A/N – Here it is the third and final part of the Dark Lady trilogy. Before we start, I just want to mention a few things.
Firstly, there will be no big public revelation of the Dark Lady's identity. That's not to say people won't find out who Hermione is, as over the course of the story quite a few people discover her true identity. As a result of keeping her identity secret, Hermione uses her glamour charms in public. Her public persona is charmed long black hair and blue eyes, combined with her dramatic make-up and perfectly manicured nails. Even though it's not always stated (mainly so I'm not repeating myself) unless she'd alone or with someone like Draco or Lucius, Hermione always had her glamour charms on.
As indicated in the second part, Hermione's plans are much more manipulative and calculating than Voldemort's way of going about things. As a result there isn't as much violence and fighting, but Hermione will use her father's methods at times.
Lastly, for the first time in a long time I'm publishing a story I'm not finished writing. I had been hoping to have this part wrote before it was time to publish, but I've also been working on other stories at the same time and I've gotten a bit side-tracked. I do however write at least a couple of chapters a week, so it should be finished in the near future. However, I can say that it will be another long story, going over 40 chapters. Until I've finished writing, or have the ending firmly in my sights, publishing will be going back to the normal updates on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Hermione walked through the familiar hallways of Malfoy Manor, heading towards her boyfriend's wing of the enormous house. They had finished school the previous week and Hermione was arriving to take Draco home to meet her parents. Obviously since he thought her father was dead, he presumed he was just meeting her mother. She didn't want him to be too taken aback by the fact Voldemort was alive, so she had come early to talk to him. She just hoped he understood why she hadn't told him sooner.
When she arrived in the corridor where Draco's room was located, Hermione found the blond's bedroom door open. Considering he lived in his own wing of the house the door was rarely shut, unless they were in bed, in which case Hermione made sure the door was always firmly closed. Even though Draco's parents knew about their relationship and fully approved, she didn't want them to catch the pair of them in the act.
Reaching Draco's bedroom, Hermione paused in the doorway as she was hit was a feeling of déjà-vu. Her boyfriend was just emerging from the bathroom, wearing just a towel wrapped around his waist, seemingly oblivious to her presence as he walked across the room. The exact same thing had happened almost two years ago, when she'd visited him to see about him joining the Death Eaters. Back then he hadn't noticed her presence either and had dropped his towel, causing them both to become flustered and embarrassed. Almost as if he'd heard her thoughts, Draco repeated his actions of two years ago and dropped his towel, giving Hermione a rather nice view of his backside. Unlike two years ago Hermione wasn't flustered or embarrassed, she'd seen Draco naked enough times to cure her of any shyness when it came to him.
Instead of just calling his name, like she had last time, Hermione tiptoed into the bedroom and approached Draco. He was rifling through his chest of drawers and didn't even react to her presence in the room until her hand grabbed his bum and gave it a light squeeze. At the feeling Draco's head whipped round and Hermione grinned at her startled boyfriend.
"You're early." He commented as he turned around and gave Hermione a kiss, wrapping his arms around her as he did so.
"I want to talk to you." Hermione replied, leaning in for another kiss and trying not to get too distracted by her naked lover.
"Talking's overrated." Draco muttered, nuzzling into Hermione's neck.
Hermione threaded her fingers through Draco's damp hair, and was so very tempted to make the most of her earliness by tumbling into bed with her lover. However if she did that, they wouldn't have time to talk about her father and that was the reason why she was early in the first place.
Sighing Hermione pushed Draco away from her and detangled herself from his embrace. "Get dressed, we need to talk." She told him, as she walked over to his bed and sat down.
Draco frowned at Hermione's departure from his arms, but did as she asked and got dressed. Once he was fully clothed he went and joined his girlfriend on the bed, unsure of where their conversation would head.
"I take it this is something serious." Draco remarked, when Hermione remained silent.
"It is." Hermione nodded. "What I'm about to tell you must never leave this room. My mother and your parents are the only people who know what I'm about to tell you, and you have to swear this goes no further."
"You know I would never betray your confidence." Draco replied.
Hermione smiled, knowing he was telling the truth and she could trust him. She'd always known she could trust him, but this was different, she was trusting him with her father's big secret. Hermione had actually been trying since Easter to get her father's permission to let Draco in on his secret, but he'd only just relented when Hermione had told him how bad she felt lying to the man she loved.
"My father is still alive." Hermione said quietly.
Draco opened and closed his mouth several times, as he struggled for a response. He was totally thrown by the news, and didn't know how to respond. For two years Hermione had lied to him, and he didn't know whether to be angry or hurt that she hadn't confided in him.
"I wanted to tell you earlier, but my father wouldn't let me." Hermione said, unsure if Draco was angry with her.
"Why not?" Draco asked. "I wouldn't have told anyone."
"I know that, and actually so does he." Hermione replied. "But he's a proud man and didn't want people to see him the way he is now."
"How is he now?"
"Like he was before fourth year." Hermione answered sadly. "The spell didn't work correctly and his return was only temporary. He now doesn't have any magic at all, and he's basically an old man."
"I'm sorry." Draco said.
"I'm sorry, for not being able to tell you." Hermione retorted. "But I had to respect my father's wishes and he didn't want you to know."
"Then why are you telling me now?" Draco questioned.
"Because I begged him to let me tell you." Hermione answered. "I don't want you to be in the dark about a major part of my life. It will only tear us apart if we keep secrets from one another. I just hope this hasn't already ruined things."
"Of course it hasn't, I understand why you didn't tell me." Draco smiled reassuringly at Hermione as he took hold of her hand. "You were just following your father's wishes, and in your place I would have done the same thing."
"So you're not mad at me?" Hermione questioned.
"No, I'm not mad at you." Draco replied. "In fact it answers a few questions I've had."
"Like what?" Hermione frowned in confusion.
"Like why you never tried to kill Potter." Draco answered. "That's always puzzled me. You went after Dumbledore, but were content to let Potter live. I've always wondered why. Why you would allow the person who killed your father to live."
"If Harry had actually killed my father, he would already be dead." Hermione declared. "I needed to get rid of Dumbledore because he was a bigger threat to what I wanted to do. He could genuinely get people to turn against me and follow him, whereas with Harry it's very simple to discredit him. Although if he does become too much a problem, he'll have to be disposed of."
"I always wondered if you'd never done anything because of all the years you'd been friends with him." Draco admitted.
"None of that was real, I just did what I needed to do." Hermione replied, even though deep down she knew that wasn't true. She wasn't a heartless monster and over the course of the last seven years she had come to care about Harry and Ron in her own way.
"I know that's what you said, but I often wondered if maybe they had gotten to you and you did actually like them." Draco replied. He did genuinely believe that Hermione cared for her friends more than she would ever admit, but he knew better than to push her into admitting it.
Hermione looked at Draco in surprise. "Why have you never mentioned any of this before? Why not just ask me about what I was doing? Surely I'm not that scary."
"It was none of my business." Draco shrugged. "Who am I to question The Dark Lady?"
"My boyfriend." Hermione answered as she took hold of Draco's hand and moved closer to him. "I know when it comes to meetings and stuff I expect you to act like any other Death Eater, but you don't need to when we're alone. If you want to ask me about something, just ask. I'm not going to hide anything from you, I promise."
Draco smiled at Hermione, before leaning in and gently brushing his lips against hers.
"Are you still up for dinner then?" Hermione asked, pulling away with a smile on her lips. "My parents still want to meet you properly as my boyfriend."
"Parents?" Draco paled at the thought of facing Voldemort, when he was dating his daughter. "Is The Dark Lord going to be there?"
"Of course, that's one of the reasons I came over early." Hermione answered. "I didn't want you to just turn up and come face to face with him."
"That would have been a big shock." Draco admitted. "Even bigger than having you tell me about him."
Hermione laughed lightly at the thought of Draco coming face to face with her father without knowing he was alive. The image was rather amusing, but he'd deserved to know what he was facing before heading to her house.
"Are you ready to face him, then?" Hermione asked as she stood up. "We better be going, before we're late."
"We don't want that." Draco remarked as he stood up and checked he had everything. He knew from what his father said that Voldemort valued punctuality and he doubted that would have changed. "Let's go." He said, grabbing hold of Hermione's hand.
Hermione smiled at her boyfriend, before producing her wand and apparating them to her house. Hermione and Draco landed in the front hallway of the house. Hermione gave Draco a few minutes to get settled, before leading him into the front room. Hermione's parents were both sitting on the sofa, and Kathleen jumped up to greet her daughter and her boyfriend.
"It's nice to meet you properly, Draco." Kathleen smiled.
Draco's eyes widened in recognition as he recognised Hermione's mother from Death Eater meetings. She was a high ranking Death Eater, but Draco hadn't heard any whispers about her and Voldemort and he certainly hadn't witnessed Hermione acting any different towards her mother in meetings.
"You too, Mrs Riddle." Draco replied politely, still shocked that he'd already met Hermione's mother.
"Hermione forgot to mention I was a Death Eater, didn't she?" Kathleen chuckled.
"Yeah, she did." Draco said, shooting his girlfriend an unimpressed look. Some warning on who her mother was would have also been nice.
"Sorry." Hermione shrugged. "Draco, come and meet my father." She said, taking hold of her boyfriend's hand and pulling him over to where Voldemort sat.
Draco watched Hermione lean over and give Voldemort a hug and a peck on the cheek, all the time trying not to appear shocked by the dark wizard's appearance. The man sitting in front of him in no way resembled the strong wizard he'd met just three years previously. Voldemort was now white haired and his advanced age was very evident, not to mention that he looked so weak and frail. Draco was half worried that he was going to keel over at any minute. While his body was weak and old, the second he spoke Draco knew he wasn't past it just yet. Voldemort's voice was still strong and it still held the sound of the powerful wizard he once was.
"Draco, it's nice to see you again."
"You too, My Lord." Draco nodded respectfully. While Voldemort may not have had his magic anymore he was still the reason the Death Eaters existed, and more importantly he was the father of the witch he was in love with.
"No need to be so formal, Draco." Voldemort chuckled. "You may call me Voldemort."
"Yes, sir." Draco replied. He couldn't help but wonder if he never used the name Tom, or if only his family got to use that name.
"Kathleen, why don't you and Hermione go and check on dinner." Voldemort said, his suggestion sounding more like an order. "Draco and I will be with you shortly."
Kathleen and Hermione left the room without arguing and Draco found himself alone with Hermione's father. Draco was instantly concerned, wondering if Voldemort didn't approve of him and Hermione and was going to order him to keep his hands off his daughter. Because he'd thought the older wizard was dead, he'd never really considered what he thought about their relationship.
"Sit down Draco." Voldemort ordered. "And don't look so nervous, I'm a harmless old man."
"No offence, but I don't think you'd ever be harmless." Draco said as he sat down on a chair opposite The Dark Lord. "Even without your magic, you're still a wizard to be respected and feared."
"If only that were true." Voldemort sighed wistfully. "But unfortunately, it's not. I'm dying Draco, and every day my body gets closer to giving up on me. One day soon, I'm not going to be here anymore and I need to know my little girl is alright. I know she's a powerful witch and has big plans to gain power, but I need to know she's happy. Power and everything that comes with it is great, but it's nothing if you don't have the right person to share it with. I know Hermione loves you, but do you love her?"
"More than anything." Draco said sincerely. "I promise I will always be there for her and look out for her."
"Make sure you do. I may be an old man with no magic, but Kathleen isn't. She's a formidable witch and if you ever hurt Hermione, she will make you pay." Voldemort warned.
Draco gulped nervously at the warning, but since he was never planning on hurting Hermione he wasn't too worried. "I won't hurt her. Hermione means the world to me, and all I want is for her to be happy."
"That makes two of us." Voldemort replied. "Now let's go and have dinner before Hermione comes to make sure I'm not grilling you too hard."
Draco chuckled as he stood up, he could just imagine Hermione coming back to ensure her father wasn't scaring him away. Noticing Voldemort was struggling to stand up, Draco walked over to the old man and offered him his arm. Voldemort gratefully used it to help himself to his feet.
"Thank you." He said quietly, clearly embarrassed that he'd needed help. "I hate not being able to stand up by myself."
"Don't mention it." Draco replied. "I know what it's like having to rely on others to help you do simple things. I was like that after Black kidnapped me, I couldn't even make it to the bathroom without help."
"Luckily, I don't have that problem." Voldemort chuckled as they began slowly walking towards the dining room. "I just struggle getting up, once I'm on my feet I can move okay. Slowly, but at least I'm still walking."
"I'm sure you'll be walking around for a good while yet." Draco remarked as they reached the door to the dining room.
Voldemort shook his head, but didn't respond as they entered the dining room to find Kathleen and Hermione waiting for them. Taking their seats, the conversation the two wizards had just had wasn't mentioned again as Draco enjoyed his first evening with Hermione's family.