The characters and canon situations in the following story belong solely to JK Rowling, Scholastic, and WB. I am not making any money from the publishing or writing of this story.
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Release from quarantine was anticlimactic. The wards were dropped around their isolation bays at six o’clock, and Lucius immediately pulled her into a tight embrace within the privacy of the screens. When he pulled back her head by a handful of hair and leaned down toward her, she intercepted his kiss with an open palm over his mouth. “After I’ve rinsed the smell of infirmary from me.”
He narrowed his eyes in displeasure, but finally released her when she didn’t back down. “I’m going home for a few hours. When I return, I expect my kiss.”
Her resolution wavered slightly under his gaze until she remembered how enjoyable anticipation in small amounts could be. The gleam in his eyes confirmed this when she answered, “Yes, sir.”
“Now let’s see if we can find your chaperone.” His hand settled on the small of her back as he guided her into the main room, and his thumb began rubbing back and forth in that increasingly familiar way. I think I’m being conditioned – but by whom, Lucius or myself? The perfectly innocent gesture sent a shot of adrenaline through Hermione’s weary body, and during their slow walk down the length of the infirmary, she was bombarded by the memory of other parts of her body being touched in that same motion; her lips, her nipples, the inner crease of her thigh . . . a flush of awareness and desire bloomed on her cheeks. She glanced up at his handsome, impassive face. “Lucius,” she whispered self-consciously.
His grey-blue eyes met hers for only the briefest of moments, but she was learning to read the subtle play of emotion on her wizard’s face. He knows exactly what he’s doing. “Do you require something, pet?”
“I require you to stop teasing me. This isn’t the time.”
“I assure you I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Rub, rub, rub. Back and forth, back and forth. I’m going to get him back for this. As soon as I can think straight.
Harry was waiting at the far end of the busy room, and he gave her a brotherly one-armed hug. She was relieved to see him; Madam Pomfrey had given her word that he would be right where he was, but things had been so jumbled up she wouldn’t have been surprised if the message had gone astray. The three exited together, and then Lucius bowed over her left hand before setting off towards the Headmaster’s office to secure permission to Apparate.
Draco was waiting impatiently further down the hall. Hermione flew into his arms even as she watched Lucius moved gracefully away from them, still in his infirmary-issue pajamas. The both of them could make anything look attractive.
The young, blond wizard leaned against her tiredly. His robes were rumpled, his face was smudged with a dark substance, and he smelled strongly of peppermint. He looked exhausted and in need of attention, but she rebuffed his further advance in the same manner she had Lucius. “Absolutely not. No one is getting kissed until I’ve brushed my teeth and had a real shower with nice soap and gentle water.”
He sighed heavily. “I’m too tired to argue. Meet me in the courtyard at lunchtime. Meals are being served there because the great hall is being used as the main quarantine site.” He turned to Harry. “Sound all right?”
“Lunchtime. Courtyard. Got it. Come on, ‘Mione. “
She disentangled herself from Draco’s long arms, giving him one last smile as she and Harry walked away. He remarked, “I hope he finds his way back to his rooms all right; he looks terrible. What’s he been up to, anyway?”
“He and Astoria helped Professor Slughorn brew Pepper-up and Vitamix all night.”
That caused Harry to chuckle. “Who’d have thought mixing those two potions would be so amazing – at least for that first dose!”
“No kidding. I think I cried a bit when the second one didn’t do the same thing.” A thought occurred to her. “Harry, who else was in the infirmary? I mean, I didn’t even think to ask why some of us were kept there when everyone else was in the great hall.”
“You and Lucius, Crabbe and Goyle, and me. Just the special people, don’t you know,” Harry joked. When she gave him a puzzled look, he explained, “Lucius asked that you be treated privately in the infirmary – and when I say ‘asked’, I mean he said ‘she will be treated privately in the infirmary’. He was there because he wasn’t going to leave you, and we probably got first-class treatment because we helped find you.”
“That certainly sounds like Lucius. Poor Draco, though — he was up all night brewing potions!”
“I’m sure it was his choice, ‘Mione. It was probably his way of helping you.”
“That makes sense – that Pepper-up potion was quite fresh; it doesn’t take very long at all to brew, either, which means he was probably brewing our doses all night long.” I’m going to find some way to thank him for it, too.
They reached the top of Gryffindor tower and headed to their respective rooms with the promise to meet in the commons at eleven thirty. Hermione immediately brushed her teeth and stripped off the awful pajamas. She pulled Draco’s Quidditch jersey over her head, and then it was just a matter of setting an alarm for a few hours later, and slipping between the sheets. The early morning sun streamed across her face, birds chirped, but Hermione was fast asleep before her head even hit the pillow.
She awoke to the shrill blast of her alarm at ten o’clock. Sighing, she collapsed back in bed and performed her usual early morning routine of preparing for the day by rehashing the previous twenty-four hours. Draco gave me my most favorite Transfigurations text in the world and promised to take all kinds of liberties with me; then my wand was taken and I was kidnapped. Ron was discovered to have a horrible magical malady, and was carted off to St. Mungo’s for long-term care – Pansy as well. She probably has my wand. The school is under quarantine. Lucius and Draco are going to mark me as the Malfoy House Wife. I’m going to have a new chaperone, and Lucius plans to take me with him. I need a shower and probably an entire bottle of Sleakeazy’s Potion to tame the angry monster on my head. And I want my wand and Transfigurations book! She heaved one last sigh, and then forced herself to get up.
Ten minutes later, Hermione felt like herself again. The hot spray of the shower had renewed her energy almost as much as the nap, and she attacked the rest of her regular routine with zest. Her hair was tamed as best she could manage without her wand, her face was softly made up, and her dragon pendant hung around her neck. She hunted through her wardrobe until she found a summer-weight dress in a pale green color.
With a grin, the young witch rifled through her top drawer until she found the pair of knickers she was looking for. They were impossibly tiny, emblazoned with sparkles, and across the back the words ‘do you believe in magic’ flowed in script lettering. Slipping them on, she peeked at her saucily clad backside in the mirror before pulling the dress on over her head. Even if neither of them sees these, I’ll enjoy my private joke. I cannot believe my mother bought these, hoping some wizard would see them on me. Oh, mum – if only you knew what I’d got myself into!
Hermione gave one last spin in front of the mirror and decided to put on a cardigan. She’d briefly thought about taking her spare set of school robes, but there didn’t seem to be any point. Until further notice, school was out for all intents and purposes, and that meant uniforms weren’t required.
Harry was waiting for her in the commons. He seemed to be in a hurry, and, when asked, explained that he was hoping to finally see Ginny and Luna. The two friends set off across the castle at a brisk pace. The halls were silent and empty, save for a steady trickle of students obviously just released from quarantine.
“Are you worried about the girls, Harry?”
He looked more impatient than concerned. “No; Ginny’s hardly spoken to Ron in the past six months except to yell at him from across a room, and recently she’s avoided him like the . . . well, like the plague. Luna’s never around him. And even if they were, I’d know if one of them had a rash anywhere.”
“Still, it must be difficult, being separated from them without a way to communicate right now.” Hermione’s mind drifted to Draco, wondering if he’d gotten enough sleep. I hope he was able to sleep. He should have been able to get in a good four hours before lunch – maybe five, if he showered quickly. That last thought segued into a series of mental images of her younger wizard in the shower, rubbing his beautiful, hard-muscled body with a bar of soap . . .
Harry was still talking. She tuned in somewhere in the middle. “ . . . I’m trying not to be ungrateful for getting first treatment. I mean, I may not have even seen Gin or Lu in the great hall even if I’d ended up there. And the girls are being taken care of – Madam Pomfrey assured me all the students have been made comfortable. It’s just taking so long.” He gave a groan. “Ironically, you know what would help me get through this? A good shagging.”
Hermione’s mind had wandered back to her fantasy Draco, where she’d left him in the shower. She imagined him trailing one strong hand down his flat stomach to his groin, taking hold of his engorged shaft. Absently, she said, “I’m sure it’s really hard.”
“I’ll tell you what’s hard – I’m hard! I want my girls! Merlin – a bloke can only go so long without sex!”
His loud, frustrated tone broke through Hermione’s daydream, and she snapped, “Oh, you big baby; what’s it been, twenty-four hours?”
Harry had the grace to look sheepish. “Not quite; I met up with Ginny before dinner. Still-!”
“Harry, you do realize that some of us still haven’t actually had it at all yet, right? I mean, if we’re surviving then you can, too.” She rolled her eyes at him good-naturedly, wondering if boys had it rougher than girls in this area. True, she found herself desire-ridden and aching for relief regularly, but she thought about plenty of other things between times. She said as much to her ‘brother’.
“Just you wait, ‘Mione. Once you get a taste of it, you’ll want it regularly, too. Just you wait.”
Hermione wondered if she, or Draco, or Lucius stood a chance of becoming such a slave to sex as Harry and the girls seemed to be. Several fantasized scenarios later, her body was pulsing with arousal and her knickers were beyond damp. The idea bore further analysis.
The large courtyard held about two hundred other students. Most were eating lunch at the long tables along one side, and others were huddled in groups. There was a sudden flurry of motion to their right, and Harry spun to find Ginny barreling toward him, her face lit up in delight. Hermione took one look at Harry and knew it was time to leave the two alone. Immediately. She waved them off, promising to stay in the courtyard, which, according to Draco’s reasoning in the library last week, should fall under the technical definition of ‘same room’.
Two steps further into the courtyard and she spotted Draco. He was sitting at one of the tables with Greg and Vince, frozen, his eyes fastened on her. He must have been watching for me to arrive. She smiled as she walked toward him. The three wizards stood as she approached, and the one she considered her own proceeded to draw her close and kiss her unreservedly. Draco pulled her down beside him, his arm wrapped around her side tightly. He pushed his plate toward her, adding more food from the serving platters with his free hand. “Eat.”
Her stomach rumbled appreciatively, and she tucked in to the lamb and root vegetables. Draco’s arm moved beside hers as he ate, lifting his forkfuls above her head to his mouth. His free hand slipped between her cardigan and the lightweight dress to lie against her stomach.
Eventually her appetite was satisfied and she leaned against his chest, listening to the conversation around her and watching Draco continue to eat vast amounts of food. Vince and Greg had been in the courtyard the longest, and they had gathered information from various sources regarding the quarantine, the students, and the emergency plan in place. Now they discussed it for the benefit of those at the table who hadn’t already heard it all.
Greg’s voice carried around the table as he explained, “Eighth years were screened first, and they’re to leave as soon as they’re able. Nott’s already out here somewhere – he’s probably going to wait for Nick and Astoria, though.”
Hermione’s innate curiosity caused her interrupt. “Are the students divided by year only? That doesn’t seem very comprehensive, given what Madam Pomfrey told me last night.”
“Oldest, Quidditch, Gryffindor, and those in classes with or who’ve been ‘close’ to Weasley. Those who don’t fall into those categories have to wait.” Greg raised his fingers in the shape of quotation marks as he said ‘close’, and it was obvious what he meant.
“But doesn’t that violate Ron’s privacy, using him openly as a qualifier?”
Vince replied, “There’s no privacy when you’re the cause of an epidemic. Tracey Davis says all witches are being asked specifically if they’ve engaged in sex with Weasley during this school year. She got into the first round of screening because she had a class with him.”
“How many Healers are here? How many scans can be carried on at once? How are they able to maintain so many isolation bays, or have they simply put containment charms on each person individually?”
Her rapid-fire questions caused Vince to chuckle. “Not a clue. What I do know is that they’ve only cleared a quarter of the student population in the past eighteen or so hours. There’s another six hundred and then some still waiting. The St. Mungo’s people should be done by Thursday evening if they work straight through.”
“Why are you two still here?”
Vince waved an unconcerned hand in Draco’s direction. “We leave when he does.”
Draco finished, “And I leave when you do. You can’t leave without a chaperone, and we can’t ask Harry to drop everything and leave school with you. His replacement has been ready to take over at a moment’s notice since your acceptance. By now, Lucius has contacted her, and she may well already be at the Manor.”
Vince and Greg had begun a conversation of their own on the other side of the table, freeing Hermione to pursue this new topic with Draco.
“Do you know who she is?”
“I’ve met her once; she did some curse-breaking for us after the dark lord’s defeat.”
“What makes a curse-breaker take a job as a chaperone? That sounds a bit like a step down.”
He looked surprised at the comment. “Hermione, traditionally that role is reserved for only the most accomplished wizards and witches. To be asked to chaperone a pureblood courtship is a great honor, and those who accept such a job can expect their careers to be advanced exponentially.”
“Why, then, was Harry chosen?” Hermione asked in a puzzled tone.
Draco tried to contain his resultant burst of laughter, and as a result choked on the mouthful of dessert he had been in the process of swallowing. He finally cleared his airway with a long drink of water. “You don’t see him the way the rest of the wizarding world does, sweetheart. He’s famous, brave, and very powerful. Harry was the obvious first choice.”
“Does he know about the great honor involved and career furthering?”
“I’m sure Lucius had a talk with him, and in any case I did as well. Not that he’ll need any help for much of anything. The House of Potter will be revered for centuries to come.”
Lunch was being cleared, and students were congregating in small groups near the entrance of the courtyard. Draco drew Hermione to her feet and tugged her by the hand in the opposite direction. “Let’s take a walk.”
He slung his arm around her shoulders, and she held his hand where it hung in front of her chest. Leaning into his side as they walked, she remembered how tired he had looked earlier. “You look well-rested, compared to this morning. Did you manage to sleep?”
“Like the dead. I feel much better, thank you.”
“You made all our potions last night, didn’t you?” She asked quietly, pausing to look up at him.
He regarded her with a solemn expression. “I was worried. I needed to do something for you and Lucius, and my particular talents happened to coincide with your needs.”
“Still, you stayed up all night when you really didn’t have to. I’m going to make that up to you somehow,” she said softly.
His previously serious look was replaced with twinkling eyes and one of his patented almost-smiles. “I look forward to that, Miss Granger.”
He turned them both to look at the small crowd of students a ways behind them. “I’m sure the Healers are working as fast as they can, but that’s an awfully small group for the amount of hours they’ve already been at it.”
“It will take days. We really are done with school.” She sighed, saying mostly to herself, “It’s amazing, really, how everything just fell into place.”
Draco ducked his head into her curls, speaking close to her ear. “How do you mean?”
Hermione answered, “I didn’t make any immediate plans for after graduation, and I can’t honestly say why, except that I just wanted one summer not filled with looming responsibility.”
“Aren’t all summers supposed to be relaxing?” He turned them back in the direction of the far end of the courtyard and began pulling her along.
She looked up at him out of the corner of her eye and then settled against his chest again. “Mine have always been very . . . regulated. I’ve always had a year-round study schedule, and summers just meant more time to fit more studies in.”
“That sounds awful, and I actually enjoy studying.”
“I only realized that after I squandered last summer trying to cram as much N.E.W.T.S. prep in as possible. I got to school in the fall and realized all I really wanted to do was spend time with friends, and read for fun, and stare out my window without thinking of a blessed thing.”
“You needed to heal, Hermione. We all did, but you more so. You carried so much responsibility around for so long and worked so hard, watching over Harry and Weasley . . . your body and brain needed the break you gave them this year.” His arm tightened around her shoulder in a comforting squeeze.
She sighed again. “Perhaps you’re right. In any case, I got a boatload of job offers after we took our N.E.W.T.S., some from the Ministry but most from private research and development firms. I sent off a form letter to each one, stating I would contact them in late summer to inquire whether the job was still available. I may have hinted at my war record and used it as an excuse for my sabbatical.”
“That was very Slytherin of you. Do you know which offers you plan to seriously consider?”
She peeked up at him again. “I don’t want to work for the Ministry. It seems so . . . safe. Boring, even. Research appeals to me – the work would be different with every project, and I’d be surrounded by likeminded people. However, the Ministry jobs will most likely be the only ones still available come fall. The others sounded so good that they’re probably filled by now.”
He screwed up his handsome face comically, managing to look both amused and apologetic. “The R&D job offers are all from Malfoy companies. I think it’s safe to assume any of those jobs will remain open until you respond.”
“Draco, you can’t be serious!”
“What? It was just another failsafe, in case you ran screaming from us.”
“Well, that’s just . . . a rather large blow to my ego.” She huffed, feeling the sting of her wounded pride.
He kissed the top of her head. “You do realize that you wouldn’t have been offered any position you weren’t qualified for, don’t you? That wouldn’t be very good business policy. However, several were created specifically with your abilities in mind. Lucius would very much like for you to work for some part of the Malfoy Empire, if you want.”
Mollified, she asked curiously, “Which position do you want to see me in?”
Draco seemed to be biting back a smile. “I can think of a few.”
Realization dawned on her, and she blushed fiercely even as she smirked at him.