OOC: Wow it's been too long. I had tried editing this story but my computer crashed a while ago and I lost all the chapters I'd written. I'm in College now and I need something to keep me sane. I wonder …I wonder if I can finish this…

Let's try! It will be homage to the greatness of Draco and Hermione.

[i]Or Else[/i]

Damn that mudblood!

When Hermione had said those two words in a daunting tone, he'd laughed. What could she possibly say that would make him even consider tutoring her.

"Granger!" Draco growled from his chair.

It had only taken a few whispered sentences to show him that Hermione Granger wasn't just book smart.

"You know," Hermione lightly pushed his door open, "I'm seriously thinking of adding an intercom between our rooms."

"A what?"

"A muggle thing…never mind," She paused and raised her brow, "Was there a reason you –"

"Aside from the usual get my chair moving magic, I needed to let you know that someone will be waiting in our common room after last class. She's here for you, do whatever she says." Draco leaned back in his chair, "Nod yes once if you understand."

"Who?"

"You'll see when classes are done." Draco motioned for her to move towards his chair, "Lateness is not appreciated by Snape."

"Nor is vagueness by me."

"You said you wanted my help, I'm offering it." Draco snorted, "You never said I had to do it alone."

"And if I don't come? I have my own schedule, I don't enjoy changing it to make room for – "

"You said you wanted my help. If you don't like being bossed by me, then we can always toss the whole deal. Believe me, I wouldn't be too upset." Draco raised his brow.

"Wouldn't you just love to see that happen," Hermione glared at him as he grinned, "Fine, I'll be here but, "She tapped his chair, "No games."

"Never," Malfoy grinned, "I'm a good boy." He waved as he wheeled out of the room, leaving Hermione standing alone, "Don't forget your quill and parchment. You'll want to take notes."

"Notes…good boy…" She mumbled, pulling the door latch behind her as she walked out of his room, "My ass."

Class had gone by as usual, although anyone could see Hermione was a little more distracted than usual. Her hand wasn't up for every question and her potion was purple instead of lavender, a point that raised Snape's brow and pulled a grin from his usually stern expression.

Thankfully as the day progressed she relaxed and thought less of Malfoy and more of the person she was meeting in the late afternoon. Who was she? How did Malfoy know her? Why was he bringing her into this?

"You okay Hermione?"

Hermione jumped, dropping her pile of books on the floor, "Oh hades."

"Sorry. I didn't mean to startle you, I was just worried, "Harry knelt down to help her with the books," You seem a little…off."

"Usual morning with Malfoy," Hermione said with a shrug as she mumbled a spell to clear the spilled ink on the floor, "Nothing more."

"You sure," Harry continued, "I know you still haven't spoken to Ron regarding the lake."

"Is there some reason I should?"

Harry put his hand on her shoulder, "I know you're upset. Ron's a little thick and he needs things spelled out in black and white. That's all."

Hermione shrugged his hand off, "I'm not in the mood to educate him." She stood, "Especially as the lesson is at my expense."

"Hermione," Harry followed after her as she walked off, "Where are you going?"

"To my room..."

"Not the library?" Harry stopped, "But you always –"

Hermione waved his sentence away. She wasn't in the mood to explain anything to him. If she listened, she'd be questioned and the truth just might burst out of her.

Pushing open the portrait door into the Head's Common Room, Hermione held her breath as the answer to her questions were about to be answered.

"Hello?" She called out as she pushed the door closed.

"You're late." The voice belonged to a woman, back turned to Hermione as she sat on the sofa. Her posture was perfect and the thin pin strip jacket she wore emphasized her long thin shoulders. She turned her face towards Hermione, the wide rimmed sunglasses moved slightly down her nose as she looked at the young witch, "Nice hair." She pushed the sunglasses back up the bridge of her nose and turned back to the fire.

"Thanks," Hermione let the insult roll of her shoulders. She was used to Malfoy making quips about her hair, it was nothing new.

"Come here, "Mace lifted a bony hand and wiggled her pointer finger towards the common room sitting area. Hermione couldn't help but try guessing the age of the hand that commanded her. It was thin; the skin almost papery with the veins underneath drawing a map of the circulatory system but the woman's face seemed ageless.

"And you're a friend of Malfoys?" Hermione asked, her curiosity coming out in a far ruder manner than she'd originally intended.

"My dear girl," Mace watched her walk onto the large area rug in front of the sofa, "Stop."

"Stop?" Hermione repeated the word confused.

"Yes, stop, as in stop moving." Mace crossed her legs, "Now turn."

Hermione looked about and realized she was standing in the exact middle of the rug, directly in front of the sofa, "You want me to turn?"

"I could walk around you but that seems to bring a vulture circle its prey to mind, so turn." Mace once again lifted her bony finger and made a turning potion.

"What for," Hermione crossed her arms, "I would like to know what I'm on display for."

"Your appraisal," Mace shook her head and with a deep sigh removed her sunglasses, "Draco can be quite the cretin when he wants to be. He never told you what I'm here for, did he?"

Hermione shook her head 'no'.

"Come sit by me." Mace patted the sofa.

The term 'cretin' used to describe Malfoy seemed to lighten the mood of the encounter instantly. Slowly, Hermione sat on the sofa next to Mace, "Sorry if I was rude before."

"Not at all, I've had things thrown at me before." She flashed a flawless smile, "Of course those poor creatures know what I do for a living."

"Appraisals?" Hermione guessed.

"Smart girl," Mace paused and looked at Hermione as she sat, "I've heard you've got quite the brains hidden underneath that mop of hair."

"Mop?!" Hermione reached up and touched the wild curls, "Far from a mop…"

"Hermione," Mace reached over and gently pulled Hermione's hand away from the tendril she was comforting, "It's a mop but don't feel bad. We all make hair blunders. Until Draco met me he thought his hair slicked back made him look refined. In truth he looked like a bowling ball."

A laugh erupted form Hermione's mouth and she nodded, "It's true."

"You see." Mace smiled, "I consult and appraise physical appearances. I improve what people can't see or what they refuse to see."

"And Draco sent you to help me?"

"I'm sure there's a barb in my being here. However you don't need to take it as such. " Mace grinned, "But as you can tell, I'm good at my job. My skin hides my age, my figure is a perfect hourglass and it's all magic. The right spells the right combinations of herbs and a few small base potions. He's paying me, and you're not. Use it."

"Can I ask," Hermione looked at Mace's hands.

"The magic only does so much. I use my hands in my work and you can't use some of my spells on moving busy body parts." Mace shrugged, "I find it adds to the mystery of me."

"Is it going to happen to me?"

Mace shook her head 'no', "You're not as old as I am. Your skin is much younger and capable than mine."

"Okay," Hermione stood up from the sofa and resumed her position in the middle of the rug, "Assess away."