Chapter beta: Dani
Chapter translator: Aivy
After Severus had left us, I slipped onto Draco's lap, laughing, and kissed him longingly.
I was glad that we had finally found a way to discuss this rather hushed subject - what had happened when Severus had unmasked me - and even if I didn't like the circumstances, everything was now out in the open. Both Draco and I had found a basis in how we would and could deal with the fact as well as with Severus himself.
It was over, forgiven and forgotten. I could no longer hold it against him that he had lost control over himself. I had gotten involved in a dangerous game and had known about the risks, so I shouldn't be struggling with my fate.
Draco also wanted to forget his grudge. We had decided not to discuss it any more. Should Lucius continue to provoke us with it, it would no longer affect us since everything should take place within the family had been said and done. We were both sure that Severus was not proud of what had happened at that time. That was punishment enough for him, especially since Draco had me and Severus didn't.
"It really doesn't bother you?" Draco breathed anxiously against my lips and broached the new subject.
"You doubt me? Draco, you disappoint me. Please, it has long been obvious to me that this would have to happen. We should make the best of it! I'm more concerned about you. Are you really happy to serve him?" I whispered worriedly, stroking his cheek.
"Happy? I don't like serving anyone. Others have to serve me! But I will probably never manage to get the one if I don't do the other first... unfortunately! Thus it is necessary to serve him. Hence, I look forward to taking my place, yes, I do, because it brings me closer to my goal! I feel very much validated by the fact that I am an exception. To be accepted into the inner circle right away is an honour. It pleases me even more that you support me so much," he explained to me in detail.
Then he lovingly kissed my forehead. I knew that he would not tell me more about his goals, at least not now, and I accepted that, just as he accepted my silence about certain things.
"Always, Draco, I will always support you! Why were you so disgruntled when you came in?" I asked curiously and snuggled up to him.
"Oh, why do you think? To see you so... you were so close. He was about to kiss you and you didn't look averse to the idea. Did you want to kiss him?" he asked in a deceptively nonchalant voice. He seemed to pierce me with his light grey eyes and watched me closely.
"Maybe? He's a good kisser." I laughed mockingly because I wanted to annoy him. Even though I had sensed earlier that Severus had had a great desire to kiss me at that moment, I had not intended to respond.
"That isn't funny! You are playing us; I am not blind," Draco said both resignedly and unhappily and I gently kissed his cheek.
"No, not really. It's more like I'm your plaything. However, this time it was more of a small power struggle. He wanted to know what I was doing and I didn't want to tell him. He always tries to unsettle me with his physical proximity," I explained to him seriously and he nodded knowingly.
"Just make sure you don't lose control, Hermione. With Severus, I wouldn't worry normally, he is the most controlled man I know, but with you he sometimes doesn't seem to be as rational as usual and that troubles me. I don't want to have to kill him someday. You belong to me," he replied emphatically and looked at me urgently.
"That shouldn't become necessary. I would never want something like this to happen, really not," I said, caressing his hair with one hand and playing with his soft strands. He seemed reassured and so was I. When I looked at him, his worry was gone for the time being.
"I hope the Dark Mark won't hurt you too much," I said cautiously, because I was more concerned with this topic right now. Lost in thought, I stroked his still flawless left arm and he followed my hand with his gaze, but then shrugged his shoulders indifferently.
"I'm so grateful that I have you, Hermione. I don't think many people would take this so well, especially not Potter," he sighed heavily and blew one of his light strands out of his eyes listlessly.
"Don't worry about Harry. He doesn't have to know and you don't have a Dark Mark yet, so why upset the apple cart in advance?" I said very matter-of-factly. Draco was silent for a few minutes, but then nodded affirmatively while still looking lost in thought.
" Hey... I had another thought earlier that wouldn't stop bothering me," Draco said tentatively. I was still sitting on his lap leaning against him with him stroking my back. I said nothing, just waiting for him to continue speaking and after a moment of reflection, he did while watching me curiously. "What about Dumbledore? Don't you think they will know that Potter left? That he had escaped?"
"Oh, I was wondering why you hadn't asked yet," I snickered with a sneaky grin.
"Yes, I know, I'm late. Somehow so much is always happening here, you almost forget half of everything. Annoying," Draco said with perplexity and I mutely agreed with him. You couldn't catch your breath at all, everything progressed so rapidly.
"As long as you don't forget yourself again, everything should be all right. Yes, I am curious myself when the order will notice that Harry has fled. That should be exciting. Very exciting, if you ask me," I sounded amused through and through.
"And then? What are you going to do, my machinatrix?" Draco seemed to be positively aroused by the way I was playing and pulling the strings as his eyes radiated a genuinely desirous interest, making me shiver pleasantly.
"Just wait and see. That should shock one or the other..." I promised lasciviously and laid my finger on his lips. He understood that it was not yet ripe for speech and accepted this circumstance with a disappointed look and pouted, pressing against my finger with his hot lip.
Then I was filled with the urge to take the initiative. I wanted to chase this unhappy expression off his face. I also knew exactly how. Showing my teeth, I slowly slid down his body. My hands stroked covetously over his masculine body and he looked at me with brief confusion.
When I laughed exuberantly, now on my knees in front of him, and adjusted his position in his armchair, understanding flashed up in his grey eyes and he went along obediently. Nevertheless, he made big eyes when I began to open his trousers with skilful and nimble fingers. Then he already lay in front of me, which made me smile contentedly. I began to devour him fervently and eagerly, which made him forget himself so much that he groaned loudly in bliss and intertwined his hands in my long hair, while I so gently and yet passionately pleased him with my mouth.
I managed to make him completely lose his composure, having him try again and again to thrust erratically into my mouth and eventually he came with a low but very loud cry. Then he pulled me up to kiss me passionately and gratefully. After this difficult day for Draco, this was a very successful conclusion for him, as I would like to point out.
Thus, we spent an enjoyable and relaxed evening in front of the fireplace, where he told me exactly how annoying he found Harry, but also granting that all this was perhaps really a bit much. He himself had also been amazed to see how I really was and could behave when the situation warranted it.
"When you're done with him, darling, he'll never give in to illusions again. You'll deprive him of any dreams or desires he could ever have," he said charmingly as we went to bed. The implications of his wise words would not reveal themselves to me until much later.
But so the evening was very amusing and relaxing for me. Snuggled into Draco's arms that he had wrapped around me, I couldn't even imagine what that would be like again in Hogwarts when I would lie alone and lonely in my bed.
If I had known what awaited me the next day, I would probably have liked to stay in bed again and bury myself deep into the soft mattress. I didn't, however, so I got up in a good mood and got dressed. Gee, the variety of choices didn't bother me at all. But well, what should I do?
I chose a light, airy linen summer dress in white, cut in Empire style. It had wide straps, no sleeves, and the straps merged into a V-neck. Over the chest, the fabric was crossed like a wrap dress, but sewn together under the chest and then merged into a knee-length, A-line cut, bell-shaped, half-length skirt. In the back, two wide bands tied together regulated the width of the dress under the bust.
Lastly, I tied my hair into a loose ponytail and went to the breakfast room without Draco because he still had something to do at his desk and sent me ahead. I just poured myself a cup of coffee and drank with pleasure while I read the newspaper attentively.
I wanted to know if Rita knew before the Order that the bird had flown. Would the Order manage to keep secret that Harry had disappeared? For I did not believe that it would shed too good a light on Dumbledore if it became common knowledge.
I snickered slightly maliciously when I couldn't find anything relevant in the newspaper just before I startled because I felt watched - and there she was!
A beautiful, tall, slender, golden blonde woman in a pure white lace linen dress which accentuated her beautiful figure entered the room majestically.
Her dress resembled mine. However, a smocked Empire seam under the bust and lace inserts set highlights and made it nobler than my more juvenile dress and around the waist she wore a brown leather belt which added a lovely splash of colour. She had artfully styled and pinned up her light, golden blond, shiny hair.
She faltered briefly when she caught sight of me, then she stared at me coolly from clear, blue eyes, as if I were a dangerous, unworthy specimen which I probably was to her snobbish mind.
We measured each other, the tense silence in the room steadily growing, while we assessed each other in such a way that not a word was spoken.
Great, I had to meet her today for the first time, all alone. Really great. I couldn't believe how indescribable my luck was.
She looked at me indignantly and wrinkled her pretty nose in a disparaging way, seemingly recognizing me, which after our fourth year and the whole articles plus photos, which I had to thank Rita for, didn't surprise me.
Why wasn't Lucius there? Why hadn't I waited for Draco? Where was Severus when I needed him? Every other time, he had been there! I wanted to scream.
Couldn't I get lucky for once?
Yes, all right, I gave up hope that a miracle would happen and I would be blessed with good luck, but it was just too annoying.
I carefully put the newspaper aside and wanted to greet her politely when she stepped into the room in a stately and elegant manner to stand in front of me.
"I know you," she hissed coldly, "you are Potter's filthy mudblood."
I watched her beautiful face turn into a disgusted grimace and she threatened to come even closer to me.
"What are you doing here? What does my husband want from a lesser, worthless subject like you?" The words came clinking cold and repulsed from her oh-so-fine mouth.
I sat there relatively dumbfounded because of her nice and friendly way to welcome me and wondered how I should react because I wouldn't get worked up about her insulting manner. I watched as her dainty and delicate fingers nervously twitched to the wand stuck in the belt at her slender waist.
Please, that was ridiculous. This doll! Her hands said that she had never done even the smallest amount of manual labour in her life, and it was laughable. She was no opponent! Please, she did not want to compete with me; she would have no chance. Nevertheless, I would defend myself; Lucius had never said that I could not.
"Mrs. Malfoy... You should talk with Luci-" I wanted to give her a chance and warn her.
"You dare," she shrieked shrilly, "you dare to put my husband's first name in your unworthy mouth? I will teach you what it means that your filthy mudblood feet have crossed our threshold! You have no place here!"
Shocked, I recognized the same crazed expression in her bright blue eyes as I had seen on her no less insane sister's face in the Ministry. After all, she was not to be trifled with. She seemed to actually believe this racist nonsense, unlike her husband.
I jumped off the chair with my wand drawn, even before she finished drawing her own. She immediately sent a black curse my way which made a mirror hanging behind me shatter into thousands of pieces.
But I was quicker! While the chair was still falling, I spelled myself invisible and silent non-verbally in a matter of seconds.
She didn't seem to notice it at all, for she only hurled curse after curse, without aiming at anything in particular. Meanwhile, I crept quietly closer to her. I had hurriedly shielded myself with the Protego Horribilis while the spells shot through the room with brightly flashing colours.
Protected in this way against black magic attacks, I glided towards her skilfully and unnoticed. The unleashed fury was now standing in the middle of the room and looking for me anxiously, for finally she also seemed to have noticed that I wasn't struck down, lying on the floor, but, miraculously, had disappeared from sight.
She turned nervously and desperately in a circle, still sending one curse after another aimlessly into the corners of the rooms, thereby completely devastating the once beautiful room and demolishing the furniture.
The plaster was coming off the walls and mirrors were shattering left and right. The beautiful porcelain panel on the table exploded into countless pieces as a stray yellow beam leaving Narcissa's wand hit it. The flowers inside were thrown into the air in a picturesque way and now rained down on us in a rather macabre way.
Narcissa was by no means a fighter. She acted completely brainless; very different from Bellatrix, who was an expert in this field and who would never fight so completely headlessly. Narcissa, though, just let her boundless rage run wild.
My mere presence apparently let her assume that I was here to share the bed with Lucius and that made her see red. Yet whether the truth that I shared the bed with her son instead would make it any more palatable, I dared to doubt.
From the corner of my eye, I noticed something bright flashing at the door. That might be Draco, who either enjoyed the spectacle or deliberately didn't interfere. Well, that was all right with me. I wouldn't let it distract me. We had seen only yesterday where that could lead to, so I concentrated exclusively on the out-of-control raging woman in front of me, who screamed loudly and still threw one curse after another around the room.
I sneaked even closer, dodging curses when necessary.
Judging by her huffing and puffing, she slowly seemed to have problems breathing. Sweat pooled on her smooth and high forehead from the senseless exertion that she wasn't used to.
Continuing to sneak up on her, I registered something black next to Draco. Ah, Severus was now also there and watched the scene play out. I was now standing in her unprotected back, a typical beginner's mistake that seemed almost comedic.
Should I kill her?
It was like a tunnel view for me. Once you started with it, it was somehow becoming easier and easier!
My left hand went in a smooth movement to my thigh and I silently pulled my dagger. As I said, I always wore my complete equipment and once again the circumstances proved me right to never ignore this precaution.
I held it securely and firmly in my left hand and then it was time. I lunged, grabbing her hip roughly and pulling her hard against me, taking her by surprise.
After a shocked exclamation, she had become terribly stiff in my arms, completely surprised by my attack from behind, for I had already ruthlessly pressed the cold, hard steel against her throat. She gasped fearfully, but also breathlessly for air. If she didn't hold still very quickly, the blood would bubble as the blade was sharp, very sharp.
The second she felt the metal on her skin, she held still and swallowed heavily, the blade scraping over the tender skin of her throat. After a mumbled spell, I became visible again. They could now see us, how I held her so unyieldingly firmly pressed to me and then it just so happened that Lucius chose this moment to enter the room.
"What is going on here? Merlin!" Lucius' outraged, but also horrified voice sounded, whereby he seemed to worry less about the woman in my arms, but rather gazed at the destroyed hall in dismay.
I now slowly turned around with my prey, who began to squirm like an eel when she spotted her husband.
"Hold still, you stupid cow, or you will kill yourself," I breathed the warning softly into her ear while not doing anything to make it easier for her, changing neither my posture nor the position of the dagger.
Lucius now stood in the completely destroyed room and had clenched the one hand which was free to an angry fist, while the other held his walking stick. He seemed very, very upset, but cold like a glacier on the other side. Fighting hard enough for control so that he had pressed his lips together into a thin line, his storm-grey eyes reflected the ice-cold rage he felt, which was a truly impressive sight. Even I was impressed when he looked at us so absolutely furious, but also so absolutely cold and controlled.
He was still less affected by the way I held his wife in my arms and threatened her with a dagger.
"What is the meaning of this? What is going on here?" he snarled at us now very majestically. His discipline and self-control was really impressive and so was his poise in the midst of destruction.
Neither I nor she responded to these questions. I only looked at him piercingly and kept my iron-clad hold of the woman whose sweet floral scent rose into my nose.
"Well, Father, when I arrived I watched Mother turn the hall into a battlefield. Hermione did not cast a single spell, just sneaking up on her! I didn't interfere," Draco described, unasked, the events from his point of view and Narcissa trembled under my grip when her son fell into her back and blamed her cold-heartedly.
"Severus?" Lucius now harshly asked for confirmation.
"I can only confirm that. Narcissa did that and as I saw it, she was the only one who performed magic," he said emotionlessly and looked at the chaos unmoved.
"Narcissa, what are you doing?" he asked calmly, in a clanging voice. He fixed a hard look on her, radiating an incredible authority.
She was still hanging in my arms. Meanwhile, a small trickle of blood ran over her neck, as she had managed to swipe the sharp blade across her skin through her wriggling, cutting herself on it. That didn't hurt so much because it was so sharp, but well, she didn't deserve it any other way. Her formerly pure white dress thus became bloody.
But when he spoke to her it seemed like a jerk was going through her and even though she was still hard as a board, she now cleared her throat breathlessly:
"Hem... What am I doing, Lucius? You're polluting our home with this filth here. I just wanted to get her out of here! She defiles my home," she said contemptuously and looked at him angrily.
"You wanted her to die," Lucius's accusation rumbled coldly across the room.
"Would it matter? One inferior Mudblood less..." she hissed reproachfully.
"Narcissa, I forbid you to do anything to her, do you understood me?" He didn't respond at all to her words and now threatened her unmistakably in such a way that she swallowed hard and scraped the blade along her skin again, a fact that didn't seem to bother him.
"What... how? My husband... Please... she is unworthy to breathe at all! That's beyond question! What would the Dark Lord say?!" she hissed angrily and now fidgeted again indignantly, but I held her with ease.
"Lucius, may I?" Severus asked politely and Lucius nodded indifferently.
"Narcissa, would you allow me to help you?" Severus asked with an incredibly oily voice and he dramatically raised his wand.
She relaxed in my arms while I held Severus very closely in view. To my surprise, even though I didn't know what he was up to, I didn't feel threatened by him. However, she also nodded without hesitation, hoping for help.
"Credere Tacientiae Severus Snape, Lucius and Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger!"
His fateful words faded away and I opened my eyes. He had tricked Narcissa and now condemned her to silence. I noticed how Draco had to stifle a spiteful laugh at so much cunning. Narcissa began again to squirm in my hard grip like a rabid lunatic.
"What was that?" she shrieked and sounded less than ladylike. She arched her back against my chest and the dagger cut deeper into the pale skin but she no longer seemed to register it at all.
"Nothing, my dear, I only obliged you to remain silent," Severus informed her neutrally and soberly, while Lucius raised one of his beautiful eyebrows.
"Let her go, Hermione, and remove the knife already. Not that something unfortunate happens," he commanded harshly and I wouldn't dare oppose such an order from Lucius.
Decidedly slowly I fulfilled his wish and retreated, putting the knife away but keeping a close eye on her. I didn't trust her in the least. She was a madwoman if I ever saw one.
My caution was rewarded because as soon as she was free she whirled around at an incredible speed, aimed her wand at me and hissed "Avada Kedavra!" The poisonous green ray of light left her wand and shot towards me at a rapid pace.
I reacted lightning fast - how good that I was training so hard - and jumped over the table in a courageous leap, landing roughly but safely on the other side.
I dropped hard on the hard parquet floor, but caught myself skillfully with my hands. The shimmering green ray of death shot over me, past my head by a hair's breadth, and smashed into the glass door behind me, which was then smashed to pieces with a boom. I rolled smoothly off the floor, cutting my bare knees and palms on the shards scattered all over the floor. Smaller glass fragments plunged deep into my skin, but right now I didn't care.
My formerly white dress was now dyed red; my blood soaking the beautiful linen. It must have looked creepy. I stood up and watched Narcissa being thrown back, her body colliding forcefully with the wall. Given that she hit the wall with her head, she was knocked out and dropped to the floor unpretentiously.
Her slender figure was now lying on the floor, bleeding from a head-wound too, but all eyes turned to me. I registered how Lucius returned his wand to his cane and then turned his gaze to me. His eyes widened marginally when he saw me standing there looking so blood-stained.
"Hermione, you're alive! I had a heart attack for a second. Just as well that Mother can't aim," Draco shouted and ran towards me in the same second, his relief obvious. For a short time, he seemed to have been really afraid that she had hit me.
"Just as well that Hermione is so quick to react," Severus commented dryly.
"What happened after I jumped behind the table?" I whispered questioningly, watching Draco get on his knees to look at my mangled legs. I felt my warm, sticky blood running down them.
"Oh, Lucius just anticipated us and put Narcissa out of action with a quick Stupefy! He too is very fast," Severus informed me calmly and I laughed at the way drama was handled in this family. Meanwhile Lucius joined us, looking at me motionlessly while cocking his aristocratic head.
"You are fine. I cannot believe what Narcissa allowed herself and dared to do here," he said, reaching boldly for my hand, pulling it towards him and looking at the shards of glass that had sunk into my palm. "She disobeyed my direct order," he rumbled gloomily.
It was clear that this would have a very unpleasant aftermath for Narcissa. Alas, it seemed as if he wasn't particularly surprised that his wife was behaving so uncontrollably.
"Are you in pain?" he asked with apparently sincere concern while still exuding a certain distance. I found it really interesting to very briefly spot this flickering expression of honest worry in Lucius' otherwise cold, often unmoved gaze.
"No, I'm used to worse," I said succinctly, since Draco and Severus weren't prone to pampering me in the first place. Lucius' attentive and slightly disbelieving eyes were now widened, but he didn't ask me further.
Now I really had to fight to not blush in embarrassment as I was now healed from three sides. Draco kneeled at my feet, Severus had seized my right hand and Lucius had carefully placed the left in his, more carefully than it should have been, because these scratches were really only half as bad. Oh goddess, that was awkward. I mean hey, those were scratches... not a knife stuck inside me! We shouldn't exaggerate.
"Gentlemen! As sweet as I think it is, but that is not necessary! Those are scratches," I said resolutely and wanted to take my hands and legs away from them, which all three did not allow and held me firmly in place. As if on a quiet command they pressed their lips firmly together irreconcilably. They made a hilarious picture, but no one would believe me, so I gave in and let them have their way.
"Done," Draco finally rose and the other two also retreated. I looked at the spot where Narcissa had gone to the ground.
"Where did she go?" I asked, baffled.
"I had the house elves bring her to her room. She is grounded as of today. She is not allowed to leave her rooms until further notice and I have her two wands here," he patted his vest pocket, "and whether she will ever get them back is questionable! What was she doing here anyway? How did it escalate?" Lucius now wanted to know.
"I wish I knew! Why didn't you expect her to come back?" I enquired slightly reproachfully, after all this meeting could have been arranged differently.
"She usually does not take breakfast with us in the morning as that is too early for her and better for our mood. She prefers to sleep in and does not even think about leaving her rooms until noon," Lucius explained before gesturing at the chaos around us with a piqued expression. "Why that didn’t happen today? I have no idea."
"Well, she saw me, recognized me and went off, no questions asked," I explained now soberly.
"This woman has always been a plague," Severus remarked very hatefully, walking towards the door, and beckoned us to follow. "Come, we should talk and this room is best left for the house elves."
Draco immediately walked towards the door and I followed. Although I had applied a Scourgify to my dress, it looked like a canvas that had been painted with rusty red and brown paint. The good piece was ruined.
When we moved to one of the many other salons, there was already coffee, tea, and a selection of dishes ready for us.
"I want to know where you got the dagger from," I was confronted with Lucius' overbearing attention. It was less a question and more of an order, and it probably wouldn't be the last one.
Calculatingly, provocatively I immediately hiked up the skirt of my dress. He commented this with the raising of an eyebrow, but otherwise remained silent and waited, watching me draw one of the daggers, which then became visible.
"I always carry them," I said casually, shrugging my shoulders as the light reflected from the metal of the blade broke.
"What do you mean by 'always'?" Lucius asked for clarification.
"As I said, always... as always," I replied emphatically.
" Even in the Ministry?" His question alluded to the ball and when he had me pressed against the wall.
"Of course, even there. As I said, always," I replied blithely, without hesitation, slightly lifting the corners of my mouth. "And don't worry, I know how to handle them," I said provocatively and with a smooth movement of my hand I skilfully turned the dagger around in a playful, effortless-looking twist and plunged it back into its thigh holster. Letting the dress fall over it, I was once again chastely covered.
"What was that spell you used earlier, Severus? I did not know it yet," Lucius turned to Severus and ignored my show, but the latter only stared back at him coolly.
"A new spell that forces her to remain silent about all of us. But that is unimportant at the moment because I come from an emergency session of the Order which was called by Dumbledore this morning at six o'clock," Severus now served us these remarkable news and immediately the insignificant Narcissa disappeared from my thoughts.
Pacing restlessly back and forth in the room, Severus now looked at Lucius.
"Potter has disappeared," he announced impatiently and very curtly. "The Order has once again proven its incompetence; they cannot even look after a boy who is not yet of age," he mocked and I noticed that Lucius grinned nastily.
I had settled down in one of the three large armchairs, which was normally Severus' place, but since he was still walking up and down in front of the fireplace, I took it for myself and fished for a cup. After the exciting morning, I needed my dose of caffeine.
Severus snorted only disparagingly and then turned to me. I, however, didn't let on anything and pretended not to notice it while he was scrutinizing me. That would be exciting. Let's see what Severus had learned.
"Why is it no surprise to me that this obviously does not upset you, or surprise you, Hermione?" he hissed at me suspiciously, fixing me with his black obsidians. The reproachful look was piercing but I returned it stoically. Oh, Severus was always too clever.
"I don't know what you mean, Severus. Harry is old enough. If he thinks he's better off elsewhere than under the control of the Order, that's his business," I stated calmly.
Now approaching me threateningly, Severus came even closer, leaned menacingly on the armrests of the armchair, his face almost too close for comfort, and then continued to speak to me from above with a dangerous soft undertone: "Alas, Hermione, and I'm supposed to believe that?"
I just shrugged my shoulders and drank a sip of my coffee while keeping an eye on him and didn't let anything show on my face. He, too, kept me rigidly in his gaze, trying quite literally to read my mind; unsuccessfully of course. I thought of nothing but a strong wall.
"Severus, stop that, it will lead nowhere! You would be better off telling us what happened at the meeting," Lucius interrupted him imperiously and drew Severus' attention to himself. He turned his head to the troublemaker.
"Do you not care why Hermione, Potter's best friend, does not seem to be worried at all that he has disappeared?" Severus asked predatorily, still holding me captive in the armchair as he had only turned his head to Lucius.
I waited to see what Lucius would reply, because the way his interest lay, he would again call Severus to finally report on the meeting of the Order and he did not disappoint me:
"Severus, that does not matter for now; you can still ask Hermione later. At the moment, it is more important that you tell me what the Order is planning and whether they have any idea where Potter could be. Maybe we can beat them to him," he said, very pondering, calculating, but also determined, and so Severus gave up with an annoyed groan.
He stood up abruptly and began his report, while Draco compulsively tried to keep up his mask and not smile into his cup.
"Well, everyone is totally beside themselves. He must have escaped about two days ago, in the shift of that useless drinker, Mundungus Fletcher, and that clumsy auror, Nymphadora Tonks. That was the result of an interview with the aunt, who did not seem to be particularly worried that her protégé was missing..." He presented the facts with a spiteful tone.
I was quietly annoyed by this statement. I would love to show Harry's aunt what it meant to worry and I almost grinded my teeth. Immediately, I felt Severus' gaze on me and, angrily, I lifted my cup of coffee to him, which caused him to snarl contemptuously. He seemed to suspect me. Had I ever said that I thought Severus was very smart and extremely dangerous? Draco was right, because nobody wanted him to be their opponent, not under any circumstances.
"Well, where was I? Right... No, they have no idea and no guess. He is neither with the Weasleys, nor with the Longbottoms or Lovegoods. They are all in a tizzy. Even I was asked if the Dark Lord has him! Which I denied. Lucius does the Dark Lord have Potter?" he now, as it seemed, enquired unimaginatively.
"No, Severus, he does not have him and I had no knowledge until just now that he was missing," Lucius explained, composed, and he seemed to think.
"And what are you going to do now?" Severus investigated. "Will you tell the Dark Lord?"
"No, I do not think that would be productive if I could not tell him his whereabouts right away. No. But if the information about Potter's disappearance gets out, then I should be the first one to inform him... Not yet, though, that would be hasty and too early," he clarified because he certainly didn't want to endanger his position, but he appeared terribly manipulative and calculating.
"Well, as you wish, Lucius. The Order will also do everything in its power to ensure that no one knows. They hope that nothing has happened to him and that no one will notice that they have lost him. At the moment, they are occupied with the question of 'why'. Why did Potter run away from home?" When Severus said this as if Harry had no reason to hate his home, a despising "Pah" escaped me because I was indignant.
Why?! Rather, the question arose as to why Harry had endured so long there.
This brought me everyone’s attention, even Draco’s, as he knew nothing of Harry's past and so I froze. I didn't want to be the target of interest.
"Do you know why Potter might have run away, Hermione? You seem to have an opinion about it," Lucius asked predatorily, fixing me with his gaze, and I noticed he wouldn't let up and I wondered if I should expose myself to Lucius nagging me forever or giving in immediately?
I should be glad that he hadn't asked me if I knew exactly where Harry was, because then I would have had to lie on purpose and I had already learned that this was not advisable. Why Harry wasn't where he was supposed to be was easier to answer and I wasn't really in the mood for more games after the morning I had had, but on the other hand, even if Lucius gave up eventually, Severus wouldn't and Draco had wanted to know what Potter's 'home life' was all about for some time. Anyway, it would have one advantage, maybe Draco would be able to pull himself together when he went buying a wand with Harry and I would only have to tell everything once.
As I pondered, Severus kept his gaze fixed on me, trying to read me again. Draco scrutinized me curiously, while Lucius looked at me with confidence and now added impatiently:
"Hermione, I wish to know what you know and right now!"
The words didn't sound like a request or a wish, because his voice was cutting and his face showed me it was an order that I better not resist, so I surrendered and started speaking quietly.
"Well, I'm not surprised that Harry ran away, rather that he stayed there so long. I wouldn't have returned there after the first year in Hogwarts in his place," I confessed and clasped my cup.
Severus interrupted me: "The celebrated hero. Why wouldn't he want to go back to his family?
I grimaced when he called these people 'family' and explained further:
"His so-called family has neglected him since early childhood. His cousin beat him more often than he can count and harassed him, but the worst part was that his uncle and aunt never did anything about it. They think magic is an abnormality and have always made Harry feel like he is not normal in their eyes and not wanted," I pointed out before Lucius interrupted me with a decisive gesture.
"So what? Then Potter just didn't have a nice childhood; that goes for a lot of people. What are you getting at?
"Damn it! He was lied to all his life and his uncle and his aunt were the first to start because Dumbledore in his oh-so-great wisdom wanted to place him with his relatives in the Muggle world, knowing full well that Harry would be a wizard. They told him that his parents, who died to save him, had died in a disgraceful car accident and that they were drunken bums who didn't learn anything and didn't go to work!
"They kept him small; he was always to blame when something happened in the family, and he could never explain the strange things that happened because of the magic!" I talked myself into a bit of a rage because I could understand his experiences all too well, as I had experienced something similar in terms of magic.
And since Draco knew this because he had eavesdropped on a conversation between Harry and me, he laid his hand soothingly on mine and examined me questioningly and anxiously. I breathed deeply and calmed down, then I nodded slightly and smiled at him briefly, which seemed to reassure him even though I wasn't actually much calmer or more relaxed before continuing.
"You know, the noble Malfoy family has no idea how difficult it is for outsiders to enter a whole new world and what do we leave behind? A pile of shards! You rejoice when your children show the first signs of power and magic, but with us? We are called strange freaks; people are afraid of us, even our families! Until finally, at the age of eleven, a stupid letter flutters in and explains everything. All of a sudden! I beg you, how awful is that? At eleven? At that point, you almost don't need it anymore," I reproached and witnessed an unspoken unity of the three men listening to me attentively with their masks in place.
"To Harry: Did you know, you specifically Severus, that he had not been allowed to go to Hogwarts? The letter could not be delivered to him because his uncle prevented it. They even ran away. Only Hagrid, who was commissioned by Dumbledore, was finally able to deliver it to Harry. Yes, imagine that, a celebrated hero who is not allowed to return to the Wizarding World.
"And now I tell you something that nobody knows... Nobody, and that should better stay that way! Understood? Can you guess how the letter was addressed? No? Well, I'll tell you! 'To Mr. Harry Potter, The cupboard under the stairs'! Yes... wonderful, isn't it? Exactly, they gave him the storeroom under the stairs to live and sleep in and you can't imagine how embarrassing it is for him!"
After this speech, I sank back exhausted and buried my head in my hands. I should not have revealed it in my rage, no, I really shouldn't have, but sometimes the knowledge still affected me immensely. Poor Harry, simply shunted off.
Because of the all-embracing silence, I finally looked up and peered into very stony masks, which in itself was a statement, but also into eyes that had all become very dark. Apparently, not even the usually cold-hearted Malfoy family was left cold by the atrocious treatment of a magical child. Now I stretched myself again, straightened up resolutely and glared at them coolly.
"That's all true, isn't it?" Draco said with something like tragedy in the pitch of his voice. "Potter lived in a cupboard?" That seemed to make Draco feel low because he pulled his handsome face into a disgusted grimace.
"What reason would she have to lie?" Lucius asked velvety, a frightening expression flashing over his aristocratic and striking features. "Muggle," he whispered quietly.
"What were the peculiarities of magic he displayed?" it came sneeringly and somehow spitefully from Severus. I mean, it showed his interest that he wanted to know more about this. It shouldn't surprise me.
"Hmm... with Harry? That if they had shaved his hair, it would grow back overnight. That if he had to make food and something broke, it would repair itself; or things floating around. But what we both experienced and made the biggest fuss, was when we were both chased by other kids who were... mhm, yes, not so well-disposed towards us and we ran away and suddenly, I was back in our garden and Harry on the roof of the school, at lofty heights... That meant yelling at home, at his place and at mine... I think he landed on the roof, because he doesn't see the house of his relatives as a home," I explained in a very neutral voice, looking into surprised faces and showing myself confused.
"You don't understand our astonishment, dear?" Lucius asked amusedly and I confirmed with a gentle nod.
"Hem... well, I will probably do that then. The other could well have been childhood-related, accidental outbursts of magic, ordinary, but very rare in number, at least as you describe it. You raise your brow skeptically, Hermione, so not so rare... Okay, exciting. How often?" Severus urgently investigated.
"When I was a baby, Mum and Dad almost couldn't go out on the street with me because I let everything I liked float and when I had a tantrum, well, there could be a lot of breaks; my moods were legendary," I professed with a certain melancholy; this time shaped the relationship with my parents. Afterwards, I noticed real amazement in the eyes of the two men.
"That certainly reminds me of Draco in his irascibleness and that was absolutely abnormal. So much unexpected strength in a toddler," Lucius now spoke thoughtfully and Severus bowed his head narrowly while Draco took the floor.
"That's right, Hermione, I had it too, very early and very intense. But then they quickly taught me to control myself so that it wouldn't break out so often. However, most magical children start showing their first signs of magic for the first time at the age of about five and then have three or four outbursts, until they are eleven years old," he explained the world of wizards and witches which still held so many secrets for me, which were natural and normal for them, but not for me. "Nonetheless, there are also such brutal exceptions as Longbottom, where there were almost no signs at all, and normal Muggleborn children only learn of their magical gifts after the letter..."
"Oh, that's interesting... well, then Harry and I were probably different, more like you and I've improved over the years getting like I am now, very controlled, very disciplined. When I saw that my parents became afraid of me and the constant fear in their eyes no longer faded, I learned to pull myself together. When I was eight years old I had perfected my control, only secretly practicing from time to time. And I have to say, levitating and making things explode is still possible," I laughed hoarsely when I registered their shocked faces.
Hence, I let a book lying on the windowsill float over to me, non-verbally and wandlessly, and it happened what rarely happened to these men here, they looked pretty flabbergasted.
"Wow," Draco breathed.
"That should be impossible," whispered Severus and I just shrugged my shoulders as I took the book from the air.
"Only very few people can do wandless magic. We, well, that is natural, but you," Lucius echoed. Interesting that they admitted to mastering it, but I had always known that the three were competent.
"Well, to further explain to you our astonishment, these outbursts are normal, but targeted apparitions are absolutely not, because for that determination, destination, and deliberation are absolutely necessary! There must be nothing uncontrolled. You and Potter, you have unconsciously unhinged a law; you apparated in an emergency and that is actually impossible. It should not have worked at all," Severus showed nerves and brushed his hair excitedly out of his eyes.
"That is really and truly interesting. You chose well, son, when you brought this jewel to our house," Lucius was clearly the first to catch himself again, returned to his arrogant manner and nodded to Draco with a benevolent nod.
Severus, on the other hand, threw his hands in the air.
"Although that is all very interesting, I have to go again, look for Potter! Dumbledore is making the whole Order search. I actually only came to inform you," Severus said businesslike and he pointed discreetly to Lucius. Immediately, he took up his pacing again and seemed quite thoughtful.
"Yes, all right. I will probably be with the Dark Lord a lot this weekend. Should he learn that Potter is gone, I will have to intervene. You, Draco, will take care of Hermione," Lucius took an active part and distributed the orders for the coming days.
"Please excuse me, father, but I have a longer appointment outside the house on Saturday, too," Draco hurriedly interjected.
"Hmm," Lucius lifted one of his light brows and I threw my hands in the air.
"Pardon me, I don't need a nanny! I really don't," I showed my indignation openly. What was I, a child?!
"No, of course not, dear. Well, then do what you want here in the house! Annoyingly, I now will not have the time to let my anger out on Narcissa for earlier. But alas, postponed is not abandoned," Lucius said with his typical arrogance.
"What happens to her?" Draco wanted to know quickly.
"For a start? She will have to stay in her room until I have time. Potter takes priority," Lucius replied resolutely, rising to his feet, and we followed suit and so, after this very turbulent morning, everyone strived to get to their destinations.
End of Hermione’s POV