Song Suggestion: Lana Del Rey- "Once Upon a Dream" (Maleficent Soundtrack)

A/N: I really thought hard about how each character would turn out in this alternate universe. I came to the conclusion that in every single universe Draco would start out as a spoiled little shit.

A/N 2: I'll be in Greece for the next 2/3 weeks on vacation. I'm not sure what my wifi situation will be while I'm there, or if I'll even have time to post. If I have downtime, I will, but I can't promise anything. The next guaranteed update will be July 10th. After that, I should be back on track for weekly updates without interruptions for a long time.

A big thank you to Erica for being my Beta and spending her time looking over this chapter!

Birthday Surprises

Two weeks later, Theo had his tenth birthday party. Before the event, Hermione worked on his gift. As per tradition, the gift couldn't be something they bought, but something they made. Titus helped her with the final touches, and then she wrapped it up, anxious for him to open it.

After that, Hermione assisted the elves and Tabitha in getting the manor ready for his friends coming over, hanging streamers and blowing up balloons. The party decorations looked odd set against the ancient decor. In a moment of inspiration, she strapped a polka dot party hat on the suit of armor, much to its consternation. She giggled when it gave an irritated shake of its metal head.

"What friends does Theo have?" Hermione asked, hopping off the step stool. Tabitha was wrapping the bottom of the banister in ribbons.

"Just you, I think, which is why Titus invited the other pureblood sons. He's worried he's not making enough connections."

"But Theo told me they're mean. I don't want those bullies over."

"Child, the boy needs more friends than a muggleborn."

Hermione placed her hands on her hips with a frown.

"Why would he? We're perfectly happy together."

Tabitha straightened, handing the rest of the ribbon to Bitty. She wiped a bead of sweat off her forehead with the edge of her sleeve.

"You two won't be together forever. One day, you'll both have your own lives."

Hermione narrowed her eyes.

"No, I won't. I want to be with Theo forever."

"That's the problem. One day you'll be a breeder for another pureblood– maybe even one of the boys arriving today– and he might not be understanding of how close you two are. It just won't be appropriate."

She meant the way they sometimes still slept in the same bed when she had her terrible nightmares. Hermione didn't understand what Titus and Tabitha found so wrong with it. He was her brother, and his presence soothed her. They each had their separate side. Theo's bed was massive, much too big for a single person.

"What's a breeder?"

Tabitha cursed under her breath.

"An honorable position you'll take on when you're of age. After that, you'll no longer be considered a Nott, but whoever you're connected with."

"Like marriage?"

Tabitha looked concerned.

"Now where did you hear that word?"

She shrugged, but Tabitha knew it probably came from Theo.

"No," her nanny said. "The old wizarding families don't get married anymore. Not since Dumbledore's curse. What would be the point? It would just split their wealth. But it will be close enough, I suppose, though it's not guaranteed to be forever. They can send you to another household if they wish."

Hermione thought hard, wrinkling her nose, not understanding everything she talked about. She didn't want to live in some stupid pureblood boy's house, not if it meant leaving Theo.

"Then I'll be Theo's breeder."

Tabitha gave a snort of a laugh and shook her head.

"You'll change your mind about that when you're older."

Hermione didn't understand why she would. She wondered if it was about sex—a naughty word Theo told her about. When a witch and wizard hugged naked. If so, Tabitha might have a point. She'd seen Theo naked before, but she didn't like seeing him that way, and she wouldn't want to hug him without clothes. She remembered the way her cheeks heated when thinking about Titus, the excited tumble of her stomach when he laughed.

"Well, then maybe I'll be a breeder for Titus."

Tabitha sighed. She reached out and cradled Hermione's cheek.

"He's handsome, isn't he? I've seen the way you look at him sometimes. An innocent puppy crush, I think. Don't worry, Titus is oblivious, and I'm not planning on telling him."

Hermione looked down, too embarrassed to meet her eyes.

Tabitha gave an affectionate pat to her cheek.

"Don't worry, my girl. It will be a long time before those decisions are made. By then, you'll have your eye on someone your own age."

The party started in the afternoon. The fairy lights brightened in the bushes with the full heat of the summer warming the air. Flowers bloomed along the labyrinth gardens, enticing people to enter. Tall tables were stationed around the main hedge maze, and uniformed servants weaved through the guests with hovering trays of refreshments and Hors d'oeuvres.

Hermione wore her favorite dress–a dark blue tulle embroidered with unicorns in delicate golden thread that gave a slight glow and pranced along her hemline. Tabitha wove real flowers into her curly hair and allowed her to wear a sprinkle of shimmer on her eyes and cheeks. It made her feel like a Fae princess while running through the smaller hedge maze, searching for rogue gnomes.

The purebloods arrived in small waves, including a few with muggleborns like her. Hermione could barely contain her excitement, bouncing on her toes, because she'd never seen another muggleborn before. The Goyles had a little girl with dark straight hair a year older than her named Katie. The Crabbes had a boy named Justin, who they nicknamed Finch. She tried to be nice to him when he arrived, but he stuck his nose in the air and stayed by his family.

Hermione ignored him in return, attempting not to be hurt and showed Katie her room, letting her play with her art supplies. Once they got bored of that, she brought her to the treehouse.

"Wow," Katie said, admiring the view. "My family lives by the sea, so there are no trees big enough for this. But we get to play in the ocean sometimes– with temperature regulation charms of course– though not if it's too rough, because Greg is scared of the waves. Oh wait… don't tell anyone that. The other boys tease him sometimes, and it makes me angry."

Hermione promised to keep silent.

Before they could play longer, a woman called Katie's name. Her new friend stood up and looked out the treehouse window, groaning in agitation.

"That's my mistress. I think she wants me to meet a potential Trial selection."

"Trial selection?"

The word confused her, but Katie continued, as if she should know.

"Yeah, Marcus Flint is already putting in his token for me, though I don't like him. Greg wasn't too happy about it when he found out." Katie's name was called again. "Oh, I have to go before she gets too mad."


Hermione watched Katie go down the bucket rope, holding on tight and jumping off at the end. She rested her head on her arms against the wooden windowsill, watching her go, feeling a little lonely, since she promised Titus to let Theo play with the boys his age without getting in the way. She walked back to the fluffy green couch, expanding to fit her, and collapsed on it, eyes to the enchanted ceiling, wondering what Katie meant about Trials and tokens. It bothered her that no matter how hard she searched in the library about the meaning of the Trials, she couldn't find a single explanation.

A tug on the rope interrupted her thoughts, and the bucket began to raise. Hermione stood up, hoping it was Theo coming up.

But it wasn't Theo. It was another boy with platinum blond hair and striking grey eyes. His skin was paler than any she'd ever seen, as if he never sat in the sunshine. Something about him tickled the edges of her memory, almost painful. He climbed out of the bucket and stood, almost taller than her.

"Goyle's pet told me you'd be up here."

"Do I know you?"

"You don't remember?" He looked disappointed, lips pulled into a pout. "Well, I remember you. You killed Fenrir. It was the coolest accidental magic I've ever seen, and I've always wanted to meet you again." He held out his hand. "My name is Draco. I want to be friends."

They stared at each other for a few long seconds before she remembered in a visceral way.

Fenrir–the name made her ill. When she concentrated, she smelled his musky, rotten scent. He had sharp teeth and wanted to hurt her.

The boy in front of her had stood next to his monster father, pulling off his small mask. Is that the insect? Blood and terror. A sickening snap of a body hitting a tree. Hopper dangled from his fingers as he stared at her with scathing pity, her father's broken body at his feet. The memories weren't whole, but even fractured, it was enough for Hermione to recoil and lunge to the opposite side of the treehouse.

At the frantic escape, the boy tilted his head in confusion, staring at her in an intense, piercing way.

Hermione's instincts hated this boy instantly. It came from deep inside her injured soul. The memories of him and the pain of that day mixed in odd ways, giving her a bad feeling. Now over her surprise, Hermione curled her lips in a silent snarl.

"I don't want to be your friend. Theo's my friend, and I don't need another."

Draco flinched as if she struck his face. He held his hand out for a moment longer before retracting it, and his cheeks flushed a dark red. It didn't look as if he'd ever had anyone say something like that to him—a rejection. Hermione almost felt sorry for him, but then he gave a terrible scowl.

"You should have been my pet. You're the best mudblood, and Theo doesn't deserve you."

"My name's Hermione. If you ever want to be my friend, you won't use the word mudblood or pet."

Draco narrowed his eyes at her sharp tone.

"Why not? It's what you are, isn't it?"

The magic stirred in her veins with her anger. She felt it prickle along her skin as it traveled down her arms and into her fingertips.

"Because they are gross words, and I asked you not to use them."

Draco seemed to think about her request. He didn't look happy, but he nodded.

"Very well, but what else would I call you?"

"Hermione," she said, exasperated. "Or, at the very least, muggleborn."

Hermione stuck her nose in the air, just daring him to call her a mudblood again. She'd gotten into enough fights with Theo to know she could throw a decent punch when needed. Though if she hit Draco, she might get in a lot of trouble.

"Fine, Hermione." Draco crossed his arms. "The next time I offer my friendship it would be wise for you to accept. I'll ignore it once, since you didn't know."

"Why would I ever want to be friends with you?"

He wore a sneer to perfection, as if he created the expression.

"Because one day, you'll be mine, so you better start being nice."

"No, I won't."

"Yes, you will. Father promised. The best muggleborn will be my Breeder, live in my house, and be my friend. I already know you'll be the best, much better than Katie and Julie. There are another three girls close to our age that I've never met, but I don't need to see them. I know which muggleborn I want, and I always get what I want."

Hermione seethed. Accidental magic zipped out, lifting the edges of her hair. She just wanted this horrid boy to go away and leave her alone.

"Not this time. Theo and Titus will never let you take me."

"Theo's a weakling and would never beat me in the Trials. I'm already smarter and a better flyer than the lot of them."

"You're not smarter than me," Hermione said.

"I doubt that, but I hope you're smart. Stupid people annoy me, and I need someone to play chess with that won't let me win."

Hermione wrinkled her nose, but what he said appealed to her. She wanted someone to play chess with too. Theo hated the game, and Titus never had time.

"Well… maybe I could play chess with you someday, if you start being less bossy to me. But I don't want to talk about breeders. It's stupid."

The rope pulled again, startling her out of her concentrated glare, showing someone else was coming up. This time when the bucket reached the top Theo peeked over.

"There you are," he told Hermione, and then his eyes found Draco, widening. "What are you doing here?"

Draco stood with confidence, pulling his head up and puffing his chest out.

"I was just coming to say hello to Hermione."

"Whatever for?" Theo jumped into the treehouse, walking next to Hermione, standing a little in front of her.

"I thought she should know I'm putting in my token as soon as I'm old enough."

A few emotions passed Theo's face: shock, anger, then disgust. His fists clenched by his side.

"Don't talk to her again," Theo said. "You're not allowed to be alone with her."

Draco gave a dark look that showed he could be cruel when he wanted.

"I can do whatever I want."

"I think my brother will think differently. This isn't your manor, Draco, and she's mine."

Draco stilled, and then he mirrored Theo's stance.

"For now," he said. "But you're making an enemy out of me when we could be good friends, and that's a mistake. We'll soon be in Hogwarts together. I can make your time there terrible. Think about that." He gave her a nod. "Goodbye, Hermione."

Draco climbed in the red bucket and the rope lowered. When he got to the bottom, he stalked through the overgrown grass back to the party.

"He didn't touch you, did he?" Theo asked.

"No… but we've met before."

That surprised Theo.


"That bad night…" Hermione didn't need to elaborate. A long time ago, Titus sat him down and explained everything, including the identity of her father. For an entire day, Hermione thought her new brother would hate her, but Theo never was one to hold ill will toward someone that was innocent, especially since her father died too. Most days they pretended she'd lived at the manor her whole life. "Draco was there. His father was the one who… well, he surprised me up here. He's not very nice."

"No," Theo said. "But you don't need to worry about him. Whatever he told you is wrong. Titus won't let someone like him get you."

Hermione nodded, but a weight settled in her. Draco had seemed so sure, and it made her feel like Theo might be the one who's wrong.

Hermione and Theo walked back to the party. Everyone was eating outside in the gardens, so they grabbed a plate and joined them. Hermione sat next to Titus on a low stone bench in front of a bubbling mermaid fountain. She leaned into his shoulder, picking at her fruit. Titus was the center of attention. All the witches and wizards listened respectfully to him as they discussed various grown-up topics, sitting in chairs positioned with their own small tables in front of them that appeared when needed and disappeared when done.

No one paid attention to her, except a man who walked over and sat down with a tumbler of whiskey. He had long blond hair, carried a cane, and she recognized him immediately as Draco's father, the angel-monster from her nightmares. Just the sight of him made her want to vomit. She flinched when he examined her with the same hard stare Draco used. After a minute, she got mad at him for scaring her and glared at him, but he only grinned at her fierce expression, giving her a subtle wink. She twisted her face into Titus' shoulder to make him disappear. Eventually, Malfoy's father walked away into the gardens, along with most of the others.

"What's wrong?" Titus asked. He looked her over carefully. "You haven't eaten much."

"I'm not hungry."

"Now I know something isn't right," he joked.

Hermione didn't smile, staring at a strawberry. She worked on picking off the black seeds. Physical affection between them was rare, so he knew something scared her to be so close.

"Are you going to give me away?" She asked.

He froze against her.

"Who told you that?"

She shrugged.

"Is someone bothering you?" Titus reached into his pocket and took out his wand. "One of the men?"

"No," she said, not wanting to ruin the party. "I just… I don't want to leave you or Theo. I overheard someone say something."

She wasn't exactly lying.

"We all have to leave home at one point," he said. That wasn't a lie either, but Hermione could sense that it wasn't the whole truth. "Look, I'll do anything in my power to make you happy. You'll still be with us for a long time yet."

That cheered her a little.

"Even if Draco wanted me?" She dared to finally ask him.

Titus snapped his eyes down, forcing her to look at him.

"Did he say something to you?"

"He found me in the treehouse. He remembered me from… before."

She saw the realization, memories flashing behind his eyes, and then his face darkened into anger, a look she rarely saw on him.

"Were you alone with him?"

"Not for long."

"He's not allowed to talk to you alone. I'll remind Lucius to keep him leashed. It won't happen again." He nudged her with a shoulder. "Just so you know, no one would dare touch a Nott ward, even a Malfoy. They can't hurt you without going through me first, and even Lucius is wary of my wand. Remember that. You're safe with me."

Hermione nodded, though her heart still warned that Titus never really answered her question.

Theo blew out his candles to tempered applause just as the sun dipped below the horizon. Bitty made the cake– a four-tiered piece of art with tiny edible quidditch flyers zooming around the piped frosting.

It was so beautiful it almost hurt Hermione to see Tabitha cut into it, but it tasted delicious. She got a slice that tasted like lemon drops and ate it fast, finding her appetite again.

Like Titus promised, Draco didn't talk to her anymore. His father must have said something to him, because he sat back in his chair with a scowl, eyes glued to Hermione.

Hermione ignored him, though she remained aware of the eyes piercing her, and watched Theo open his mountain of presents. The gifts the families brought were extravagant: a new broom, a whole quidditch set, and tickets to the next World Cup.

At the end, he picked up her present. He untied the ribbon, letting it fall away and opened the box.

Theo stared at the gift inside and then grinned.

"Thanks Hermione," he said. "It's perfect."

"What is it?" Greg asked.

Theo lifted out the leather necklace that Titus helped her make. On the end was a coin with a hole she drilled through the top and both their initials stamped in the middle. She found the coin on the bottom of the North Pond several years before. After cleaning it, she discovered it was a tarnished Knut four hundred years old! It might be her greatest treasure. Theo understood what it meant, but Draco didn't.

"What an ugly trinket," Draco mocked.

Hermione's face heated up, and she stared at the ground. He was right in a way. Compared to his other presents, it was stupid.

"Help me put it on." Theo handed her the necklace. "Ignore Malfoy. It's the best present of the day."

All the adults had wandered off, so Hermione became brave.

"Don't worry, Malfoy," she said with a false smile. "I'll never make an ugly trinket for you. I only do that for friends."

That seemed to do the trick. His eyelids dropped in a glare. He looked once at her, and then moved his eyes to Theo, and then to the coin on the necklace. Jealous—that was the word she searched for—he looked jealous. Hermione found she didn't care if she hurt his feelings anymore.

A boy named Blaise gave a sharp laugh.

"Your pet has a hard bite, Nott."

"Shut up, Zabini," Malfoy said. To her astonishment, the boy snapped his lips shut like Draco asked. "She's not a pet, but Theo still needs to punish her more. Maybe then she'd be grateful when a proper wizard pays her attention."

"I have no need to punish her," Theo said. "Hermione's very loyal and obeys my brother and Tabitha all the time. She just doesn't like you much."

Draco glanced around the party with distaste.

"Come on, Blaise. You too, Goyle, this is getting very boring. Let's find something better to do." Malfoy stood up, straightening his robes in a fastidious way.

"But I was having fun." Greg looked adorably confused. Katie sat next to him, and he had an arm around her shoulders.

"Shut up, you idiot, let's go." Draco gave Hermione a look she found hard to interpret. Maybe a little hurt. It was obvious he thought today would go differently. "Theo has made his priorities very clear, and one day he'll regret it."

When Malfoy left to find his father, the rest of the boys did too. Greg gave an apologetic nod while walking by, and Katie waved with a friendly smile. When passing her, Blaise leaned close, so Malfoy couldn't hear.

"Looking forward to seeing you bite again, house pet." He grinned before leaving with the others. She didn't like that boy either. Draco was mean with a sneer, but Blaise was mean with a smile, and somehow that was worse.

When they all left, she turned to find Theo glaring at the empty chairs. He looked a little sad, and it made Hermione feel bad.

"I'm sorry I ruined your party."

"You didn't ruin my party," he said. "But I'm not sure Hogwarts will be very fun now, especially if I get sorted into Slytherin."

They sat in silence.

"I wonder what house I'd have been sorted into."

Theo paused, and then he grinned.

"Others might say Ravenclaw because you love books, but with how you just talked to Draco Malfoy, you're definitely Gryffindor. I don't know anybody brave enough to do that." They both giggled, finding pleasure in the memory of Draco's indignation. "Though don't tell Titus that. We're a Slytherin household. Being anything else is nearly treasonous."

"Now that they're gone, do you want to play Exploding Snap?" Hermione asked.

"Only if I get to go first. It is my birthday, after all."