It was in the dark of the night when Hermione awoke, gasping for breath and searching for a glass of water. The dream had been so vivid, so real… Shaking, she extended her hand, finding the water on her bedside table and swallowed it whole. Surely nothing could be as bad as the dream… but no. There was something worse. This morning would be the settling factor in the fight against Lucius. Just mere hours ago, she had received an owl that she should round up the team and meet Draco and Harry at the stables. Well, it was too late to go back to sleep now. God, was Draco alright? Of course! She told herself. Its not like he was killed since the last letter…Some coffee would be good right about now.

She emerged from her room to run into a half-shaking, bare chested Ron. "Oh! Sorry, Ron."

"'Mione?" He asked, rubbing his eyes. "What are you doing up?"

"You should ask yourself the same question." She stated crudely.

"Look, Hermione. I don't want to fight this morning." He yawned. "I just want to get this over with."

"Me too." She quietly agreed. As they stood in awkward silence, Ron fiddled with some imaginary dirt underneath his finger nails. When he looked up again, his eyes had a peaceful eminence they had not had in a long time.

"I'm sorry."

She looked taken aback. "What?"

"For… for everything. For not giving Malfoy a chance to be part of the family. He's still a prat mind you, but… maybe if I had been more accepting, things would have turned out different." His voice teetered with remorse. "So, I'm sorry." And with that he wrapped his arms around her in a long, warm hug. "I lost the best thing that ever happened to me." His embrace was kind, filled to the brim with sincerity. "As long as you're happy, 'Mione, so am I. And if… if… well, if he makes you happy…"

"Ron."

"Just listen, If he makes you happy, then I'm happy for you. But… you should realize that… he's… not the one for you." His arms fell from her sides, and a smile formed on his pale face. "We had a good thing, didn't we?"

"Not now, Ron." She began to protest.

"If not now, when? I may never get the chance to say this. I love you, Hermione. And… well… you should choose me." He puffed out his chest with what self confidence he had. "Because I'm safe. I'll always keep you safe. Harry thinks so. Malfoy knows it. So do you." The in a quick swoop, he crashed his lips onto hers in an awkward but familiar fashion. Hermione tensed, now fully awake with the realization of what was happening. And even though she did not kiss back, he deepened the kiss. His mouth tasted of peppermint toothpaste. Oh, how she loved toothpaste… Her confidence began to waver. She longed to be safe… to know that nothing would ever harm her again. Her lips twitched. Ron felt this and took the kiss even further, pushing his tongue in her mouth. His hands went to the sides of her face, determined. Whimpering, she could tell her legs were on their way to collapsing.

Sturdy were Ron's hands as they trickled from her flustered cheeks down her neck, then resting on her shoulders. Never before had he been so confident in his kissing. Never before had he given her a reason to think he was serious about a relationship. In the back of Hermione's head, she could hear herself screaming 'this is wrong! Stop it!', but the physical Hermione took over, and she could feel an arousing below her stomach she hadn't felt with Ron since their first time together. He groaned, pushing his entire body up against her, slamming her against the wall behind her. She could sense his stimulated sexual desires.

"Ron," She gasped as he fumbled for her shirt.

"Oh my God." Ginny's voice came from the side. Ron did not relent for a few moments longer, slowing the passionate kiss down from a run to a slow trot, before pulling away completely. He touched his nose against her nose, gave a faint smile, and walked past Ginny down the staircase with a confident air he had not had since they were in Hogwarts. Ginny waited until Ron had entered the kitchen before she rushed to Hermione's side, (she was still leaning up against the wall for support.) "Hermione? Are you alright?"

"Wha… What?" Hermione was shaking from head to toe.

"I told Ron it was a bad idea."

"You knew?" She yelled. "And you didn't tell me why?"

"I didn't think he'd actually go through with it." Ginny said simply. "Come on. Lets get you dressed and showered. You'll feel much better."

"Uh… um… sure. Alright." Hermione nodded, only barely feeling the support of Ginny's arm around her waist to support her. Her mind was swirling with the images of Ron's kiss wracked in her brain.


"Lydia?" Draco called out, standing in the kitchens, half expecting a minion to pop out of the corner any moment with a wand and Avada his ass.

" 'Ver you looking 'vor me, darling?" A soft voice cooed behind the shell of his ear, causing an un-controlled twitch in his pants. He spun around to meet the gleaming eyes of just the vampire he was looking for.

"You bring the keys?" He asked, trying to ignore the seeming impossible lure she had on him.

"Ov' course." She dangled the keys to Potter's cellar door precariously in front of his nose. " 'Vould you like to know 'ow I got the keyes a'vay 'vroom Lucius?"

"I can imagine…" He grumbled, shaking off her sexual trance. "Keys." Reluctantly, like a spoiled child giving back her favorite toy, she placed the loop of keys in his hand. "Thanks."

"Are you sure 'dis 'vill 'vork?" Lydia asked, almost nervous. Draco didn't think vampires got nervous, so this came as an alarm.

"I'm positive. Its your plan, remember? You just stay out of the way until its all over. Besides, if this plan fails, Hermione's plans always tend to work."

"Who is Hermione?" Lydia gracefully propped herself atop the perpetration counter, legs extended in a sexual tone.

"My…" Draco wasn't sure if telling a vampire who lusted him that he had a girlfriend. Not just yet. It would be too much of a liability. "My friend." The word didn't fit, but it felt better than any other time he had used it. "She's a bit of a genius."

"Pretty?"

"Very." Draco nodded. If only this Lydia actually knew… "Lydia, you're a girl…"

"Thank you 'vor noticing. I've been 'von 'vor a long time."

"What I mean by that is… how long do you think a relationship should be before things get very serious?"

"Oh, Malfoy." Her voice sang. "I'm 'vlattered."

"What?"

" 'Vlattered. Complimented."

"Oh.. Erm…" He hadn't meant that. "Lets get Potter, shall we?" With a coy wink, she stroked her finger down his spine before giving him a firm slap on the arse. "Erm… (Cough). Th-Thank you?"

"You're 'velcome."

They tip toed as quietly as possible down the cellar stairs, keeping an eye out for a guard, but lo! There was none. Good. It was good this way. Potter was sleeping in the corner, his glasses askew. "Potter! Potter! Wakey, wakey!"

A snort and a few fluttering eyes later, Potter woke up with a start. "Malfoy?"

"'Allo." Draco mocked a cockney accent.

"Nice to meet you, Harry Potter." Lydia curtsied

Harry peered through the bars of his cell, unimpressed. "Whoo. You brought the world's most dangerous vampire down to a dark cellar where no one can hear you scream. Great going."

"I 'vould never harm a hair on 'is head!" Lydia sounded insulted as Draco unlocked Potter's cell. "But I might just snap yours."

"Settle down, you two," Draco whispered, "Lydia, you sure my dad is asleep?"

"Positive."

"Lets go then."

"Wait, Malfoy," Harry grabbed Draco's arm. "What if this is all a trap?"

"We're fucked either way, Potter. At this point, what choice do we have? She can turn us."

Lydia smirked, following Draco back up the stairs.

"She'd have to feed on us 7 times! Don't you know your history? You're not listening, are you?"


Draco said idly at the dining room table, glancing once in a while to the man with a fuzzy beard who was supposed to be his prison guard. Lydia sat at the table a few chairs away, across from Lucius. A wine glass filled with red liquid was the only thing in front of her, and she would sip it every few minutes, giving a sweet smile. Lucius barely touched his turkey and dressing. Draco seemed to be the only one enjoying his meal.

"Kinly…" Lucius spoke to the fuzzy bearded man, who jumped at the sound of his own name. "How is the wife?"

"Erm… good, I suppose…" Kinly answered, scratching his chin.

"You suppose?" Lucius's eyes fell on Kinly. "Don't you know?"

"Um.. Haven't seem 'em lately. Been busy."

"Yes, well. As soon as the child is born, I'll try to get you more time off." This seemed to satisfy Lucius's curiosity, and he began to poke his turkey with his fork the way a five year old would. "Lydia, would you please excuse us?" He glanced at Draco.

"Ov' course, darling." Lydia smiled, patting her lips with a cloth napkin and standing up. "I'll just be in the den." She curtsied politely before exiting the room, not forgetting her cup of blood.

"One of the guards said they spotted you out of bed last night," Lucius said to Draco, "And that you were talking to my wife."

Draco could feel his face go warm. A few drops of perspiration rolled down his forehead. "Yeah. I was hungry."

"You're not a guest in this house." Lucius's tone was stern. "And you do not have full reign to gallivant wherever you please."

"Sorry," Draco said, but his voice was not sincere, "But its not my fault your wife seduces me in the middle of the night."

A lip curled. "Do not lie to me!"

"You're a bitch, Dad, and you'll always be a bitch. You can't even control yours."

"Watch your tongue!"

"I can't. Its in my mouth."

"I can remove it if you wish."

Draco rolled his eyes. "You wont do a damn thing to me."

Lucius inhaled, and tried a different approach. "You're right, Draco. I can't do a damn thing to you…but… I've been meaning to talk to you about something…"

"Go ahead." Like putty in Draco's hand…

"I'm afraid I cannot wait until the baby is born to have you denounce your claim on the inheritance-"

"My inheritance." Draco corrected him.

"Yes, well…" Lucius seemed to be at a loss for words.

"What exactly is your plan?" Draco asked, taking a swig of his pumpkin juice. "Because I still don't fully understand it. If its an inheritance, doesn't that mean that you have to die before anybody inherits it? So, tell me, what difference would it make if the baby is born before or after?" All in all, it was a fair question. Draco felt it was best to ask it now. It had haunted him for many nights on exactly why Lucius would want to give his inheritance (or powers) to a half vampire brat who would end up killing him in the end anyways.

"Because, son…Whether you are aware of it or not, I have the power to give the inheritance before I die."

"So our deal was all a ruse." Draco felt his heart skip a beat. "You could have given me my powers all this time??"

"Perhaps." Lucius stood from the table. "I've tried to play your little game, but I fear its too soon to Lydia's due date to risk it. So I had Lydia arrange a little reunion." He clapped his hands twice, and a tall woman accompanied by a man in his twenties brought forth a slender woman with frizzy brown hair. "Thank you Rosalin, Jackenburg."

"You said you wouldn't involve her!" Draco growled. He stood up from the table so fast he hit his knees.

"I thought you knew my word means nothing." Lucius smirked, tossing a bit of his hair behind his shoulder. "So, Draco, if you'll so kindly bring out the documents so we can destroy them together."

"Let her go!"

"When you destroy the documents!" Lucius's nose was up so high that had it been raining, he would have drowned.

"Fine." Draco took a step towards Hermione, but stopped when he saw Lucius draw his wand. "They're right here. See?" Out from his back pockets he withdrew some older looking folded pieces of parchment. "Just calm down."

"Let me see those…" Lucius snatched the documents and looked over them thoroughly. "Yes, they do seem to be in order." He took the top page with Draco's birth records on it, and handed the other two back to Draco. "There's a certain way to do this." He said, as if answering Draco's mind. "And if done wrong, it can kill us both."

"Tempting. it's a shame I enjoy living… it might be worth screwing up."

"Shut up." Lucius inhaled slowly. "Now, we're going to need a coven of witnesses. Oh, Bonby!" As Lucius snapped his fingers, a house elf by the name of Bonby, who Draco recognized as the house elf when he was young who would bring him treacle tarts at midnight, appeared. "Round up the lot. Send them here. Oh, and bring Potter, if you wouldn't mind."

"What are you going to do to Harry?" Hermione shouted, finally coming out of her trance. A few tears fell down her cheek.

"You will speak when spoken to, Mudblood!" Lucius backhanded her. She screamed, sending Draco's stomach turning in his throat.

"Fuck sakes!" Draco flinched. "She's just a woman!"

"Hardly." Lucius scoffed.

"You're hardly… a… man…" Hermione was fighting the urge to throw up.

"What was that, you half breed?" Lucius strolled over to the table to retrieve his cane.

"Stop it! Right now! The deal was you'd leave her out of it!" Draco couldn't stand idly by anymore. He raced in front of Hermione, blocking Lucius access. "I've endured a lot worse from you. So if you're going to beat anyone, beat me."

"How… romantic." Lucius smirked. "But my goal is the mudblood, so if you'll kindly step aside, Draco."

"No." He challenged. He didn't notice the packs of people filing into the room, hooded and ready to strike. There must have been at least twenty- a bit more than he expected.

"It wasn't a request. That was an order."

"I wont." His hands shook. His body shivered. Every fiber in his body was built on protecting Hermione.

" If you don't I'll--"

"You'll what?" Draco narrowed his eyes. "Kill me? Not likely. I'm too valuable for that. No, you'll just beat me, but that's nothing new, is it?" Out of the corner of his eyes he saw Potter being brought to the center of the room. "I'm not afraid of you. Not anymore."

"So touching," Lucius mocked, "But I'm afraid I'm all out of sentimental feelings. Imperio!"

Draco closed his eyes, ready to feel the sudden tightening of no control but was shocked to find that he was unharmed. Peering with one eye, he looked around for the target. It wasn't Hermione… and it wasn't a minion… a pair of green eyes smiled at him behind glasses. "Oh, shit." Harry's body moved with fluid movements, almost as if he were flying over the floor instead of walking. He didn't want to hurt Potter, but he was getting dangerously close. Draco just had to hold out a few minutes more… only a few… "Fight, Potter…" Draco begged under his breath. But Harry didn't seem to listen. He walked to Hermione and took her by the hair. Rosalin let go of her, scared, but Jackenburg drew his wand. "Not another step, Harry."

"Phillip. What are you doing?" Lucius growled, losing his concentration on Potter, who, now in control of his body, fell to the floor. His wand turned to Jackenburg. Jackenburg turned on Lucius.

"Shit." Kinly whispered to himself.

"Kinly, don't just stand there!" Lucius yelled. "Attack!"

"No can do, boss." The fuzzy bearded man named Kinly shook his head. "I just don't feel like it."

"For fuck sakes," A dark skinned man said from the other side of the room, drawing his wand, "You're getting soft, Kinly." Before his wand was all the way out, the woman called Rosalin pointed hers at his nose, grinning.

"Expelliarmus!"

The wizard's wand flew out of his hands, onto the floor, where Harry made a dive and grabbed it up in a snatch. A blond woman's mouth curled back to curse him, but Kinly shouted, "Stupefy!" She fell, blacked out. Instantly, witches and wizards alike drew their wands on each other, unsure of whom to trust. There was a silence for only a few moments, before a man with a large nose that Draco identified as Barty Morder threw out his wand at Kinly and shouted, "Crucio!"

"RON!" Jackenburg screamed out, losing his concentration on his captive. He was hit in the nose with a fist.

"Weasley! Imposters!" Lucius growled, trying to decipher how many of his followers were actually themselves. "Get them!" The room was chaotic with spells and fist swinging. Draco was now back to back with Potter, him throwing punches and Potter casting spell after spell. "A lot more than I expected!" Harry shouted above the roar.

"Got that right!" Draco nodded, punching the back of someone's head. They turned around, and Draco apologized. "Sorry, Weasleyette!" Jackenburg did not seem to be impressed by the apology. "Honest mistake!"

CRACK!

Draco fell backwards, nose bloody. He had been hit with some sort of breaking spell. His head swarmed, and he knew all too well his nose was broken. He lost sight of everything, the room was swimming in blackness. Falling to his knees, he groaned. He had never broken his nose before… it wasn't the most pleasant experience.

"Malfoy, where's Lucius?" Potter asked, casting a repairing spell on Malfoy's nose.

"Shit! I thought you were watching him!" Draco panicked, feeling to make sure the spell had been cast correctly.. Come to think of it, where was Hermione?

"Malfoy!" Rosalin called. "That way!" She pointed to the hallway that lead to the second story. "He's got Granger!"

Draco looked over to Potter, who responded, "Go. We've got this. I'll meet you up there in a minute."

"Thanks Crabbe!" Draco shouted to Rosalin as he flew off in the direction of Lucius.

"Its Goyle." Rosalin folded her arms, then toppled over from a stunning spell. Draco would not see this. He was too busy with the constant beating in his heart. Too busy with the aching in his chest. Too busy with the tightening in his throat. He had not anticipated Lucius would take her. Could he make it in time?


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