Hermione woke from a restless sleep bathed in moonlight. Bellatrix’s arm was draped over her waist, holding her close. In the time she’d been asleep, Narcissa left the bed presumably to return to to her own rooms. The young witch turned slowly in her lover’s arms to watch her sleep. Her face was relaxed and peaceful, much more so than in waking hours. In rare glimpses, Hermione saw the full extent of the damage her life had wrought. In spite of the remarkable healing courtesy of her younger sister, the dark witch wore the tension of her life like armor. The girl wondered if she too could take her pain and contort it into strength. She kissed a mass of curly hair before climbing out of the warm embrace.
The silence of the room with the gentle breathing of her loved one was too much for her to take. She padded quietly into the bathroom, hoping a bath would help soothe her. She sunk her sore body into the water, dissolving the tightness in her muscles and her emotional defenses with them. She allowed the pain of taking the Granger’s memories and sending them away to crash over her in waves. Sobs wracked her body and her tears hit the surface of the bubbly water. She heard the door to the bathroom creak as it opened, but didn’t bother to turn around.
“Oh love, why didn’t you wake me?” Bellatrix asked. Hermione wanted to reply. She wanted to be able to tell her raven haired lover that she didn’t want to remove the look of contentment from her unreasonably beautiful face. Or that she deserved to bear the pain alone. After all, she had taken away a part of the lives of the people who raised her. She had destroyed the last vestige of familial love she had.
Bella nudged her gently forward, sliding into the tub behind her and pulling her backwards to rest against her bare chest. She ran her warm, wet, hands gently across the girl’s shoulders and down her arms, re-solidifying their physical connection. Her fingertips brushed the chain of the necklace that hadn’t left the girl’s neck since she placed it there as a visible reminder of to whom the girl belonged.
“That’s all rubbish, you know,” the older witch waited, anticipating a sharp comment about using her ability to look into her witch’s mind. “You did exactly what you had to do. You protected them with a solution that gives them the highest likelihood of survival and happiness. You sacrificed your connection for their lives. There is no greater love.”
Hermione breathed in raggedly to whisper, “But without them, I have nothing left. I’ve lost my parents twice over.”
“It is an impossibly hard situation, but you aren’t alone. You know with me you can’t be alone. And my family adores you. You do understand they aren’t this friendly to everyone, don’t you?”
Hermione giggled and relaxed slightly into the secure form behind her. “I’ve heard stories, but I can’t say I ever noticed them much before you were all plotting to get my attention.”
“Wait until you see them at the New Year's Eve Ball. Then again, I expect you will be rather over run. Everyone saw the articles in the Daily Prophet about you.” She felt the girl tense again. Running her tongue around the shell of her ear she said, “I won’t leave your side even for a moment. And if it gets too unbearable, I will rescue you.”
In response, Hermione playfully batted at the knee at her side. Once again the older witch managed to soothe her fears and make her feel infinitely less alone.
“Tell me about them.”
“No, Bella, you don’t have to do that I know you aren’t comfortable.”
“Don’t tell me what I am comfortable with, little witch.” Bellatrix’s tone slid into a sexual range reducing the bite of her words. “I want to know about your childhood.”
“Ok, but only if you tell me about your’s.”
The lovers stayed intertwined in the warm water, telling stories until neither could stand being wet. Unable to leave the conversation, they snuggled under the covers of their bed, watching the sun come up. Bellatrix surprised them both with her patience and curiosity about how Hermione grew up in the muggle world. In truth, she didn’t have any desire to have contact with the world, but she desperately wanted to know more about the young woman who had so entirely captivated her. Hermione patiently answered dozens of questions and learned how best to explain to the pureblood the basics of muggle culture to the end of explaining her life.
In return Bellatrix shared the pressures and expectations of being raised in a pureblood home. The parenting style reminded Hermione of medieval treatments of children, though she didn’t say so. It was clear from how her lover spoke, that Bella had bore the brunt of it all to protect her younger sisters. It explained the indelible closeness to Narcissa. They’d spent their entire lives relying on one another. Pushing her face into soft black curls to hide the blush creeping from her cheeks down her neck, Hermione asked under what circumstances they had become so adept at sharing. The dark witch chuckled lightly at both the girl’s embarrassment and the formal wording of the question. She spent the better part of an hour explaining the strongly blood driven culture, the belief in ancient sex magic and the absolute love the sisters developed through a high intensity childhood and adolescence.
“Had you always intended to... share me,” Hermione asked tentatively.
“Honestly, I hadn’t had the time to give it proper thought. This has been a bit of a whirlwind for me to.”
Hermione looked at her lover apologetically. It was easy to forget the woman spent a decade of her life in a terrible prison. The healing work of her sister and the natural magnetism of her personality made her seem formidable and invincible.
“And you were already being drawn in by my sister. You and I are connected in so many ways, it wouldn’t surprise me if you share the draw I feel to her. If you are worried that I am upset, I’m not. The choice will always be yours, but know that I will not tolerate it happening when I am not present or without my explicit permission.”
The younger witch leaned up to firmly press a kiss to the tempting red lips in an attempt to communicate desire and ownership. Being loved by Narcissa and Bellatrix at the same time had been overwhelming and more than a little distracting, but the driving force would always be her connection to the older witch. She would never deny her attraction to the blonde. Everyone who lived in Malfoy manor seemed to have sex appeal rolling off them in waves.
Hermione and Bellatrix found their way downstairs to join the others for breakfast in spite of their rather sleepless night. The young witch approached Narcissa, touching her elbow to gain her attention before pulling her into a tight hug and thanking her for everything she’d done the day before. The blonde smirked, knowing the girl referred to both the relocation of her parents and the physical comfort they shared in the middle of the night. Narcissa was relieved that the girl adjusted so quickly to the relationship between the Black sisters. Few throughout the years had been able to resist their combined seductive powers, but the girl’s opinion was more important than those who came before her.
Moving away from the sisters, Hermione tentatively approached Lucius. While they shared playful banter and passionate intellectual discussions, they hadn’t been physically close before. Lucius saw the tentative look in the her eyes and opened his arms. She accepted the warm hug and leaned back to look him in the eyes as she thanked him. He’d done the part that she couldn’t do herself and she had no doubt that he could protect the secret she asked him to guard. For his part, Lucius was happy to help the girl. She was an excellent addition to his extended family. She brought power and fame, in addition to her uncanny ability to balance out his delightful but extreme sister in-law. He even hoped that she would be a permanent addition, because she simply seemed to fill the void left by the many people claimed by the war over the years. He was even aware of the particular closeness his wife now enjoyed, as they kept no secrets from one another, but he knew better than to intervene in the affairs of the Black sisters. Their marital and relationship statuses were of minor importance in comparison to the sisterly bond that they valued above all else, though he wondered how Hermione would fit in the equation.
Narcissa noted the matching dark circles under the witches’ eyes, realizing the peace in which she left them must have been short lived. She’d been torn about staying. She felt driven to provide the girl with support and love during such a difficult transition, but her rationality won in the end. Bella was in the early stages of bonding with her lover, even if they’d been destined from the girl’s birth. Hermione was like a small child learning to really trust for the first time. The blonde knew that pushing overly hard wouldn’t position her as the girl’s champion, and that was her true goal.
Draco joined the group as breakfast was being served. He listened somberly to how the events of the prior day had gone. While he desperately wanted to be involved, he had to spend his time training. Professor Snape insisted that he could not spare the time. The Dark Lord would be formally charging Draco with the task of defending and protecting his aunt’s soulmate. And he had no intention of failing. As a young boy he bore witness to the brokenness of losing a war and having families ripped apart. Though his parents loved and sheltered him to the extent of their capabilities, they could not erase the underlying sadness. He was determined that he would be a part of the generation to change it. Hermione would soon be a part of his family and he would be prepared to help keep her safe so that they would win not just the battle, but the war.