- Character Bashing
- Explicit Sex
~A Future Queen~
“I don’t like it,” Lady Minerva fretted as she looked around the infirmary. “I would feel better if you were in the Spine.”
The worry and tension of the last week were evident in her mother’s face. Sharp lines bracketed the McGonagall’s mouth and there was an almost constant furrow between her brows. There were dark circles under the McGonagall’s eyes that spoke to nights tossing and turning. Hermione took her mother’s hand and squeezed her fingers gently.
“Mum,” Hermione sighed. Her throat had finally healed enough that Draco didn’t have a fit every time she tried to speak. “I can’t return to the Spine right now. I have obligations here at the Palace.”
“I understand that,” Lady Minerva retorted. Her lips pinched into a thin line. “I still don’t like it.”
Hermione laughed. “Of course you don’t. You think the cure for anything to go to the Spine.”
“I suppose that you’ll be spending most of your time down here on the plains,” Lady Minerva observed with a sour expression.
The reality of Hermione’s changed circumstances laid between them. When Hermione had been a child she had spent most of the year at the Palace with her summers spent in the Spine. It had been something that Minerva had been forced to accept when Hermione was young, but for the last ten years Minerva had not had to share her daughter with anyone.
“It will be just as it was before,” Hermione reminded her mother. “I’ll rotate from the Ross estate to the Palace to the Spine.”
“Aye,” the McGonagall agreed reluctantly.
“You could always come visit me here at the Palace,” Hermione pointed out. “Harry has access to gliders. You know that he would fly you to come see me.”
“His highness has always been a good lad,” the McGonagall observed aloud. She leaned forward and kissed Hermione’s forehead. “I’m so glad that you have him once again.”
“I am, too, Mum,” Hermione whispered.
Everything had been such a whirlwind and there were times that Hermione wanted to pinch herself. Was this really happening? Was she truly Gifted? Was she really the betrothed of the Crown Prince of Albion? Did she have Harry’s love once again? Did she have the right to touch him, and to be touched by him in return? Every morning she woke and there was that split second when she expected to hear the sounds of Catspaw coming to life.
Despite the fear and pain of Manifestation sickness and the horror of her grandfather being a Death Eater who tried to kill her—all of it had been worth it because everything that had happened brought her back to Harry. He was worth all of it. She knew he felt guilty because he felt the same, but she wasn’t sure how to convince him that she agreed wholeheartedly. Perhaps it would take time. Her prince was a stubborn bastard.
“There you are Hermione,” Daphne announced as she sailed into the room, shaking Hermione out of her reverie.
“Where else would I be?” Hermione asked drily. Daphne shrugged.
“You make Draco crazy half the time,” Daphne explained. She waved a hand in the air. “To hear him tell it, you’re trying to go boar-hunting.”
“I wanted to know if I could sleep in my own bed,” Hermione huffed and rolled her eyes. “That is hardly boar-hunting.”
“Draco’s mostly harmless. He just feels a great deal of responsibility to you,” Daphne said.
“I’m tired of the poor Healers tripping over Harry all the time,” Hermione sighed. “I was hoping that if I slept in my own rooms he would stop scaring Healing apprentices.” She frowned at Daphne. “Why were you looking for me?”
“Lady Lavender has passed every test that the technicians could throw at her. She has been cleared to join the Crown Council. Their majesties are going to hold a reception this evening, and they would like you to attend,” Daphne explained eagerly.
“Does Harry know?” Hermione asked curiously.
“His highness has been informed,” Daphne replied.
“I see,” Hermione murmured. She tilted her head at Daphne. “Do you know where the Princess-Consort’s rooms are?”
Daphne blinked at her. “Yes, of course.”
“Can you help me there?” Hermione asked.
“Hermione,” Lady Minerva protested. “The Healers don’t want you to strain yourself!”
“I won’t be straining myself. Daphne is going to help me to the Princess-Consort’s chambers, which are close enough to the infirmary that I won’t be straining anything,” Hermione reassured her mother.
“I don’t like it,” Lady Minerva muttered.
“I know Mum and I understand, but it is imperative that I make a public show of welcoming Lady Lavender,” Hermione reminded her mother.
“I know,” Lady Minerva sighed. She shook her head and turned to frown at Daphne. “I trust you to see to Hermione’s safety.”
“I understand, Lady Minerva,” Daphne swore. She grinned then. “Oliver’s outside the infirmary. Shall we take him with us?”
“Yes,” Lady Minerva said with a nod. “Take Oliver with you.”
Slowly and carefully, Hermione shifted in the bed. The Healers from Ys had arrived with all speed and had worked with Draco to develop a healing plan for her. Daphne and Lady Minerva helped her to sit up and move to the edge of the bed. Her lungs were almost completely healed and the bruising on her ribs was so much better. For Harry’s peace of mind, Hermione had dutifully allowed to Draco to hover over her, but enough was enough.
“Are you alright?” Lady Minerva asked worriedly.
“Aye, Mum,” Hermione replied. She kissed her mother’s cheek. “I’ll see you this evening.”
“See that you do,” Lady Minerva sniffed. “I should go see Lady Elinor and let her know your plan.”
“Thank you, Mum,” Hermione murmured.
The only people who saw Hermione, Daphne, and a small crowd of McGonagalls make their way toward the Princess-Consort’s chambers were a couple of Palace servants who nodded politely and then kept on walking. No one who would have stopped Hermione came across their path. One of the most important things that Minerva taught her daughter was to pick her not only her battles, but to try and choose the battlefield as well.
As the betrothed of the Crown Prince, Hermione’s assigned chambers within the Palace would be those of the Princess-Consort’s. She knew they were free because Harry had made a point of telling her that he had kept them for her. She knew that her prince would have a difficult time yelling at her if she was moving into the chambers of his consort. In fact, the silly man would probably end up wearing a smug smirk for most of the evening.
The rooms were completely empty, which was what Hermione expected. A couple of McGonagalls had already been sent to collect Fay and Hermione’s ball gowns. Daphne helped Hermione draw a bath and then helped her into the bathtub. Hermione looked up at Daphne curiously.
“No ridiculous, over-the-top flirting?” Hermione asked with a slight smile. “Are you feeling well, Lady Daphne?”
“His highness asked me if I would consider being one of your ladies-in-waiting,” Daphne admitted quietly. She handed Hermione a wash cloth and a cake of soap.
“But… your work at Slytherin Tower,” Hermione protested as she lathered up the cloth. She began to wash the grime of the infirmary off of her skin. “You seemed to really enjoy that and I would hate to be the reason for you to leave the Towers.”
“I do enjoy my work in the Towers,” Daphne agreed. She grinned at Hermione. “But you’ll need to go to the Towers for training.”
“Do I have to train in Albion?” Hermione asked curiously. “Could I train anywhere?”
“Are you trying to make his highness have an apoplectic fit?” Daphne stared at Hermione with raised eyebrows.
“Ys is well-known for their pyrokinetics,” Hermione pointed out.
“I understand that,” Daphne agreed. “But if you tell the prince that not only are you leaving him for two years, but you’re going to another country? His head will explode.”
“I’m not leaving him,” Hermione protested. “I just need to gain control of my Gift, and pyrokinetics are so rare that I worry about whether or not a non-pyrokinetic will be able to give me the training I need.”
“The Ambassador of Ys has been very helpful,” Daphne said thoughtfully.
“His daughters used to come and visit for part of the year after they completed their training,” Hermione explained. “I became pen friends with the both of them, and they consider me a friend.”
“You are also the future Queen of Albion,” Daphne countered drily. She wrinkled her nose at Hermione. “That’s reason enough to court your favour. He has to know that Harry would do anything for you.”
“There is that,” Hermione agreed reluctantly. “But Ambassador Delacour isn’t that type of man.”
“He is a servant of the Crown of Ys. He’ll do whatever Queen Melusine commands him to do—just as Draco will do for Harry,” Daphne pointed out.
“What is your point, Daphne?” Hermione huffed.
“What if we did some kind of Tower technician trade with Ys?” Daphne suggested. “We could have a couple of pyrokinetics come here and we could send someone there?”
“That is… brilliant,” Hermione said slowly. She stared up at Daphne in surprise. “I thought I might have to convince Harry to let me go to Ys for two years, and I was dreading that conversation.”
Daphne snorted. “That would not be happening. He would never let his future Queen be under the control of a foreign power.”
“Even if staying here might be dangerous for me and everyone around me?” Hermione countered.
“His highness would risk the burn marks,” Daphne muttered.
“He probably would,” Hermione sighed.
“I’ll go see if Fay has returned with your dresses, Lady Hermione,” Daphne said with a nod.
“Thank you,” Hermione replied.
Taking the opportunity to duck her head under the water, Hermione washed her hair and continued to bathe. She knew that soon enough Fay would march into her bath. When Fay entered the bathing room a few moments later, she grabbed the special hair oil that Hermione used on her impossible curls. She poured some oil into her hand and began to work it into Hermione’s hair.
“What is your plan for this evening, my lady?” Fay asked.
“Lady Lavender’s position at court is tenuous, and Lord Malcolm’s behaviour will be used against her,” Hermione replied. “I would like to help ease her way, especially since the Tower technicians have cleared her.”
“That would probably help her,” Fay admitted. She held out her hands to help Hermione out of the tub. “Does his highness know?”
“He doesn’t know that I plan to attend the reception this evening,” Hermione said. She shrugged as casually as she could. “I haven’t seen him since I was informed about the reception.”
“Does his highness know that you’ve moved into the Princess-Consort’s chambers?” Fay asked with a raised eyebrow.
“He might not,” Hermione admitted. “As soon as I see him, I’ll let him know.”
“So it’s possible that his highness is tearing the Palace apart looking for you right now?” Fay guessed.
“I hardly think so,” Hermione scoffed. “I’m sure that Lady Elinor has confirmed that the House of Ross will be in attendance, and he’s trying to argue with her.”
“Which would be why we aren’t in the Ross apartments,” Fay muttered to herself. She shook her head at Hermione. “Someday that cleverness is going to fail you, my lady.”
“But not today, Fay,” Hermione said cheerfully.
The McGonagall and the Lady of Ross had insisted that Hermione’s ball gowns have added security measures, and thin strips of steel had been sewn into all of her bodices to act as a form of armour. It made the bodice stiffer, and Fay carefully laced it up. Daphne and Fay fussed with her hair, trying different styles until they found a style that they could both agree on.
The crash of something hitting the wall from the next room made all of them jump and turn to the Prince’s chambers. She marched over to the door and threw it open.
“Why are you breaking Gryffindor family heirlooms, Harry?” Hermione asked with a frown.
“Hermione!” Harry pulled her against his chest, hugging her tightly. He pulled back and glared at her. “Where the hell have you been?”
“In my rooms, Harry,” Hermione replied innocently. “Where else would I be?”
“What rooms?” He protested. “I was just in the Ross apartments and you weren’t… you moved into the Princess-Consort’s rooms?”
“The betrothal has been reinstated,” Hermione reminded him. She frowned up at him. “Would you rather that I move back into the Ross apartments? I can do that if you would prefer.”
“No,” Harry rushed to assure her. His hand slid down her back to rest at the small of her back. He grinned at her. “I’m pleased to have you back in your rooms.”
“Thank you, your highness,” Hermione smiled back up at him. “I am pleased to be back in my rooms.”
“Why are you wearing a ball gown?” Harry asked.
“There is a reception this evening to welcome Lady Lavender to the Crown Council,” Hermione explained. “I want to make sure that she isn’t blamed for Lord Malcolm’s actions. She’s been cleared by the Tower technician—I don’t want people to tar her with that brush.”
“Hermione, you’re still recovering,” Harry protested.
“I am as recovered as I’m going to get,” Hermione countered. “The healing team all agrees that I just need time.”
“It isn’t safe,” Harry worried aloud.
“I am as safe as I can be. The Tower technicians have done everything they can—they’ve interviewed the royal guard, all of the Crown Council members, and all of the heirs. Everyone has been cleared,” Hermione tried to assure him.
“I don’t like it,” Harry grumbled at her.
“You aren’t alone there,” Hermione sighed. “Herself isn’t happy with me going either, but this is important.”
“Let me change and I’ll escort you,” Harry murmured. He dropped a kiss on her forehead.
There was a brief pause when Hermione entered the reception on Harry’s arm. Queen Lily broke protocol and pulled Hermione in for a hug, and James and Sirius each hugged her as well.
“Thank Godric that you are well,” Queen Lily said warmly. She squeezed Hermione’s arm. “You didn’t need to attend tonight.”
“I do, your majesty,” Hermione corrected the Queen with an apologetic smile. “It’s important that I’m here for Lady Lavender.”
“I’m so glad,” the Queen sighed. She smiled at Hermione. “I worried about how that might work out.”
“I see that you found your lady,” King-Consort Sirius said with a pointed look at Harry.
“Hermione has moved into the Princess-Consort’s rooms,” Harry replied smugly.
“Ah.” James turned to Sirius with an arched eyebrow.
“Did you inform the major-domo?” Sirius asked curiously.
“Of course,” Hermione replied with a serene smile. “Her majesty taught me how important it was to communicate with the Palace staff.”
“It was one of the first things that I taught her,” Queen Lily agreed.
“Is Lady Lavender here?” Hermione asked.
“She is,” Queen Lily confirmed. “I believe she is across the room, by the large fireplace.”
“Thank you, your majesty,” Hermione murmured and curtseyed. “If you’ll excuse me?”
“Of course, my dear,” Queen Lily said with a fond smile.
Slowly, Hermione made her way across the room with Harry looming behind her, glaring at anyone who breathed wrong near her. She paused deliberately to speak to people that she knew, but she kept moving inexorably toward Lady Lavender. Oliver was already standing next to Lady Lavender, speaking to her with a solemn expression. The new head of the House of Urquart was wearing a black sash.
“Lady Lavender, how are you?” Hermione greeted her with a polite nod. Lady Lavender looked up and started when she spotted Hermione and Harry.
“Your highness, Lady Hermione,” Lady Lavender murmured in surprise. She stared at them with wide eyes and then looked to Oliver. “How are you… I mean… I hope you’re doing well.”
“I am doing well, thank you,” Hermione said with a nod. “How are you finding the Crown Council?”
“So far everyone has been very kind and understanding,” Lady Lavender said cautiously. “Lady Elinor has made it a point to welcome me.”
“I am so pleased to hear that,” Hermione said with a smile. “You have worked so hard for the House of Urquart. I know that you will lead your House well.”
“That means so much to me, coming from you, Lady Hermione,” Lady Lavender said with a careful smile. “Oliver said that you didn’t blame me, but I couldn’t be certain.”
“Oliver did?” Hermione turned to look at her vassal. Oliver flushed a deep red and refused to look at her. Hermione blinked in surprise and turned to look at Harry.
“I’m sure Oliver was doing his best to help smooth the way for his lady,” Harry murmured quietly.
“Well no wonder you refused me, Oliver,” Daphne drawled as she joined them. She looked Lady Lavender up and down and grinned at her. “You are absolutely lovely.”
“Thank you,” Lady Lavender said with a stunned expression. She turned to Oliver with wide eyes.
“It isn’t what you think,” Oliver protested helplessly. He turned to Daphne with a frown. “You enjoy short-term relationships. That’s not how I operate.”
“That’s true,” Hermione added with a shake of her head. “Believe me, it was awful living with Oliver while he figured all of that out.”
“I enjoy short-term relationships because I’m forced to move around a lot, and most people aren’t able to support a long-distance relationship,” Daphne countered. She eyed Lady Lavender and Oliver thoughtfully. “I would be happy to consider a long-term relationship with the right people. And you are?”
“Lady Daphne of the House of Greengrass, may I introduce you to Lady Lavender, the Lady of Urquart?” Harry drawled and gestured to each woman.
“Lady Lavender?” Daphne squeaked. She turned to Hermione. “I’m so sorry—I didn’t realize that she was…”
“The heir of the man that tried to kill Lady Hermione?” Lady Lavender suggested tightly.
“Lady Daphne is apologizing for the flirting,” Hermione explained with an apologetic smile. “She knew that I wanted to strike the right note with you this evening.”
“So you didn’t mean it?” Lady Lavender asked. Hermione was startled to realize that Lady Lavender appeared to be disappointed.
“She meant the flirting,” Oliver grumbled. “She always means the flirting.”
“Lady Daphne is an excellent kisser,” Hermione teased Lady Lavender lightly. “Perhaps you could both convince Oliver that he ought to give you a chance.”
“My lady!” Oliver protested.
“It’s either that, or you should go home and tell that poor boy that you’ve been pining after him for years,” Hermione told Oliver sternly.
“What boy?” Lady Lavender asked with wide eyes.
“Lee Jordan,” Hermione replied. “He had obligations and offered Oliver a short-term relationship. Oliver was hurt and refused Lee, but every time we are anywhere near his village we have to deal with mopey, broody Oliver.”
“I have no objection to a quartet,” Daphne said cheerfully.
“You wouldn’t,” Oliver grumbled.
“I would never be alone,” Daphne countered with a shrug. “No matter what was happening there would be at least someone home.”
“That sounds wonderful,” Lady Lavender said with a soft smile. “My mother was always at the Towers and my dad was so lonely.”
“We were the opposite,” Daphne explained. “Father worked at the Towers and Mum was left to manage the household alone.”
“We’ll let you ladies become better acquainted,” Harry said with a polite nod to the group. “Lady Lavender, it was a pleasure to see you looking so well.”
“Oh! You too, your highness,” Lady Lavender said with a deep curtsey. She winced and shook her head. “I mean, I’m so glad that Lady Hermione is recovering so quickly.”
“Thank you,” Hermione said with a warm smile. She leaned forward and kissed Lady Lavender lightly on the mouth. “Welcome to the Palace.”
Lady Lavender blushed and nodded while Harry dragged Hermione away from the group.
“Daphne is a bad influence,” Harry muttered.
“I think she’s a wonderful influence,” Hermione countered. “I plan to emulate her when I go to the Towers in Ys.”
“What!” Harry stopped walking and turned to glare at her. “You are not going to Ys.”
“Are you telling me where I can and cannot go?” Hermione asked with a frown.
“Don’t think that I don’t know exactly what you did earlier,” Harry warned her darkly. “I already spent most of the day arguing the point with Lady Elinor, only to have my own mother warn me that it was important for you to make an appearance.”
“So what am I doing now, your highness?” Hermione smirked up at him.
“Pushing me to agree to Sirius’ insane plan to initiate some kind of Tower exchange program with Ys and any other interested countries,” Harry informed her.
“Sirius?” Hermione said.
“So you weren’t aware of his barmy plan?” Harry demanded. Hermione shook her head.
“No, Harry, I swear to you. When Daphne and I were talking earlier, she suggested that Fleur Delacour might be willing to come here and help with my training instead of me going to Ys,” Hermione explained. Harry stared at her in surprise.
“You really were considering going to Ys?” Harry’s voice rose in agitation. “How could you even consider it? We’d be separated for years. I can’t just prance off to Ys every time I want to see you. That’s not even counting for the fact that I would need to send an army to protect you.”
“I need the training, Harry,” Hermione reminded him as gently as she could. “I’m a pyrokinetic Prime. There aren’t any that have the training to teach the newly Gifted. I wouldn’t have a choice.”
“I’ll have the dads and Mum speak to Ambassador Delacour tomorrow,” Harry promised. “We’ll get your training started right away.”
“That wouldn’t have anything to do with the royal custom of waiting until every party involved has completed training before marriage, would it?” Hermione asked. Harry grinned at her and kissed the tip of her nose.
“It’s a factor,” Harry admitted. “There’s also the fact that, as the Princess-Consort, you’ll have duties here at court that you’ll need to execute. It gives you time to adjust to those responsibilities.”
:I love you, Harry. If it wouldn’t scandalize the entire court—I would snog you senseless right here.:
Harry turned to her with a dark, hungry expression in his eyes.
“You’ve been sleeping in the infirmary for a week,” he murmured to her. “And now that you’ve moved into the Princess-Consort’s room, you’ll be sleeping next door.”
Hermione snorted at that. “I’ll be sleeping in your highness’ bed,” she informed him haughtily. She looked him up and down and quirked one slender eyebrow at him. “Do you have object?”
“Not at all,” he growled at her. “Let me go speak to my parents.”
“Why do you need to speak to your parents?” Hermione asked in surprise.
“I’m going to inform them that you have overtaxed yourself, and that I am going to escort you to your room to make sure that you’re settled properly,” Harry told her with an air of determination.
“They’re never going to believe that,” Hermione protested. Harry grinned at her and winked.
“No, they won’t,” he agreed.
“Harry!” Hermione protested.
“What?” Harry asked. “We’ve been kept apart for ten years. I’ve missed you every day. You nearly died, but I got a second chance to be with you. Then you nearly died again. Do you honestly think that my parents aren’t expecting a lot of enthusiastic reunion sex?”
Hermione wrinkled her nose at him. “When you put it like that… they probably do.”
“I would hate to disappoint my parents,” Harry said with a wicked grin.
“You are a terrible betrothed,” Hermione complained.
“I am an amazing betrothed,” Harry countered. He held out his hand to her. “Come on and let me prove it to you.”
Hermione grinned and took his hand.