Chapter beta: Dani
Chapter translator: Aivy
I took a quick look at Harry and the Twins with a side glance at Ron, who was looking at the sinister figure with his mouth open, and I tried to tell them to keep Ron calm, whatever the circumstances. I saw how all three of them grasped my demand at the same time and they nodded unanimously, for it would pull the rug out from under Ron's feet seeing what else I would do or, to be more precise, had to do, as I knew how good-humoured Severus was after today. This was also the first time the others saw Severus again after learning what had happened between us, yet they all held back wisely.
Smoothly, I straightened up again. I did not usually curtsey before him, but knowing his excellent state of mind I would not take any risks, so I paid him my respect.
"Severus, what a joy to see you again. Can I offer you a drink?" I asked politely, making eye contact while I put down my glass on the table. I looked without fear into his motionless, mask-like face, which once again didn't show any emotion. Only his very straight posture and his shadowed eyes were evidence of his miserable mood. In the background, I heard Ron stuttering to Harry in a somewhat distraught manner.
"Come here," he only ordered coldly and I didn't ask, just walked right up to him, stopping right in front of him. I had hoped that he would ignore Ron, which he did. "What was all that about earlier?" he asked in an icy whisper while staring blankly at me. He hadn't looked at any of the others so far.
"You know it yourself, Severus, that I had to stop this! The Dark Lord is getting attentive," I defended myself, laying my hands without shyness on his chest, which was well wrapped in many layers of cloth as usual. I stroked gently with my fingertips, causing him to raise his eyebrow in disdain. The collective, frightened gasping when I came so close to our professor registered only peripherally and I hoped they would keep silent from now on. It would be hard enough to calm him down. According to my new insight, I would use and exploit my effect on my men. Let them become the puppets; I didn't want to bow to them in this respect any more.
"Ron, shut up immediately," George hissed very angrily and I heard his younger brother's mouth close loudly after he had been snapped at so gruffly.
"You know that's not what I meant, don't you?" Severus breathed hoarsely. His mask sat and looked as if it had been sculpted. I grinned up at him now and shook my head.
"Of course I know what's bothering you, but please stop it! Just because Remus and the others haven't come to terms with THAT yet, you don't have to get upset all the time. I was just defending myself," I remained calm.
"You are testing my patience," he warned viciously and I shook my head desperately. I still remembered his threat perfectly and I took it seriously, but I would not let it frighten me any more, damn it, I swore to myself.
"I have done nothing wrong. You are being unfair! But tell me, what is it that really gets you so worked up?" I asked him, tilting my head. Giving him an intense, warm look, I now laid my hands flat on his chest and heard the restless whispering of the others in the background.
"HE was here the last few days, no doubt. Then you will know what you have set in motion with your action. Yes, I am not happy about it, not at all! The best thing would be to grab you and Potter right away and throw you both at his feet," he almost hissed and grabbed me roughly by the upper arms. He shook me roughly, making me gasp for air.
On the sidelines, Fred cast a Body-Bind Curse on Ron. When the younger redhead's howling stopped in mid-yell, I was sure that they had also put a Silencio on him and had thus silenced the bound wizard. Well, he wasn't supposed to find out about all that this way. The others might not like it either, but without my okay they wouldn't dare to intervene, that would only make it worse. That Ron, on the other side, was about to have a heart attack, I could only imagine too well.
Severus' manhandling of my person didn't upset me, not only because I was myself again, but also because I only froze when he wanted me in bed and we were miles away from that. Therefore, I saw him more as an equal partner than as a superior opponent when he squeezed my upper arms firmly in his grip.
"Please, Severus, where is your composure?" I rebuked him haughtily and saw a murderous sparkle come into his eyes.
"You insolent bitch! How dare you do this to me over and over again?" he hissed furiously.
"I just do. Don't make such a drama out of it, it'll be alright," I tried to calm him down, shrugging my shoulders under his fingers, which still dug painfully through the fabric into my skin and returned his venomous look. I was aware that bruises were inevitable but I refused to make a sound.
"I would assume from this statement that you are a redhead, Hermione! Do you have any idea what is coming towards you?" he whispered coldly and his black hair surrounded his white face as he forced himself to calm down again.
"Of course, I'm sitting at the source, after all. Please believe me, I can do it! I know what's coming towards me," I showed my confidence, now again stroking his upper body soothingly, caressing his chest, which didn't seem to affect him.
"'Can do it'? Well, how? By delivering Potter to him?" he spat dangerously quietly and moved towards me. His face was now very close to mine and my eyes automatically moved to his lips that were pressed together in rage.
"Never ever and you know it, Severus! I protected myself and Harry! I will never be able to deliver Harry to HIM, to anyone, ever," I explained to him now slightly upset, as it annoyed me that he thought I was a moron and so I tried to free myself abruptly from his clasp, pushing furiously with my hands against his hard chest.
"What have you done?" he breathed softly as my words reached him, hiding his horror well.
"You'll find out one day," I dismissed him coldly. Thereupon, he gritted his teeth furiously, tightened his grip around my arms even more after my attempt to free myself, so that I had to hold back a painful 'Ouch' but couldn't hide the corresponding grimace.
"What makes you so angry? Who is annoying you? What do they all want that upsets you so much?" I asked with forced calmness.
"I never get upset," he said and a nasty spark appeared in his eyes. I suddenly changed tactics, no longer fighting against his hands, instead leaning forward into his arms in a spontaneous gesture, laying my face against his shoulder, to his utter bewilderment.
"Severus, these are dangerous times. Help me, guide me through them so that I can survive, but do not work against me," I pleaded now in a whisper, breathing this lasciviously into his ear. I could hear him exhaling in irritation, but I also felt him releasing his grip around my right upper arm, so that the blood could flow freely through it again, and putting his hand on my back. The others were so quiet and silent while they watched us that nothing could be heard in the room.
"Have you thought all this through carefully? In all its consequences?" he asked. I threw my head back and laughed loudly, feeling his strong hand in my back. It pressed me firmly against him, held me and pulled me against his unyielding upper body.
"But please, of course! I am already looking forward to competing with them," I answered, which was probably the wrong reaction, as he growled angrily, grabbing and shaking me again, only this time much more violently.
"Do you have any idea what they will do to you in their fights? They are ruthless and cruel," he hissed now in anger and his grip was hurting me. However, the thought that he considered me to be so weak, that hurt much more.
"How dare you, Severus, to portray me as an incompetent, weak thing! Who knows better than you what I've been through and how much I can take?! I am ruthless, too," I raged and did not even allude to the sex, but to my injuries, which he healed so regularly. I tried to free myself from his hold like mad.
"I will show you what ruthless is," he threatened fiercely and growled grudgingly and my hair blew into my face.
End of Hermione's POV
As I listened to Dumbledore's lamentations that he still had everything under control, now that it was known where Potter was hiding, my thoughts wandered angrily to the minx. What was she up to with all that? Most of all: Gringotts?
I had expected a lot of things, even including her involving the Malfoys, which would have been a tightrope walk, but this... I kept making the same mistake and underestimating her foresight and complexity! Who could have expected her to have planned her parents' demise so perfectly? So all-encompassing?
How unusual to get the goblins to interfere and accept inconvenience. But had it surprised me that she apparently understood even the simplest rules in dealing with those beings? No! She was incredible, unique. It impressed me very much that she so thoughtfully left us, the family, out of it. She behaved exceptionally, as I acknowledged.
Only this talk about the mutt, that brought my already moderate mood of the last few days almost to a boil. To hear again and again that she had allowed the mongrel to touch her and that voluntarily, deliberately made the pictures of the events I had witnessed in the library flash before my mind again and again. That tore at my already very strained nerves!
They all annoyed me: The Dark Lord with his unconscious demand for Hermione and Lucius with his jealous claims of possession against her, which I could now understand with an angry growl as I had to recall it when I had gone to see what was going on with the loud shouting we had heard muffled in the kitchen.
I had stepped into the hallway to restore order and had seen that she was touching Lupin's arm. Well, I had understood Lucius request, which had sounded more like an order to me, at that moment. She had to neither look at nor touch other men. This had made my mood drop so low that I had had to exert a lot of patience and discipline not to hex the werewolf.
I was no longer listening to what was being said, sitting there with my arms crossed as Dumbledore rose, adjourning the meeting, and disappeared quickly, leaving the excited crowd behind chattering loudly. I saw the Twins - who, which I always found astonishing, were very adept at suddenly being deliberately inconspicuous - trying to get away as quickly as possible!
With effort, I had to suppress a nasty, sarcastic smile. Not with me, boys! You are good, but I am better, I thought to myself spitefully. More skillfully than them, I sneaked up behind them in the shadows and then, yes, then I snatched them both in the street in front of the house. They looked at me startled, but also resigned to fate and not very surprised. They had evidently made an actual attempt to escape me, I was inwardly amused. One of them held out an arm to me, since he apparently knew that we would apparate together. I would not let them get away anymore.
They escorted me to the house. It was very cunning of the minx not to give me access to the Fidelius, but then I did not want it either. There were enough people I could snag who could grant me access. This time, I used the twins to guide me into the house, so my hand lay firmly and unyieldingly on the shoulder of one of the red devils!
When we arrived, I let my eyes wander over the group within seconds and I still could not believe that she had taken the weasel with her. What would Draco say, I asked myself spitefully, thinking of the nagging that would await him. It served my godson right!
I watched as she rose from her hasty curtsy with an incredible grace. Even now she was not afraid to submit to the stupid rules completely and greeted me properly. She amazed me, as always, but that did not brighten my mood and she did so only out of the hope that this would dampen my anger, I clearly recognized.
I ordered her to come to me, which she did immediately. Her courage was really that of a lioness. She knew how bad-tempered I was, she had more than realized that in the dreary hallway of the Black townhouse after Lupin had been so close to her. All the while, I did not take any notice of the bunch of annoying teenagers.
We beat about the bush. She knew how much I hated it when she provoked me, and she was doing a lot of that right now. I looked down at her calculatingly when she laid her hands on my chest in front of the others, lasciviously stroking it with her nails. It was... I took a deep breath. It was unusual. Normally, she never came so close to me of her own free will. Since that night, I knew that she had consciously or unconsciously avoided me. During our last encounter, her stiffening, her complete rigidity, had brought me back to consciousness and made me realise what I was about to do and so I had let go of her with a heavy heart!
It had indeed not been easy for me, but I knew that she seemed to have understandable problems with my physical closeness. So when she came so close to me on her own initiative I was surprised and irritated, whereupon I expressed my severely suppressed anger and shook her roughly. I wanted to knock sense into her by force and I knew that I was touching her again not at all gently, but she did not seem to mind and I was not a man who was gentle, I had never been.
When she pressed herself against me, she shocked me to the core, which I knew how to cover up. Then she pushed her whole upper body against me and nestled her head against my chest, which took me by surprise. That after that, she asked me so softly, almost pleadingly, if I could guide her, surprised me even more and made me stop for a moment. I completely ignored the wheezing of those present.
I did not like to be touched. Well, her touch was quite pleasant, but still, did she really think that she would be able to propitiate me? When her scent rose into my nose I felt my resistance diminish and so I released one of her arms from my grip, clasping her back instead. I was now holding her to me in a way that resembled an embrace. It was always amazing how well she fit into it. This gentle, tender closeness always made her feel more comfortable, as yielding and soft as she was in my arms. Did she really think I would be so easily appeased?
The fact that we had spectators only affected me peripherally, that is, I did not care. SHE, the minx, was more important! When she laughed frighteningly coldly at my doubts that it would not be as easy as she thought, she shocked me to the core, which I did not show her. I only showed her my displeasure by grabbing her roughly again and threatening her. I was so close to showing her what true ruthlessness was, what it meant. Then our unpleasant night would have been a mere child's play against what I could have shown her, so much did she enrage me!
I was hurting her, but I did not care. She did not resist, still had her hands on my chest and her hair blew around her face by a draft that blew in through the door behind me when I grabbed her.
"Let her go immediately, Severus," a cold, restrained voice snarled from the direction of the front door.
End of Severus’ POV
Well, it looked like I got here just in time. If I didn't have my eyes everywhere at the same time, literally everybody did what they wanted, even my Hermione, as I had just found out. The moment I entered the room, I had noticed our newest guest. That moron! What was he doing here? But all right, it'd have to wait. Severus first. This went too far; he was clutching her quite harshly and shaking her less than gently.
I did not want to see my girlfriend throwing herself at him and that was how it looked like. But I assumed that she wanted to calm him down, which was probably still in the early stages, because she clearly had that look she always had when she wanted to achieve something with him. I didn't like that at all and it certainly did not help to alleviate my already bad mood. Merlin, if only all the fuss about Narcissa was already over! But even then, there would still be the problem with the Dark Lord and I suspected, that was exactly the reason why Severus was in such good spirits.
Gradually, Severus detached himself from her and glared at me maliciously.
"Don't interfere. You have no idea what she has done this time!" he finally hissed.
"Oh, yeah, what? Did she provoke you again, Severus?" The words came slightly mockingly, but coldly, from me. I took a hard look at him and didn't let him sidestep. Meanwhile, Hermione stood between us, following our exchange of blows and turning her head from side to side.
"She misbehaved quite badly at the Order meeting," he spat coldly, and I heard Fred softly interjecting.
"Sirius," he murmured and then quickly ducked his head between his shoulders.
Okay, that was enough of an explanation. I knew she had wanted to go to the Order meeting and had gone to town, because these dilettantes were really starting to make too much fuss in their search for Potter. Obviously, she had brought the weasel with her from there and after Fred's throw-in I knew that Black had come up. Surely they had not yet got over the shock. Now it was also clear to me what had caused Severus' mood to slip from really bad to abysmal.
"You are out of control, Severus. It doesn't suit you and it's dangerous. Do I have to remind you of that?" I now asked coldly and also daringly, but I was right. He was a dangerous man and I would not tolerate that he lost control again in the presence of Hermione, no matter in which way.
"Pah, do not talk to me about control. The lousy mutt bothers you too, so stop acting so smug. You are getting just as bad as Lucius," he growled angrily and measured me threateningly. He was somewhat right, Black had disturbed me, but that was settled. He was dead and Hermione had no feelings for him; that had been sex, nothing more and for me she had ended it. So why should I continue to get upset about it? If the others kept digging into it anyway, I was above it. However, that Severus compared me with Father, that made me proud and so I smirked arrogantly in his direction.
"I'm glad to hear that, even though I know you don't mean it kindly when you say it. What has Black done to you that makes you lose control over it again and again? He's dead, history. Sorry Potter, but I just have to say it so clearly," I turned my gaze to him very briefly when I heard that he couldn't suppress a short hissing exhalation and I saw Weasel sitting in the armchair, surprisingly motionless and rigid, with a bright red head and rolling his eyes rabidly.
Even though I didn't like Black, I understood that he had been a mentor to Potter; the last bit of family he had and losing that was certainly not easy. Nevertheless, I turned back to Severus very quickly.
"He can no longer be dangerous to you in any way, so bury your jealousy! Shouldn't you rather aim that at me, or is there another reason why you hate him so much? You can hardly still have such hate for him because of what you experienced at school," I said incredibly curious but also very unmoved.
Hermione had looked at me with interest while I explained this so coldly and now she looked at Severus. She too waited for his answer, but it did not come. Instead he crossed his arms in front of his chest and stared at me. Finally, after a few seconds of staring at each other and a deathly silence spreading out, since none of the others would dare to say anything now and Hermione herself was waiting expectantly for the answer, I said coldly:
"Well, apparently you are. You must overcome that. You can't lose control over it, Severus!" I looked at him very insistently, let my influence on him be clearly felt.
"You Malfoys are all the same... far too arrogant!" he finally spat in contempt. "You should know I never forget what was done to me until I get my revenge, and even after that...! You should be very familiar with this procedure," he looked at me insistently now and then glanced meaningfully at Hermione. Yes, my little darling, she acted the same way, he was right. Still, that was almost twenty years ago, he had to forget that now. Besides, Potter and Black were dead, Pettigrew spent a useless existence as the Dark Lord's servant and Lupin, well, he would get his just deserts one day; besides, he was already punished anyway. After all, who wanted a werewolf?
I laughed mockingly, because it was really wonderful to see Severus so grumpy and stubborn and to be able to force him to make so many confessions in front of the assembled group. Taunting him a bit, I replied, because I was really angry about Hermione. I had seen that he had let her get very close to him again.
"You don't think that's what's making you go off the deep end, do you? Revenge, yeah, okay, but they're dead. I know you too well. The thing that really upsets you is your jealousy of that mutt, even though he can't get in your way anymore! I've been telling you for a long time, you feel something," I reminded him of my words that he had feelings for Hermione and saw how he was now grinding his jaws. We didn't care about our spectators; we knew they couldn't talk and all those present wouldn't dare and, if necessary, we would teach this to the weasel, too.
I looked at Severus meaningfully and then added with a broad grin:
"You should be more concerned about me; your jealousy ought to be aimed at me!" I possessively reached out with my hand and pulled Hermione, who was clearly surprised by my sudden action, tightly against me, wrapping an arm around her waist and holding her tight. She did not resist, leaning her back against me and I suspected she was eyeing Severus curiously. He did not make a face, but I saw the threatening glint in his eyes. She crossed her arms in front of her chest, but I wanted to provoke him a little more. It was simply fun, so I moved my fingertips from the middle of her décolleté of the unfortunately much too modest neckline up to her shoulders, and with my index finger I slightly pulled the fabric on her shoulder to one side and let my finger circle on her naked skin.
I knew Hermione wouldn't like that I made her into a pawn again, but I swore to myself that I would compensate her for that. Meanwhile, Severus murmured something incomprehensible and continued to glare at me, which made me laugh, this time amused, because that I managed to upset him like that was really rare and had to be enjoyed under all circumstances. Hermione, however, huffed in annoyance.
"Remember your promise," he reminded Hermione quietly with a dangerously clanging voice. I knew what he meant, since Hermione had told me that she had promised not to rub our relationship in his face. His jealousy was too glorious, but I quickly got myself together and mustered him hard, while releasing my arm from Hermione, who had immediately turned into a plank when he threatened her. Now I approached Severus, releasing Hermione from my grip.
"We both know what's bothering you, bothering and worrying us all, but there's nothing we can do about it. We can't hide her from him and she thinks she can handle it. Neither of us should make the mistake of underestimating her and I am sure that if she says she can do this and with how confidently she is about it, then she has a trump card up her sleeve that probably even we don't know," I explained calmly and seriously.
I knew I was revealing how well I understood her, but I didn't care right now. She would be happy that I knew her so well and respected her silence and maybe it would lift Severus' spirits, which would be good for all of us.
Severus seemed to have caught something again.
"Draco, what she intends to do is madness, suicide," he now protested coldly. He sounded honestly worried, which confirmed to me that he had deeper feelings for her than he admitted; his whole behaviour had it written all over it.
"I do not like the idea either, you know that, but it is even more important now that you control yourself, just like Father. If the three of us make a mistake, it will have bad consequences for her and also for me, because do not make the error to think that I will let him carry out a death sentence without fighting for her to the death," I looked at him sharply, indirectly showing my feelings for Hermione very clearly once more. However, he didn't answer, just scoffed contemptuously and looked at me threateningly again.
"It is still madness! I might as well hand Potter and her over at once, that would amount to the same thing!" he hissed eventually after all.
I couldn't believe it. He was so stubborn. And yes, he had feelings for her, because I saw the well hidden worry in his eyes, which he didn't want to show.
"Even Father vouched for her to the Dark Lord," I threw in coldly. "He will defend her fiercely, perhaps not to the very end, as I would, but he will not allow a member of his family to be harmed and you, Severus, should remember your duties, too!"
Instantly, he became furious again.
"You have no right to remind me of my duties, which I always perform conscientiously and you know I would bloody well protect her even if it were not my duty! Damn it," he thundered and when his magic gathered around him so aggressively that it became almost visible, one could feel quite queasy.
That he flipped out like that was really extraordinary. I must have hit a nerve.
"I can only hope you never forget this. Father hates it when he has to remind someone of his duties and he has decided that this is how it is to be done, so you have to defer," I now added this to take it to the extreme and looked at him arrogantly, even though his dark, bad-tempered appearance almost intimidated me.
I had probably overdone it a bit, for now Severus turned around on his heel with a widely billowing robe, heading for the living room door without another word, but before he walked through it he turned around once more just as briskly.
"You have no right to order me about, Draco, and certainly not to remind me of my duties! Otherwise, I will show you who you have to obey," he threatened me icily and I swallowed briefly. I knew he was right, he was the number two not only in the family but also among the ranks of the Dark Lord and I didn't want him as an enemy. With his robe fluttering and flaring up, he rushed out of the cottage, angry and disgruntled. That he had left became only too clear when the front door slammed shut with a loud bang.