At Narcissa's insistence, Hermione was far more careful about getting enough rest. The blonde had accurately noted that the expenditure of magic to transform that fake horcruxes was exhausting. She had managed the diadem in the last week. It made her want to sleep for an entire weekend, but knew it would draw far too much attention. Each morning she had forced herself out of bed and tried not to think of how much easier her recovery would be if she were with her wife. Her last request to see the dark witch had been denied. While she understood the necessity of it, she was offended. How much did she have to give to the cause to receive the privilege of seeing her spouse? She knew that her current reaction was immature, but she simply didn't want to spend time with anyone else.
So for the last few days she hadn't requested Narcissa's presence. Instead of staying privately in her room midday, she put on her best bitch face and went to the Great Hall with her housemates. While there were certainly prying eyes at her presence, due to the very public location no one questioned her. She felt Severus' eyes on her as frequently as McGonagall's, but she was so fed up with his intervention that she didn't frankly care if he was worried. She would attend his detention, but that didn't mean she was required to interact. She felt mild guilt over how her behavior was affecting Draco, but he was not without friends and a support system. He could stand on his own for a few months without her assistance.
It didn't help that she could feel her wife's lingering frustration over the situation too. It buzzed just under her skin. Everytime she felt it distinctly she tried to take a deep breath and calm herself. If she could feel Bellatrix, there was no doubt that the dark witch could feel her as well. As angry as Hermione was at the situation, she didn't want to put her love in potential danger by being a distraction. She had noted enough flashes of adrenaline to know that the dark witch was spending large amounts of time in the field. She couldn't help but wish that her devious wife might sneak into the school to her. Rationally she knew that it was a terrible idea, but it did nothing to curb her longing.
"Miss Granger, if you could please demonstrate that you are at least paying attention in my class, it would be greatly appreciated," a searing scottish voice cut through her thoughts.
Hermione felt the darkest part of her magic clamouring to get out at the insult. Her mental walls dropped for just a moment, but she saw the professor's eyebrows raise in response. The Slytherin pulled her walls tight and glared at the woman. Her hand twitched. She wanted nothing more than to draw her wand, but resisted.
"Please perform the bird conjuring charm, Miss Granger," the professor continued unperturbed by her student's response.
"Yes, Professor," Hermione said keeping her voice as steady and disinterested as she could muster. She rolled her neck to refocus herself closing her eyes. She took her wand her in hand in the least aggressive way she could, and performed the spell with ease.
"Well done, Miss Granger. 5 points to Slytherin," the transfiguration professor groused.
Hermione finally exhaled when the witch's attention was drawn to her favorite student. At least Lavender was good for something. For the rest of the class period, she focused on keeping her walls up and her mind blank. She hoped that her slip hadn't been too damning. How much could the professor really make of her desire to see her wife besides to realize that the Order really didn't have a chance with her. It was pretty unbelievable that they hadn't yet caught on.
"Hey, Hermione. Are you going to the Great Hall for lunch today," Pansy asked as they were packing their things at the end of class.
"Yea. I think so. Would you care to walk together?"
Pansy smiled and fell in step beside her friend. She would never claim to really understand Hermione, but she respected and cared for the witch. She hoped that after the war was over that there might be time for them to build a real friendship. It was clear that the witch was so over tasked at the moment that she was struggling to stay above water. Pansy was determined to do what she could to lighten the burden, even if that meant just being someone to sit silently with at meals. She hadn't forgotten how the witch was treated back when she was in Ravenclaw. There was a good reason for Hermione not to trust any of them with her secrets. And yet, it was impossible to miss that the witch was more morose than usual. She couldn't imagine that the pouring rain was doing anything to lighten her spirits. It was causing the stone corridors of the school to look almost as they did at night. It was cool, damp and positively miserable.
"That was a pretty impressive transfiguration, Hermione. Have you thought about doing it as a profession?" Pansy sought to find a neutral topic to engage the witch in.
"I…" Hermione faltered. "I really hadn't given it any thought. I have no idea what I want to do after everything. Do you have plans for after school?"
"My mum really wants me to be a mediwitch. Even if I marry well, its always useful to have a healer on hand. I think she would model me on Madame Malfoy if she could."
Hermione smiled lightly at the name of the blonde witch. She felt such warm affection for the woman even as frustrated as she was. "I cannot imagine there being anyone better to emulate." She watched her friend's face light up. It was a new experience to cause such joy in another person with simple words.
Lunch had been a blessedly quiet affair. The weather and workload seemed to be causing widespread melancholy among the student body. It had been even more relaxing, because neither Dumbledore nor McGonagall were present. Hermione ate as patiently as she could manage, but was still ready to go far earlier than any of her classmates. She started to get up only to see Pansy panic about going with her.
"Don't rush, please." Hermione placed a placating hand on the girl's shoulder. "I'm just going to go back to the dungeons. Nothing to worry about I promise." The Slytherin studied her face closely before nodding her agreement much to Hermione's relief. More than anything she was craving space, even as much as she appreciated the comradery being offered. After exiting the Great Hall she wound quickly through the dark corridors on her way to her dormitory.
She rounded a corner into a deserted hallway only to come to a full stop. The rhythmic clicking of boots echoed loudly. The cadence alone caused her heart rate to speed up dramatically.
"Bella," she whispered reverently. She shook her head hoping to dispel the hallucination if it was such. Wild curls came into view and Hermione found herself backed efficiently against a wall.
"Hello, Hermione," the ruby lips whispered close to her ear, but without touching. "I think we ought to take this somewhere a bit more private."
Unable to contain herself, the young witch pulled her lover quickly through the last of the journey after casting a disillusionment spell over them. Thankfully the common room was entirely deserted. Hermione had no interest in answering any questions about what she was doing. She had far more pressing issue to see to at the moment. Her hands shook as she unwarded the door to her room. And they were no more steady when she warded and sound proofed it again.
"Mmm. Your room is lovely," Bella purred watching the young witch's movements.
Hermione quirked an eyebrow at that. Her wife had been in this room before and never said a word about the decor. In fact, previously the dark witch had been so focused on loving her she had barely spoken aloud. Bellatrix knew full well that speaking inside Hermione's head made her embarrassingly wet. If the dark witch wasn't interested in instigating, she would be more than happy to do so.
"Bella, please," she whispered quietly in her mind. She searched the dark eyes for recognition, but surprisingly found none. The woman, who she was beginning to doubt was her wife, stepped closer to her once again to run a hand through her curls.
"Your hair is so pretty like this."
The voice sounded like Bella, and yet not. Hermione knew she had to find a way to get her wand in her hand. She didn't need the piece of wood for her personal defence, but she suspected that it would be more threatening jammed under the pale throat she had to remind herself was not her wife's. Hoping to distract the intruder with her compliance, she began to remove her outer robe, so that she could get the wand in her hand without suspicion.
"I wear it everyday like this just for you," Hermione cooed.
The enamoured look she got in return was not quite the way Bella would look at her. She was holding her rage at bay, but just barely. Of all the weeks for someone to impersonate the woman she loved, they really chose the wrong one. Hermione would really enjoy firing off a few punishing spells. She focused on slowly unbuttoning her top one handed to distract the woman from the wand in her right hand. When she had once again closed the difference between them she leaned close to whisper.
"Who the fuck are you? Because you certainly are not my wife," she hissed bringing the tip of her wand under the familiar chin.
Large dark eyes went wide. "What do you mean, Hermione? Of course it is me," the woman stuttered out attempting to regain her mental footing.
"No. You aren't. Just drop the act and perhaps we can move forward. Accio wand." The wand, most certainly not Bella's, flew into her left hand. She moved back just enough to look at it. "That narrows it down. You are not McGonagall, a member of my family or a housemate. So again, witch. Who are you?"
"Hermione, please this isn't what it looks like," the woman pled using Bella's voice.
"Sit," Hermione barked moving a chair towards her magically and binding her to it. "It is clear that you know my wife, quite well. Its not a bad impression of how she moves… or perhaps how she used to. I've been told she is quite different after prison. I doubt you are one of our Lord's followers. None of them would be so foolish. So you are a member of the Order. Are you not?"
"Yes." The answer was quiet and defeated.
"You have a very limited amount of time to explain yourself to me. This is a one time offer before I call the real Bellatrix Black. She will be far less forgiving of the person who attempted to seduce me."
"Please. Just hear me out."
"In a moment. Using her voice is really disturbing for me. How much longer to you have before it wears off?" Hermione began digging in a case with intent. She turned away from the witch with little fear. It was clear the woman was crumbling in front of her.
"Maybe 30 minutes at the most."
The young witch sighed in annoyance, but clasped a bottle of potion firmly. "This will not change you back, but it will prevent you from lying to me. You will drink it." She watched the dark eyes evaluate her, but the woman hesitantly nodded her agreement. Hermione opened the stopped and poured it into the open mouth. "Now, if you would be so kind as to explain to me what is going on."
"I was sent to seduce you to steal you away from Bellatrix."
"By pretending to be her? What were you going to say? That we were switching sides?"
"Exactly. It was believed if I could get you into bed, that I could break whatever hold she has over you. And you would cling to me instead."
Hermione held in a scoff. She had no intention of handing over any information about her relationship with Bellatrix to this intruder. It was naturally absurd that anyone could tear her away from her soulmate.
"They can't allow you to have a child. They know that they won't have a chance against a Bellatrix defending her wife and child. They still think they can win you to their side. They won't listen to reason. They don't know Bellatrix at all. If she has you, they have already lost unless they find a way to eliminate her."
"Who the hell are you to act like you know her?"
"I'm her sister."
"Narcissa," Hermione asked raising her wand again. "What the fuck, Cissy!"
"No. No, you misunderstand. I am not Narcissa. My name is Andromeda," the witch said as her body convulsed and started to shift back to its original state.