A Secret Never Told
What's hers isn't mine, what's mine isn't hers. Onward.
All the mirrors in here are draped… I wonder why?
She was babbling, and Hermione Granger-Lupin knew it. She ought to be thinking about where she had been taken, how she was going to escape, but that would come too close to the fear she was still fighting.
She'd been taken captive by the Death Eaters, and such things never ended well.
At least I know they won't be able to torture me for any of my secrets. Not as long as I have a minute's warning that they're going to try. Her hand rested against her breastbone for a moment, pressing into the small medallions which hung there. But I might not get that minute, so why am I not using my blue jewel now?
Possibly, she admitted to herself, because she was worried that stripping the information harmful to her own side of the war out of her memories, as the one remaining blue jewel on her Pack-pendants would do if she asked it to, might either harm her permanently or not work completely if she tried it in as terrified a state as she was currently in.
Letha managed it in front of Voldemort himself, but Letha's old enough to be my mum. Hermione sank to the floor on the far side of the double bed from the door and pulled her pendants out of her robes, finding the carving of the winged horse by feel, then moving along to the bearlike dog, the wolf, and the lion which shared the pendant with it. She practically is, in any case, since she's been helping to raise me since before I was two…
She leaned back against the wall, cupping her pendants in her hands. That's a good idea. Stories, like a den-night. It will settle me down, make me feel safe, comfortable. A slow breath, in through her nose, out through her mouth. Though something about this room is doing that already.
It made less than no sense, Hermione knew, for a Death Eater's private quarters to be bringing her a sense of security. Especially when she'd been thrust in here by one of the masked figures with a coarse laugh, and a comment that it was the "proper place for you, finally!" That could have only a few meanings, and none of them ought to have been comforting to her.
But it is and it does, and I shouldn't look a gift hippogriff in the beak.
Her own turn of phrase brought a small smile to her lips. The girl she might have been, the bookish but brave Muggleborn who liked nothing better than memorizing her textbooks, would have been unlikely to think such things, even after six or seven years of immersion in the wizarding world. Hermione as she was, though, had grown up in the full understanding of herself as a witch, residing in a household filled with witches and wizards, both juvenile and adult.
My Pack. Moony and Danger, Padfoot and Letha, Wolf, Pearl, and…
She stopped before completing the list. The person whose nickname would once have come there was dead.
"But that doesn't mean I stopped loving him," she whispered, raising her hand to her left cheek, where a small, vertical scar marked her skin. "Never stopped loving him."
Fox. His face rose before her mental eyes, laughing as he had so loved to do, his white-blond and porcelain looks thrown into stark contrast against their black-haired brother and their dark-skinned sister. My twin. Play twin to start, blood twin later, after his crazy father decided I'd stolen his magic and he should have it back.
Which brought her to the thought she'd been trying to avoid thinking, for there was only one Death Eater in whose quarters she could be considered to have any sort of "proper place", even accounting for their twisted ideas.
Lucius Malfoy. Who needs a new heir, as his original one got rather badly corrupted by almost thirteen years living with the Pack. And he can't exactly go out and beget one, not after that little present Danger gave him at the end of my third year…
The twists and turns of her life sometimes made her head hurt to think about, and she'd lived them. It ought to have been impossible for her older sister, married to a werewolf but not one herself, to infect a man with lycanthropy, thus making him unable to sire children. But then, it ought to have been equally impossible for the boy born Draco Malfoy, product of two of the purest and most traditional magical lines in the wizarding world, to end up as Draco Black, the wisecracking, music-loving captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
They say the universe has a strange sense of humor. Hermione cast a brief glance upwards. Having met some of the people who run this section of it, I can concur.
Still, taken step by step, her life made perfect sense. It was only when one tried to leap directly from her Pack's beginnings before her second birthday to this moment, which would surely be an ending for someone, that the difficulties arose. For one thing, the thought of Draco had nearly made her throat close in grief. Even four months later, the pain of his loss still lingered.
But the way Malfoy looked at it, if he couldn't have Draco, nobody could. So when he finally got his chance to try to convince his son he ought to join up with the Death Eaters, and failed miserably—as anybody'd think he'd have known he would, he's only been running his head into this same brick wall since we were eleven, but I suppose it's one of those pureblood things never to admit when you're beaten—
The sound of the door unlocking itself sent her thoughts flying for cover. A hasty shove got her to her feet just in time.
At least Draco was able to strike one blow for our side before Malfoy killed him. He managed, and don't I just wish I knew how, to drag Malfoy's magic out of him. Make him a Squib. Moony said it probably wouldn't be permanent, but oh, how I wish it were—
The door swung open to reveal the person, or rather people, she'd expected to see.
Or perhaps I don't. Because what he decided to do about it made it a thousand times worse. Hermione bared her teeth briefly at the creature which had once been one of her dearest friends. He must have seen into Draco's mind a little, just enough to see that vision about who was supposed to meet with him at Draco's grave, and he went there to fulfill it, and then used the potion on her that she and Draco had intended that she use on him—
"So," said Lucius Malfoy, stepping into his quarters and casting the snowy owl from his wrist. She soared over Hermione's head, turned deftly on a wingtip, and landed at the foot of the bed as a young woman with long, dark-blonde hair falling across her black-cloaked shoulders. "Here you are."
"Yes, here I am." Hermione bit the words off sharply, trying her hardest not to look at Luna Lovegood. It would only hurt her, to see the remnants of what had once been a clever (if unconventional) mind in her friend's soft blue-gray eyes. "And what will you do with me, now that you have me? Use the Imprimatus Potion on me, like you did on poor Starwing? Erase my human mind, fixate me on you, and leave me with just my Animagus instincts and my magic? Have two slave girls following you around to do your bidding, instead of just one?"
"Your 'poor Starwing', my dear Hermione, received only what she had planned to give me." Malfoy hooked the door shut with his black-and-silver cane, rattling the knob to be sure the latch had engaged, then turned back to her. "A rare case of perfect justice. Though I suppose in your current situation, you would prefer a bit of vengeance, and perhaps a touch of salvation."
About to snap back, Hermione froze in place.
"Sadly, however much of a warrior your brother Harry may have flowered into, or your young sister Meghan, Sirius Black's daughter—you do still call her Pearl, I believe?—they are unlikely even to begin an expedition to retrieve you." Malfoy's eyes, gleaming gray in the dim light of the room, flashed with what seemed like amusement. "Since they are surely not so star-crossed, or so moon-mazed, as to try to dig a fox out of his earth."
"How dare you." Hermione set her feet and raised her hands, crooking her fingers like claws, even as her emotions spun through a dizzying dance of uncertainty.
"I dare many things," Malfoy said softly. "Such as asking you to recite for me a bit of verse. Six lines, Neenie, that's all—"
"You may not call me that," Hermione snapped, but the denial lacked force, lacked the vigor and hatred she had thought to bring to it. It sounded more like the weary protestations she had put up when she was eleven and twelve, when she had been embarrassed by her "baby name", until finally a few months before she was thirteen she had given one person permission to use it—
Appalled, she shook herself out of her momentary memory trance. "What six lines were you thinking of?" she asked, trying for a tone of equal hauteur to Malfoy's own. "I know a great many verses, some better than others."
"I think you know the ones I mean." Malfoy nodded to Luna, who drew her wand and Summoned a chair from the far corner of the room for him, then one for Hermione and a third for herself. "The ones regarding a certain young man which your sister once heard in a dream, on the day upon which you first awakened Sirius Black with a request which I will not embarrass you by repeating." He smirked. "Or do your Pack's den-nights sanitize that portion of the tale?"
Hermione's face flamed, and she hissed deep in her throat, trying to mask the impossible idea which had sprouted in her mind with Malfoy's first few sentences and was taking firmer root every second. He knows things he should have no way to know, he uses all the terms as easily as I would, and now he's teasing me, not horrid cruel teasing but the sort of thing that makes me want to shout for Danger to come and throw a fireball at him, or Padfoot to transform and chase him around the Den a few times—
"I'll trade you," she said, sitting down. "Six lines of verse for the answer to one question."
"That seems fair," Malfoy said slowly, waiting for Luna to settle into her chair before he took his own seat. "But of course I reserve the right to refuse an answer, should it be something that little girls have no reason to know."
Just because I'm not of age for another week—
Hermione caught herself before she could voice this indignant sentiment aloud, but now, now she was almost certain. There remained only one test.
"My question is a simple one," she said, folding her hands in her lap and looking her captor directly in the eye. "Are you real?"
Two breaths caught, ever so slightly. Hermione squeezed her fingers together and waited.
"As real," the man across from her said with deliberation, "as you are."
A smile burst forth on Hermione's face, and this time she didn't try to stop it. Instead she began to recite, calling up her memory of one of the earliest of Danger's prophetic dreams.
"Eyes of ashes, hair of sun,
"A heart with paces never run,
"Salvation, justice, vengeance are
"When flower gives the stars to star.
"What warrior, earth, and pearl begin,
"The moon's gray beams shall finally win."
Looking over towards Luna, she grinned even more broadly to see her friend's lips moving in time with her own words, to see sense and joy in her eyes. "I suppose blue-gray didn't scan properly," she said. "And have you considered what people are likely to do to you for scaring them like this?"
"Would they have preferred things actually happen the way we all believed they would?" The man who still had the face of Lucius Malfoy, but had dropped the vast majority of his mannerisms, leaned back comfortably in his chair. "Not to mention the lives we've saved, being where we are. And I think your suggestion is a good one, Neenie—it would make sense for Lucius to want his only blood heir under as complete of control as possible, and the Imprimatus wouldn't harm your ability to bear children, only to think about it." A wicked grin erased the last semblance of proper Death Eater from his features. "We'd better hope Wolf gets that last Horcrux pretty quick, though, or Redwing might manage to kill me before we can explain what's really going on!"
Hermione laughed aloud and bounded across the bed as Neenie the calico cat, landing neatly in the lap of her supposed captor. His true identity made sense of everything, from her comfort in this room to the draping of the mirrors.
Because why would he want to see himself wearing his father's face?
Rearing up, she pressed the side of her jaw against a pale-skinned, pointed chin. My hand in yours, she sent across the blood-link between then. Or perhaps I should say paw.
Her brother snickered and cupped his hand around the back of her head, rubbing gently at the base of her ears. My wand with yours. For all the good it does me just now. We only reversed the names on the magic-stealing, it really did happen, and it's started to come back but it's being very slow about it—
Which is why you can have some of mine, to build on, Hermione interrupted. My life for yours. She pulled back to look into his eyes, planting a paw on his collarbone. You meant it more than anyone ever has. Don't think we'll forget that.
I never did. Draco smiled at her, the tender look shining through the tears in his eyes rendering his disguise no more than a peek into the future Hermione could now see stretching before them once again. Now and always.
Across the room, Luna busied herself with stitching a ribbon onto her cloak, humming under her breath.
Someday we'll find it,
The Rainbow Connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me…
Please note, not everything in this story is necessarily invalidated as a possibility for the future of the DV. Draco and Lucius may or may not have a duel in which one of them loses his magic, Luna may or may not end up with the Imprimatus Potion used on her instead of Lucius, and so on, and so on, and so on. I just couldn't resist writing this, even though it can't and won't happen in the mainverse.
Hope you've enjoyed it, and more SD and LSSR are on the way! And a few more scenes like this…does anybody have a request?
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