CW: Teenage sexuality (somewhat more explicit than before but still mostly fade-to-black)

Hermione recognized many of the hedgewitches who had come to help with the werewolf protection ritual. Hermione had opted to hand out the ritual daggers herself so she could see and meet everyone, trying to catch people's faces in the fading light. She wasn't surprised to see the hedges who had first become her friends present and at the front of the line – Derek, Worm, Argin, Jerran, Clover – but she was surprised to see some of the others. She lingered by some after handing out their dagger, asking about why they'd come.

"Are you kidding me?" Keenan said incredulously. She was laughing. "You're teaching us magic! There's no way I want to miss out on anything of yours!"

"But the magic I was teaching you blew off your hand," Hermione said, but Keenan scoffed, waving off her concerns with her stump arm.

"Nah, I blew off my own hand by trying to do too much and not listening to you," she said, grinning ruefully. "I don't blame you in the slightest. And I've gotten good with using my left hand, now!"

Blackbeard was present, standing behind a boy who looked maybe ten. The boy reached out to take the dagger, and Hermione gave it to him, though she looked at Blackbeard quizzically.

"My apprentice," Blackbeard said, nodding with pride. "If I move my forge here, he'll come with me, so it's appropriate he bleed here too."

Hermione was surprised.

"You would move your forge?" she asked, astonished. "That can't be easy, and you're already established where you are. You—you would truly up and move here?"

Blackbeard's eyes softened.

"You're the only wizard who looked at us hedges and saw potential," he told her. "You kept your word and helped protect us, and you've helped teach us how to protect ourselves. You're the type of leader the tales say the old liege lords once were. You've earned my loyalty."

Hermione was rather struck by that and didn't quite know what to say, so she just moved on, handing out daggers down the line.

She gave the last ones to the Shadows and Fleur. Fleur beamed at her, and Hermione smiled faintly back, before glancing around.

"There's no house to stand on this time," she said, frowning.

Harry laughed. "I'm sure you'll figure something out."

She did – Hermione pulled her magic through her earth elemental, pulling up a large pillar of dirt to stand on, high above everyone else, and touched her wand to her throat.

"Sonorus," she murmured.

There was a tickle as the magic touched her throat, one that caught Hermione off guard. Had she ever noticed that before?

"Is everyone at their positions?" she called out. "Final check?"

Witches seemed to be calling out numbers to section leaders, who in turn called out to Draco, who gave Hermione the final OK to go ahead. Hermione was impressed despite herself; Draco had handled the logistics of warding a very large area with expertise.

"We are here to protect this land from werewolves, from those who would do us harm," she intoned over the large, empty land. "Let us unite in this purpose."

The ley line that ran through her land was one of the easiest lines for Hermione to connect with. It was rather large, and there was the added aspect of it having been Hermione herself who had made it, which she suspected rather had something to do with how natural it felt to use it. The hedges also seemed to connect to it rather easily, each witch humming as each person reached equilibrium. The Shadows were able to catch on rather quickly (or Draco had briefed them all), connecting their magic and humming as well, and Hermione could see Fleur's face light up as her magic linked with the ley line, and she, too, began to hum.

Once everyone was linked up, there was a sudden shift in the ley line, and everyone hushed. It was as if Magic itself was telling them they'd all harmonized, that they were ready for what lay next.

As one, each witch reached for the dagger at their side, cutting their hand deeply and holding it over their rune to bleed, their blood filling up the channels while they chanted:

"With our daggers, we cut our hands
With our blood, we defend our lands."

Our lands, Hermione reflected. She could feel magic swell in the clearing, gathering in the space around them as it began to hum its own tone. These would be their lands too, as well as her own.

"With our silver, we repel all harm
With the moonlight, we charge our charm."

Unearthly, silvery-white light began to bathe the sky, the blood in each rune turning to liquid moonlight with magic, and even though she'd seen it before, Hermione was blown away by the beauty of it all.

"With our magic, we combine and connect—"

She could feel the sudden drain on the ley line, as each witch took as much power as they could from the ley line and pushed it into their rune.

"—with our spell, this land we protect."

There were gasps as the ritual took hold, dazzling beams of unearthly silver lighting illuminating the land as the light went from one run to another to another, all the silver wards connecting together in a beautiful, glowing silvery-white net. Hermione could feel the net, humming with magic and power, and she abruptly remembered that magic was both a particle and a wave. Was the 'hum' she felt the wave of magic? Like a sound wave, only perceived by some other, magical sense that wasn't the ear?

The hedgewitches were cheering, exchanging hugs and grins of triumph as they set about burying their wards, and Hermione touched her wand to her throat.


She lowered the earthen pillar back into the ground, and Fleur came up to her immediately, stars in her eyes.

"Oh, Hermione!" she exclaimed. "Hermione, that was wondrous. Never before have I felt such collective magic—such good, communal magic—"

"It went very well," Draco said, smiling slightly, but Hermione could see a note of almost manic self-control in his eyes. "If you'll excuse me, I—I am going to go help heal hands. The hedges—they're not good at Episkey. Pardon me."

He walked off stiffly, and Hermione watched him go, blinking.

"I didn't know he was good at Episkey," she admitted, and Fleur laughed.

"He is who you have had leading most of these rituals, yes?" she said. "I imagine he has gotten a lot of practice."

"That's fair," Hermione agreed. She looked back up at Fleur. "So you liked it?"

Immediately, Fleur looked dazzled again, and she clasped her hands together, spinning around slightly and holding herself, as if she couldn't contain her joy.

"Hermione, that magic—c'était incroyable—"

Hermione watched with a small smile on her face as Fleur went on about the ritual and the feeling of collective magic and potential. Part of her was registering what Fleur was saying, but a larger part of her was taking in Fleur's delight and joy at the magic itself. Fleur was so incredible, so smart and good at magic herself that it was reassuring to Hermione to see Fleur was impressed by Hermione's magic too. And she was beautiful in her joy, Hermione reflected – so free of worry, of concern of anyone imposing on her or demanding anything.

Pansy seemed a little stunned herself, before shaking herself out of it and quietly approaching Hermione.

"We'll clean up here and get everything back to the castle," she said. "I trust you can take care of yourself?"

Hermione gave her a quizzical look, and Pansy rolled her eyes.

"Don't tell me you're not planning on keeping your girlfriend out here for a while to snog under the stars," she said snarkily. "You've both been unable to keep your eyes off of each other all evening."

Hermione felt her face warm, but there was a feeling of excitement in her chest.

"Yeah, something like that," Hermione said, trying to keep her tone casual. "I'll see you all later. Don't—don't wait up."

After everyone else was gone, Hermione led Fleur, hand in hand, deeper into Exmoor, into a small forest that had grown near a ravine. Hermione's heart was pounding, but she didn't back down; she and Fleur had discussed this, and though she was nervous, she was determined to do this small ritual to help make her upcoming larger working less Dark overall.

The ritual circle was a large stone circle, hidden away in the small woods that had sprung up around one of the only uncontaminated sources of water. Hermione and Viktor had painstakingly carved the runes and paths into the large stone wheel, Viktor marking them out in chalk, Hermione tracing the sigils and manipulating the stone beneath her hand. There was a large oval in the middle, with silver and copper shackles jutting out from the stone in a few key places along the border, where Hermione had coaxed stone into encasing part of the restraints. Fleur was silent as she walked around the large circle, tracing her hand silently over the runes as she read them, taking in the rings and channels.

"You are not done?" she observed, pointing to the inner lines. "You have nothing defined along the veins for the core."

"I'm building an entirely new, never-before-heard-of Dark ritual," Hermione protested. "It's not easy."

Fleur laughed. "No matter. It is perfect for what we need. Come."

Under Fleur's direction, Hermione drew in runes around the heart and the core of the circle, runes she wasn't familiar with.

"These runes will discharge the magic into the earth after the ritual," Fleur instructed. Her eyes glittered. "Once you show the magic the way."

Hermione bit her lip, flushing. "Right."

Soon, the new runes were done, engraved into the stone, and Hermione looked down at them, her face hot.

"Should I bleed?" she asked, glancing at Fleur. "To close the circle?"

Fleur smiled faintly. "Not for this."

Fleur moved off of the stone circle, sitting just past the edge of it, up against a tree. Trembling, Hermione crawled to the center of the circle, the stone cold against her back as she laid down.

"It's freezing," she complained, and Fleur laughed.

"It is winter," she observed, amused. "Did you expect differently?"

Hermione flushed. "…no."

"Are you ready?" Fleur asked.

Hermione took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, before closing her eyes and resting her head back against the stone.

"Alright," she said. "I'm ready."

As Fleur began explaining to Hermione what she was going to be doing, recapping what she'd told her before, Hermione could feel her face get warmer and warmer. She understood the purpose of this and why it would help, and she was fully clothed, but that didn't take away the feeling of being naked under Fleur's eyes.

"This is a very basic ritual," she said, her voice a murmur. "There is only one worker – you—"

"A solo sex ritual is still sex magic," Hermione muttered, face flaming, and Fleur laughed, before settling back down.

"There is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about, Hermione," Fleur told her. "Love and self-love is beautiful, however it takes form – physically, emotionally, magically. You can use that for good purposes, here; set your intention as you begin…"

Fleur's voice was a low caress, sending shivers through Hermione, heightening her awareness. She felt flushed and warm, despite the cold of the stone.

"As you go, you must let your energy build, let your magic and pleasure fill the circle's channels," Fleur instructed. "You will feel as the magic fills the circle and channels. When the circle is full, overflowing…"

"That's—that's when I channel it down into the earth," Hermione said.

"Yes," Fleur said softly. "That is when you release the power, when you connect the circle to the ley line with the force of your magic in that moment."

"This is like making a ley line, only the opposite," Hermione grumbled. "That was extremely painful, tearing through reality. This is—"

"This is a pathway for energy, for magic, nothing more," Fleur reminded her gently. "You will not be able to traverse it. You are making a pathway for Magic to come up through later."

Hermione blew out a deep breath.

"Okay. How do I do this?" she asked, and Fleur laughed unexpectedly.

"How do you do it?" Fleur repeated, amused. She raised an eyebrow. "Do you not know how to do this, Hermione? Are you telling me you have never done such a thing to yourself?"

"No! No, I mean, I have," Hermione amended, face red, "but… that involved touching. Myself. And a bed. And with fewer clothes."

"You cannot keep your hand under your cloak?" Fleur asked, her voice lower. "You cannot reach up and grasp your breast without taking off your stays?"

Hermione felt her breath catch. "I—I mean, I can—"

"Then do so," Fleur told her, her voice warm and dark. "Touch yourself, Hermione."

Her face flaming, Hermione reached up and cupped her breast, her hand under her cloak but over her robes. Through both her robes and her bra cup, the sensation was dulled, but Hermione felt her center warm, just from Fleur's words and the thought.

She must have made a sound, because the next moment, Fleur made a tortured noise.

"Ah, Hermione, do you want my help?" she said, her voice low. "I cannot enter your circle while you do this, but I can help."

"You can…?"

"Close your eyes," Fleur murmured, her blue eyes dark. "Close your eyes, Hermione."

Hermione closed her eyes, hands still hidden underneath her cloak.

"Imagine me over top of you," Fleur said. "Imagine me looking down at you, leaning in to kiss you over and over again."

Hermione could imagine it all too well – she'd daydreamed and fantasized about her kisses with Fleur many times, often alone in her bed at night.

"I would press kisses down your neck," Fleur told her. "My hand would come up to brush over your breast, to slip inside your robe and feel you. Can you feel my hand?"

There was a ghost of sensation on her breast from the fantasy, a tingling. Eyes still closed, Hermione slipped her own hand into her robes, skimming the top of her breast before reaching under her bra, cupping herself and pinching the nipple with a gasp. "Yes."

"Oh, Hermione," Fleur murmured. "The things I would do to you…"

The magic slowly filled up the channels in the rock, Fleur's words guiding the way. When Hermione could feel the magic resonating like a plucked string, ready to break, Fleur seemed to know it, even as Hermione fought to keep her focus and breathe.

"Now, Hermione," Fleur breathed. "Now."

Hermione gasped.

An explosion of bright purple light dazzled her eyes while her magic raced down into the earth, her body left arching against the stone as it contorted in pleasure. Hermione could feel her magic not quite tearing a path in reality, but it was doing something, she could tell, and she could feel the moment it reached the ley line, the earth's Magic swelling up to meet her own.

As Hermione caught her breath, her heartbeat slowing down, she could feel the pathway still there somehow, even without her magic – the intent and built-up pressure had built the connection; it could exist without Hermione's magic maintaining it perpetually. Which was good, considering what it was intended to do – if Hermione had any lingering part of that channel instead of just Magic itself, the ritual would be unequivocally Dark.

The deed done, Hermione sat up, looking at Fleur. Fleur's blue eyes were dark, glowing.


Hermione stumbled off the stone and was in Fleur's arms a moment later, kissing her as hard as she could. Fleur's arms came up to hold her, embracing her as Fleur kissed her deeply back, tangling one hand in Hermione's hair with an intensity that made Hermione moan. Her body was already wound up, aching, and she pressed herself against Fleur with an urgency that made Fleur groan and pull her in closer.

"Fleur," Hermione begged, pulling back from her lips just enough to speak. "Fleur, can we…?"

Fleur's voice was rough, hoarse. "Yes, Hermione, yes. I have longed… where can we go?"

Locations flitted through Hermione's mind, all of them inappropriate – her dorm bed, Fleur's bed in the carriage, the Chamber of Secrets, the Astronomy Tower, her childhood bed, a room at the Three Broomsticks, anywhere—

"I have a room at my covenhouse," she gasped. Her wild eyes met Fleur's. "My covenhouse. If I go, can you Apparate to follow me?"

"Apparition does not work like that," Fleur told her, pressing hot, suckling kisses to the column of her neck. "I cannot follow another. The magic vanishes."

"I won't be Apparating – I'll be jumping," Hermione said. Words were harder to come by, her head growing heated and blank. "I'll – oh, let's try this—"

She surged up against Fleur, kissing her deeply again, and Fleur opened her mouth with a moan, kissing her back. As she did, Hermione reached out with her magic, pushing hers up against Fleur's, and Fleur gasped, her eyes flying open, wild.

"Hermione," she moaned. "What are you—"

"I'll push part of my magic into you," Hermione breathed. "Then you can follow it back to me. Okay?"

"You would do that?" Fleur asked, her eyes wide. "You would trust me with yourself this way…?"

"I'd trust you with my life, Fleur. My magic is nothing," Hermione murmured against her lips. "Ready?"

Fleur's wild moan as Hermione pushed her magic into her sent heat surging through Hermione's blood to curl around her center. A moment later she jumped into the ley line, the travel that had once been so difficult to master now second-nature as she flew through the lines of magic, reappearing inside of her designated room of the covenhouse moments later.

She'd scarcely had time to breathe before there was a CRACK and Fleur appeared from nowhere, looking down at her with dark eyes. The treehouse was warm around them, the bed soft underneath Hermione, and Fleur approached her much like a predator would her prey.

"Hermione…" Fleur's voice was a dark caress, filled with longing. "The things I would like to do to you…"

She crawled overtop of Hermione, leaning down to give her a searing kiss as her fingers found the silver clasps on Hermione's cloak, undoing them one by one.

"I've never done any of this before," Hermione said, all in a rush to get it out against Fleur's lips. "I've only read – so if I'm bad at it—"

"We will practice, then," Fleur breathed, her breath warm against her face. "This is a journey together, Hermione, not a race. We will only go as far as we both want to journey, and if we never reach the top of the cliffs to look over, we will still have had a beautiful walk along the way."

It was a lovely way to look at things, and Hermione gave up her worries and put her trust in Fleur as she kissed her again, helping ease the blonde girl's cloak off her shoulders as Fleur began slipping the buttons Hermione's robes open one by one.

The next morning, Hermione found herself at breakfast early, her face red, though not from the cold. Blaise was there early as well, perusing a book on poisons as he stirred his tea. Hermione sat down next to him, wide-eyed, and Blaise glanced up at her, nodding in greeting.

"I slept with Fleur," Hermione said, all in a rush to Blaise.

Blaise's eyes went wide, and Hermione's face went scarlet. Blaise laughed.

"And by slept with," he teased, "you mean…?"

Hermione's face flamed. "We… I…"

"I see." Blaise's lips curled up in a smile. "I take it there was no actual sleeping involved."

Hermione shook her head, and Blaise's smile grew more.

"Given you and Fleur both lack certain anatomy," he began, his eyes gleaming, "I find myself curious about how you—"

"She—her fingers," Hermione said, a bit breathless at the memory. "Her long, magic fingers, with her mouth up higher— err—"

"On your nipples?" Blaise guessed.

"Yes," Hermione said, red.

Blaise smirked. "Did you return the favor?"

"I—um—I wanted to try, but she said she was too wound up to wait any longer," Hermione recalled. "So she—umm—she just pressed me into the bed and kissed me hard and sort of writhed on my leg until she—she was gasping against my mouth—"

Hermione was sure she was blushing as bright as a berry, but Blaise looked at her approvingly, giving her a nod.

"Did you like it?" he asked.

"Yes," Hermione said, all in a rush. "Yes."

"Are you going to do it again…?"

Hermione trembled at the thought, flickers of dormant desire smoldering once more. "I hope so."

"And why are you telling me…?"

Hermione's face was red.

"I—I don't know, entirely," she said, faltering. "I feel like I need to tell someone, I think? I felt like I would explode if I didn't. And you—you know the situation with Fleur and me, and you—you've also, erm—" she was lost for words, and quickly changed directions, "and I—I guess I needed to tell someone as a sanity check? Am I crazy, for doing this?"

Blaise smirked.

"Love is always crazy, isn't it?" he said idly. "It's not like it's a logical decision we make."

"You know what I mean," Hermione argued, and Blaise laughed. His eyes were dark, aroused, but he merely nodded to Hermione, a slight grin lingering on his face.

"Just have fun, Hermione," he told her, amused. "So long as you're both into it, enjoy it while it lasts." He smirked. "At least you won't have to worry about either of you getting pregnant – you'll just have to be careful not to get caught."