When Hermione Fights
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 A New Era Begins!, chapter 137

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Anzahl der Beiträge : 107
Anmeldedatum : 25.10.14
Ort : Bodensee

A New Era Begins!, chapter 137 Empty
BeitragThema: A New Era Begins!, chapter 137   A New Era Begins!, chapter 137 EmptyMi Jun 10, 2020 7:59 am

As of two weeks ago, WHF has a French translation in the works. Miss_JoLiE was super busy and has already 17 chapters translated.
Check it out if that’s interesting for you and give her some kind words for her effort Smile https://my.w.tt/WbeFSVNWR6


Chapter beta: Dani
Chapter translator: Aivy




Hermione’s POV

It had taken some time until the situation had calmed down again.

I had magically cleansed myself and pulled my hood back over my hair and gave the house elves harsh instructions to distribute food and drinks among the people. The soft harp sounds now wafted through the hall and strengthened the mystical impression.

I had to regain my composure; the mental attacks had taken their toll on me and I also asked an elf to get me some potions.

I was a little out of sorts. I had reckoned that something like this would happen to me, but I had not expected it to happen the way it did. I was shaken to the core and I was terribly cold inside, but I could not let anything show, not in this environment. They would pounce on me like wolves and try to tear me apart if I showed weakness.

So I tried to drink a strengthening potion and a headache potion without attracting attention. I would need all my senses to hold my own; I was well aware of the calculating looks I got from everyone here.

How far-sighted of me to set up the little trees. If you stood between them, you were relatively well-shielded and undisturbed, which I currently needed, quite badly.

That had been close! I had not wanted the men to step into the breach for me, that would have been the last resort. That I had to reveal my big secret in order to get out of the matter was... crap!

Yes, the word described it quite well.

Lucius, Severus, and Draco stood by the Dark Lord's side, who was laughing and now I understood what Draco had meant the other day. It was much scarier and more frightening when he laughed than when he was in a bad mood. The way his face stretched and twisted was so unbelievable and surreal.

I was now a Death Eater... Can you believe it?!

No? Well, it's hard for me, too. Even though I had always considered this as a possibility, it still shocked me that I was now also marked by the Dark Lord. That was so final and my body turned into a bizarre art landscape with brandings and marks that I had never had the freedom to choose.

How would my body look like when all this was over, I dared to ask myself anxiously.

Oh, heavens! Wasn't I lucky? That grotesque face that had clearly come too close to me, those lips on mine, that would mean nightmares and his tongue on my lips as well... Was there anything more disgusting?

Didn't I have a lot of luck?

I was flabbergasted. I would bet that he had never done this before, but unlike the others I at least knew the reason why he had done it, what he had wanted to taste!

It had probably been the last test to check the honesty of my mental statements. If I had lied to him and tricked him, he wouldn't have been able to taste the heavy necromantic magic, which soiled me like tar, but since he apparently knew what it tasted like, he had his proof.

I had not known that you could taste it on my blood, but I was sure you could learn a lot from the Dark Lord on the subject of dark magic, I concluded dryly.

If those at the cottage knew the Dark Lord had kissed me, they would be horrified. I couldn't believe it myself, I was so shaken. That he would be pleased and see my value, yes, I had known that and counted on it, but that it would go like this, that he would go off like that, that he would be enchanted and raptured, NO, I had not been able to foresee that, it was incalculable.

I would have loved to pull my hair and scream desperately. It was as if I had kissed my Inferi! I didn't dare to wipe my lips in this environment, so I just stood there staring at a tapestry without looking.

I noticed again how everyone was eyeing me, their incredulous but also jealous looks, as they couldn't make sense of the conversation the Dark Lord and I had been having, so I retreated even further, to the edge of one of the silvery willow trees.

I saw the appraising glances of my men, who must have wondered what about me fascinated the Dark Lord. The Lord was wise to prevent them from prying into my secrets from the start, now they had to stick to it. Draco would be the easiest to deal with, but Severus and Lucius... Well, one problem at a time, because I knew they would try to get to the bottom of it.

I had done it, I was alive. That was a small triumph.

Alas, unlike I had wanted to, I was now very close to the Dark Lord, almost too close for my own good. I suppressed the shaking that wanted to run through my body when I recalled the memories. I still felt the need to wash; it was increasing rather than decreasing.

Well, I'd wait and see how that would work out. Despite, or perhaps because of, the unusual events, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and almost everybody was engaged in a conversation.

When I heard a rustle, which immediately caught my attention and I saw someone approaching me, I stiffened and had to stop myself from attacking and killing him immediately. I looked at him with ice-cold contempt: Wormtail.

"What has become of you?" he whispered at me confidentially, reproachfully, and I positively froze. Him daring to speak to me so intimately made me grit my teeth in rage. Whose fault was it that I was standing here?

If he hadn't crawled back to the Dark Lord and helped him...! Oh, I was so furious right now. How dare that rat talk to me?

I kept looking away stubbornly but the idiot didn't give up.

"How is it that you're... here? That's-" he stuttered with uncertainty. At that point, my patience snapped.

"Don't talk to me, YOU RAT!" I hissed louder than I had intended and some of the people around us turned towards us. As it seemed, everyone was surprised that I knew he was a rat.

"But-" he squealed and he wanted to grab my arm with the gleaming silver hand he had sacrificed for the Dark Lord and that was it for me. I took my arm away from him in time before he touched me and retreated, glaring at him viciously.

"Don't touch me," I hissed, noticing several curious people approaching with sometimes very greedy and lustful looks.

"But, but I was always a good rat," he began to croak tearfully, continuing from where he had left off in the hut, and I was seething when I heard those words again.

I noticed the Lestrange brothers sneaking up on me with cruel looks on their faces and I glanced at the throne through the hanging leaves, saw the three men planning something and talking excitedly. Great, they always said they would take care of me and now they did not even look in my direction!

Great. Was this already the first confrontation?

"No, you were never a good rat! You were fat and lazy! I warn you, if you try to paw me with that... hand again, I'll finish what Harry didn't do back then in his stupid, incomprehensible good-naturedness," I hissed at him now and I was deadly serious; I would cut his neck with my dagger without hesitation.

Yet none of them were aware of that as they didn't know what the Lord had seen of me.

Again I glanced sideways at my men. I was sure I had just seen a sharp look first from Lucius, now Severus and last but not least Draco. Severus asked the Dark Lord a question and he turned to Severus with interest.

Draco twitched, wanting to come to me and Lucius grabbed him by the forearm, shaking his head almost imperceptibly. Aha... Now I knew what they wanted, I had understood. They wouldn't do anything; I guess that meant I should learn to deal with situations like this.

Even I knew that this was not a charitable organisation. Everyone had to fight for their place here and to keep it everything was allowed. I already knew, but I was not afraid. Let them come.

I believe that it was Nott Senior who spoke to me first, who had also quietly approached us.

"Do you think you're better than the rat? You're just Draco's whore," he hissed at me and reminded me of his son with his rabbit-like appearance, but where the latter was quiet and reserved, his father here was a pain in the ass before the Goddess. I was eyeing him from top to bottom when I could suddenly identify the burning hatred in his eyes. Yes, it had been him - exactly, the memory slowly came back - the Death Eater, whom I had hexed boneless with the Brackium Emendo in the Hall of Prophecies and a falling shelf had then landed on his flabby body as well. That he had no nice feelings for me, I gladly believed. The regrowth of all bones in his body must have been a painful and tedious affair.

Just keep calm. I took a deep breath, not wanting to answer, but that seemed to be the wrong tactic.

"Well, well, well. Is someone here already getting snobby? The Mudblood thinks that just because she wears some stupid jewellery with their crest, she can raise her nose above us," nagged a woman I didn't know, but her ash-blond hair was artfully coiffed and she was quite attractive, even if the greed for my jewellery seemed to leap out of her eyes.

"Leave her be! She-" I raised my eyebrow in irritation as the rat began to speak, taking my side. What was that rodent thinking?! I didn't need him and so I unconsciously, aggressively, bared my teeth. The Lestrange brothers, Nott, and this woman also looked at him derogatorily and contemptuously.

They were ready to lash out at him angrily, but before they could say anything, it was ultimately enough for me, and they couldn't even blink before I had pulled my dagger, which I carried hidden under the left trumpet sleeve in my invisible holster, in a single smooth movement within seconds.

As Wormtail was too close to me, I only had to stretch my arm to hold the deadly, sharp blade of my dagger against his flabby, fat neck. His eyes were widened in fright and a muscle under his eye twitched nervously as he froze.

I cocked my head thoughtfully and spoke now, while the others had also fallen silent:

"If I should ever need your help in this life, I would rather kill myself with this dagger than accept your help," I spat contemptuously. My outstretched arm did not move, remaining motionless in mid-air as Peter, the rat, trembled and wanted to say something. "AHH, watch out, it's sharp! ... And Nott: you should think about who you are talking to. I know you have been a member here much longer than me, but don't forget what I have already done to you! Don't worry, that was the rule, not the exception.

"You look at me like you don't understand. Well, let me explain it in a different way: You want to challenge me? All right then, be my guest, but I warn you, the spell that cost you your bones wasn't the only one I knew and know! The repertoire of spells is astonishing," I threatened him coldly with a malicious expression in my brown eyes, realizing that he knew what a humiliating experience I was alluding to. As his teeth gritted loudly, I smirked coldly.

While I stared intently at Nott, my arm with the dagger still held Wormtail in check, hovering only millimetres above his skin.

"Brother? I don't know what to think. Is she less insane than Bella? More dangerous that way?" I heard Rabastan ask amusedly and I wondered how he could sound relatively normal. He exuded a great cold-bloodedness, but the way he talked, he sounded normal.

"Well, my Bella is not all there, but she always had fire," Rodolphus replied indifferently.

"That yes, but she here is cold as ice," Rabastan truly recognised my way of dealing with things. They saw right away that I was very cold, but otherwise they wouldn't be here in this circle either.

Nott and I were still assessing each other motionlessly in a silent duel. When I suddenly raised my eyebrows playfully and jerked forward in a rapid movement, my black dress swaying with the motion, he immediately flinched back like a frightened schoolgirl. Yeah, first one to twitch loses.

I laughed scornfully and the Lestrange brothers joined in as Nott puffed himself up in indignation in front of me and the rat squealed, attracting the attention. When I had gone forward, he must have moved or whatever, in any case my blade had cut him and now he was bleeding slightly. From the straight cut, the blood dripped onto his thick, protruding belly, but the cut was very superficial, yet he had turned quite pale. I didn't even spare him a glance.

"Stop being so whiny! You cut off your own hand, the scratch should be easy for you to bear," I snapped at him without sympathy. I then pulled my dagger away, let my sleeve slide back and pushed it into its sheath, all in slow, deliberate movements while the others all looked at me closely.

The shrew of a wife stared at me with big bulging eyes when I grabbed my robe with one hand and pushed out of the corner that was getting too cramped with all those annoying people. I only granted them a cold glare; as it seemed, we were all still weighing each other up carefully.

When I was trying to make my way out with my skirts fluttering behind me and was almost past the throne, it occurred to me that nobody would leave just like that and I stopped abruptly.

The Dark Lord was present and so I stopped in my angry haste, spun around and sank, following an intuition, in a perfect curtsey, lowered my head and waited. I knew I shouldn't ask, that would be extremely stupid.

After what seemed like endless time, I was acknowledged.

"Mudblood, what is it you seek from me?" The question was asked in a bored voice. I didn't dare to stand up until he had given me permission to do so and so I just looked up carefully, saw Lucius and Severus standing left and right next to the Dark Lord, Draco next to Lucius and how they all watched me expressionlessly.

"My Lord, may I withdraw?" I dared to request submissively, bowing my head immediately and holding my humble curtsy skilfully. I had already learned this in regards to Lucius and to adhere to these rules of conduct in the presence of the Dark Lord meticulously couldn't be all that wrong.

"Do my faithful Death Eaters give you such a hard time?" he asked with a smirk, which was scary. "Stand up, I can't see your eyes," he ordered harshly, which I did immediately, looking fearlessly into his ugly face.

"No, my lord, they are irritating," I replied sharply. Severus even opened his eyes wide in horror and heard the indignant hissing of the offended people present. Everyone seemed quite agitated that I spoke to the Dark Lord in this way.

"Courageous or presumptuous... though, no, you know what you can do." He must have recalled my actions he had seen, the fights, the murders and all the other forbidden things I had experienced. "Why are you leaving so soon? It could get quite entertaining!"

"I have a headache, and I usually only enjoy games when I'm in top shape," I answered coldly and truthfully.

"What are you in pain from? I noticed that you took something for it?" he asked threateningly.

"My Lord is too kind to take such an interest in me, but you do a good job all around, my Lord," it came surprisingly sarcastic from me when I alluded to his attack on my mind.

"Yes, I like to be thorough! Do you know that you are very much like Severus?" He seemed in a good mood.

"Yes, I know that," I said quite arrogantly, but I really knew that.

"Then you know him better than most... Ah, what do I see? A hidden smirk? I look forward to seeing you again soon!" It seemed like a threat when he said this so lasciviously. "Mudblood," he dismissed me generously. Having gained the permission of the Dark Lord, I grabbed my skirts and rushed away.

I could only guess what an honour I had been granted when I saw the very shocked faces of the Inner Circle. But honestly, I was at the end of my tether, my whole body was aching despite the potions and to endure those whining idiots without killing them would have been almost impossible right now.

End of Hermione’s POV

Lucius’ POV

I was sitting with Severus at breakfast when she rushed in. Yes, that fit perfectly! She was wearing a long black dress and if the colour matched her mood after that fateful evening, she was ill-tempered. Her expression didn't betray anything, but by now I had learned to interpret the smallest signs in her posture - something I had always been a master at - and she clearly radiated a foul mood today.

A light smile flitted over my lips, because with her mood and this robe she had unconsciously matched Severus very well. Alas, who would want to have the Dark Lord's lips on them, I thought slightly disgusted.

"Good morning, Lucius. Good morning, Severus!" she greeted without inflection, nodding at us one by one and I did the same, nodded politely.

"Hermione, how good to see you! Come to my side." Draco took his time this morning, so she would take his place today. This way, I could talk to her more easily. I really wanted to talk to her about yesterday’s evening.

I had to decide whether or not to punish her for her impertinent behaviour which had put us in such danger. Well, the next minutes and her attitude would decide how despotic I would behave.

She gallantly lowered herself onto the chair on my right, so that I now also saw that her long, flowing black dress with wide shoulder straps not only showed a nice, low V-neck at the front, but also at the back, an observation that lifted my spirits by leaps and bounds.

She had something that appealed to me eerily.

Even before she received her coffee from the house elf, the door to the salon opened again and my son finally showed up. It was about time.

I saw his irritated look for a moment, but when he was late, he had to live with the fact that Hermione was sitting at my side again. He quickly pulled himself together and greeted us politely, as it was proper, sat down next to her and ordered coffee.

We were all a bit under the weather after that memorable evening, but hid it well. We did not show weakness openly. Hermione had slightly dark circles around her eyes, no wonder after the mental magic and Draco also looked a little pale.

Severus had leaned back on his chair with angrily crossed arms, after all we had finished eating and only drank coffee together. Hermione had interrupted our resume of the conversation with the Dark Lord with her appearance, but we were used to it. It had been a long night after she had been dismissed.

"What was that about Hermione yesterday?" he asked in a grumbling, ill-humoured voice. "Can't you even keep agreements when your life is at stake? At which point were you invisible?" he thundered at the end and certainly became louder than he had wanted.

She wanted to answer. I saw the indignant sparkle in her eyes and although I usually loved an exchange of this kind, I really did not feel like indulging in Severus' whims, so I resolutely raised a hand and told her to be silent, which she did devotedly although it did not quell the intense glint in her brown eyes. Very well-behaved. She learned so quickly!

Severus gazed at me in a really foul mood, but he remained silent. When I was sure that everyone was listening and remaining silent, I began to speak calmly:

"I think, Severus, that our Hermione had a very good reason to show herself so early; even though I am still wondering whether you deserve punishment, Hermione, because you put yourself in the position of having to reveal yourself so early in the first place. We had an agreement and you violated it. Do not look at me like that, either of you, you know I am right. I did not see you, Hermione, but the Dark Lord will not have missed your presence. He noticed you, sensed your presence, did he not? He saw you, and before he could order me to drag you before him, you stepped into the doom with your head held high, did you not? Am I seeing this right? ... You nod. That was very brave and extremely stupid of you, because at that point I could still have intervened, after that you took away any possibility of me doing so," my reproachful voice showed my wavering mood.

Severus next to me grumbled something into his non-existent beard and it annoyed me, so I demanded harshly: "What is bothering you? Tell me."

Accusingly, he raised his hand and pointed to Hermione.

"That stupid Gryffindor bitch will be our undoing," he bellowed. "Her actions yesterday could have gone terribly wrong and you know it. Even though we are not supposed to ask, I am burning with curiosity as to what she could give the Dark Lord that he himself would want her so eagerly. You have never seen such greed in his eyes, have you, Lucius?" Severus' eyes glinted dangerously greedy too, as I noticed very well; even if it was not visible to others, I saw it.

I also noticed Hermione now very angrily trying to murder her napkin with her hands again. As it seemed she would have liked to give Severus a piece of her mind, but she kept it to herself.

No, I really had not. Such greed I did not know from him, but I would beware of disobeying a direct order from him. I had already thought about it and of course I was curious, however, when He had turned his attention so directly on Hermione, then it was too dangerous to disobey his orders.

It was not as if I always did what the Dark Lord wanted me to do, but here I would. I had a feeling it would be better if I abided by his wishes. Yet what could it be that she had done that made her attractive even to the Lord, despite her inferior heritage?

She had to be more suitable for me, for us, than I had expected. So she would be of even more use to me in my plans and I was also impressed by how she had mentally resisted the Dark Lord.

My eyes now glided to her full, red lips and then I saw again the horrible image of the Dark Lord pressing his lips onto hers. That was earth-shattering, he did not do that! I knew the Inner Circle was horrified to the core and so was I.

Silencing Severus with a glance, I then looked at my son, whose expression was blank, but I could see the displeasure in his eyes. Well, should he get the chance to speak and then I would put my foot down to put an end to this unfortunate subject, for more important things were pressing and I wanted to forget the images.

We had to think about how we could protect Hermione during the coming visits to Dark Manor.

"Do you have anything to say about this? If so, then say it now, because afterwards I will end this subject once and for all. We don't have time for this!" I turned to Draco. Severus grumbled again, because I didn't give him an answer, but he would get it in a moment.

"She should never have had the Dark Mark. I don't like this at all!" Draco just hissed in annoyance. I nodded in agreement.

"Well, Draco, I don't like it either, but there's nothing we can do about it now. To you Severus: I wonder what she offered him, too, but since he ordered us not to push into her, we will have to respect that. Unless you would tell us willingly, my love? ... No, you are averse... That is a pity. But, I am sure our Hermione here would never endanger the family. She proved several times that she understood that this is her family she has to protect now, but we will protect her as well. She now has the Dark Mark and will even stand in the Inner Circle. Nothing else would be possible for a member of my family, although her position will always be different from the others.

"Hermione, I am certain you are aware that you will have a hard time as a Mudblood in the Inner Circle. I suppose you wanted to observe Draco's initiation yesterday and therefore you sneaked into the secret passage, which was a disregard of my explicit orders that you have to wait upstairs. I will now warn you one last time to never disobey me again, no matter how great your curiosity or unwillingness to follow my orders. If you do not want to obey me because you have serious reasons, then ask me to be allowed to explain them. Do we understand each other?" All of this came authoritatively from me in a monologue. I wanted her cooperation.

She nodded humbly and said, "Yes, Lucius." I could see she would genuinely try to comply.

All right, but I was not finished yet, so I kept looking at her.

"Good. Furthermore, you will never again take away my freedom of action like you did yesterday, never again put me in front of a fait accompli, do you understand that? Besides, when we face the Dark Lord, you will show the greatest respect and listen to the three of us without question and it does not matter if it is me, Draco or Severus who gives you an order. You must understand this is necessary, not only for your safety, but for ours. So far you have done all this without being pointed out, so do not get disobedient now! The way you set out to leave the hall... You cannot talk to Him like that! That is just not acceptable!" Her departure yesterday had shocked me, that she dared to talk to him like that and he allowed it! He had let her get away with insulting his circle. He had given in to her request, this was not normal!

Bella had completely freaked out and she usually looked bad when she dared to act up. After my and Severus' last curse on her, Bella, who had been charmed silent for most of the time during the events, had looked terrible. Not much had remained of the once noble, beautiful robe, and we had put the bleeding Bellatrix into a forced sleep so that she would no longer disturb the celebration. When Hermione had finally received the Dark Mark, we had a house elf take her to her home.

But it was clear that Bella was her enemy and Nott was also not really fond of her after she had messed him up so badly. Yes, we would have to watch out for her.

She nodded again humbly and replied calmly, "Yes, Lucius, I'll take care of it!"

I had not expected anything else. Satisfied with her answer, I regarded the matter as settled and could indulge my own curiosity.

"And now, my dear Hermione, you will explain to me how the hell you know your way around my house so well. By now, you have shown me that after less than a month you know at least two secret passages that even Draco does not know about, and I suppose you did not tell him from where to enter this passage, did you?"

She surprised me immensely when she suddenly fell into a completely different mood when she heard my question and started sniggering foolishly, even putting her hand over her mouth because she was chuckling so much.

It was getting too much for me, so I followed up my question: "Speak up, what is so funny about that question?" Threateningly I continued: "If you think you can laugh at me... We have just talked about respect and now you show me directly afterwards that you have no respect. You can not do this, Hermione!"

She shook her head, trying to control her laughter and raised her hands defensively, while Severus grumbled again and seemed to be in an even worse mood than at the beginning of our conversation and my son, yes, he alternately looked at me and her questioningly, looking confused.

Obviously, he really did not know anything about the passage that ended in his dressing room and as long as she did not blab this secret right now, I would not tell him either. Let him find it on his own, I thought that would be more appropriate.

Finally she had got a grip on herself again, but she was still grinning mischievously at me.

"I knew you would ask me that one day," she replied with an almost smirk, "and I want to take this opportunity to thank you for giving me access to your library; it is truly a treasure chest and the plans of the manor were especially exciting. Thank you, Lucius." She put her hand on mine and briefly stroked which made me raise my brow when I felt her skin on mine. Smiling kindly now, she nodded again before taking her hand away and devoting herself to her breakfast.

"So you had nothing better to do than to look at the manor's plans first?" I interrupted her somewhat surprised.

She looked at me slightly startled, probably because of my harsh tone.

"Well Lucius, they fell into my hands when I was exploring the library, and yes, I couldn't resist them and I always like to know about the place where I live! I like to know all the exits in case I need to escape," she winked at me after her cheeky reply. It surprised me, but I could live with that answer. Well, she knew more about the manor than Draco and that she learned really fast was something I knew, but was not always conscious of.

"Escape?" As if she could still run away from us. Ridiculous, as if we would let her.

End of Lucius’ POV

Hermione’s POV

Before, Hermione's morning

When I opened my eyes, I still felt exhausted. My brain felt like it had been put through a meat grinder and I groaned painfully. Draco had wrapped his arm around me and he was holding me very tightly. It's a miracle he still wanted to touch me. After yesterday, the pictures were unfortunately very colourful, clear and vivid before my eyes, even if I would have liked to repress it.

I peeled myself carefully and quietly from the bed and managed not to wake Draco. As I stood, I looked down at him, glanced at his naked, uncovered arm and stared at the black Dark Mark, which darkly and menacingly marred his formerly flawless arm.

Then my hand twitched in the back of my neck and I gently felt my mark, which, I found, stood out clearly from my skin. But I faltered... What? It was minimal, so small, nothing compared to the size of Draco's! It was tiny, a miniature Dark Mark. Was the Dark Lord kind enough to consider that I pinned my hair up once in a while? Because positioned as high and being as small as it was, if I put my hair up loosely I would be able to hide the Mark.

I didn't know if I should really feel humiliated that I was the only one, because of my blood, who didn't get the Dark Mark on my arm, but I felt nothing but gratitude that it was so hidden.

I was in the bathroom scrubbing my lips almost bloody. If I had been inhibited about myself and Severus until now, I saw once again that it could get worse. Wasn't that incredible? It could always get worse, I recognised crystal clear and then I knew that I could really overcome everything. Now even Severus' deed seemed to me like, yes, like being covered with cotton candy, when it just shook me again and I squeezed my eyes shut and the scalding warm water ran down my face almost painfully.

I went to the dressing room and, according to my mood, I put on a long black dress made of a thin, flowing fabric that gathered around my stomach.

When I walked into the bedroom, I heard the sound of the shower just shutting off. I had to leave; I didn't want to see Draco's reproachful look. I didn't want to be a Death Eater either, damn it!

But now I was one. I was tempted to slap my hands in front of my face and so I turned away, hurriedly escaping from the room.

A while later, I was sitting at the breakfast table and listening to Lucius monologues about what I was and wasn't allowed to do. Should I throw my cup at him?

Would that have the effect that Severus' outburst always had? I wouldn't try it. I would have loved to throw my cup after Severus as well; his accusations got on my nerves. Damn it, I had certainly not planned it that way or acted out of excessive courage.

Afterwards, Lucius of course had to satisfy his curiosity about the secret passage and this made me chuckle. While I didn't want to be disrespectful at all, his question was so hilarious because it was so predictable. It was wonderful how much he seemed to have thought about it.

It's a good thing he didn't ask if Draco knew the entrance of the corridor, because I was sure he didn't know it and it would be much more fun if he found it himself. After all, it would be a harmless game of hide-and-seek that we would play.

I took a sip of coffee to reassure myself, while Lucius was finishing his lectures about the secret passage and I had a question for him, which brought us back to the actual topic, which for me was not closed yet. There were still too many new things for me to consider.

I wanted to defend myself and make it clear that I had everything relatively well under control.

"That is the stupid Gryffindor courage that always lets her be so reckless! With this she put not only herself but all of us in danger," Severus grumbled coldly and showed that for him, too, the subject was not yet closed.

"Yes, Lucius, Severus I know all this! And I know that you are bursting with curiosity, even if you do not show it! I will never tell you voluntarily, because I am not proud of it! However, neither you nor I have ever been in danger. I always knew he would never kill me because of that. ALWAYS. I was never afraid that I would not pass his scrutiny, so your fear for me, while making me very happy, was also unfounded. It was never an option! I had only hoped to get through without revealing that part of myself. But well, now he knows, and believe me, you don't want to know, so follow his order," I looked at each of them coldly now and saw the inquisitive glint in their eyes. Meanwhile, the three of them slowly nodded. "Thank you! But now tell me, what can I do if someone accosts me? Am I allowed to defend myself? How far may I go?" I wanted to know because I was only too aware of the danger that the followers posed to me but uncertain what I would be allowed to do to handle them.

"As far as you must go, only do not kill them unless it is absolutely necessary. The Lord would not be pleased about dead followers. But I would also not be pleased if you were no longer here, so deaths would be acceptable in an emergency, as long as it was not you! Even though many of the others will have a hard time accepting you as a Mudblood in our ranks, it is like it is, and so you are also under the protection of the Dark Lord within the Circle. They may not kill you per se, but you may not kill them either. But I tell you - and please follow my instructions - if they take off the gloves, do not hold back! If such a thing happens, we will see how we deal with it. If you were really in danger, you can be sure of my support," Lucius stated confidently and brushed back a strand of his long hair. Severus nodded.

Wow, a big concession from him to tell me this so openly and plainly. It showed me very clearly how much they had accepted me in their family, saw me as one of them, which made me kind of proud. No, not about being a Death Eater, but proud to belong to the Malfoys.

"What happened before you left?" Severus asked in a soft, drawn-out voice and I swallowed before I answered.

"I seem to be in Nott's bad books... He called me Draco's whore and some stupid bitch said I was wearing my nose too high and was unworthy to wear the jewellery with your crest! ... The RAT wanted to paw me with this ugliness of a hand. When he tried to defend me, I had enough... Oh man, I had to work so hard to keep my cool. I wanted to cut his fat neck. Then, the Lestranges wondered aloud whether I was more dangerous than Bellatrix because of my cold-bloodedness," I said, shrugging my shoulders, and heard Severus take a deep breath. At the same time, Draco put his hand on mine and stopped the murder of my napkin, then slowly stroked the back of my hand with his thumb.

For the first time this morning, I cast a cautious glance at him under lowered lids and was happy to see a warm glow in his eyes and no disgust.

"We overheard that... You wondered why we did not help you?" Lucius explained and asked calmly.

"Just for a moment, Lucius, just for a moment... but I didn't need any help," I replied, looking at him with a touch of arrogance in my eyes.

"That is just as well. You have to stand up for yourself. If we had stepped in, they would never have respected you. If they are afraid of you, that is always good! You do not appear to like the rat?"

"Pah... the rat does not matter. It bothers me that the Lestrange realised so quickly that she is better than Bellatrix. I do not like this lot," Severus now hissed.

"Who do you like, Severus?" Draco questioned cynically and all of us at the table quickly smiled into our cups, which Severus answered with a murderous look.

"Ah, what I wanted to tell you: I have to go to my house and I plan to do some shopping in the Muggle world. I also want to go to the library there. I hope you don't mind?" I asked affably and looked around pleasantly, which gave me collectively raised eyebrows, but I got a slight nod, which I gratefully accepted with a slight bow.
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