Caught in the act
Disclaimer : I own nothing but this lil plot twist, JK Rowling is my goddess supreme with all the owning powers that be.
Summary : What if Ron's anger issues started getting the best of him after the war? What if Hermione had a secret group of friends who were trying to convince her it was time for her to get away? What if she chose to finally listen?
Hermione had gotten more books as gifts the day she left Hogwarts than she had at any other time in her life. Half of Dumbledore's collection went to her, while the other half went to none other than Severus Snape. With instructions to the both of them that they were to share the books should either have need. There was further instructions on that if anything should ever happen where one of them needed to put the books away for a while there was a spell that would send that half of the books to the other person for safe keeping and in their own book case. Dumbledore was nothing if not an observant man, sometimes scarily so.
On top of that, she received a rather interesting book from Severus Snape as a reluctant thank you gift for saving his life. It took him quite a while to accept the fact that he was meant to go on with his life, but once he did, he found that he had made a friend in the know it all Gryffindor Princess. He wouldn't tell anyone but he was protective over her like he might for a younger sister, not that he'd admit it if confronted.
The book he got her looked to be an empty journal, but on the inside cover was what looked to be a color coded chart. it had several dots with what looked to be code names. One of them was easy for her to figure out and though she didn't know who the others were the only note at the top read : Sometimes friends come in all shapes, and sizes. And sometimes those whom we never noticed before will prove to be the strongest of our allies.
She never did understand it, and she never quite figured out why she kept it a secret from Ron but she did. Harry and Ginny had left shortly after Ginny graduated to give them some time to just 'be' after they married. The family getting on after the twins death and after Percy having been taken to Azkaban for the kiss after the final battle almost destroyed them. And some of them really grew out of their anger over the situation. Perhaps that's why Hermione kept her secret journal to herself.
All she had to do was touch her quill to one of the dots and then start writing, there was also one that would go out to everyone, and she tended to use that one more often than not.
* And one Dot to join them all. (Cheesy I know)
* Batman (Obviously) (Severus)
* The white wizard (unknown to Hermione was Lucius)
* bouncing ball of fur (She had a good idea who this was) (Draco)
* The observer (Unknown to Hermione was Blaise)
* The fashion consultant (unknown to Hermione was Pansy)
* head honcho (Unknown to Hermione was Shaklebolt)
* fluffy (Unknown to Hermione was Hagrid)
* lobo (Unknown to Hermione was Bill)
* Tinkerbell (Unknown to Hermione was Fleur)
* Sleek-easy (Unknown to Hermione was Lavender)
* Master Robinton (This one confused her as she knew the reference was muggle but didn't know who it was. Unknown to Hermione it was Remus)
She would keep it tucked in a section of the wall that was behind the headboard in her bedroom, keyed only to her magical signature. She didn't even need her wand to get it, and when Ron moved in with her, she never really thought about why, but she didn't tell him about it either.
Her initial plan had been to go to magical university in France when she graduated but she noticed her funds were for some reason a lot lower than she remembered them being. With so much on her mind she assumed that it was the goblins taking out her part of what she owed them and so didn't complain at all. Knowing that her past made it likely she could get a scholarship but there wasn't any openings in the arithmancy and potions combination she wanted for another year so she decided to try and get work.
Day after day she wrote in her journal, talking about her wants to help Ron through his anger bouts and looking for advice. More than once threatening to turn the bouncing ball of fur into his moniker if he didn't stop suggesting she try with dying his hair first so he'd stop blinding people. She wouldn't admit it but it made her snicker every time he said it.
Having gotten a job at Flourish and Blotts she found herself in seventh heaven working around the books. More than once working over time not because she had to, but just because of it feeling more and more like home to her than anywhere else. She helped the new Muggle History teacher with their curriculum and ended up making a bit extra coin for that, and then helped in putting together some sections on beginning healing courses for the school to have for sixth and seventh year students in tandum with potions if they were going to be healers.
Still though the account never seemed to go up, sighing as the day of her wedding to Ron was getting closer and closer. She hated to admit that she couldn't afford to buy any dress at all and every night would come home practically in tears. Ron for his part was as supportive as he seemed capable of being. Holding her while she cried and merely said they'd have to wait another few months and it was okay he didn't mind.
He was just starting the second year of a three year auror program at the ministry before his final testing to see if he qualified to be a full time auror. They both knew this would mean cutting back as he didn't get paid much during this training, basically just enough to keep his robes in check but not much else.
The longer he stayed in the program though, the more Hermione started to think perhaps it wasn't for him, he would drink and would come home not only drunk but rather belligerent as well. One night she remembered well, it was the first time he hit her, and the first time she stayed up all night rather glad when he'd apparated out to who knows where for the rest of the night.
He'd come home slamming the door behind him rather late, it was almost midnight by that time. Having stayed up long enough to make sure he was okay, she slipped on her slippers and gave him a bright smile from the top of the stairs. "Ron! How was your day, luv? i saved you some of the pulled pork and corn from dinner. I didn't know if-" S he'd been talking as she made her way down the stairs, at the bottom of the stairs just as she was about to finish talking and give him a kiss, she found herself sudden struck by his balled up fist.
"What do you mean you didn't keep it hot f'r me? What the hell! What kinda woman are you! Yer supposed ta be learnin how t'be a proper wife you don' even keep food on the table?" Looking down at the woman he'd struck down, sneering with a look that made his face curl in the shadow, as if transmorphing him into someone she didn't know. Swearing under his breath she swore she heard him mutter 'fucking mudblood'. Before he spun on his heel and apparated out of the small townhouse.
She'd stayed there at the bottom of the stairs for a good long while staring at the spot that he'd been standing on.
Unknowingly tears streaming down her cheeks, while one of her hands had risen to cup over the now darkening cheek. After a good long while she finally hauled herself up, wincing as she realized she'd managed to wrench her wrist as well when she fell and began her slow trek up the stairs.
Now most people would have thought 'this is Hermione Granger, she has a strong head on her shoulders, she wouldn't put up with this'. But the war had changed everyone, including Hermione. Her time under Belatrix's wand had added to her anxieties as well damaging much of her self-confidence. Her one thought had been she'd waited for so long for Ron to notice she was a woman and how much she loved him, she must have done something wrong.
That night she sat and wrote in her journal, for the first time she received the gift not realizing she was using it /as/ a journal. It didn't take long for the others who received the message to realize where the young woman's mind was at and just how frazzled she was to not remember others could read this writing.
It seems illogical to be writing as if you're going to be writing back, after all you're just a pile of papyrus and a backing. But still somehow it seems appropriate, as if I'm telling my best friend my greatest fear. And I think my worse fear has come true, I am truely a horrible woman, I'm starting to wonder if maybe Ferret Face and Lavendar and the Patils really hadn't been right all those years ago. I really am useless when it comes to Ron, I should have let him have a real woman.
I still don't know what I did wrong, I must have done something, I'm thinking perhaps maybe it's all the extra hours I'm taking in at the store. I'm not home enough and I'm neglecting him. Yeah that must be it. Maybe if I cancel a couple of my extra lunches too so I'm home when he comes home for lunch and I can cook for him?
Well, I suppose if I do that I'm going to have to get those recipes that Molly's been trying to get me to take from her for the last year or so. I had hoped it wouldn't come to his, but maybe it's for the best, he always did like his mothers cooking best.
As I'm sitting here I'm realizing I'm out of bruise potion, oh well, I have a long enough sleeve shirt no one will notice, and I can stop at the apothecary on my way to work.
I keep sitting here and I think back to when he came home. I didn't even let him answer me, I just kept talking and talking. No wonder he was angry with me, it was late, he probably hadn't eaten yet and I was chattering on that way I do. It's all my fault.
I don't know. I can't go to sleep now, not without him here, he left and I Don't know to where. It's wrong of me but part of me is happy that he isn't here right now, I've never seen his face look that way before. It's like every nightmare I've ever had suddenly jumping out of my head and into real life. Into the body and face of the man I was (this word is crossed out) am about to marry?Why did I say that? I don't know. I guess I really am stupid.
Maybe this will turn out to be a nightmare and I'll wake in the morning and everything will be fine. I guess I'll only find out if I go to bed and try and get some sleep. Please dear journal don't let me dream tonight.'
She didn't even notice the fact the fire in the fireplace in her room had turned green about the time she had lain down and several pairs of eyes were all watching as she fell asleep.
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When they saw Hermione had fallen asleep everyone pulled out of Severus' fireplace and found places to sit. All except Bill and Remus who were pacing rather furiously. "I just can't believe my brother..." Bill kept muttering to himself over and over again. While Fleur was wringing her hands and struggling not to cry while she kept reading and rereading the journal entry. "Vhat could 'ave 'appened t'make Ronald do such a t'ing?"
It was the rather quiet murmur from Lavender that got their attention. "it's not the first time." The black eyes from the Professor is what got her looking up and flinching. Sighing she found herself standing and moving to look out the enchanted window of the dungeon's. Knowing it wasn't what was really happening, but she found it at least at the moment rather relaxing.
"When Ron broke up with me, I was rather upset. I had thought that he was awake when he spoke Hermione's name in the Hospital Wing that day. It took a while before he came up to me and apologized, he said she had used him at a vulnerable point to make it sound like he had all of a sudden asked her out and proclaimed undying love for her or something. I was young. I was stupid. And I thought I Was in love. I listened to him." Sniffing faintly she turned so her back was completely to the group that was staring at her. Only Remus moved to behind her, sliding his arms around her middle to give her support but otherwise not interrupting her.
"We'd started going out in secret after that, given everything going on he said he'd rather have her in the cross-hairs if anyone was going to go after his 'loved ones'. This way I'd be safe. I thought that made me something special and treasured, but the first time I really upset him, he gave me not only a black eye but broke my jaw and gave me a concussion too. I told people I'd gotten in the way of the quidditch people and a bludger hit me. It took me a year to get him to stop contacting me, and I'd taken to hiding around the Patils. I came up with the .. oh how did they put it. The fashion police on stilts." Quoting with her fingers and saying the old nickname with a sneer to her voice. "it kept everyone away, but most importantly Ron. I never told anyone, he was one of the Golden Trio. No one would have believed me."
When she finally stopped speaking, everyone was quiet and then Lucius found his voice. "How do we convince her to leave? We don't have any evidence, and what we have here." Holding his journal. "Is only circumstantial, we all know that he can argue anything written here as just a fantasy written by a woman overly distraught from her torture during the war." Shaking his head. "We have to figure out something."
All the while Blaise watched as Lucius started joining the werewolves in their pacing, watching as Severus looked to a picture of Hermione he had on his mantle that was taken at her graduation. He'd grumbled and groused when she put it there, but he never moved it. All the slytherin's knew that he saw her as a sister, and given how many of them she'd spoken up for citing the wizarding etiquette of children sticking by their families edicts. They knew she needed them as much as they had needed her when the war ended.
It was Pansy of all people who spoke up. "I have an idea, but unfortunately it means we can't confront her yet." Her brow furrowing as she glanced to Blaise and as if in reading her mind he nodded in agreement. Deciding to continue for her. "We have to get her to write more often in her journal. Get it to become habit. Keep trying to set up lunches and dinners with her, all of us, that means you too Minister. And start keeping track of when she's canceling with us versus what's being written in the book. I have a feeling she's going to stop approaching us personally in the book now, she'll be using it as a journal only. We need to let her do it. Just keep a close eye on her girls. If you start seeing her slip too far into depression or anything, you have to let us know. You'll know better than us men will. We'll have to make sure there is the right time for us to tell her where to go to if something happens."
It took a long while but a plan was formed, and even though it meant seeing their friend hurting, it was the only thing they could do. They all agreed telling the Elder Weasley's wasn't a good idea. Ever since the twins death they'd been even more protective over Ron, and without proof they wouldn't listen to anything that was said. And with Ginny and harry gone right now, they were going to try and make sure they had a friend to come home to that was healthy and happy. Without having to call them in an emergency. If they could manage it.
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7 dinners (3 broken bones, 2 black eyes, and 2 bruised ribs), 4 lunches (3 black eyes and a split lip), and 3 birthday parties (1 destroyed kitchen, 1 whipped back, and 1 black eye) later. They knew that Hermione was getting at her breaking point. It had only been six months but she had cut her hours back to only 15 hours a week at the bookstore and was in danger of losing her job. Her account that was supposedly being accessed by her wand was practically empty and she hadn't left the apartment other than work in over 4 weeks. She corresponded by owl and still talked to Severus over the journal. Not putting two and two together on how she was using it both ways still as she had so much on her mind for once in her life she wasn't very with it.
She had been setting up dinner preparing for Severus, Charlie and Bill as well as Fleur to come over to join the two of them, when she suddenly heard Ron start storming through the house. A hint of terror on her face had her rapidly casting stasis spells on the food before turning her attention to the man who was holding his robe in one hand and shaking it at her.
"Hermione Granger! What do you call this? Look at this and tell me what's wrong With it!" Getting in her face and backing her up as he did so till she was against the wall.
Looking at the robe she recognized it as the one he had worn the night before. "It... it's the robe you wore last night Ronald. To work and then the work function after?" Trying to smile a small bit, "I.. I knew I wouldn't h.. have time to deal with it last night since you were getting home so late, so.. so I made sure all your other robes were done and pressed and hung up since we were having y-" She didn't get any further than that.
A large meaty fist struck her to where her head bounced off the hard wall making her slide down it as everything dimmed in her vision. Blood streaked behind her while he keeps slapping and hitting her face again and again. Throwing ther robe at her after spitting in her direction he stomped to the owl, wrote a hasty letter saying Hermioned was 'sick' and then threw the owl out the window telling it to get the message to everyone.
Only once that was done did he look at her, "If you weren't so useless. Maybe I would have married you by now, but no... you can't cook, you can't even fix my robes right. Why do I keep trying to wait for you? You're fucking frigid in bed you wouldn't melt an icecube! This wanting to wait till we're married crap. Well you're waiting that fine and you're driving me crazy. Look how you've let yourself go... fucking worthless slob." Stomping his way out but not before a rogue wave of magic erupted towards the kitchen managing to destroy every dish that wasn't under the stasis charm. Shards flying into the air unnoticed by him as he left the apartment, several of them cutting her hands and face.
She didn't know why or when she'd found the energy to go up the stairs, it must have taken hours. But she finally made it to the bedroom. Barely managing to pull out her journal. She didn't even have a quill, they were all down stair so she dipped her fingertip in her own blood and wrote only one word. 'help'.
The answer that came back was almost compulsionary. It was quick and yet came under the Severus' name. if she'd been thinking clearly she would have retracted her want for help, but she'd crawled over to the fireplace, barely managed to croak out, "Malfoy Manor Study', and then rolled into the flames.
The rolling colors was nauseating and by the time the floo dumped her out of the fireplace she was unconscious. The sudden round of gasps wasn't even enough to shake her out of her stupor. A pair of strong arms picked her up, making her whimper slightly till a familiar voice whispered, "Shhhh I'll take care of you now, Hermione. Sleep." She never did wake up but the lingering scent of sandlewood and a masculine musk that seemed all too familiar remained in her senses.
Running to the floo, everyone began the plan, first the Minister of Magic was called and he floo'd over, going to the room Hermione was in he almost broke his own rule and went to commit murder. Instead he methodically took medical diagnostics and pictures of hermione before looking to Bill, Fleur and Remus. "Bill. Remus. You come with me. Fleur, she'll need you and the girls when she wakes up." Getting nods from the girls they went up to start working on Hermione.
Lucius, Draco, and Severus went to the house with house elves and everything of Hermione's was instantly boxed up and brought to the manor. Leaving only a couple of tables, one chair and the idiots clothes as well as enough food for two meals.
Everyone else went to the Weasley's. Went they got there, Molly knew instantly something was wrong. Neither Bill nor Remus said anything they just pointed for the couple to sit. First they showed Molly and Arthur the diagnostic reports, and then the journal though they'd made sure that Ron's name was blanked out. They also showed the schedules that showed time and time and time again and the dates that correlated. Looking to Molly and Arthur The minister asked, "What would you think I should do. I have a young woman up in a room right now bleeding internally who's been torn apart in every way possible." Molly was rather quick to say, "Well.. I would say she needs to get away from him and he needs to be put on trial for abuse." But it was Arthur who was studying the journal intensely as if trying to put some puzzle together.
It was a good fifteen minutes as he kept flipping between four different pages before his face changed from one of sadness and confusion to one of horror and his attention went to Bill.
Seeing the dawning realization on his fathers face he gave a grave nod. "She'll be lucky to not be permanently damaged physically given what he did this time." Molly frowned looking from one to the other. "William Weasley I don't like being kept in the.." But it was Arthur who stilled her. Taking her hands and looking like he wanted to break down, looking her in the eyes. He said nothing for a moment and then started shaking her head, "Oh no... no he wouldn't do that to her.. he... he wouldn't." Then the pictures were dropped by Remus and Molly turned white. Unable to look away as she looked to the horror that Hermione had turned.
She was silent for a long while before whispering, "I should have paid attention. I should have listened." Then ever so slowly, she moved to the fireplace, tossing the floo in she murmurs something before calling out, "Ginny! Harry!" It took several ong moments before she said in a craggly voice. "I'm sorry. But you're needed home... it.. it's..." They could tell something was wrong and Harry's voice came through. "Step back mum."
It took a good two hours to calm both Ginny and Harry down, first from denial and then as the puzzles started to fit together, from anger on not having been called back sooner to help. Now though, they had one last problem. Getting Hermione the help she needed physically and finding Ron and dealing with him. It was Severus' voice through the fire, sneering in his tone that made them turn around.
"So the boy celebrity finally realizes that he had friends he left to rot? Nice. Well I suppose I should tell you, Poppy has arrived along with her neice and they're working on her now. They say she'll live." Pulling his head out of the fire a moment later before Harry could pull a scathing reponce back. It was only then that Ginny piped up with, "Wait a second? Where is she?"
And things got quiet again. The Elder Weasley's had already figured it out but they looked to Bill and Remus who explained that they'd all been at the malfoys when Hermiones call for help came so she was there and she was in no position to be moved.
That answer seemed to be easily taken as they all moved to the fireplace to go and meet with the Malfoys as well as the girls helping the healers.
It's amazing how easily one common goal could join a people together, and the fact that Hermione held a special place in all of their hearts was no exception or something to hide. So it was then and there once everyone had said their greetings and thank yous for watching over her that Molly piped up. "I have an idea, and it's relatively simple compared to what you have all been doing. You've done a great job on getting the evidence you need, now I have the easy way to catch him." Astounded at this she shrugged and said, "What? Fabian was slytherin you know." It wasn't often her brother was mentioned but this did get a few chuckles out of everyone in answer. "As soon as Ron sees the house empty he's going to explode. First of all I'd say be prepared to get called in over a house fire, when he's like this his magic has a tendancy to ripple out uncontrollably. And then within a couple of hours he'll be coming home, he'll send an owl first of course, telling us how she did this or that and then in a fit of rage left him with nothing but ashes I'm sure. I'll have a fryup done, he'll think for him and then you can all come out of the back pantry once he's sat down to eat. I'm sure I have some knitting that will need to be done in the next room."
Arthur had only seen this side of his wife a couple of times and it never ceased to amaze him, but it was the Slytherin's who were truly impressed. It was simple. Quiet, and fool proof and played into all of Ron's likely habits and weaknesses. Even Snapes brow went up in a show of surprise, just staring at the matriarch. "I take back any amount of bad things ever said to you, Molly. Incredible." Shaking his head and then looking to everyone, "Well. You heard the woman. Let's go get ready."
Ginny went to join the other girls in helping take care of Hermione, shocked to find Lavender there, there was a sad understanding on the normally perfected woman's face that made the Potter wife pause in sad realization. She didn't say anything to anyone, just gave them each a hug and then went to help as was needed but mostly made she she stayed out of their way as they all seemed to know what they were doing.
It took almost 12 hours before the call came into Shaklebolt, letting him know that Hermione's house was up in flames as she was at this moment considered missing. It wasn't until Ron sent his mother his message that he sent a message back to the head investigator saying he knew where Hermione was. Though the investigator was not to let Ron know that, and to just let him go when he was done with him. They'd learned long ago not to question these hunches of the Ministers so they let Ron go and within the hour the loud angry Pop of apparation was heard as well as Ron bellowing, "mom?" Sounding like a school boy whining at being picked on. He even had what /looked/ to be tear streaks running down his cheeks.
"Awwww, what's wrong my darling boy." Asked Molly as she stroked his hair back from his face. "Come, sit down while I make dinner for you and you can tell me all about it. Did you get into an argument with Hermione?" Opening the door for her son to hang himself with his own comments, though her back was turned so he couldn't see the tears that streaked down her cheeks in anger when he started.
"She left me mum. She's been spending more and more time at that bookstore, there've been no dinners, no clean clothes. Not even our date nights, she'd make up excuses about being sick or having to work late or something. How often do ya work till 3am at a /bookstore/!" Sniffling wetly as he rubbed his nose on his sleeve as if he were still 10 years old. "I came home and all the furniture I'd bought her, all the jewelry everything I'd ever gotten her and everything we'd gotten together was gone. She was gone. And the house was on fire! Even the engagement ring I bought her wasn't there, I'm going to have to keep an eye on the pawn shops to make sure she doesn't try and hock it, it was a family heirloom!"
The more he spoke the louder his mothers cooking got, till finally she pulled herself together and put a large plate of food in front of her son from behind him as well as several muffins and a large mug of cocoa. Saying nothing as behind her the pantry door opened. Seeing Arthur come out with the ring in his hand that Severus had brought with him she said, "I'll be right back Ron. I left something going in the living room, you be a good boy and eat that up. Let mum take care of you now." Turning then to walk out of the kitchen. It wasn't till the doors slammed and he heard them being locked and spells being cast on the exit that he lifted his head. His cheeks puffed out like a chipmunks with gravy running down his chin as if he'd been eating straight from the plate, dog style.
Seeing all the men in front of him he gulped his food and tried to stand only to be shoved back down by his father. He'd never seen his father so angry and went to say something only to have his fathers hand whip out to slap his son loud and hard. Followed by the sound of metal on the table, only then did Ron turn to see Hermione's ring on the table. "Not. One. Word. Ronald." HIssed his father, "Or so help me I'll give you the beating I should have given you all those years ago." It was Harry being held back by Remus and Bill that made him pale though as his best friend started spouting, "Ronald Bilius Weasley if I never see you again it'll be too soon, how could you do that to her! She devoted her life to you! I'll never forgive you! Every weasley is my family except you! And if I see you anywhere near her, I won't ask first, I'll kill you! Do you understand me!" His voice rising to the point where energy crackled off the ends of his glasses frames.
Ron had only seen his friend like this once and even now it was frightening, finding himself sitting down and staring at Shaklebolt who declared. "Ronald Bilius Weasley you are hereby under arrest for harassment, physical abuse, and attempted murder! And so help me if she doesn't pull through it'll be premeditated." Glaring at the boy before calling for Kreacher.
"Take him and drop him in front of Auror Hampton. Tell him I said that he's to be put into the solitary cell and NO ONE is to see him. Period." Not waiting for anything else the house-elf disappeared. Only then could Molly be heard breaking down ou in the livingroom and all the men sighed. It meant a whole new level of healing for the family.
It took months before Molly and Arthur felt they were able to come and see Hermione. She had woken up and found herself moved to Malfoy manor. Numerous times she had to be reminded that her house had been burnt down, and it was that first time when she mentioned Crookshanks that the men truly looked at each other in confusion, there'd been no sign that the furball was still alive let alone had been there. She'd been inconsolable several times till Severus found out and had to gently remind her that the half kneazle had died several weeks after the war had ended and she'd never gotten another familiar.
Her head injury while it was healing and had to be treated delicately made it difficult sometimes for her to remember. But as she healed many of these topics didn't have to be repeated as often. Oddly enough it was a combination of Blaise and Lucius who were the most attentive, along with Pansy and Lavendar who always seemed to show up with Blaise.
Ron never did make it out of Azkaban and his name was permanently stricken at being mentioned within the remaining family at all. Even when the ghosts of the twins decided out of the blue to show up one day and just decided to ... stay. He was never mentioned and they seemed to already know why, though oddly enough it was them showing up that truly started Hermione's healing process. As she became more comfortable and started healing from her experience she'd find herself more than once sitting with Lucius in the library with her head on his shoulder while they would read together. It was always these quiet times she seemed to enjoy the most with him, and it was him he sought out for these times that seemed to take the stress out of her day more so than anyone else.
But it was the night she had her first nightmare and Lucius came into the room and held her while she slept that things truly changed for them. She'd slept in his arms while he stayed up all night quote 'watching out for Ronald', he'd never slept. He kept his word and just kept an eye on her, whispering to her if she started to act like she was dreaming again, while otherwise she seemed to just cling to his night robe.
Whether or not Hermione would ever get comfortable enough to admit what was growing between her and Lucius no one knew, and still no one knows to this day. Though the couple had long since gotten to the point where Lucius just slept with her, though they did nothing more than steal a few chaste kisses and he held her all night long to keep away the nightmares. She'd sit with him and read, and sometimes would cook for him or for the elves on a whim, that was the most entertaining of their beginning relationship. The elves hadn't known what to do about it, but at least she wasn't trying to give them clothes. It ended up being a tradition that once a year she would cook for everyone even the house elves and to everyone's surprise they all loved her for it.
Lucius learned as time went on, never to try and give Hermione a ring, she still had a scar around the ring finger on her left hand from that final night with Ron, where the metal had cut into her finger and the heat of his magic running over her had seared the scar forever on her hand. After a while people stopped asking if they'd ever marry, knowing that this relationship seemed to though be going slowly was with a couple that had their own way of doing things and own understanding of each other.
Oddly enough this group of people seemed all the tighter for what they went through, and each of them had a special place in Hermione's heart for different reasons for them all. Of all the women it's Lavender that seemed to be the one of the women that spent the most time with her, and Severus still for her academics. Bill found out that Ron has been stealing Hermione's money and squirreling it away, there was enough there to finish paying off the goblins completely and still have a nice nest egg for herself. And he became her personal accountant as well as teacher when it came to researching for curse breaking. The twins in their ghostly forms came to make her laugh and in their own way would curl up with her on the couch while she napped some times as if in being silent sentries.
And though the time was stressful and not easily forgotten they soon all came to realize that it had just brought them all closer together. And Hermione wouldn't let it fall apart. Ever.