When Hermione Fights
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 Poison, chapter 115

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Anzahl der Beiträge : 112
Anmeldedatum : 25.10.14
Ort : Bodensee

Poison, chapter 115 Empty
BeitragThema: Poison, chapter 115   Poison, chapter 115 EmptyMi Nov 27, 2019 6:01 am

Chapter beta: Dani
Chapter translator: Aivy

Lucius’ POV

My crazy wife, forced upon me by my father, had finally lost her mind. I had noticed her delighted smile when Hermione had sipped on the coffee and when Hermione then grimaced in disgust, I had immediately known what had happened. If she had told me about the invitation earlier and I had had time to think about it, this could have been prevented.

She still had to learn to come to me with something like that, but I was also taken with how good her instinct was, because she had apparently feared something like that happening. I would later ask the elves how the poison got into the cup.

Oh, Narcissa, you would pay for this, like never before under my hands. Nobody harmed my property or my son's!

Whether she knew it or not, she was playing with her life. But as I knew, in her ignorance, she did not want to admit it.

From one second to the next, Hermione had turned pale. She had swayed, her hands had gone to her throat and then she had sunk back as if she had no strength left to hold herself upright. She had placed her hands on her stomach as if she was sick. When I had gotten down on my knees in front of her, I had stroked her sweaty face and worried all of a sudden. No question about it, I had to act quickly, but also deliberately.

I had tried to suppress all emotions that, completely unfamiliar to me, pushed to the surface with force. Firmly forbidding these unwanted feelings that had wanted to arise, I had swept her into my arms. Only then had I noticed and for the first time been ready to perceive what a petite, light-weight person she was. She always radiated such power and presence that one would deem her much more physically strong than she actually was. Even yesterday, when I had buried her under my body, she had appeared so invincible and defiant, but now it was as if she was shrinking in my arms by the second. I looked down on her with profound concern.

She was now lying like dead in my arms, had lost consciousness as soon as I had lifted her up. Before, she had looked at me from her golden brown eyes intensely and trustingly, so that I took a deep breath and hurried even more.

I watched her ribcage rise and fall laboriously as if she had trouble getting enough air into her lungs. Her head rested weakly on my shoulder and I rushed straight towards the dungeons and Severus' laboratory. Only we three men could enter these rooms. That had always been important to me and so the heavy, dark wooden door swung open in front of me, letting me in.

Immediately, the torches flickered to life and lit up the room. When I looked at Severus' pedantically tidy laboratory, which had no equal in terms of equipment, I almost panicked, but I skilfully suppressed it. I now had to keep a clear head, otherwise she would die.

I rushed in and wiped all objects off the table with a determined, impatient gesture. A cauldron flew crashing to the ground, the vials were shattered and some of the ingredients followed. Nothing could have affected me less in those seconds than these things, as I carefully but quickly laid my too light and too lifeless burden on the now empty wooden table. Then I looked around hectically, for I knew time was pressing.

Standing still in the large vaulted room, I systematically searched everything with my eyes. I knew exactly what I was looking for. I might not be a Potions Master, like Severus, but I knew my way around and so I raced towards one of the cupboard doors which contained some supplies. Immediately, I threw it shut again with an annoyingly loud slam - it wasn't here! - and I growled impatiently.

"With that much order one should find what one is looking for right away," I hissed, turned away forcefully, towards the next closet. "Severus... where do you hide it?"

There finally, under B. What had I said? He was really a very meticulous pedant in this respect.

I fished for it, grabbed the precious thing I had so desperately been looking for out of the glass. I ran towards Hermione, who lay on the dark table, pale and twitching again and again. Now, as I caressed her hot, sweaty face, she slowly opened her eyes and looked at me, her gaze dulled, not spirited as usual. Obviously, she was feverish. That was not good at all as it was the second symptom of the poisoning. First the nausea, which had probably caused her to lose consciousness, besides the pain, and now that. Time was pressing even more.

"Do not think that I will let you die so easily! Come, open your mouth," I ordered her, but very gently and anxiously and she did obediently as commanded.

She opened her mouth with great effort and I gave her the valuable bezoar, which could be given as an antidote for anything if you were fast enough and had taken only a minimal amount of poison like she had. Hopefully, I had been fast enough. This was my only thought when I pushed the bezoar into her mouth, forcing her lips apart.

Then I pressed her mouth shut so that she kept the stone inside. She struggled, fighting vehemently and then suddenly she sagged as the antidote began to work and I felt her skin cool against my fingers that brushed over her clammy forehead.

We had been in time. I breathed a sigh of relief. Close, very close; way too close for my refined taste!

My name was not Lucius Malfoy for nothing. Narcissa would pay for that. She would wish that she had not been born.

I now looked at the pale, beautiful, unconscious girl who was now a member of my family, so much more than Narcissa had ever been. Next, I eyed the chaos I had caused here in my panic, like the open cupboard doors. One I had almost torn out of its mounting and from another of the cupboards I had just thrown out part of the contents in a tiny tantrum.

Even where I stood, glass crunched under my shoes. I smiled because Severus would have a fit of raving madness when he saw what I had done to his sanctuary and from then on it would get interesting. He would rage and if I told him the story, then what?

Then he would unconsciously let me look deeper than usual and so I was really and truly curious here. For the time being, she was out of acute danger and I could do no more than wait and see while making her comfortable.

Gently pushing my arms under her unconscious body, I lifted her up and heard her moan. She seemed to be in pain. I looked down on her worriedly and then pressed her firmly against me again as I could now enjoy feeling her so close to my body. I carried her out of the dungeon and up into bed, into my rooms. She had to be out of the wet sweaty clothes and it would be my honour and my pleasure to help.

For the first time since the fiasco I showed a cheerful smile. She would be mine now, at least until Draco came back.

Honestly, she was in no condition to be left alone. I entered my spacious suite, which was really huge and styled mostly in gold and green. I liked the space the Manor offered me. I went straight into my bedchamber, laid my sweet burden on the sheets and examined her carefully. I liked her curly, long, dark hair, which spread out like a fan on the silky, golden sheet. She fitted in so well here. An almost reverent sigh escaped me.

I brushed back her recalcitrant hair and continued watching her, as she kept on whimpering painfully and contorting her face in distress. It seemed to have been a very painful poison that Narcissa had given her in her malice. This had been the last act. Narcissa would receive her just punishment tomorrow. She had defied a direct order from me, that was unacceptable.

In retrospect, I was very grateful to Severus that he had acted so thoughtfully and used this special spell. He had explained it to me in detail and I found it brilliant and ingenious. It would keep Narcissa's mouth in check and condemn her to silence no matter who she wanted to tell.

I now ran my hand over her cheek to her décolleté, feeling the cold sweat the poison had caused and cleansed her. I magically clothed her in a wide white shirt of mine. Afterwards, I looked at her dainty figure, explored her slender body, how my shirt reached just over her thighs and her hands were covered by the too long sleeves. She seemed even smaller and more fragile, so vulnerable and tender. But it seemed wrong to me at such a moment when she could not defend herself or say anything else to see her naked, as much as I would have liked to.

My sense of honour towards her did not allow that. That would be degrading for her, humiliating and also for me, because I did not need to force an unconscious and defenseless woman, no, I did not want that and certainly not with her. I shook my head deliberately.

I now tucked her in with care, pulled up my comfortable armchair and let myself sink into it with a sigh. Only then did I call my elf and demand a scotch, which I urgently needed, a double and a bowl of water and a cloth. When I was alone, I got rid of my tight frock coat and then, very untypically for me, let my face sink into my hands and looked at her restlessly sleeping figure.

She tossed to and fro restlessly. That had been very close and would have been even more so if I had not thought of the bezoar. Even if I let myself seldomly get worked up by something, this one had pumped the adrenaline into my veins. Slowly, I realized that it had robbed me of a lot of strength and I would only be reassured when Severus could give the all-clear.

I drank a sip and slowly let it run down my throat, enjoying the sharp taste as I watched her fight herself free from the blanket as if it was too hot for her. Thereby, she presented me her reddened buttocks, which I had paid undivided attention to yesterday. I watched her tossing back and forth awkwardly. Just now, she stuck out her butt when she clamped the blanket between her legs and threw herself heavily to the side.

I swallowed hard as I saw her naked butt covered only by the little shred of cloth that called itself her knickers and remembered how I had held the firm and plump flesh in my hands. How my hand had fallen on her when I had spanked her, and that had been only yesterday that she had made me so angry. I had felt compelled to punish her, but this had happened in plain affect, which was very atypical for me. I usually devised punishments very rationally and thoughtfully, never like that. Here, however, I acted on instinct only and I was tempted to her luscious backside in apology, the rosy cheeks glowing so invitingly towards me after I had almost lost her.

I was still astonished about myself and had been since yesterday. I had never spanked anyone in my life, not even Draco, but I had sunk so low with her. Normally, I was much too distinguished for corporal punishments of this baser kind.

Preferring torture, physical as well as psychological, and flogging, I never came close enough to anyone physically to lower myself to touch them as intimately as I did with her. Where physical torture was concerned, I always had a knife, a whip or my wand at hand or other imaginative, creative and very helpful tools. And the psychological torture? Well, I had often used it as a punishment within the family, like for example letting Draco kneel motionless in the corner for hours as a small child. If he did not fulfill the expectations, he got a single stroke with the whip and you can see, the methods had worked and I had a perfect and desirable heir, who fulfilled my expectations in everything and even exceeded them in parts.

Torture was something I enjoyed and even the Death Eaters had the greatest respect for me because they knew I had elevated this form of corporal punishment to an art form that I sometimes passionately indulged in.

The mood that just gripped me was really unusual, especially for me, so affable, and I was once again reminded that the value of what you had becomes most apparent when you almost lose it.

Meanwhile, I was confronted with the startling fact that this young woman had managed to secure herself a permanent, irrevocable place in my family in the shortest possible time.

And as much as I had been angry about many things yesterday... Starting with the fact that she had dared to run away, thus opposing my direct order, but also that she broke the warding spells and that she concealed so much - whereby it rankled me that I had underestimated her so much!

Yes, that probably annoyed me the most. Together with the short-term concern that she might try to leave forever, these were all reasons that made me forget myself so much. Yet I also realized what an asset she was for me, for us, the Malfoys!

If I could control her completely, then- Here, her increasingly louder whimpers interrupted my thoughts and I looked at her.

She was once again tossing and turning, thus I rose, bent over her worriedly and wiped her heated forehead with the cooling wet cloth. Immediately, she sighed heartily, then purred slightly. She really did not make it easy for me not to take advantage of the situation. Even if I had despised how easy I wanted to make it for myself and how much I would have sunk in my own respect for myself.

She began to shiver and tremble, arching her back, and suddenly she screamed loudly. The bezoar now seemed to absorb the poison painfully and that obviously tortured her. Or did she suffer even more effects of the poison?

What else had Narcissa said? Her heart would start beating irregularly, as the last sign of poisoning? Had I not administered the bezoar in time? I did not know where her pain came from now or what she was actually suffering from, but it did not stop.

She was bucking more and more and also began to work her throat with her fingernails as if she had taken leave of her senses and scratched herself ruthlessly so that bloodshot weals formed. In my fight to prevent her from falling out of bed while injuring herself because she was acting so frantically, I grabbed her shoulders and pressed them down on the bed. That led to her thrashing wildly with her lower body and on the spur of the moment I laid down on top of her.

Purposefully guiding my hand to her chest, I sought her heart and its rhythmic beat, wanting to rule out that these were further consequences of the poison. I did not even know if I would be able to feel it at all, but at least I had to reassure myself as well as I could.

I found her heart throbbing violently, beating strongly and rapidly but regularly against her chest and pumping her blood continuously. I continued to hold her captive with my body, thereby immobilizing her because I did not want to use a spell. What did Severus always say? Wand waving and magical remedies were usually not compatible and I did not want to risk that. To first succeed in saving her and then destroy everything would really not be advantageous.

I grabbed her arms roughly and pulled them over her head. My weight pushed her deep into the mattress. Her body seemed to calm down slowly and with her stilling, I now felt her heart beating violently against my chest. As her groans got louder and filled with increasing pain, I feverishly wondered how I could tie her up because I found it too dangerous for her as she might fall out of the bed and keep hurting herself.

When she had calmed down consideringly, I propped myself up on my arms and looked at her really caringly, hoping that the seizure had stopped for good. When would Severus finally come back to help her? This was no joke!

Narcissa, I thought viciously and resentfully.

Then I heard the door to my suite banging loudly against the wall when it was knocked open with force and Draco and Severus burst into the room. They spotted me lying on top of someone as she began to buck again. The noise caused by the two idiots had apparently brought her closer to wakefulness and thus to the pain. I showed a disgruntled expression at the lack of tact even though I was glad they were back.

"Lucius, somebody has wrecked my lab! It is destroyed... and the bitch did not show up either," Severus flared up at the same time and then paused when he took in the picture before his eyes and then it slipped out of his mouth: "The incident yesterday should have been enough. Do you really have to force her into your bed?" I heard quiet contempt from his harsh words.

"What? What does that mean, Father? What was the other day? Is that Hermione?" I heard Draco ask dangerously calmly and threateningly coldly. That was my son.

"Severus, you - ... Oh, shut up! Better help me! Believe it or not, I am glad that you are back," I seldomly showed myself as openly relieved as I did just now.

"What has happened?" Severus inquired coolly. He stepped close to us and obviously immediately understood the seriousness of the situation when he examined her.

"Narcissa happened," I rumbled deeply as I continued to take care of Hermione. I now wiped her sweaty hair out of her face and slowly, exhausted but alert to act again immediately, let myself sink back into the armchair. Alas, she seemed to have calmed down for good.

Draco made a racket in my back as he walked around the bed.

"What is this about, Father? What is she doing here in your chambers?" he hissed angrily.

"Silence, Draco," I snapped quietly, but he interrupted me. In the meantime, he had passed me and had a clear view of her.

"What happened? Hermione...?!" The words escaped him in horror.

I did not even have time to blink before he knelt next to her on the bed. Looking at her like that, she looked really terrible. Her otherwise so alluring, slightly tanned skin was unhealthily pale, almost lime-white. In contrast, Draco's hand, which now cupped her cheek, looked almost well tanned, but his skin was actually very light. Her face was covered in cold sweat, and even now, although she lay still, her features were twisted in pain. Her scratched, bleeding neck completed the sickly picture picturesquely.

Her hair laid in a wild tangle around her head and individual curls stuck to her face. She was really not a healthy sight. My gaze fell on my son, who caressed her tenderly and I saw the open concern that flickered unmistakably in his eyes and slight panic, too.

I turned to Severus, who had observed this brief moment in silence.

"Narcissa gave her poison; Lectin. I took her to your laboratory and gave her a bezoar, but I do not know if that was enough. She had short episodes of pain time and again, like just when you came in. She has injured herself. Can you do more for her, Severus?! She did not drink much of the poison, because she noticed it immediately and just sipped on it and then spat out the rest. Narcissa said it was a fast-acting poison," I explained succinctly and precisely.

I was really worried about her. I could not imagine what I would have to hear from Draco if his girlfriend had suffered permanent damage in my care. Severus, whose face seemed completely closed off, nodded curtly.

"I will see what I can do," he said quite rudely. With his robe billowing, he left the room and I hoped he would be able to help her or determine that she was out of the woods. I would have Severus' laboratory restored; he could have the best of the best if she survived because of his bezoar. Everyone got what they deserved from me: Narcissa would get her just punishment and Severus would be rewarded.

Draco had now turned away from her, although he was still sitting on the bed next to her, holding her hand caringly in his.

"Tell me, Father, what happened today? Why was she with Mother?" he demanded to be told vehemently. At the word 'Mother' he grimaced in a disgusted and disparaging way, which no one could blame him for under these circumstances. After all, I thought similarly of her, my wife.

I briefly wondered how deep my son's feelings for her were and I remembered the statement that he had allegedly never underestimated her. What else did he see in her? What else did he know that I had not even suspected yet?

The fact was, she had more than surprised me several times in the meantime. It was only because of her that I had lost my control so badly as I had not done for ages and that worried me. I had to take Severus's warning seriously that we had to be careful not to fall for her the way Draco had, I thought very grumpily.

"She received an invitation from Narcissa. On the way there she met me - although I suppose she was waiting for me to join her, because she apparently did not feel comfortable with the invitation. Thus, I took this into my own hands and put a spoke in Narcissa's wheel by ordering her into my salon and taking Hermione with me. The elf brought the refreshments and after Hermione had taken a drink, I saw the joyful and happy flash in Narcissa's eyes. I did everything I could to save her... I am glad that Severus is here now, he is clearly more experienced in this field than I am," I rattled down my tale with marked restraint and shrugged my shoulders coolly before lifting my glass.

My son had kept an attentive eye on me as I told him what was going on and I watched as he clenched his jaws. His teeth were grinding when I was finished.

"Mother will pay for this. For this, she has earned herself a trip to the dungeons," he hissed with suppressed rage.

"Of course. She is already there," I informed him casually, nodding in agreement.

I watched attentively as Draco turned to her again. He first reached for the cloth in the bowl, squeezed it, and tenderly swept it over her face. Then he raised her hand to his lips and kissed it, whispering so quietly that I hardly understood:

"Come, my little Mudblood. You can do it. You are so strong. Hang in there. Fight!

I listened spellbound, did not want to miss a word, because the fact that my son showed his feelings so openly was a huge exception.

We had taught him to be just as controlled as we were, and even if he did not maintain it as masterfully as Severus and I did, he was well on his way there. I had known that she meant a lot to him, but I only slowly began to understand what he really saw in her.

Would she be THE woman one day? His wife? Would I allow that?

My thoughts were interrupted when the door behind us opened quietly this time and Severus rushed in silently. He stepped up to the bed next to me and I rose from my position, made room for him so that he could help her, reach her. While I was still moving, he placed some vials on the bedside table and drew his magic wand.

"How long has it been, Lucius, since you gave her the bezoar and what exactly happened afterwards? How much did Narcissa say about the poison?" he came, as always, explicitly to the point, although the urgency was quite apparent in his tone.

"She took very little of the poison, which apparently had a bitter taste. She spat out the liquid immediately afterwards. Narcissa said the poison would work quickly and about five minutes later, probably a little earlier, she got the bezoar. I was fast, but then she slipped into unconsciousness and has not woken up since. She has cramped several times. She was obviously in pain and started scratching.

"Narcissa said she would become nauseous, which happened while we were still in the parlour; that she would fever, which she did, and that she would get arrhythmia before her heart would cease to beat. I think, all in all, a good two hours might have passed since she got the bezoar, maybe three. I do not know. What time is it anyway?" I frowned reluctantly.

I heard Draco draw the air in sharply as he discovered in detail how the poison worked and what its consequences were.

"Let go of her. I will cast a diagnostic charm. Hopefully, I will learn more this way!"

Draco reluctantly withdrew from her, but he did, and Severus wielded his wand, carefully observing what was revealed, and then he let the wand disappear back into his robe to grab two vials simultaneously. He leaned over her, opened her lips almost tenderly and caringly by pressing her jaw apart resolutely, then he dully counted drops of a potion into her mouth. Then he opened the second vial and administered it to her in its entirety. It was clearly visible that he had some practice in instilling something into the unconscious.

I was very happy that Severus was back; this was not in my comfort zone at all. Should someone be tortured to death in an unusual, imaginative and slow way, and with skill, too, yes, then I was the right man, but healing someone devotedly and proficiently? ... No, that was not part of my skill set.

Severus now took out a tube and smoothed the white paste very gently over the scratches on her neck, which faded almost instantly and only light red lines remained.

Straightening up again, he looked sharply at Draco.

"She is out of the woods, clearly. The bezoar came soon enough. Your father saved her life, Draco! Twice, apparently, because if she had gone to Narcissa and taken in more of the poison, the bezoar, no matter how fast he managed to use it, would not have been able to help..."

I watched as Draco's tense posture fell away from him, his shoulders slumping slightly, and he sighed in relief.

Meanwhile, Severus turned. The expression in his dark eyes was intense and I steadfastly reciprocated his gaze.

"The bezoar has already absorbed the poison far enough for me to give her a sleeping draught, that was the second vial. I also gave her a pain potion, because the work of the bezoar and the last remnants of the poison cause the pain that led to her hurting herself. She will sleep for a long time now and she also needs this rest. We can and should leave her alone, but we should check on her now and then during the night," Severus said succinctly, his arms crossed in front of his chest.

I nodded approvingly and started to leave the room to make myself comfortable with a good glass of Scotch in the next room in front of the fireplace.

"Father, wait!"

With a questioning expression, I turned to my son and gazed into his large, still sorrowfully widened eyes as he looked up from bed to me, still kneeling beside her, again holding her hand now that Severus was finished.

"What is the matter, Draco?" I asked considerately.

His face became calmer, almost gentle, I would say, an expression I was not used to seeing from him and which amazed me. Yet I was even more surprised by the fervour and the deep emotion with which he spoke the next words.

"Thank you, Father, for saving her. I am so unspeakably grateful to you, Father!"

He held me firmly in his gaze and I was really fascinated for a moment, now that his grey eyes, which were so similar to mine, were radiating warmth. I had never seen him so genuinely grateful.

Severus waited halfway towards the small drawing room next to my bedroom and watched us attentively and silently as usual. I nodded curtly to Draco and did not answer. What should I have said? That I was relieved that she was still alive? That I had felt true panic for a long moment? That was something I would never openly admit. That would be beneath the dignity of a Malfoy and thus nobody would ever find out!

That I had also done it for myself, because I did not want to lose her either? The question of why I pushed far away from me for the moment. That it was not worth mentioning? That would really be a big lie, because the fact that she was saved was very important to all of us.

And panic? No, I would not admit that. For the second time in a short time she had managed to make my feelings overflow, even though the triggers and results had been fundamentally different. Not much had been missing and I really would have headlessly blasted through Severus's lab, but damn it, Malfoys never lost their heads!

Now I turned away for good and followed Severus, who had already left the room. Draco did, too, if reluctantly. We entered the drawing room and Severus poured three glasses, handed me one and then one to Draco. They settled on the sofa and I in the armchair in front of the fireplace. We remained silent, enjoying our drinks after the excitement and shock, and pursued our own thoughts.

Eventually, it was Severus who broke the silence.

"What the hell caused you to lose control again, Lucius, and devastate MY laboratory like that? What is the matter with you?" He addressed the essence of the matter.

He sounded threatening and growled deeply. Yes, he was really angry and surely only his control and the precarious situation had ensured that he had remained so calm for so long after I had desecrated his sanctum. Therefore, I owed him an explanation. Placatingly, I raised my hands and tried to explain. A bad-tempered Severus was always a threat to my nerves.

"Please calm down, Severus. I got a little out of control when I did not find the bezoar right away. Let someone understand your system of organization..." My blasé attitude came to the surface. "Should I have let her die? Severus, be sure, I will replace everything for you. You are welcome to completely rebuild your laboratory at my expense! The best of the best, because if it were not for your lab, I would not have been able to save her," I said arrogantly and waved my hand haughtily.

Although Severus grumbled grouchily about my appeasing, lapidary nature, I noticed that he was at least somewhat reassured, but not quite yet, for his next sentence testified to his curiosity and malice. He clearly wanted to irritate me.

"All right, I will get a new potions laboratory. This will cost you dearly. But still, why did you get so out of control, Lucius? What is she doing to you? Think about my warning. That is not you, Lucius. For the second time, she has managed that you almost lost your head!"

Severus' black eyes glittered dangerously at me while I registered from the corner of my own eyes that Draco looked back and forth between us with interest. If Severus revealed any more, Draco would certainly pursue it. And I knew that Severus accused me covertly of the same thing I had accused him of at the very beginning when I provoked the argument between Draco and him. When I had reproached him for having taken advantage of her. Yes, yes, you vengeful Prince, just keep rubbing my own failure in my face, I thought angrily, but a certain irony revealed itself to me too.

"She is a member of my family. You know what that means and how I fight for my family. I cannot let someone die in my house who does not deserve it! Besides, I can hardly let Draco's girlfriend die in my care," I tried to appease him with my obligingness.

However, Severus only snorted disparagingly and gave me a disapproving look from his dark depths that glittered so viciously.

"As if it were only that, Lucius," he snarled spitefully. "You bite her, attack her, then you heal her and now, now you fight for her life and sit at her bed for hours, that is not normal for you," he hissed contemptuously.

I had just tossed my hair behind my back and wanted to reply sharply when Draco intervened imperiously.

"Father, what does he keep hinting at? What did he mean earlier? Have you laid hands on Hermione again? You know what you promised me and I know that I can at least always rely on a promise from you, or at least I could... Well, explain it to me," he breathed very coldly and it was as if he looked at me with slight disappointment.

"All right, Draco, if it is your desire, then you will hear about it. We followed Hermione when she left the Manor unaccompanied and without permission. Can you imagine that?"

"Yes, that's how she is. But where did you follow her?" he demanded vehemently.

"She went to her parents' funeral. Did you know about it, Draco? Do you know if she really buried her parents?" I asked calmly and underlined my dominance by casually crossing my legs. Draco just shrugged his shoulders indifferently.

"I don't know, but I won't ask her either, because just as she respects that I have my secrets that I don't tell, so I respect it the other way round. If she wants to tell me, she will!"

His attitude impressed me, but so did hers. I would not have believed her capable of that. It also surprised me that Draco remained so calm. It had also shocked me when she confessed before Narcissa that she was happy that Draco would soon be accepted into the Inner Circle, but obviously she would continue to do so. That was not good. Well, then we should proceed with the confession, because Draco was already looking at me suspiciously again and delaying it longer did not help any.

"We tracked her, ultimately following her to her house and ambushing her there. She violated my explicit order and so she deserved a punishment. I grabbed her and spanked her hard," I admitted coldly and directly and without remorse, although it was unpleasant for me to acknowledge that I had resorted to physical violence.

That made Draco leap to his feet in anger.

"You did what?" he snapped at me, lost for words.

"Sit down, Draco, or I will not tell you anything anymore," I looked at him very firmly to underline my statement. He hesitated, but then he sank back onto the sofa. I noticed from the corner of my eye that Severus was smirking.

It was understandable that he liked this. Most likely, he had planned exactly that, as his revenge on me. Such a sly snake, which in turn almost made me smile diabolically. But I could bite it back, because my self-control was still better than Severus', I thought maliciously.

"Severus was watching, so no worries. In addition, I know the limits. I never lose control otherwise, you know that, Draco," I lied left, right and centre. Severus snorted disparagingly, but I ignored him. "It was her own fault... Be careful with her, you should not underestimate her," I put the blame on her like a Malfoy.

"I, underestimate her? Only you do that. I have never underestimated her and unlike you I have also understood that there is no point in giving her orders or restricting her. Besides, I knew where she was going and I agreed," he proclaimed icily.

I registered that he looked not only at me challengingly and from above, but also at Severus. Aha, so he had underestimated her as well.

"Good advice: never underestimate her. Think about it, Father; she had already helped you before you could threaten her with anything. If you give her freedom, let her carry out her plans, then you will find that her loyalty and her fighting spirit for the family will be even greater than you could ever hope. She is not a normal woman... Father, most other wizards should watch out for her and not the other way around," my son said in a controlled and sovereign manner as we listened eagerly. "She can truly take care of herself. I didn't just take her into our family on a whim," he said, shaking his head as if he found such absurd thoughts from us offensive.

"Oh, you did not?" I breathed questioningly and lifted a bright, aristocratic brow.

"Of course not! I had my motives. And I think you should start treating her not as a prisoner but as an equal member of the family. You too, Severus, for you know much better than Father what she is capable of! And if you are honest, Father, you do not know that yet only because she always restrains herself and does not defend herself from you, because she knows that you are the Head of the family! She knows the rules very well! Give her freedom," he emphasised his statement with a gesture, "if you do that, Father, you will get a lot more out of it than if you restrict her. To leave her free hand will have undreamt-of, positive effects for you. Trust my judgment." Nonchalantly, he then took a sip, raising an eyebrow.

The words of my son surprised me very much and made me think whether I had really scratched the surface with all that I had seen from and learned about her. She was talented and powerful, I already knew that and that she was extraordinarily intelligent, even quickly finding gross mistakes in Severus' spells, had impressed me greatly. Yes, I had to admit that quietly.

Maybe Draco was right, because she had really been working for the family when I had no idea yet that she was part of it. She had made it possible for me to escape in the Ministry and had even attacked a member of the Order. Obviously, carrots were more effective than sticks where she was concerned and maybe, to learn more about her, I should leave it to her to punish Narcissa. After all she was the victim. If the punishment did not seem strict enough to me, I could still veto it. This brilliant idea came spontaneously to me.

"We will see, son, but your objections have been noted. I will give her the honour of punishing Narcissa," I also hoped to appease him.

"I think that's a good idea!"

I saw a brief diabolical grin appearing on his face and I assumed that Hermione's punishment would not turn out to be small. She would satisfy my desire for revenge as well. Oh yes, I liked the way the game was going.

Yes, he really was my son and I could be proud of him because he played the game as well as we... as I did, even though this dangerous and beguiling minx in my bed was a temptation for all of us!

End of Lucius’ POV
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