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This chapter is a bit heavy and a touch shorter than my normal chapters. The scene that follows this chapter is going to be absolutely heart wrenching and I want to give that full attention instead of putting it into this chapter. I absolutely love hearing from you guys whether it's critiquing the story or just having a nice chat. You all mean so very much to me 3
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Things couldn't have happened at a worse time. Of course Severus was cross with her as they had had a very firm agreement on what their 'relationship' entailed. He had been gone for months with no words or physical contact being exchanged. She hadn't gone out looking for someone to fill his shoes. Her work schedule was hectic and she had barely enough time to do much of anything let alone go searching around for a new wizard to get under.
His words were still ringing loudly in her head as his lips crashed down onto hers. He had petitioned for her and the Ministry had approved it. He had to be lying as she would have received a letter as well announcing their match, but she hadn't. There was absolutely no way Draco would have lied to her. He was her best friend and she loved him dearly. He would never betray their friendship with doing something so questionable. No, she was absolutely positive that he would never put her in this kind of position. Though he didn't exactly know she and Severus had any intimate ties…
Hermione jumped at the sound of the walking stick slamming down onto the ground, spinning around to see her fiancé standing in the doorway. His face clearly shown the treachery he felt upon finding her in such a situation. She glanced back over at Severus taking note of the smug smile on his face as he looked at his old friend. She desperately wanted to turn around and slap him, but knew her time was limited as it looked like the blonde wizard was ready to storm out of the room. She opened her mouth to speak but was cut short as Lucius put a hand up to silence her as he approached. She had expected him to stop at her, to shout and carry on… but he strode right past her. She turned her head just in time to see Lucius round on Severus, his fist colliding with the miserly man's face.
Never in a million years could she have ever imagines she would see the prestigious wizard resort to muggle fighting to prove a point. Severus pulled his wand out ready to fire a hex out Lucius only for Hermione to jump between them and push them apart causing the hex to miss its target and instead shatter a cabinet nearby. "That is enough!" She yelled out looking between the two. When her eyes met Lucius' she swallowed hard. "I expect you home… ON. TIME." He stressed, his eyes cold. Any warmth she had found in them months before was completely gone. She was at a loss for words only able to nod in response. Lucius turned on his heel before heading towards the door, turning back just long enough to give Hermione a look of deep anger that sent a chill down her spine. She flinched slightly as she heard the door slam behind him.
Severus was wiping a bit of blood from his lip as she faced him completely infuriated with his display. "Just because you live a miserable existence doesn't mean you have a right to give others the same displeasure." She hissed at him taking out her wand to clean up the mess he had made. "I'd like it if you'd leave." She added glaring over at him.
"You will be forced to marry, and from the looks of it Mister Malfoy will no longer be a viable option." Severus replied with a smirk. He couldn't believe his good fortune that the blonde wizard just happened to come to the lab at such an opportune moment. Lucius was never one to take embarrassment well, and catching his bride to be with his old friend was bound to be mortifying if it got out. "You have yourself a good day, Miss Granger." He added before sweeping past her with a proud look on his face.
Hermione glared at the door as it shut behind the raven haired wizard before dropping down in a nearby chair before putting her face in her hands. Her parents were due to come by the manor in two days time to meet her soon to be husband… but who knew if that would even remain a constant at this point. She took a deep breath trying to pull herself together as she tried to focus her attention back on tweaking the potion for Mister Pimpton. It was going to be a long night.
Typically Hermione stayed at the hospital well past what she was scheduled for, but today would not be one of those days. Just as Lucius had all but demanded she had made sure all of her paperwork was settled and orders were given before she departed for Malfoy Manor. She hadn't been able to get much real work done as her head was still spinning with questions on the comments Severus had made, trying to convince herself that he had been lying about the Ministry letter. Draco and Tom would have had to have interfered in order for anything the potions master said to be true.
She had bigger problem to tend to first as she had been a nervous wreck wondering what would happen when she got home. She could worry about Draco later. She stepped out of the floo into the foyer, dusting off her robes before glancing around to see if anyone was home. "Hello?" She called out making her way slowly around the mansion. It wasn't until she ascended the stairs that she heard the clink of ice in a glass coming from the study. Taking a deep breath she entered the study, her eyes immediately spotted the blonde wizard sitting in his large armchair with a tumbler of brandy in one hand and a book in the other.
"So what is your pathetic excuse for bringing such shame to this family?" Lucius drawled coldly taking a sip of his brandy without even looking up at the witch. If he looked at her he knew he wouldn't have the ability to keep his demeanor so calm.
"Lucius it isn't at all what it looked like." She began knowing that it sounded horribly clichéd. "Severus and I have a bit of a history… and he was under the impression that… well I'm not entirely sure." She trailed off taking her outer robes off and hanging it on the back of the nearest chair.
Lucius' eyes flashed up to hers for a brief moment, anger clearly seen within them before glancing back down at his book. "That wasn't my question, Miss Granger." He said in a clipped tone reverting back to formally addressing her.
"I was trying to push him away when you walked in." She said flinching slightly as he said her name in a formal manner as if they were only doing business. "I was not a willing participant if that is what you are trying to get at." She retorted.
Lucius snapped his book shut with one hand and sat it on the table beside him before making eye contact with the witch. His face was cold as stone, the love and affection he had shown her only days before completely absent. "I know what I saw, and I personally don't care what history you intend to make up in a poor attempt to sway my thoughts on this situation."
"I understand you are upset with me, but you can at least be mature enough to discuss this with me instead of throwing around insults."
"And how exactly should I be acting to find my fiancé cavorting about with another wizard, not just any wizard but a close personal friend?" He asked setting his tumbled down.
"I was not 'cavorting'. If you'd take the time to listen…."
Lucius stood from his chair violently as his eyes burned into hers. "I had a nice little chat with a few colleagues that work in the department that deals with these preposterous arranged marriages." He began slowly closing in on her. "So Severus was your match… and you blatantly disregarded your notice and instead led me to believe I was to be your suitor."
Hermione stood stock still at his words. She had sworn that Severus was lying, there was absolutely no way there could be any truth to his words, but there were. Lucius was nothing if not thorough in anything he 'investigated'.
"So was it the name, the money, the fame? I have taken you into my home as my future wife. I have dealt with disgusting tabloids saying I was corrupting you, and that you were doing this completely against your will." The blonde wizard moved towards her until he was a few feet in front of her.
She blanched at his words feeling anger bubbling within her at his insinuations. "What so you think this was all an act? I genuinely thought you were my match, or I wouldn't have…"
"Or you wouldn't have what?" He hissed. "Spare me your sob story. I'm not a fool and you will not play me as such." He growled. "I have already had Tilly gather your belongings and place them in the guest room on the third floor. Until you figure out new living arrangements you may stay there."
The witch felt her eyes well up with unshed tears at his words. "That wasn't what I meant at all. I meant what I had said Lucius… please…" She choked out
"It's Mister Malfoy. You never wanted to be with me. I will give it to you, you did a fine job convincing me this was a worthwhile arrangement." He said curtly giving her one final pained look before moving past her to exit the study in a flurry of dark robes.
Hermione opened her mouth to speak though no words left it as she watched the blonde wizard leave the room. She ran a shaky hand through her hair feeling a few strands snag on the ostentatious engagement ring Lucius had given her only a week before. A few tears streamed down her face as she took it off and sat it on the book he had been reading when she first walked in. What if this all had really been a big lie? What if Lucius hadn't really cared? Would she be made to marry Severus? Her head was pounding as the questions kept coming.
"Oh gods, Honey! What happened?!" Draco's voice floated in from the doorway as he quickly made his way towards her. Hermione looked up at her friend feeling the betrayal surging through her.