgust in your eyes when you looked at me. I thought I could find a solution sooner, but the ritual is going to take a lot longer than I anticipated to not only set up but to perform. I know at times Bellatrix’s anger can get the better of her and when you add that to my own…” She shook her head before looking back at the older woman, “I refuse to let anyone hurt her. I’ll let Harry in on it when the time is right, and he will know that if he wants to get to her, he’ll have to go through me first.”

Hermione stood quickly, “She’s overprotective about me just as much as I am her. She nearly ripped Draco and Harry’s heads off that day in Diagon Alley because they grabbed my arm.”

Andromeda shook her head, “What about your parents? You were supposed to go find them.”

Bellatrix surged forward, rage blazing in suddenly darker than night eyes, “You will watch your mouth Andy, or I will throw you out myself.”

Andromeda’s eyes widened at the sudden anger directed at her, “I didn’t mean anything by it Bella I just-“ she froze. She was shocked to see her older sister defending Hermione of all people, and violently at that. She was beginning to already see the change in her sister. “Wait, what don’t I know?”

Hermione shook her head, pulling Bellatrix back, “Nothing.”

Andromeda stood, slowly moving closer to Hermione, “Hermione, please talk to me. I’ve been kept in the dark too long and I deserve at least an explanation.”

Hermione looked up at her, “Andy you deserve everything. More than what I can give you.”

Andromeda frowned as she reached out to the young woman, only having Hermione pull away from her, “Hermione, listen to me. I fell in love with you a long time ago. Things were tense then and then after the war I took that chance to get what I want. Please believe me.”

Hermione frowned as she saw Narcissa moving towards the door out of the corner of her eye. She took a deep breath, deciding now was her only chance to do this, “I have a confession to make Andy. I’m in love with you and Narcissa and Bellatrix.” Narcissa froze for a moment before spinning back to face Hermione with wide eyes. Hermione smiled at Narcissa before turning to Andromeda, “I love all three of you and I know it’s selfish of me, but I can’t help how I feel.”

Andromeda smirked, “Black sister hat trick Granger? Didn’t know you had it in you.”

Hermione groaned as Narcissa burst into laughter, “You sound just like Bellatrix.”

Bellatrix’s cackling laughter filled the room as she surged forward, “I’ve missed you, Andy.”

Andromeda frowned at the onyx eyes sparkling at her, “Why didn’t you ever tell me about your plan with Ted?”

Bellatrix frowned, her heart aching at the lost time, “I couldn’t because I knew you were safe. You were safe from everything that Cissy and I had to deal with. Her marriage to Lucius happened when I was on a mission. Voldemort tried to get word to me, but it didn’t arrive in time because Rod didn’t want to tell me. He always suspected I had a hand in keeping you from Rabastan and it was his way of payback.”

Andromeda glanced at Narcissa, “How did you convince Lucius to go through with the divorce?” At Narcissa’s curious look she clarified, “Draco and Harry stopped by right after their lunch with you and then I came here when they said you claimed that you needed to get back home.”

Bellatrix frowned as she felt Hermione’s guilt rise, “It was Hermione’s doing. Which she still feels guilty about by the way.” She rolled her eyes at Narcissa.

Narcissa rushed to Hermione’s side as onyx shifted to amber, “Hermione I told you, it needed to be done and I will always be grateful for what you did. It was my choice, one that I wouldn’t have had without you.”

Hermione smiled at the woman, leaning into her touch, needing the comfort, “We thought you were Lucius.” She looked over at Andromeda, “But then I was just angry because you assumed everything was wrong.”

Andromeda threw her hands in the air, “Do you fucking blame me? Hermione, you disappeared from everyone. Nymphadora and Harry are hiding something from everyone, claiming it’s need to know right now. You were the one bright spot in my life since the war and then you just left.”

Hermione shook her head, “I told you why I left. I couldn’t deal with everything all at once.”

Andromeda frowned at the woman, “All of what?”

Hermione finally snapped, anger forcing her words from her mouth before she could rethink them, tears pouring silently down her face, “The pain! The fact that I’m in love with you! Finding my parents bodies after they were ripped apart by a werewolf!”

Narcissa gasped, “The note you found wasn’t just an explanation.”

Hermione shook her head, wrapping her arms around her center, her eyes going distant, “There was so much blood and their bodies….” She turned to the fire, “And he bathed in their blood under the moonlight. A beast so vicious, so callous that none could oppose him. The only sounds were the screams that slowly died on a gurgle and the snapping of bones breaking against his teeth.” She shook her head, refusing to turn around as Bellatrix tried to sooth her from inside her mind, “Voldemort made sure that I would know exactly what happened. The note was enchanted with the memory of what took place. The moment I touched it, I stood where someone else did and watched as he slaughtered them, savoring it as he did so. I know what Harry and Tonks’s secret is.” Finally, she turned back to Narcissa and Andromeda, a dark look that was pure hatred on her face, “And when I get Bellatrix back into her own body, I will find him, and I will make him pay.”

Andromeda frowned, “But why? Why specifically was it you he targeted?”

Hermione scoffed, “He knew he wouldn’t survive. Trelawney made one final prophecy, one that was quickly handed to Voldemort. He would fall and Harry would win. He began to set things into motion that would last long after he was gone. Certain people escaped with their lives only because he wanted them too. Others, like myself and Bellatrix, he wanted to torture long after his death.”

Bellatrix surged forward, “But he forgot one thing. People can change. Without Hermione I wouldn’t see things differently, which has helped me to accept my past and forgive myself for a lot of things. I know now it doesn’t matter if others forgive me. I have to forgive myself.”

Andromeda smiled at her, “I’ll work on it, Bella. Now that I know the truth.”

Hermione felt Bellatrix retreat, and suddenly felt exhausted. George came to mind, and she frowned at Narcissa, “George?”

Narcissa smiled, “I told him we encountered a bit of a problem. He’ll be here Saturday, although Molly is pushing for us to join them for dinner.”

Andromeda’s eyes widened, “Shit. I’m supposed to be there tonight with Nymphadora.”

Hermione smirked at her, “Well I couldn’t very well let you go alone, now can I.”

Narcissa frowned, “Are you sure Hermione? You’re still healing.”

Hermione smiled at the woman’s concern, “I’ll be alright as long as you’re there with us. Besides, we’re going to need more help for the ritual and McGonagall’s problem as well. Me and the three Black sisters should be powerful enough to take care of it.”

Andromeda frowned, “McGonagall has a problem? Is she alright?”

Hermione and Narcissa glanced at each other before bursting into laughter. When Hermione calmed down enough to breathe again, she motioned to the sofa, “Take a seat. This is going to take a while to explain, since it goes back to the battle.”

Chapter Text

AN: Trigger warnings to many things are present in this story. Don’t like, don’t read.

I don't own Harry Potter.

All spelling mistakes are my own. There are my own Original Characters in this at times.

.

.

Andromeda stood facing out the window, her mind a blur of information. Narcissa had popped upstairs to freshen up, not wanting them to see her crying. Andromeda hated what Hermione had gone through, what Bellatrix herself had put her through. The fact that Hermione had forgiven Bellatrix, had become friends with the dark witch, and had even fallen in love with her, showed just how much Hermione had changed the older woman. She never thought she would ever see her older sister fall in love, not that she didn’t think it was possible, but she just never thought she would see it.

She glanced back at Hermione, a question on her mind that had been bothering her for a while, “Do you not trust me?”

Hermione frowned as she looked over at the woman from her seat on the sofa, “What? Yes, of course I do.”

Andromeda frowned, “Then why didn’t you tell me?”

Hermione sighed as she stood, moving closer to the fireplace as her body felt chilled, “Be honest Andromeda. If I had told you what I was feeling? That I was hearing Bellatrix in my head, what would you have done?”

Andromeda knew she would have been concerned, but she couldn’t be sure what she would have said at the time. She looked away from Hermione as she thought about it.

Hermione nodded, turning to stare into the flickering flames, “Exactly. You would have been trying to get me to see someone and you know that I will never do that.” She shook her head, “I didn’t want to see that look in your eyes. I didn’t want to see you look at me any different, or not trust me anymore.”

Andromeda spun to the young woman, crossing the short distance between them, “Hermione I never would have looked at you any different.”

Hermione scoffed, “Like you aren’t doing right now?”

Andromeda slowly raised her hand, cupping the girl’s cheek until Hermione looked up at her, “I love you. I would have been concerned but I would have stood by your side and helped you in any way I could.”

Hermione’s lips quirked up slightly, “I love you, Andy. I never meant to hurt you.”

Andromeda pulled the younger woman against her body, resting her forehead against Hermione’s as she wrapped her arms around the girl’s waist, “I love you too. Hermione,” she tightened her hold on the young woman, “I was terrified that I would never see you again. Between you and Nymphadora, I couldn’t think straight with how scared I was. I know we haven’t talked about the war, but I just needed you to know.”

Hermione pressed a soft chaste kiss to her lips, “When I found out that Ted was working for Voldemort, hoping to secure his life once the war was over, I lost control.” She frowned as she leaned back slightly, needing to look into Andromeda’s eyes, “The thought of him hurting you and Tonks,” she shook her head, “I couldn’t take it.”

Andromeda could see the pain, the guilt in Hermione’s eyes, “You killed him.” It wasn’t an accusation, just a statement.

Hermione nodded, unable to get her voice to work, “Maybe there was a reason Bellatrix and I were forced together.”

Andromeda gripped Hermione’s chin tightly, “You listen to me Hermione Black. You are not Bellatrix Lestrange. I can see how much Bella has changed in just the short time I’ve been listening to you two explain. She’s more like my sister now than she has been for the last eighteen years.” She shook her head, “We all had to do things during the war that we aren’t proud of but that is called surviving.”

Hermione nodded, feeling Bellatrix’s presence inside but the woman remained silent, lost in her own thoughts as she absorbed Andromeda’s words. “Andy I-“

A loud screech echoed throughout the room as an owl swooped into the room, dive bombing Narcissa’s head as the blonde reentered the room. Hermione and Andromeda, and Bellatrix, laughed as the woman’s eyes narrowed on them. The owl swooped to Hermione and dropped a letter into her hands. She frowned as she opened it, stepping away from Andromeda and turning to the fire she began to read:

Hermione,

Please consider coming to dinner tonight. We all miss you dear. Andromeda has been especially concerned with your disappearance and behavior change. We are all family Hermione, and we want to help you with whatever it is you are dealing with. We all suffered through the war; we’ve all dealt with what happened during that time. Andromeda will be here this evening. Please consider coming. The offer is extended to Narcissa Malfoy if you would like to bring her with you. Please Hermione, we just want to help.

Your friend,

Molly Weasley

Hermione couldn’t stop the grimace as she balled the letter up and threw it over her shoulder. How dare that woman act as if she was playing at matchmaker. Using Andromeda to get her to feel guilty about not going. Using Andromeda to lure her into a family dinner that she wanted no part of. She knew Molly could be underhanded, unforgiving with the best of them even. But to use something against Hermione to get her to do what Molly wants…

Hermione’s anger began to rise uncontrollably, and Bellatrix quickly tried to sooth her, Easy pet. She probably didn’t mean for it to sound that way. She was being her usual airhead-y self.

Hermione glared into the fire as Andromeda and Narcissa quickly gathered the crumpled letter to read quietly. She couldn’t just ignore the fact that none of them had reached out to her in six months, at least not until Andromeda had gotten involved. She didn’t really blame Harry, considering he was always off to find more Death Eaters. Even George noticed her disappearance but thankfully didn’t question it, especially since he too had pulled away from his family to grieve in peace.

Not to mention the fact that Molly was also responsible for the death of Bellatrix.

Whoa Muddy. Slow down. You’re giving me whiplash. Yes, she was responsible for my death, but I wasn’t the person I am now. You can’t fault her for saving her daughter.

Hermione’s voice came out low and vicious, “You never attacked Ginny. It was my fault that curse went towards her.”

Bellatrix scowled, I was attacking you. Do you honestly believe you could have taken me?

Hermione’s glare intensified at the fire, “I was holding my own against you. She was the one who jumped in for no reason. She could never stand not being the center of attention. Always the doting mother, the devout friend.”

Bellatrix’s confusion swirled around Hermione’s mind, What aren’t you telling me Muddy? There’s a wall here that I can’t get through.

Hermione grimaced, spinning on her heel and striding towards the door, “And it’s a door you’ll never get through.”

Andromeda and Narcissa watched Hermione’s angry strides as she left the study. They shared a look of confusion before they followed, worry pulling at both of them. Narcissa quickly caught up to the younger woman, taking in the girl’s clenched fists and tight jaw. Whatever she was arguing about with Bellatrix wasn’t anything good.

She frowned as she caught Hermione’s wrist, keeping her voice soft, “Hey. What’s wrong?”

Hermione sighed deeply, pausing in the middle of the hallway, “That woman thinks she can use Andromeda to lure me to dinner.”

Andromeda grimaced as she approached them, “She’s using Tonks and you against me.”

Narcissa rolled her eyes, “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do Honey. She can’t force any of us to be there.”

Hermione’s brows knitted together, her mind still going a mile a minute. Finally, she shook her head, “I don’t want them to know.”

Andromeda nodded, “And they won’t find out, and if they do, we’ll be there to protect you. George is going to be there too, and he’s been worried about you.”

Hermione sighed, “Fine.”
.

Hermione grimaced as she stood in front of Narcissa and Andromeda, “I’m just putting it out there that Bellatrix and I are against this dinner.”

Andromeda frowned, “Your friends miss you Hermione.”

Narcissa scoffed, “Sure they miss her but none of them, besides George, noticed the difference in her for half a year.”

Bellatrix surged forward, nodding, and pointing at Narcissa, “What she said.”

Andromeda rolled her eyes, “Its one dinner and then we can return here.”

Hermione sighed as she retook control, “Fine but I’m not talking much.” She strode towards the study before spinning on her heel to point at Andromeda, “And so help me if Molly tries to put me near Ron. I’ll let Bellatrix hex him into next month.”

Andromeda smirked as she caught Hermione’s wrist and gently pulled the girl’s body against her own, “You will remain between Narcissa and I. Not to mention we will not let you out of our sight the entire time.”

Narcissa sneered at her older sister, “I won’t be letting her out of my grip let alone sight. I don’t trust any of them except Potter.”

Andromeda chuckled, “Only because he’s dating your son.”

Hermione chuckled as she pulled Narcissa into her body, “My hero.” She pressed a gentle kiss to the blonde’s lips before moving towards the study again.

Andromeda snorted, “Put your tongue back in your mouth Cissy.”

Bellatrix’s cackling laughter echoed around the room, “Hermione is so screwed with all of us together.”

Hermione stood beside the fireplace, adjusting her black button up blouse, and dusting nonexistent lint from her dragon hide pants. If she was going to have to suffer through this dinner, then she was going to do it comfortably. Plus, she really did need that book from George if he had found it.

Narcissa approached her with a smile, gripping her hands tightly, “Stop fidgeting dear.”

Hermione smirked, “Yes Mistress.”

Narcissa’s eyes darkened dangerously before she yanked Hermione’s body against her own, “I cannot be held responsible for what happens if you call me that at dinner.”

Hermione grinned, “Tempting.”

Andromeda shook her head, “Please don’t. I don’t want to have to explain to anyone why you two disappeared into a random bedroom.”

Hermione raised an eyebrow as Bellatrix’s laughter filled her mind, Like you’d bother with a bedroom. Hermione barked out a laugh at the woman.

Narcissa eyed the younger woman curiously, “Now what are you two talking about?”

Hermione quickly shook her head, “Nothing. Shall we go?”

Andromeda rolled her eyes, “Diagon Alley first then the Weasley’s. And so help me, I will hunt you down if you don’t show up.” She pressed a soft kiss to Hermione’s lips before stepping into the fireplace.

Hermione smirked at the older woman, “Is that supposed to be a threat?”

Andromeda glared at Hermione as she took a handful of floo powder, a small grin pulling on her lips, “I guess we’ll have to find out Sweetie.” She dropped the powder and called out her destination, disappearing in a puff of green flames.

Hermione glanced at Narcissa, “Shall I or is it too dangerous?”

Narcissa wrapped her arms around Hermione’s neck, brushing her lips against Hermione’s, “If you do, it won’t be just her coming to look for you, my Darling. Maybe you’ll see just how much of a Mistress I can be.” She kissed the girl, deepening it as soon as Hermione’s gasp slipped from her soft lips. After a moment Narcissa pulled away with a dangerous grin and stepped into the burst of green flames.

Hermione took a moment to clear her head, her entire body nearly combusting into flames as Narcissa’s taste lingered on her tongue. Bellatrix chuckled, Best if we don’t test them tonight.

Hermione scoffed, “If there’s one thing you’ve taught me it’s that we love to push the limits.” Bellatrix’s cackling laughter filled her mind as she entered the fireplace and called out Diagon Alley.

The rush of flames encompassed her, and she quickly found herself stepping out of the fireplace in the back of the Leaky Cauldron. She took a moment to breath, dread filling her stomach at the thought of going to dinner at the Weasley house. She couldn’t say she really missed them much, having spent the last half of a year constantly with Bellatrix. The older woman had become her best friend and as much as she missed her time at Hogwarts with Harry and even Ron, she couldn’t deny that she would change anything currently. She shook her entire body, preparing to step into the floo once more but a deep voice behind her stopped her.

“Hermione, there you are.” Goyle senior stepped out of the second fireplace in the room a grin on his face, “Fenrir is looking for you. Says he has some information you’ve been looking for. Something about the,” he glanced towards the open door that led out into the pub, “Market.”

Hermione felt her heart rate kick up. If it was what she was hoping for, she knew she night not be making it to dinner tonight. She hesitated as she eyed the fireplace before focusing back on Goyle, “Is he around?”

Goyle smirked, nodding as he held his arm to her, “He’s at the White Wyvern. I was just getting ready to meet with him. Walk with me?”

She frowned one last time at the fireplace before she took his arm, “Why not.” She walked beside Goyle as they exited the Leaky Cauldron, “So how is everyone?”

Goyle frowned, “Worried about you. You missed the last few Friday’s ‘Mione.”

She kept her face blank, but her tone soft, “I apologize for that. I was ill and wasn’t up for anything.”

Goyle’s tense shoulders seemed to relax quickly, “Oh thank Merlin. A few of us were worried you decided to become the Golden Girl again.”

She grimaced, “Don’t even joke about that Gregory.”

Goyle chuckled, nodding, “So what’s with you and Narcissa Black?”

She smirked evilly, “None of your business, except that she’s mine.” She turned to him for a moment as they neared the entrance to Knockturn Alley, “As is Andromeda Tonks.” Goyle’s jaw dropped, and cackling laughter filled the air as she continued towards the White Wyvern.

She entered the dimly lit tavern, eyes scanning the room, and found Fenrir sitting nervously in the far corner opposite the door. She moved quickly, sliding into the seat across from him, “What do you have?”

Fenrir smiled at her, his sharp teeth glistening in the dim firelight, “I found a book about the ancient rituals you’re looking into.” His smile faded, irritation taking over his face, “Only problem is its location and the payment for retrieving it.”

Hermione frowned, “If we have the location, I can get it myself.”

Fenrir nodded, “Well it’s a high price just for the location.”

Hermione felt a pit form in her stomach, “What’s the price?”

Fenrir grimaced, “Blood. Not just any blood either. Unicorn blood.”

Hermione’s body tensed, “What for? The only time I’ve ever seen Unicorn blood used was for Voldemort.”

Fenrir nodded, “Which is why I’m hesitant.”

Hermione shook her head, “Fenrir, you were on the good side. I know you had to do many things you didn’t want to do but you did what you had to, to survive.”

Fenrir snapped with a growl, “I know.” He took a deep breath, his grey eyes darting to the door as Goyle finally entered, his rough voice barley a whisper between them, “What if that’s what it’s for?” His fear was clear in his eyes and Hermione could see his pain shimmering wildly.

Hermione shook her head, “Not possible. I spent a few months researching it. Voldemort is gone for good.” She wasn’t about to tell him that she had originally feared that it was Voldemort sharing her body, since Bellatrix hadn’t been able to communicate yet. She was extremely grateful that it was her and not him.

Fenrir seemed to relax slightly as he sat back, “I trust you Hermione.” He pointed a finger at her, his voice firm and strong, “Only you.”

Hermione nodded, knowing that the werewolf didn’t trust anyone ever, so she would do what she could to keep his trust, “Then I need to explain why I’m doing this.”

Fenrir shook his head, “I already know.” At her questioning frown he smirked, “Who do you think got the dagger for him?”

She grinned at him, feeling Bellatrix’s swirl of emotions throughout her mind. The woman was confused as to why this dog would do anything for her. They never got along, and she had treated him so poorly. She decided to stop her spiral and asked, “Why?”

Fenrir shrugged, “I did things I regret. Things I wish I didn’t have to. She was no different. He tormented her until she lost who she was, until she lost herself among his tyranny.”

Hermione smiled as she felt a rush of comradeship coming from Bellatrix. She nodded at Fenrir, “She’s grateful.”

He nodded with a grin, “Plus I miss the bickering we always did.”

Hermione snorted and Bellatrix’s cackling laughter erupted from her lips as the woman took over, “When I get my body back dog, we’ll have a pint and bicker until Hermione has to drag our drunken arse’s home kicking and screaming.”

Fenrir laughed, a full bellied laugh as he held his drink up, “I’ll drink to that.”

Hermione rolled her eyes as she retook control, “I can get the blood. Hagrid has a connection, and he owes me.”

Fenrir nodded, “Alright, then I’m helping. I’ve read a little bit about these types of rituals and you’re going to need as much help as possible.”

Hermione sat back in her seat, her mind already rolling through what information she did have, “I’ve already located a few of the runes I’ll need to set up in advance, but the power source can only come from a circle of sorts.”

Fenrir nodded as Goyle pulled a chair over to the end of their table, “I’ve got word from Crabbe that Walden Macnair was spotted in Hogsmeade. Auror’s were dispatched but Crabbe left before he could be spotted.”

Hermione frowned, “What was Crabbe doing there?”

Goyle grimaced, “He was drinking. Figured no one would bother him there, unlike here.”

Hermione nodded, “I’m late for dinner at the Weasley’s with Narcissa and Andromeda. Harry should be in attendance. I might be able to get more from him about the Macnair fiasco.” She stood and brushed ash from her shoulder, “I’ll send an owl as soon as I know something. Get Crabbe here and I’ll stop by on my way home.”

Fenrir frowned, “It’s not wise to be alone with them right now. Bellatrix isn’t exactly their favorite person even now.”

Hermione nodded, “Narcissa and Andromeda will be there, but you could come along if you like.” She smirked deviously.

He laughed as he stood, “Wouldn’t miss the chance to crash a dinner party.”

Hermione’s soft cackling laughter echoed through the room, “Goyle, we’ll be back by midnight.” Goyle nodded and rushed off to do as asked. Hermione led Fenrir back towards Diagon Alley, feeling a comfortable air around him as they moved through the darkening evening, “How have you been Fen?”

He sighed heavily, “It’s a struggle but I’m doin’ better. At least most people have stopped harassing me now.”

Hermione nodded, “I was able to get the Ministry to put a warning out about messing with people confirmed to have been undercover throughout the war.”

Fenrir smiled at her, “It’s helped a lot. Thanks Hermione.”

She nodded as she gripped his arm, “I’ve had enough of the floo network.”

She apparated them to the outskirts of the Weasley home, not sure if they still had their defenses set up. The dirt path was narrow and slightly hidden in the dark as she led the way towards the tall home. As the towering house came into view, she couldn’t stop the rush of memories that flooded her mind. Her time spent at the Burrow was some of the best of her Hogwarts experiences. She had loved being surrounded by the large family, being counted as one of their own. Losing it had been hard when they had been on the run, and she knew Ronald had taken it even harder. He wasn’t used to being away from his family and that combined with the power of that locket had sent Ron spiraling faster than ever before.

Fenrir frowned at her, “You alright?”

She cleared her throat of the emotions she felt as Bellatrix’s voice soothed her mind, Don’t lose the good memories because the bad ones want a fight. Shove the bad away and keep the good close at heart love.

She nodded at Fenrir, “I’m fine. Let’s get this over with.”

It wasn’t that she didn’t want to be here but after six months of dealing with everything on her own, she just didn’t want to go through the pain of it. She knew what the Weasley’s were like, what they thought of the war and the things that had been done during it. She didn’t agree with some of it, but it was as if Molly had an innate need to force people to see things her way. She was tired of arguing, she was getting enough of that from Bellatrix to last her a lifetime.

Oi, watch it pet. You’re only going to get more of it when I get my own body back, Bellatrix’s snippy voice commented to her inner thoughts.

Hermione chuckled quietly, shaking her head at the older witch. The thought of Bellatrix finally being in front of her, being able to touch her, was exhilarating. She couldn’t wait to be able to sit with the woman, discussing everything without the constant headache pushing against the back of her eyes. She could feel Bellatrix’s worry about the pain she was suffering but she pushed it aside and tried to help the woman keep calm.

She entered the small back garden with Fenrir on her heels. The bright lights illuminated the area through the window and door leading into the kitchen. The long table was already surrounded by everyone, and Hermione couldn’t stop the swell of love that filled her heart as she took in Andromeda and Narcissa. While Andromeda was perfectly poised, a glare on her face as she eyed Molly Weasley, Narcissa looked worried and uncomfortable. She was over an hour late and knew that Narcissa was worrying and upset that she hadn’t shown up.

Hermione winked at Fenrir before tapping lightly on the back door, the cool night air shifting her hair slightly, “Sorry I’m late.” Narcissa’s head snapped up, a wide smile crossing her face as a pink tint dusted her cheeks.

Molly was on her feet in an instant, shock exploding in her watery eyes, “Hermione, dear it's so good to see you.”

Hermione nodded as she glanced at the older woman, “I hope you don’t mind but I brought a friend.” She motioned behind her, and Fenrir stepped into view. If the woman wanted her there so badly then she was going to have to deal with the people that had been helpful to her over the last few months.

Molly’s eyes widened slightly before she quickly controlled her reaction, “OF course. The more the merrier.”

Hermione stifled a scoff as she entered the warm home. She moved swiftly towards Narcissa and leaned down to press a kiss to her cheek, whispering softly, “Sorry. I’ll explain later.”

Andromeda’s eyes brightened and the glare disappeared as Hermione took a seat between her and Narcissa, “Yes you will.” She pressed a kiss to Hermione’s temple, her heart fluttering in her chest as the girl leaned into her slightly.

Molly pulled a chair to the table on the other side of Narcissa, causing Draco to shift closer to Harry. Hermione placed her hand high on Narcissa’s thigh, squeezing gently as a sign of comfort. George smirked at her from across the table, “Alright there Hermione?”

She glanced up at him, Bellatrix’s voice slipping out easily, “Better than you seem to be George.”

George grinned widely, the familiar hint of mischief suddenly appearing in his eyes. It had been so long since Hermione had seen that look, so long since he had been comfortable causing trouble since Fred had passed. She decided it was worth it and allowed Bellatrix to hover near the surface, ready to jump into George’s antics when needed.

George nodded, stabbing his food with his fork, “One would expect you would follow your Mistress’s orders instantly.”

Hermione’s eyes widened slightly, glancing sideways at Narcissa. The blonde’s cheeks took on a rosy hue and Bellatrix was quick to jump at the chance to join George, “Oh, you know, I was such a good girl earlier, that my leash was extended for a little while.”

Narcissa hissed as she snapped her eyes towards Hermione. Onyx eyes stared back at her, mirth dancing brightly in their depths. She lowered her voice and snapped, “Stop it.”

Bellatrix smirked knowingly at her sister before returning her attention to George as he spoke, his voice light and full of laughter, “Maybe your leash should be tighter, so you aren’t late again. I’m curious what the punishment is going to be.”

Bellatrix leaned forward, completely ready to give a detailed description, but Molly Weasley glared at her son, “Enough.” The room remained silent, and tension filled the air. Molly shook her head, “What’s gotten into you both? Hermione this isn’t like you at all.”

Hermione quickly retook control, her dangerous eyes landing on the older woman, “You don’t know anything about me. People change, people grow up. That’s life.”

Molly frowned, opening her mouth to respond, but George cut his mother off, “It's just an inside joke Mum. No harm.”

Hermione sat back in her seat, a ball of thick tension settling in her stomach as her anger rolled through her veins. She would allow George to calm the situation, for now. She stared down at her plate, gritting her teeth as she seethed. Bellatrix was unable to calm the emotions swirling through her body and was thankful that Fenrir decided to pull the attention away from her.

“I heard Macnair was seen in Hogsmeade.”

Harry snapped out of his thoughts as he nodded, “Yes. We were there on a sighting of Vincent Crabbe Senior. Instead, we found Macnair attempting to break into the Three Broomsticks.”

Hermione frowned at him, her mind swirling, “I thought Crabbe was only wanted for questioning?”

Harry nodded, swallowing his current bite of food, “For now he is, but we all know he was a Death Eater. We just don’t know in what capacity that was.”

Hermione shook her head, “Benefit of doubt Harry. Crabbe may have been innocent. We all know what their sons are like.”

Harry frowned at her, his confusion evident in his green eyes, “I heard about what you and Kingsley discussed.” His eyes darted to Fenrir for a moment before he looked back at her questioningly, “It was risky.”

Hermione narrowed her eyes at him, “Risky? Why would standing up for the people who actually helped, secretively and risked their very lives, be risky?”

Harry shook his head, “Because we have images to uphold.”

Hermione rolled her eyes, irritation thick in her tone, “Not you too? You’re sounding like Ron.”

Harry grimaced, as Ron shot Hermione a look, “Hey!”

Harry shifted in his seat to face Hermione around the people between them, “I didn’t mean it like that, but you know we were the three that everyone protected.”

Hermione glared at him, feeling her anger flare hotly, “Including those that hid their services.” She motioned to Fenrir, “They were deeper in than anyone knew and if they had been caught, they would have been killed. Voldemort would have paraded them around as examples.”

Harry felt his anger rising, his irritation at Hermione’s sudden change adding fuel to the fire, “But we have to approach this delicately. Not everyone is just going to forgive what was done during the war, even if it was warranted.”

Hermione stood so fast her head spun as she stared Harry down, “You honestly think you can pick and choose. Keeping secrets nearly got us killed so often that I figured you would have learned your lesson by now.”

Harry snapped, standing to glare at Hermione, dinner completely forgotten, “You know something about Crabbe. What aren’t you saying Hermione?”

Hermione scoffed, “As if I’d tell you. I’m not the only hiding things. I know what you’re hiding Harry and when the truth comes out, you will regret not telling anyone.”

Harry’s eyes widened slightly, “What do you know?”

Hermione shook her head moving towards the door, seeing Fenrir quickly following her nervously. She turned back to Harry, her tone lone and dark, “Over the last few months I have pulled away and now, I’m glad I did. You always kept secrets, always wanted to be the hero and do things on your own.” She glared at him, “The simple truth, Harry, is that I don’t trust any of you anymore. You of all people should know by now that we can get through anything if we work together but you and Tonks have kept it to yourselves long enough. That trust is broken.”

Tonks frowned as she stood, having remained silent until now, “It’s not like that ‘Mione.”

Hermione shook her head, eyes narrowed at the woman, “You have no idea what keeping this secret has done. Who its hurt.” She turned her eyes to Molly, “Thank you for dinner but I won’t be returning.”

Molly stood quickly, “Hermione please we only want to help. You’ve been different for a while now-“

Hermione snapped, “Its none of your business. You manipulated me into coming, you manipulated Andromeda into being here.”

Molly’s hands landed on her hips, “You should be more grateful instead of being a selfish brat. We all suffered during the war, some more than others. While we were grieving for our dead son you disappeared, like you didn’t even care.”

Hermione’s body shook with anger, but George jumped to his feet, “That’s enough!” he glared at his mother, “You have no idea what Hermione was going through. You were the selfish ones. We all grieved for Fred, but you were so caught up in your own world that you never took notice of what Hermione was going through.”

Hermione frowned, “George…”

He shook his head, “No.” Anger rolled off him in waves and he wasn’t done, “Fred was your son. He was my best friend, my twin, my brother, but it wasn’t all just about him. So many lives were lost, and you chose to only focus on him. I grieved for him on my own, but Hermione was there for me every step of the way. You were too busy coddling your precious Ronald. You forced Hermione to go out on a date with him.”

Andromeda frowned as Narcissa stood angrily, the blondes voice dripping with venom, “What?”

Molly rolled her eyes, “Don’t be ridiculous.”

George shook his head at her, “I know what I saw and what I heard. You manipulated Hermione into going on a date with him when she didn’t want to. She was terrified of losing the only family she had left. You disregarded her feelings for Andromeda and pushed her towards Ron because that’s what you wanted for him. You don’t get to stand there and berate Hermione because she stood up to you, because she isn’t willing to be swayed by you anymore.” He shook his head, “And neither am I.” He moved towards Hermione.

Narcissa wrapped an arm around Hermione’s waist as Arthur finally spoke, “Alright, everyone relax.”

Harry nodded, “Let’s all take a breath. Hermione if you know anything about Crabbe’s whereabouts you have an obligation to report it.”

Hermione glared at him, “I have no obligation to you or anyone that’s not Narcissa or Andromeda. I don’t trust you Harry, and when you decide to finally tell your secret I’ll tell you mine. But you will never have my trust again.”

Ron frowned up at Hermione, “’Mione-“

Bellatrix surged forward, her anger colliding with Hermione’s, “Shut your mouth!” Ron’s eyes widened in fear, but his mouth clamped shut.

Tonks frowned as she stood, “’Mione, we’re doing what’s best.”

Hermione shook her head, “No you’re not. You only see one path Tonks. You aren’t seeing the others. That’s all you all ever see. Even when we were in Hogwarts, all you all ever saw was one path and most of the time that path led us towards death.” She looked at Harry, “I was always the one to see the other paths, just like with Sirius in our fifth year. I told you it was a trap but all you saw was one path.”

Harry’s eyes burned with hatred, “Leave him out of this.”

Hermione shook her head, “No Harry. It’s the perfect example even if you don’t want to see it.”

Molly’s voice was cold as she spat, “Get out.”

Hermione nodded once, “Gladly but don’t expect me to be returning.” She spun on her heel, pulling Narcissa with her.

Fenrir followed as George summoned his cloak before speaking to his mother, “Hermione isn’t the only one that’s changed, but at least she changed for the better.” He turned and made his way after Hermione.

Andromeda frowned at Tonks, “What’s Hermione talking about?”

Tonks shifted nervously as Draco stood, his eyes on Harry, “I’d like to know the same.”

Harry frowned at his boyfriend, “Draco it’s nothing to be concerned about.”

Draco shook his head, “If Hermione thinks it is then it is.” He had spent so long trying to hurt Hermione. He had treated her so awful when they had been at Hogwarts together but every time, she was always there to help him, to defend him, to save his life. He knew she was intelligent; knew she was better than him in every way possible and now was his chance to do the same for her. To defend her, to help her. Hermione wouldn’t be just spouting nonsense, that wasn’t her. She always based things on facts, and this was no different. He was positive of that. Not to mention that Hermione was no family, since his mother had confessed her feelings to him about the girl.

Andromeda nodded, standing beside her nephew, “What secret are you keeping from all of us?” Harry and Tonks shared a look but shook their heads. Andromeda nodded, pulling her cloak over her shoulders, “So be it then.” She moved towards the doorway but paused at Draco’s voice.

“You don’t trust us? I thought this was your family. That’s what you always tell me.” Draco shook his head, “Hermione’s right. You can’t be trusted. I’m sorry I ever thought you could.” He summoned his cloak and followed Andromeda from the house, his heart breaking in his chest as he walked away from the only person, he ever loved that wasn’t his family.

.

Hermione stood in the middle of Knockturn alley as Narcissa gripped her arm tightly, “Are you alright dear?”

Hermione nodded, her mind shoving the dinner disaster into the back of her mind, “Fine. Now are you accompanying me, or would you rather return home?”

Narcissa tightened her grip, “I don’t want to be away from you right now.”

Hermione nodded and moved forward, Fenrir following silently. “Here’s the rules. Most of them cheat.”

When Hermione didn’t continue, Fenrir barked out a laugh as Narcissa frowned, “That’s the rule?”

Hermione nodded, “Yep. Most of the cheat, it’s a fact but its all in good fun.”

Fenrir held the door to the White Wyvern open for them, “Just don’t mention it. It’s a thing.” He shook his head as he rolled his eyes an Narcissa.

Narcissa chuckled and followed Hermione towards the door leading to the back area of the Inn. She took in the strong smell of smoke and ale that permeated the room, but it wasn’t as strong as the main pub area. Through another thick wooden door they entered a room with a large round table in the center, green speed cloth covered the entire table with a deck of cards setting in the center. A small enchantment covered them, shimmering a light blue color as it pulsed with energy.

Hermione smirked as she took in Narcissa’s curiosity, “Anti tampering charm. Placed it myself because none of the others trust each other enough to not jinx the deck.”

Narcissa chuckled, shaking her head, “Smart and advanced.”

Hermione shrugged as Fenrir crossed the room to shake Goyle’s hand, “This is one place I can just be. Bellatrix can come out and be herself without any repercussion. No one here suspects anything other than Goyle and Crabbe. We can relax here.”

The door behind them burst open and Narcissa’s eyes widened as Alecto Carrow strode into the room, heading directly for Hermione. The taller redhead smiled widely as her arms wrapped around Hermione’s neck, “I was so worried Hermione. Where have you been?”

Hermione grimaced as she gently pushed Alecto away from her, “Ill. What are you doing back here?”

Alecto chuckled, “Turned Amycus in and have been working with the Ministry. Ratting out my fellow Death Eaters in exchange for freedom.” She quickly pressed a kiss to Hermione cheek, “How about you and I slip upstairs for a while?”

Narcissa nearly growled as she pulled Hermione into her body, “Alecto.”

Alecto’s eyebrows rose as she finally noticed someone other than Hermione, “Malfoy.”

Narcissa smirked darkly at the woman, “It’s Black now.”

Alecto frowned, “Where’s Lucius?”

Hermione snorted as Bellatrix shifted to the surface, “Hopefully dead but my luck doesn’t run that way.”

Alecto shrugged, “I’m sure he’ll appear at some point, if he survived whatever you did to him.”

Narcissa frowned, “Why do you think she did anything to him?”

Alecto laughed, along with the rest of the room. Narcissa frowned as Hermione turned away from her and moved across the room. Alecto calmed for a moment before smirking at the blonde, “Don’t you know? Hermione isn’t the good girl everyone thinks she is. No,” she turned to stare at the girl in question lustfully, “she’s as dark as they come that one.”

Narcissa frowned, her jealousy rising at the hungry way Alecto was watching Hermione as the girl spoke to her friends. She would have to lay her claim on the girl around all of them. She refused to let Hermione slip through her fingers after everything they had been through. She moved across the room, placing a hand on Hermione’s lower back, “A word?”

Hermione didn’t meet her eyes and Narcissa felt an uncomfortable pull in her chest. Once they were in the far corner, as alone as they could get Hermione asked, “Everything alright?” but her eyes remained on the room in front of them.

Narcissa shook her head, “Have you slept with Alecto?” Her tone was harsher than she meant for it to be.

Hermione snorted, finally turning her gaze on the older woman, “Oh, you’re serious?” Narcissa’s narrowed glare sent a shiver down her spine. She shook her head, turning to put her full focus on the woman, “No. Narcissa,” she shook her head, taking a step to close the distance between them. She pressed her body into Narcissa’s, waiting until the woman’s arms wrapped around her neck, resting her hands on Narcissa’s hips gently, “No one but Andy, and you, hopefully.” She smirked playfully.

Narcissa couldn’t stop the smile that crossed her face, “Play your cards right.”

Hermione chuckled before turning back to the rest of the room, “Everyone here?” At the chorus of yes’ everyone took their seats.

Narcissa remained standing behind Hermione as she studied the room. Everyone seemed completely relaxed as conversation quickly began and the cards were shuffled and dealt magically from withing the shimmering blue enchantment. She never imagined Hermione of all people sitting with, let alone being friends with the people that were currently occupying the room. Fenrir Greyback, a werewolf that Narcissa couldn’t help but wonder if he was the one responsible for Hermione’s parent’s death. Gregory Goyle, a dunce but former Death Eater that had been low on the hierarchy. Alecto Carrow, who had made it her mission as a Death Eater to torture and kill as many Mudbloods as possible. Narcissa still didn’t understand how Alecto was avoiding Azkaban at this very moment.

Hermione frowned at Crabbe, “What were you doing in Hogsmeade?”

Crabbe glanced up at her, fear and hesitance in his eyes as he spoke quietly, “Drinking. Rosmerta sends her regards. I didn’t even know Macnair was there until I heard the sound of Auror’s popping into the street.”

Hermione leaned forward, tossing two cards towards the center of the table, “You were supposed to be locating something for me.” She held the fearful man’s gaze.

Crabbe bobbed his head quickly, “I found it. I have the information right here,” he pulled a scroll from his robes as he spoke. “He’ll only meet with you about it but doesn’t see an issue with it.”

Hermione held her hand up and the scroll flew into her hand silently. She held it over her shoulder without looking at it and released it when Narcissa took it firmly, “Good work Vincent. Now what’s the word in the Ministry?”

Augustus Rookwood was a tall thin man with a head of curly slightly greying brown hair. His dark brown eyes were as haunted as they looked but his demeanor was as calm as could be. His thick accent was deep and more of a rumbling sound in his chest, “So far everyone is more concerned with capturing the remaining Loyalists. Voldemort had his claws far and wide. Some of the information is just now being discovered. There are a few uprisings but nothing that can’t be easily contained. Everyone is too nervous or terrified to really speak out much.”

Hermione nodded at him, “How deep were you?”

Augustus frowned, eyes going blank as he stared at the cards in his hands, “Greyback deep.”

Fenrir nodded, tossing a few galleons onto the table, “We raided quite a bit together.”

Hermione nodded, “Has anyone had any more problems since I went to Shacklebolt?”

Antonin Dolohov shifted his burly body, as if he was in pain and was trying to get comfortable. His thin pale face was dusted with dark stubble, his hair hung in soft waves that appeared greasy in the shine of the light above the table. He stared at Hermione as he spoke, his voice rough, “I had a run in with an Auror a few weeks ago but nothing since.”

Hermione knew that Dolohov had considered Bellatrix his only friend within Voldemort’s inner circle, and he had been upset over her death. Though neither she nor Bellatrix wanted to tell him about their current situation yet, they were more worried about his reaction to the news more than him spreading word about it. They had relied on each other far more than anyone else during their raids. Hermione herself had already discussed with him her use of the body bind curse on him when they had battled at the café on Tottenham Court Road. He had been relieved that he hadn’t hurt them, and she had felt guilty about his torture at the hands of Voldemort for failing to capture them.

She smiled at him, “If you have anymore trouble, let me know.”

Dolohov smirked at her, his playful voice an exaggerated sigh, “My hero.”

The room filled with laughter as Hermione shook her head and glared at him, “I have no problem hexing you into next week.”

Narcissa chuckled quietly as she listened to the banter between everyone. She had never seen Hermione so relaxed before, at least not in a room full of people. She was beginning to realize that these people, this group, had formed a tight bond since the war. She was curious how Hermione had formed this circle. Had it happened right after the war? Had Bellatrix had something to do with it? Or were all these people, who were now considered outcasts, forming their own family in the wake of the war? Lies and truths shoved out into the open after the war and some people were left floating on their own little rafts.

Fenrir Greyback was a perfect example. He was known to be a vicious werewolf, savagely slaughtering little girls. Yet here he was, playing poker in the back room of the White Wyvern, laughing and making jokes with the Golden Girl that had been crucial in the downfall of the Dark Lord Voldemort. He was feared, being known only as an untamed animal, and yet he was close to Hermione. He was teasing others around him, even smiling widely, his sharp row of teeth on display as his grey stormy eyes sparkled with happiness.

As the game wore on Hermione glanced up at Fenrir seeing his frown as he caught her eye. He nodded his head in her direction and she frowned. Shifting in her seat, she glanced over her shoulder to find Narcissa’s eyes studying the floor intently, brows furrowed. She felt her heart ache at the thought that something was wrong.

Bellatrix’s frown crossed her mind, Maybe she’s uncomfortable being around all these people. They were at Malfoy manor a lot during the war when Voldemort took it over.

Hermione turned back to the table, “How long have we been at this?”

Dolohov smirked, “All night. Sun’s coming up.”

Hermione tossed her cards onto the table, “I’m out.” She stood and quickly wrapped an arm around Narcissa’s waist.

Narcissa was snapped out of her thoughts as Hermione’s arm wrapped around her. She smiled widely as she took in Hermione’s tired amber eyes, “Are you alright?”

Hermione frowned at her, “I was going to ask you the same. Let’s go home.” At Narcissa’s nod Hermione led her from the room, seeing Fenrir follow behind them. Stepping out into the early dawn, the cold wind nipped at her exposed skin harshly and she shivered slightly. “Coming with Fenrir?” she asked as she turned to him.

Fenrir nodded, “We have much to discuss still.”

Hermione nodded, “There’s plenty of room for you to sleep first. We all need it.” She tightened her arm around Narcissa as the woman shivered slightly, “We can take the floo in the Leaky Cauldron.” She led the way, keeping her arm secured around Narcissa and smiling when the older woman’s body leaned into her tiredly.

As they stepped into Diagon Alley, Hermione froze, jerking Narcissa behind her as she met the dark green eyes she hoped to never see again. Greasy blonde hair hung in clumps, his usual air of arrogance nowhere to be found as his body seemed hunched in pain. His pale skin seemed leathery, age looking much older that what he actually was His voice was raspy, eyes rimmed with dark circles and face drawn more than usual, “I’ve been looking for you Mudblood.”

She gripped her wand tightly as Bellatrix’s energy mixed with hers, anger pulsing within her mind, “Not a pleasure to see you again Malfoy.”

Lucius glared at her as he stepped into her personal space. His voice became low, a harsh whisper that seemed to rumble with a growl, “Mark my words, you will pay for what you did.”

Hermione felt Bellatrix surging forward and for once she didn’t stop her, “You would be wise to walk away Lucius. We are not ones to be trifled with.” Her hissing voice sent chills down everyone’s spines.

Lucius sneered at her, “This isn’t over Mudblood.” He spun on his heel, limping down Diagon Alley slowly.

Fenrir appeared beside her, “Everyone has already been notified not to help him if he comes calling. All of Knockturn Alley is with you.”

Hermione nodded, feeling Narcissa’s hands on her sides, “Hermione? Are you alright?”

Hermione kept her glare on Malfoy’s back as Bellatrix’s voice echoed through her mind, I may not be the only one that’s changed pet. We should be careful. He might still have contacts within the Ministry.

Hermione cocked her head, knowing that Bellatrix was right. He’s injured and it’ll take time to heal from what she had forced on him. Bellatrix agreed with her but was still leery. Hermione shook her head, “Let’s get home. I’ll fill Andromeda in later.” Narcissa wrapped her arms around Hermione’s neck with a nod, while Fenrir gripped her arm.

Hermione apparated them to Black Castle and moved quickly towards the castle. Her mind was still on Lucius and the fact that she was desperate to warn Andromeda. Bellatrix’s own anxiety was only increasing Hermione’s, sending them into a vicious endless cycle. The doors opened and Hermione moved quickly towards the study, only jerking to a stop when she found people inside. Her eyes landed on Andromeda and Hermione’s body instantly relaxed, “Andy!”

Andromeda frowned as she took in Hermione’s pale worried face, “Hermione, what’s wrong?” she moved towards the younger woman quickly, shocked when Hermione pulled her straight into a deep kiss. When Hermione pulled back and rested their foreheads together, she asked softly, “What’s wrong Sweetie?”

Narcissa pressed herself against Hermione’s back, “We ran into Lucius in Diagon Alley.”

Draco frowned as he watched his mother, “Are you alright?”

Narcissa nodded, moving to hug her son gently, “It’s not me he wants.” She glanced over at Andromeda.

Andromeda jerked back, gripping Hermione’s upper arms tightly, “Are you alright? What did he want?”

Hermione shook her head, pulling away from Andromeda, “I’m fine. We were worried about warning you more. What are you all doing here?” She glanced at Draco and George.

Draco frowned, “We sort of had an argument with everyone else after you left. Harry and Tonks aren’t talking.”

George nodded as he shrugged, “So we decided to come here and help you.” He glanced at Draco for a moment, “Maybe we should all be on the same page. Secrets are what we are all tired of having right now.”

Hermione nodded, glancing at Narcissa, “What do you think?”

Narcissa wrapped her arms around Hermione’s neck before turning to look at Draco, “Draco, have a seat honey. We have a lot to talk about.”

At Draco’s concerned frown she took a deep breath and spoke softly, “Bellatrix is alive.”

Draco’s eyes widened and his jaw dropped…