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.
Beta credit: this chapter was first beta’d by bunnyhops. Further credit goes to CoquetteKitten, who obliged me with a second read-through.
Minerva McGonagall opened the door at last. “Come in, dear.”
No obstacle barring her path, Hermione wandered mechanically to the couch in the professor’s sitting room and sat down. Heedless of her dress, she drew her legs up and tucked her knees under her chin like a young child.
Professor McGonagall followed slowly. She sat beside her student, stroking her hair softly. “Come now, child. Surely it isn’t as bad as that. Will you tell me?”
Hermione’s eyes were wild when she looked up at Professor McGonagall. “They recognized me as bespoke when I was twelve and cast when I turned sixteen. The ceremony was ancient and the magic was powerful. The words were beautiful, although I hope they were metaphorical. My virginity will be given to Lucius, and Draco took my first kiss. And they gave me fidelity and a first kiss in return. It was the most embarrassing, most confusing thing I have ever done in my life. I felt like a commodity!”
McGonagall made a sympathetic sound. “How did you know the ceremony was ancient?”
The young witch saw through her professor’s ploy to distract her but went along with it gratefully. “It reminded me of some of the ancient rites of the earliest magical people. I did some supplemental reading for History of Magic. The style was liturgical, its spells were arcane, and its view of women was both subjugated and reverent. Reminiscent of the first age of magic.”
“That would make sense; the House of Malfoy is one of the most ancient wizarding Houses. And the magic — you said it was powerful?”
“Umm, yes, it felt that way. The Headmaster didn’t utter any of the spells aloud, but the wand-work was extraordinarily intricate. And then there’s this.” She held her left hand aloft, baring the dragon marking to the professor.
Professor McGonagall reached out and took Hermione’s arm in her hands, stroking the marked skin gently. “A handmark. Very old-fashioned. It will fade in time, but for now it marks you as a betrothed witch. It’s lovely, dear. And fitting, don’t you agree?”
“What do you mean?” The handmark, as Minerva had called it, was slightly luminescent and more than a little distracting. The curly-haired witch found it difficult to tear her eyes from it, but finally managed to meet her mentor’s gaze.
“Well, you bear one of their names on your skin.”
A light of comprehension dawned in Hermione’s eyes. “Draco — dragon. That’s why he was so pleased with my necklace.” Her hand went unconsciously to the charm and stroked it.
“Mmmm . . . that, and I think any wizard would be pleased to have his namesake resting on the bosom of his intended.”
That brought a fresh blush to Hermione’s face. Oh, this is getting ridiculous. Is there such thing as blush-burn? I’m going to be permanently red! She hid her face in her hands.
Minerva McGonagall patted Hermione’s knee. “The blushing will go away soon enough, my dear. Until that day, remember it’s a sign of your virtue and doesn’t bother anyone but you. Now tell me about the words that were so beautiful.”
The blush that had barely begun to fade burst forth again across the young witch’s face. She regarded the professor warily for a moment and then gave in to the need to talk with someone about what had just happened. “Well, the ceremony was done in three parts, with a question asked by Professor Dumbledore and then four replies given. They were alternately answered by Lucius and Draco.”
“That doesn’t sound so bad, Hermione! What are you fussing about?”
“It was the words themselves — they were beautiful, but in a sensual way. They were promises given about me and my care . . . ”
“Let me guess — ‘feed you, clothe you’?”
“Much more. They promised to bathe me in honor, wrap me in glory, and fill me with sons. They promised I would bear their mark on my breast, that they would feed and clothe me with their hands, that I would know the depths of their heart, and that my pleasure would be theirs.”
McGonagall’s breath had become heavier and her eyes glazed as Hermione spouted off the liturgical responses of the ceremony. “Good Merlin, girl. We need a drink.”
As she summoned two glasses and a decanter she continued, “You young people will be the death of me. Between you and Harry . . . ”
“I meant it when I asked you to call me by my given name. We’re no longer merely teacher and student. Hermione, you have become like a . . . a niece to me. I would never assume to be your mother, but aunt I can manage. You will call me Minerva, and I will pour us a drink.” She conjured a decanter of firewhiskey and two glasses from the sideboard and poured a small amount into each one. The first she tipped back and swallowed in one gulp without a wince, the other she held out to Hermione.
“Oh, no thank you, Pro– err, Minerva. Draco says I’m not the firewhiskey sort.”
Minerva McGonagall smiled like a cat that has just cornered a mouse. “Oh, Draco says so, does he?”
“Yes, at the party he gave me champagne instead.” Hermione smiled self-consciously. “He said it’s been a side-job of his for years, keeping me out of trouble.”
“And this is the same Draco who just took your first kiss and gave you his, from whom you ran like a first year all the way here?”
Hermione’s eyes cleared and her mouth dropped open. “Oh.”
“Yes, indeed: ‘Oh’. Did you even bother with a chaperone?”
“Oh. Oh, no. Am I in terrible trouble?”
“Mmmm. It’ll slide. So aside from the fact that they lit a fire in your belly and caused you to squirm uncomfortably while they talked about pleasing you, and marking you, and making babies with you, what was so terrible about the meeting?”
“Well, when you put it that way — nothing. Although Lucius did sit me on his knee for our conversation. I wasn’t quite sure what to do . . . but he was very kind, and terribly patient . . . and Draco noticed I was wearing his favorite shade of green again . . .and he kissed me, and my knees went weak.”
“Aha. You had a good time, didn’t you, up until you didn’t know what to do?”
“Minerva, why couldn’t you have told me what to expect the second half?! If only I had known!”
“You weren’t supposed to know, dear. Your first kiss was supposed to be spontaneous, at least for you. It was supposed to make you weak in the knees! If you’d known what was coming, you’d have been a wreck. You probably wouldn’t have even remembered the kiss.”
Hermione sighed. Her memory of the kiss had made her feel much, much better; so much so, in fact, that her brain began to whir and spin. Questions began popping into her head, and now seemed like an excellent time to ask them. “When they said, ‘she shall sleep in our bed,’ did they mean one big bed? Or was it metaphorical?”
Minerva McGonagall sighed deeply. Honestly, she had been married far too long ago and for far too short a time for this new, sexually charged environment not to affect her.
“I’ll have some dinner sent here for you, and after that you’re going straight to your room for the rest of the night, young lady.”
The professor herself went to bed early that night, weary to the bone. It was time for more help.