1

“Well, well, well – Arthur Weasley.”

The cold, deep voice that suddenly sounded from behind Ron’s father made Hermione shiver. Quickly, she turned to see from where the voice had come, and there stood the tall figure of a wizard who, to her surprise, had long, platinum blonde hair. Even before Arthur Weasley had mumbled a low “Lucius” as response, she knew that that was Draco’s father. The same arrogant aura surrounded this man, only strengthened through life experience – which made him all the scarier.

“Busy time at the Ministry, I hear. All those raids … I hope they’re paying you overtime?”

Hermione clenched her fists. She knew very well that this man alluded to all the unsuccessful raids in his own mansion, and now that she saw him in real life, she was absolutely certain that he had a lot of forbidden objects hidden in his home. Everything about him screamed dark magic.

Disbelieving, she noticed how he pulled out some books from Ginny’s cauldron without asking, and dismissively observing: “Obviously not. Dear me, what’s the use of being a disgrace to the name of wizard if they don’t even pay you well for it?”

Hermione didn’t hear the answer to that. Her ears rang, so strong was the hatred and anger coursing through her veins. How could anyone talk like that about other human beings? Only when his eyes fell on her she returned to reality. The way he examined her was full of contempt, but Hermione also noticed traces of appraisal – did Draco perhaps tell his parents about her and the good grades she got? She would have crossed her arms proudly in front of her chest if she would have been able, but she was carrying the whole collection of Lockhart’s books, so that was not a possibility.

“The company you keep, Weasley,” Malfoy hissed, “And I thought your family could sink no lower …”

That were the last words Hermione heard the blonde man speak, because he was abruptly cut short when Arthur Weasley throttled him to the ground. A short brawl ensued, only interrupted when Hagrid arrived and pulled both men apart. The look Lucius Malfoy gave her when he finally turned to leave was full of loathing, but she was determined not to get scared. She had better things to do than think about one Malfoy or another. For example get all her books signed by the actual Gilderoy Lockhart.

oOoOoOo

 

Hermione couldn’t believe her eyes. There stood Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle who obviously had overheard their conversation with Hagrid. It had been Malfoy who was responsible for Hagrid’s and Buckbeak’s precarious situation in the first place. Did he really have to make fun of him now? Without paying attention to her friends, Hermione rushed forward.

With all the strength she could muster, she hit Malfoy around the face: “Don’t you dare call Hagrid pathetic, you foul … you evil …”

“Hermione,” she heard Ron’s voice next to her and she noticed he wanted to hold her back.

“Get off, Ron!” she screamed angrily and pulled out her wand.

She was not surprised to see the three Slytherins running at that gesture. She trembled, anger and shock running through her body, and her voice was shrill when she told Harry: “Harry, you’d better beat him in the Quidditch final! You just better had because I just can’t stand it if Slytherin win!”

Without waiting for a response, Hermione ran away. She needed time for herself, distance to everything. She needed to run this anger out of her body.

A little twinkle on her chest made her hesitate. Instantly, she stopped. The time turner! She should be in class right now, in two classes at the same time, to be precise. If she did not hurry, she would not be able to go back in time and take both classes.

Just when she was about to turn the little hourglass, a blonde figure in the distance caught her eye. At first she thought it was Draco again, but as he slowly approached her, she recognized the long hair. It was his father.

“I applaud you,” his voice travelled the distance, while he still strode nearer with elegant steps. “You actually slapped my son in the face. What was his wrong doing?”

Incredulous, Hermione stared at the man. His tone was derisive, but not unfriendly, a sharp contrast to what she had experienced just over a year ago in the bookshop when she had met him for the first time.

“What are you doing here, Mr Malfoy?”

He finally arrived in front of her, one hand on his cane, the other doing some derogatory gesture: “There is some business concerning a crazed hippogriff that attacked my son I need to take care of.”

“Buckbeak’s not gone wild!” Hermione snapped. “You son provoked him. He didn’t listen to the professor’s explanations and now has to bear the consequences. As his father you should reprimand him, not threaten an innocent being with death!”

Malfoy’s face suddenly became dark: “Ah, Granger. I didn’t recognise you at all. But your words give you away immediately.”

“Why do you do this? Is it fun to kill innocent creatures?” Hermione wanted to know.

The man remained impassive: “The hippogriff is none of my concern. I just want to show all those blind parents how foolish it is to let a man like that Hagrid be in charge of their children’s education.”

Hermione was stunned from the pure evil in Malfoy’s words. She wanted to say something to him, anything, but she felt it would be futile. Inflamed with rage, she ran away. Only then did she notice that now it really was too late to use the time turner or attend any class at all. She felt like crying.

oOoOoOo

 

“I’m fine, Viktor,” Hermione told the guy sternly.

For what felt like the last half hour, her date had tried to figure out why she had cried. Hermione was in no mood to talk about Ron, though, especially not with Viktor Krum. Ronald really had behaved poorly and destroyed any fun she had had before. He had been the biggest fan of Krum in the first place! If he really found it so offensive of her to ally herself with the enemy as he had called it, he could have asked her out for the ball himself. How could he simply forget that she was a woman, too?

A big hand on her thigh interrupted her angry thoughts. She had not noticed how close Viktor was by now, or that he had started to gently fondle her legs. Confused, Hermione looked up: Her attempt to escape from him had led her out of the ballroom and into a secluded corner of the terrace. It was dark outside already and suddenly she noticed the repugnant smell of alcohol coming from Viktor.

“Would you please remove your hand from my thigh, Viktor?” she politely, but determined asked.

To her horror, he did not even think about it: “Don’t be like that, Hermyown, I just want to comfort you.”

“I am grateful for that, but you really don’t have to.”

“But I want to!” Viktor declared and pushed his lips onto hers.

Shocked, Hermione struggled against him, but the strong Quidditch player just wrapped his arms around her and pulled her even closer. Panicking, Hermione realised that no one knew she was outside and that this particular corner of the terrace was hard to even notice from the inside.

“I am very hesitant to interrupt your tête-à-tête,” a dark voice suddenly sounded in the dark, “but I am under the impression that this lady is not particularly interested in any dalliance.”

Startled, Viktor Krum let go of Hermione and stared into the darkness of the terrace. A face framed by blonde hair came into view, followed by the tall and towering body of Lucius Malfoy. When he finally stood directly in front of the young man, he whispered so quietly that Hermione could not hear it: “If you disappear right now, I will not report your misbehaviour, do you understand?”

This quiet threat was enough to scare off the wanton youth, leaving Lucius Malfoy to study the young woman in front of him more closely. Surprised he noticed that once again Hermione Granger had made an appearance. It really had to be a twisted joke of fate that he could not set a foot into Hogwarts without meeting her. But tonight, she was no longer the little child that a year ago had slapped his son so courageously. On the contrary, she was a young woman about to blossom into a covert beauty. Only her teary eyes did not fit that picture.

He noticed her stare and inwardly chuckled about it. Of course, any Gryffindor, especially one who was muggleborn, would be frozen solid finding herself out here in the dark, alone with him. Even more so if that person was a woman.

Surprised about the turn his own thoughts hook, Lucius eyed Hermione more closely. If she had been just a little bit older – and not a mudblood – he would actually have been inclined to take advantage of the situation. But as it was now, he merely felt a certain fascination for the girl who stilled stared at him, frightened, but determined.

“I will not eat you alive, Miss Granger,” he finally informed her, sounding a little bit too friendly for his own liking. “Your blood may be as it is, I abhor any kind of violence against women. Be thankful that I happened to be nearby.”

As the girl still did not say anything, he sighed with resignation and turned to leave.

Just as he was about to leave the terrace, he heard a very quiet: “Thank you, Mr Malfoy. You may think about my blood whatever you please, I do respect your kind help.”

Amused how she had copied his own words so well, he did a slight bow before finally returning to the Great Hall.

Back in the darkness, a very confused Hermione Granger stood alone, trying to make sense of the situation that had just occurred.

oOoOoOo

 

With a content sigh, Lucius Malfoy sank down onto the bench in locker room of the prefect’s bathroom. He had not planned to spend the night at Hogwarts, but after having some wine for dinner and afterwards drinking a glass of firewhisky or two, apparition was no longer possible. Too many idiots had splinched themselves trying to apparate while intoxicated. Luckily, Snape had talked to the headmaster who subsequently had allowed him to stay the night in the dorm of his son – a bed just so happened to be free after some Quidditch accident.

While undressing, Lucius noticed that at the far end of the bench there already was a pile of clothing. Obviously the prefect’s bathroom was in use just now. Curious who he might find, he examined the clothes. The uniform showed the gold-red emblem of Gryffindor and as he picked up the cloak, a black bra fell to the floor. An evil smirk appeared on his lips. Quickly he undressed until he stood in only his white shirt and black trousers. Barefoot he then sneaked into the bath.

His entrance indeed went unnoticed. Humming happily, the brunette woman floated in the deep pool full of bubbles, not expecting any intruder this late in the evening. For just a moment, Lucius lingered and admired the sight. His eyes followed her body as she took a deep breath, dove under water and the emerged again, breaking through the heavy pink bubbles. With closed eyes, the Gryffindor rubbed her face to free it from the foam. When she finally opened her eyes, she directly met his gaze. His grin grew even darker as he took in her shocked face.

Hermione froze in the water. She could not believe that before her, clad only in shirt and trousers, barefoot, stood Lucius Malfoy: “What are YOU doing here?”

Her angry address did not seem to faze him in the slightest: “I admire the sight of a young woman taking a bath.”

Appalled, Hermione struggled to breath. Quickly she looked down, but thankfully the bubbly foam covered her whole body, so Malfoy would not be able to see anything. His brazen reply let anger overtake her sense of shame instead: “You have no right to be here. Parents are not allowed in the castle after dinner – and especially not in this bathroom! How did you get in here in the first place?”

“My son was so kind to bring me here and tell me the password,” Lucius replied nonchalant.

The way he took it as a given to be here, talking to her, only fuelled Hermione’s rage: “You have no right!”

“Your own headmaster allowed me to stay for good reasons. And you won’t be able to find any paragraph in your beloved school regulations that bans parents from using the prefect’s bathroom,” the blonde man replied still unconcerned, before he stepped closer to the edge of the pool: “Come now, Miss Granger. You surely don’t enjoy being in this situation below me. Wrap yourself with your towel and put on some clothes.”

With that, he took her towel that had been laying at the edge, and spread it, ready to wrap it around her body.

Incredulous, Hermione snorted: “Yeah, sure. I will do no such thing. Do you really expect me to come out of the water, all naked, in front of your eyes?”

“I won’t pry, I promise,” Lucius purred.

Again Hermione could only snort. She did not trust this man one inch. On the other hand though, she did not plan to stay in the water any longer with him standing above her. She wanted to get out of here, get dressed and leave. Wary she eyed the father of her classmate, but he actually looked into a different direction, his eyes stubbornly closed. Hermione took a deep breath and then decided to climb up the ladder.

Carefully, Lucius listen to the sound of splashing water. The young Gryffindor really lived up to her house’s reputation. She actually had found the courage to leave the water in front of his eyes. He had to struggle to not openly grin at her naiveté. It was almost ridiculous how easily he had been able to entrap her. He could not say himself why he was so fascinated with this woman, perhaps it was the alcohol that circulated through his veins, but the moment he had discovered Hermione’s clothes in the locker room his decision had been made. Today would be the day he finally would investigate his strange fixation.

The gentle sound of wet feet on wet tiles indicated to Lucius that Hermione now had left the water completely. Unable to supress his grin any longer, he jerked his head around and took in her naked form. Instantly the young woman halted in her steps, opening her mouth to protest. But before she could even say anything, he dropped her towel in an agonizingly slow, but unstoppable motion. It softly sank into the water.

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