Chapter beta: Dani
Chapter translator: Aivy & our new team member, Nik
In the Snake Pit
I walked into the, as per usual, greenly-lit room and noticed the atmosphere of departure. They couldn’t wait for the holidays to start. I stopped when I saw a tall, impressive figure leaning casually against the hearth.
I stopped short in my motion. Snape. What was he doing here?
I watched him speak to a few seventh and sixth years, with Blaise amongst this illustrious circle. It has always been amazing to see what kind of regime Snape led down here in his dungeons. Unlike McGonagall who insisted on order and enforced it too, Snape gave his snakes a great deal of freedom.
He didn’t care if Slytherin had quarrels, duelled and were injured here inside the House. He had taught them enough so that they could usually heal themselves. Nonetheless, he was often there, conducting his monthly rapports, and demanding that the face and reputation of the House to the outside be kept intact under all circumstances.
Otherwise, though, he always relied on the House leader holding the reins tightly in his hand and that he wouldn’t be bothered with unimportant children's stuff. His system worked surprisingly well. Even the youngest were receiving tutoring from the elders so that the House’s performance was always consistently good. Failures were met with loathing.
Even if we Gryffindors didn’t want to admit it or see it - of course, we’d won the House Cup for years, but only because Dumbledore, year after year, awarded us the crucial and missing points thanks to Harry's and our daring actions - looking purely at the academic side of things, the Slytherins should dictate the colour scheme for the consistency of their achievements. Just as they had for years before we had arrived. But who said that the world was fair? That was something that the Slytherins learned from their first year at school. They were the unloved House of the Serpent, regarded with mistrust and suspicion!
Snape was talking more intensely to some of the Slytherins than McGonagall had ever done to their lions. He was very good at what he did; probably always was and with everything. I could literally feel how he noticed me and didn’t really seem surprised that I showed up here so carefully cloaked. Thus, I stepped confidently into the circled that had congregated around Snape and devoutly listened to his words.
“How nice to see you, even if it is no surprise,” Snape sneered and interrupted his previous conversation with a N.E.W.T student brusquely, his dark, uninterpretable gaze focussed on me.
“Sir, what do you mean by that?” Once again we caused a sensation, because the professor spoke with me, the Untouchable, in such a familiar way. It showed that we knew each other intimately and if they knew how intimately they would all succumb to a heart attack, I was sure.
“That means that I want to talk to you and there is no Draco here to rescue you so you will come with me,” he bit out in his usual lovely way, revealing that he had only gone to the Slytherin common room in the hope to intercept me. I was almost speechless.
“Who says that I have to get rescued? … And what, he's not back from Lucius yet? Mh-hm, then it's good that I didn’t come for him,” I said dryly, coquettishly, watching as he raised his dark eyebrows doubtfully.
“Blaise, I have to talk to you,” I turned to the handsome, young man who had stood proudly in the circle and could now see his eyes growing big as if he were ... afraid?
Afraid because he had ‘attacked’ me at breakfast this morning? Maybe, but he didn’t need to be, I was much too thankful for that. The others around us silently observed everything and tried rather badly to feign disinterest, only partially succeeding.
“As you wish! Where?” Blaise asked bravely and visibly squared his shoulders. He was a proud, haughty pureblood Slytherin to the tips of his fingers.
“Draco’s room,” I decreed and turned around.
“Miss…!” Snape sounded angry that I wanted to leave him standing like that and my name almost escaped him. The snakes would notice that and I whirled around.
“I haven’t forgotten you, sir. It is very important that I speak with Blaise. Have I ever disappointed you or tried to weasel out of facing you? Either you wait ten minutes or you await me in your quarters, but I promise I will come to you, sir,” I announced resolutely because my capacity for patience left much to be desired today and Snape seemed to think the same way. Instead of getting angry, he smiled sarcastically and arrogantly down at my small, dark figure.
“I will wait,” he snarled generously.
“As if I would try to run away,” I snorted.
“You would not manage to get away either way,” he explained silkily, even allowing a small smirk. A gesture that was so world-shaking for his House that the Slytherins stared at him which he, in turn, ignored expertly.
“I’m aware of that,” I stated as I walked and saw the snakes staring at their Head of House talking so casually with me. It was different than when he talked to his students, more like he would - if that - talk to Draco. Snape really seemed to see me as a fully integrated member of the family. Whether that should make me happy, or rather scared, I hadn’t decided yet.
In Draco’s room, I pulled the hood away from my face. Blaise eyed me anxiously.
“Hermione, I… This morning, that was supposed, well…” he stammered, waving his hands around.
“Relax, Blaise, that’s not what I wanted to talk about with you; if anything, I would like to thank you for what you did. It was very nice of you and exactly what I needed. I don’t know what I would have done, but I feel it’s quite possible I could have given myself away. In any case, I was quite peeved!” I confessed earnestly.
“You’re not upset with me?” The hope was evident in his voice.
“No, Blaise, just thankful for your presence of mind. Draco will also be quite pleased,” I assured him and this praise seemed to please him.
“I hope you know that your departure caused quite the sensation. After you passed through the door, it was as if a powder keg exploded and even the professors made themselves sparse pretty darn quickly! Your threat was received as such by our classmates, so be careful that the snakes don’t reconcile today’s performance as Hermione with your performance as ‘Abraxina’ because if there is one thing you shouldn’t do, it is underestimating us snakes,” he warned me urgently.
“I know, Blaise. You’re right but I was so livid. It’s too late to change it now. There’s just no way I could have paid any respect to the toad. I know, I’m usually the perfect actress but here I just couldn’t; I despised this woman,” I hissed fiercely and turned around.
“And you killed her,” Blaise announced a fact, completely composed and indifferent about the deed. Once again, he had figured something out with absolute accuracy once, yet he looked at me curiously, assessing me and searching for confirmation in my eyes.
“Yes, I did. How do you know?” I confirmed openly without reservation.
“Because you were so agitated and so completely unsurprised, not even a little bit, while everyone else, myself included, was astonished at the revelation. You didn’t even bat an eyelid. You only sprang to life when Dumbledore called for a moment of silence. Also, your remark that you only grieve for persons who deserve it. Now, that at least showed what you think about Umbridge’s death… On the other hand, I know you and I am well aware of what you are capable of. I’m right, aren’t I?” At the conclusion of his explanation, he grinned charmingly.
“Yes, about everything you said. But then you always were an amazing observer,” I admitted sardonically.
“Just be careful with threatening Dumbledore so openly!” Blaise seemed worried.
“Thank you for your well-meaning advice and I know to be careful, but believe me, with the knowledge I have, he belongs to me!” I couldn’t stop myself from grinning nastily.
“Yes, that was quite something to behold. The old man almost admitted that you know a lot that shouldn’t be public knowledge. That was a topic of discussion as soon as you all had left. What you could know, Hermione: I think your house is eyeing you quite distrustfully; they were the loudest in their guesses and speculations and were quite upset that you were so incredibly rude to your Head of House and Dumbledore,” he reported verbosely.
“Now, that I can believe. However, our conduct concerning Dumbledore has a reason and is justified. Harry and I are in agreement that from now on we will always be reserved and sceptic, regardless of what Dumbledore wants us to do!” I emphasised my statement with a gruff gesture of my hand.
“What? That’s extreme! You mean to tell me that this is not only your opinion but also that of Potter?” Blaise was following my revelation with wide eyes.
“Oh Blaise, much has happened and much has yet to be told, but I think everyone should find out at the same time. Which reminds me, I wanted to ask you something. You wanted to spend the summer break at the cottage, right?” I now asked almost rhetorically and waited in anticipation.
“I would love to if I am allowed!” he intoned with an endearing, impish laugh. Though, now that I had asked him, relief was evident in his dark eyes.
“Blaise, you know that I’ve always said that you are welcome. Now, please take a seat!” I seated myself in an armchair by the fireplace and he did the same. The upbringing of the Slytherins was completely different to students of other Houses for he would never take a seat unless I offered him to, as this was solely my right to decide.
“If that is the case, I would be happy to. Mother is currently in Italy, so…” He seated himself and shrugged his shoulders.
“That’s perfect. You need to do me another favour. It needs to be done quickly, but I think that if anyone can do it, it’s you!” I began to explain and wanted to elaborate as he said with a dazzling smile:
“How do the Twins always put it so nicely: Whatever you want, most beautiful!”
“You… you charmer. Don’t let Draco know!” I giggled. Then I cleared my throat: “Your assignment would be as follows: Daphne and Astoria should not go back to their stepmother, this Warrington-sister. I want that they officially spend the break with you. They shouldn’t even step foot in their home. I want them to go directly to you and then you all can come to the cottage. Since they live there regularly, the Twins will receive you!”
“Wow, you left me speechless! If I may ask, why do you want me to do that?” He was really surprised and curious.
“Their step-mother is a Death Eater and Daphne is afraid for herself and her sister. On top of that, the Dark Lord may not be happy with the family, and her stepmother would not protect the girls. Not to mention, that Daphne and Harry are going to spend their first ‘get-to-know-each-other night’ in the Room of Requirements. I don’t want anything to happen to her! So, can you do it?” With this, I revealed quite a few things, but then Blaise was one of ours, after all.
“Wow, is Potter finally getting a move on? About time. Whenever Daphne is seeing Potter, she’s positively drooling out of the corner of her mouth. Of course, I can do it; that should be no problem. I’m acquainted pretty well with the Warringtons, thanks to Mother, so that shouldn’t be a problem even given the short notice. How am I going to convince Daphne, though?”. He stroked his chin, thinking. I could see the wheels turning in his head.
“I’ll leave that to you, convince her however you want. I can only tell you that I’ll bring Harry as soon as possible to the cottage. Just don’t let too much slip as I have yet to put my binding spell on her and her sister and I won’t manage that before we get to the cottage. I think she’ll trust you to a certain extent and should be so happy to escape her stepmother that she won’t ask too many questions.” He would accomplish it, of that I was sure, and I knew he wouldn’t disappoint me.
“Uh huh, I’ll make it work. I should go and start writing a couple of letters. If you would excuse me?” He was suddenly full of vim and vigour.
“Of course, Blaise. I shouldn’t make Snape wait any longer, too, otherwise, I’ll get in trouble,” I remembered the Professor who was waiting far too patiently out there.
“What if Draco comes back and asks for you?” Blaise threw me a quick questioning look.
“Then tell him where I am. I don’t think Snape will let me go anytime soon! Good luck and thanks again; it’s nice to have you with us!” I declared sincerely. He was truly a gift and I made him one with my statement. Thus, we stood up, him teeming with excitement and me pulling the heavy fabric once again over my face.
Blaise then rushed to his desk, happy to have something to do. I entered the common room by myself and noticed that he was still waiting for me. He immediately excused himself from his students and walked over to me, holding out his arm as if he were worried that I would ditch him. Wow, what was the meaning of this, him being so respectful?
This promised to become rather uncomfortable once we reached his quarters. He would be bound to want to question me thoroughly. We left the excited whispering of the snakes behind us, paying it no heed.
He led me to his rooms, more chivalrous than ever before, and as the wall of books closed behind us, he had managed to induce an uneasy feeling in my gut with his deliberate calmness. I felt how he released my arm in perfect form from his, and glided silently behind me. I breathed in deeply with unease through my nose, as I felt him approach me from behind, getting close, very close. His hands moved over my shoulders forwards to my clasp, opening it skillfully with nimble hands.
He gently took off my hooded cloak. Very slowly, very lasciviously, he removed the fabric from me and I heard it rustling as he tossed it away without moving away from my backside; if anything he came closer after the bothersome heavy cloak was gone.
I didn’t move, as if petrified, and tried to stay completely calm and to appear so as well; I tried to dictate my heartbeat, to not let it beat any faster.
I could sense how he placed his mouth to my ear and, with a freezingly chilly timbre in his voice, breathed out the following words:
“What was that today in the Great Hall?” He actually managed to instil profound goosebumps in me as his hot breath spread across my sensitive skin.
“I got slightly unsettled.” The words came out raw through my dry lips which I wet them with my tongue.
“And why is that? What was going on with Umbridge after you left her office together?” he asked me, ever quietly, from my back. When I wanted to take a step forward to bring some distance between us, his hands were already on my shoulders and stopped me in my tracks. I swallowed hard.
“We went into the forest!” I closed my eyes and tried to think of nothing.
“And…?” he prompted insistently, taking his hands off. He wasn’t touching me anymore. He was only pressuring me with his closeby body.
“We went ever deeper… then Harry and I lost sight of her…” I said and then I was suddenly sent flying into the shelf.
I hadn’t been able to raise my hands fast enough to cushion my fall and crashed into it with force. My shoulder collided brutally with the wood and I yelped in pain. There was a loud crash accompanying my hard collision and I could hear the wood burst and splinter under the impact.
I dropped to the floor and the books fell on top of me. I instinctively tried to provide them as little a target as possible, curling up as they fell painfully on my back and forced the air out of my lungs. My arms, with which I tried to protect my head, were also hit by them. These were heavy, massive, thick folios that buried me under them and I lay crushed under the load. Pain was omnipresent.
Did he want to kill me?
That was the first thought to which I was capable after the attack. I could not only feel but also hear the constant throbbing in my skull as I had also hit my head on the shelf before I went to my knees.
Ouch ... Why did I always have to have luck on my side that brought me together with men who clearly suffered from violent mood swings? Had I earned that, after yesterday? I’d say no. Gosh, I felt sorry for myself.
He was angry because I had lied to him, but he couldn’t know that, right? Well, maybe I underestimated him here, but honestly, should I say: “I tested the Avada on the old hag?”
The heavy books magically rose from atop me and floated back into what I recognised as a repaired bookshelf when I looked up furtively. I was still protectively curled around myself but being relieved of that burden eased my breathing immensely.
Great, my big, bad Death Eater wanted to show me again who wore the trousers in our relationship.
Carefully pulling my shielding hands from my face, I gingerly raised my eyes and saw that he had settled in a casually relaxed pose into his armchair with his black robes billowing around him, his legs crossed, a crystal glass in his hand and his distant gaze focussed on me. I dared very carefully to prop myself up on my hands and to stretch my - thanks to him - now aching limbs.
Ouch, my back hurt. Those books were really not light reading. With my right hand, I touched my temple. Just above, it throbbed dangerously and I immediately felt the wetness when I reached the smarting spot. A small laceration. The sticky blood ran down my cheek and down my neck. I wiped the blood from my hand onto the jeans that I wore with a deep sigh. Why always me?
The sound of someone clearing his throat made me raise my slightly throbbing head.
“So that you understand one thing right: You belong to us now. It is best to start immediately to learn that you do not have to dish out lies to family...” The words dripped strongly accentuated from his evil mouth. The voice clinked dangerously, like ice, managing to make me feel cold, and I had to suppress the slight shiver that was trying to escape me. I sat bleeding in front of him and he was in his armchair, lording over me. I suspected that the Malfoys would demonstrate their power over me even more.
“... because that will always be punished and not accepted!” the Professor lectured arrogantly. “But as I know you, you should not find it difficult to learn quickly!” he said judiciously and shrugged his shoulders in a gesture of superiority. “And now come on, get up and sit down. I want to know everything!”
Deliberately, he moved his gaze with provocative slowness away from me and to the roaring flames of the fireplace fire, which blazed brightly in the dungeons despite the beginning of summer as it was always cold, damp and drafty here. That probably meant that he would not help me.
I did as required and got back on my feet with difficulty, stifling a groan. Pah, I wouldn’t allow such a little nudge to hold me back. A quick check of my body revealed that my bruised right side where I had hit the wood and the laceration were everything I had taken away from it.
Well, it wasn’t bad, only the blood started to annoy me. Hence, I sat down on the couch and treated myself quickly. First, I healed the laceration above my temple which was made a bit more difficult by my inability to see it. However, I made it work, evidenced by the twinging of the closing wound. Then, I cleaned the mess my blood had made. All the while, he pretended not to see anything.
When I reclined and looked at him challengingly, I noticed that he had fixed his gaze on me again and I raised my eyebrow provokingly and contemplatively. He shook his hand that held the glass, the golden liquid sloshing from side to side, and I understood the invitation and nodded in confirmation. At once, a drink stood before me on the table and I picked up the glass and took a deep, calming sip.
That the first calm conversation with him would not be easy for me in several respects had been clear to me. Deep down inside I felt... something I had buried relatively well: that he made me insecure because I could not completely shake off the fear that he would just grab me and throw me on his bed. I had to work hard suppress the fear for I thought I could see the lust shining in his eyes from time to time, in very rare glimpses.
But I could also be mistaken, after all, there wasn't a person in the world who was as complex and absolutely, completely impossible to judge as Snape.
The only thing that still bothered me was the violence I had to put up with all around me over and over again. The only good thing was that I was made of really tough material, otherwise I would have long since collapsed under the physical violence I was exposed to everywhere, sometimes willingly exposing myself to it. Shit, why I had decided on such a life? I gave another deep sigh, resigned to my fate.
“Well, get started!” he barked at me impatiently and interrupted my thoughts which had been just so beautifully bathed in self-pity.
“Uhm, Harry and I went with her into the woods, but I'm sure you already knew that,” I picked up my explanation. He nodded arrogantly to me and drank a sip.
“And then you killed her,” he vocalised what I hadn't been able to say in front of him earlier.
“Yes, I thought I would practice the Avada,” I said cheekily and flashed a provocative grin at him.
“As it seems, you had no trouble casting it,” he replied in frightening indifference to my confession.
“Yes, it was no problem.” I remained very cool and raised my head arrogantly.
“Then you will be interested to know that it is not clear how she died...” I gave him a look of incomprehension and he smiled, sneering slightly.
“Yes, you heard right. Some animals seemed to have taken a liking to her, she doesn't look... pretty, but due to this fact it is unfortunately not clear what caused her death,” he elaborated, showing a mean grin. It seemed that he had not liked the old toad either and did not shed a tear for her.
“That's good,” I answered breathlessly as my brain was immediately running at full speed again. I knew that the story that we had lost her out of sight and hadn’t been able to find her again was more believable this way than if it had become known that she had been struck down by an Unforgivable Curse. I hoped the toad had been a delightful feast for the Acromantulas and the other creatures of the forest. I could only give them a silent thanks as this would save me many unpleasant questions.
“I knew that you would see the positive aspects of this fact,” he told me with piercing black eyes. “You are improving very quickly. I saw Jugson as I was leaving the ministry. Good, clean work, my congratulations; I also found your performance with Nott thoroughly admirable, very well done. Our training is yielding results and I enjoy witnessing when my lessons show such visible success,” he praised me openly and showed himself impressed by my atrocities, all while not showing any emotions. I was stunned. “What else have you done?”
“Crabbe, but that was more an accident than intentionally, even if the result was absolutely fascinating...” I confessed analytically, and he nodded benevolently.
“Yes, Professor Dumbledore spoke of the phenomenon, interesting! What happened after I left? That Black is dead, I know, what else was there?” he pursued with interest and I began to chew my lips. Yes, Sirius was dead.
“Harry tried to Crucio Lestrange,” I pushed out slightly breathlessly and played with the glass in my hands.
“An endeavour, In which he presumably failed miserably.” His facial expressions distorted disdainfully with his statement.
“Correct, but nevertheless... he tried!” I defended Harry's failure vehemently and got a sharp look in return.
“What was next? Don't make me pull every word out of you like that...”, he ordered crossly and looked at me impatiently.
Just as I was about to confess my deed of Lucius' rescue, the door opened abruptly and Draco came in like a thunderstorm. He seemed to be in a grandiose mood. The storm in his grey eyes raged, which was easy to spot as coolly as he eyed us.
I was happy that Snape and I sat at some distance. The way Draco was currently acting, we would have had to reckon with his wrath if we had a more intimate get-together. He had pinched his lips and was now heading for me, sat on the couch next to me without a greeting and ripped my drink out of my hand.
Even Snape just looked at him, waiting silently, trying to assess his mood and fathoming what had happened. Eventually, Draco set the empty glass down onto the table with a clank, leaned back and turned to me, raising his hand and grasping my neck possessively. His cold fingers closed around my neck and my body was visibly trembling, and then he drew me closer and closer to him, smoothly and dominating.
It was clear to me what Draco wanted. Not like this, though in front of Snape, who also, well... I mean, he and I, we... Ohhhhhh, heavens, I had done something very intimate with both of them. However, the firm grip of Draco's hand on my neck gave me the impression that he would leave me no choice and so I consciously loosened my muscles, following how my face approached his and then I already felt his hungry lips on mine. And even though they had seemed so hard and unyielding a minute ago, they were now very soft and gentle as they locked so passionately with mine. I had placed my hands on his chest.
He was very dominating today, he wouldn’t let himself be deterred. He also didn’t loosen his grip, kissing me impetuously. With so much vehemence in a kiss, I couldn't help but moan slightly; and yet, I couldn't block out the awareness that Snape was sitting opposite us in his armchair and was watching us very closely.
When Draco bit down lightly on my lip, I wanted to move back but he wouldn't let me do it and pressed his mouth back on mine, pushing his way through my lips to completely conquer my mouth, all the while I tried to shake off the pressure of his hand on my neck. That was when I heard a noise. It was clearly made by Snape clearing his throat audibly and I felt Draco finally giving in. He pulled his head back slightly and stared intensely into my eyes with a fiery look that made me melt. When he saw this emotion, which was probably visible in my eyes, the corner of his mouth twitched upwards with satisfaction and he breathed a concluding, gentle kiss on my closed lips.
“What is it, Severus?” Draco asked provocatively, turning his head.
“I don't have to look at that, do I? You have a room for that”, Snape sneered oilily.
Draco let go of me, releasing his vice-like grip, and leaned back, crossing his arms and regarding Snape calmly.
“Oh, don't be like that...” Draco wiggled his eyebrows.
“Why are you in such a bad mood?” I dared to ask.
“Tonight, I received an urgent owl. Father wanted to see me immediately. Let me put it this way: I have rarely experienced him as agitated as I have tonight... this will also interest you, Severus”, he told us and explained further: “You, my darling, have shocked Father to the core. As I said, I have rarely experienced him being so flustered.” With a gesture, he asked for something to drink.
“What have you done this time? Did I not keep you back, so that you would not take part in the fight in the hall?” An annoyed Snape groaned sufferingly.
“Yes, Father was also surprised by your appearance, but for him, that faded into the background, for now.” Draco now grabbed my hand and breathed a kiss on it and gave me a warm look, which, when I gave Snape a quick glance, made the Professor frown.
“I must thank you, Hermione, for saving my father from Azkaban,” the declaration came fervently from my boyfriend’s lips and Snape allowed himself to gasp for air. Wow, this expression of respect just because I had saved Lucius from prison! That was nice to experience. I gave Draco a mischievous smile as I thought to myself that Lucius would certainly have made his way out even without my help. Only the question remained: With how much harm?
“How?” Snape said perplexed.
“Father told me that when Bella and Potter left the hall, the werewolf was still threatening him and Father was unarmed. Suddenly, a red beam of light came out of the darkness and crashed into Lupin's back, who collapsed immediately. Father continued to tell me that he himself had been totally taken by surprise at first and when he recognised Hermione, the only one around far and wide, she bowed her head in front of him and signified for him to escape. He thought he was losing his mind!” An almost wistful smile adorned Draco's features. “In this respect, Father is completely lost. He has no idea why and for what reason such a behaviour would be expected from our sweet Mudblood here.
“You, Severus, would have quite some fun with Father and his guesses. It will be very amusing, when we introduce him to Hermione,” Draco laughed meanly. Even Snape was grinning wolfishly. It seemed to cheer them up enormously to imagine Lucius' astonishment, imbuing them with pleasant anticipation that they knew more than Lucius.
“My dear, you really manage to amaze me again and again. I would not have thought that you would attack a member of the Order to free Lucius. Truly surprising! And inherently unnecessary... Lucius usually does not need any help...” Snape conceded, raising his glass to me before he continued. His words confirmed what I had thought myself already. He tilted his head and showed me that he was more than satisfied with my decision. “However, it shows, considering that you have already gotten well-enough used to your new, unchangeable situation to help Lucius in the fight by your own choice, my previous demonstration was not actually necessary...”
“What do you mean? What does he mean?” Draco looked at both of us questioningly, demandingly raising up his oh-so pale, elegant eyebrow. Since it didn't look as if the man in the armchair wanted to answer, I began.
“I made my acquaintance with the bookshelf.” I could watch my dry, ironic formulation make Snape smile.
“What, why, Severus?” Draco said with a hard voice.
“Our dear addition to the family thought she had to lie to me and that's unacceptable,” Snape replied readily.
“Where he's right, he's right, Hermione. You can and must always be honest with us,” Draco whole-heartedly took my side, I thought cynically. “About what did you lie?”
Since now I refused to say anything, Snape took over.
“That she had struck down Jugson in battle and Umbridge in the forest with the Killing Curse,” Snape explained very succinctly and raised his glass again.
“Oh, well... Are you alright, my darling?” Draco asked rather worriedly, and I nodded and showed him, by lifting my head, the indifference in my eyes and he nodded satisfied.
“Blaise quickly informed me what was going on in the Great Hall this morning... it's a pity I wasn't there. Another question, do we have to worry about Umbridge, that they're going to figure out it was Hermione?” Wasn’t that sweet? Draco was only worried about me escaping justice - if that isn't affection, I don't know what is.
“Do not worry, Draco, there is so little left of the annoying bitch that her manner of her death cannot be determined and Jugson could also have been killed by a stray Killing Curse from one of his companions. I do not think she has anything to fear here,” he said with complete conviction, convincing me that he had already thought everything out and put everything together for my defence. Snape amazed me again and again.
“Well, that's good,” Draco was very satisfied and absolutely not shocked, rather completely indifferent.
“Now comes the question of what Lucius wanted from you all day and almost all night,” Snape enquired.
“Of course. Father, after he escaped, knowing that there would be trouble with the Dark Lord, wanted to take immediate action and needed my help. Let's put it this way, we were able to recapture part of the Dark Lord's goodwill with our action and satisfy him to some extent! Look forward to the Prophet tomorrow morning...”, Draco explained very hardened as he lifted the corner of his mouth, seeming very satisfied.
“What did you do?” Snape asked with curiosity.
“The seven of us - yes, Bella was also part of our little squad - after having spent all day planning, broke into Azkaban under the protection of the coming darkness and got out all of the Death Eaters. Not only those who were caught in the ministry the night before, but as many as possible... and Father then negotiated with the dementors, as requested by the Dark Lord, and they have now said to Fudge that they refuse to guard Azkaban any longer. That was glorious! If Father can do anything it is pulling of something like that. I almost died of laughter when they negotiated like that” he chuckled viciously.
“What, wasn't that a bit hasty?” Snape shouted, and I interrupted him and shook my head.
“No, not in itself, since it reveals the Dark Lord's readiness to act to the outside world, now that it is known that he is back and it shows how quickly he can act successfully. At the same time, he snubs the Ministry and Dumbledore. It was a brilliant move by the Malfoys to strike back so quickly,” I explained very pragmatically.
“Exactly, Hermione, those were also my arguments to strike right away when we discussed it... it was just not so easy to get in...!” He visibly shut himself off and I took his hand.
“How many?” I had noticed the shadow in his storm-grey eyes and now knew that Draco, too, had probably gotten his first time behind him.
“Five,” he breathed softly.
“Damn,” Snape cursed in a whisper.
“Well, look on the bright side, Draco, with that you definitely beat me for a single night's work. I only managed three in total over the last year,” I said calmly, and both men looked at me first and then at each other with understanding, and a diabolical smile spread hesitantly on their faces.
“You were right, Draco, she fits right in with us,” was the last thing Snape graciously said.