Authors Note: Yep, I finally updated this story. I am not too thrilled with this chapter but I had to get this partout in order to move this story along. As always, you are all welcome to leave feedback. Thank you for reading!
It had been two days since that horrid rainy night. After Ron assisted Hermione to the hospital and his Auror associate took Draco to Azkaban, she thought that the nightmare was over. She should have known better.
After being taken care of for two days, Hermione was released from St. Mangos to get back to her normal life. If only it was that easy. The following morning when she was walking down the street of Hogsmeade to her bookstore, Hermione noticed that she was the center of attention of all the pedestrians that passed her by. She felt as the woman in the muggle movie she once saw, The Scarlet Letter.
She could hear all the whispering and could see all the pitying looks. Hermione barely held from disgracing herself farther by crying in front of them. It felt forever until she finally reached her bookstore. There were three stacks of the Daily Prophet on the steps of her business. Two for the days she missed and one was fresh. She unlocked the door and pushed the Daily Prophet inside with the toe of her boot.
Once inside, she turned the sign in the window from 'closed' to 'open'. Hermione bent down, took one newspaper from each pile and placed it behind the counter from where she usually greeted her costumers and then took the two stacks of old Daily Prophets to the back, while leaving today's in the front for everyone to see.
After making sure that nothing was amiss in her store, Hermione sat behind the counter and began to look at the first of the two newspapers. It read "DRACO MALFOY: GUILTY AS CHARGED" She gasped when she saw a picture of Draco, with his hands behind his back. He didn't look as if he was resisting. His head was bent forward, and his ashen hair fallen in waves at the sides of his face. Hermione just now realized how long his hair grew.
In the next picture Draco slowly looked up, as though he was looking at her and moved his lips ever so slightly. If Hermione was an impatient witch, she might have missed the slight movement, but when she watched the picture again, she could make out what he had whispered: 'Forgive me'.
At that moment, for the first time in two days, Hermione's composure snapped. Tears flowed freely from her caramel eyes and her body shook with subs that she no longer could contain inside. She was crying for herself, for what he did to her, how he hurt, and how he made her feel once she decided to fight against him. Hermione also knew that deep down inside she was crying for Draco himself and what will become of him. Absolutely nothing once the Demantors give him the kiss, ridding Draco's being off his soul.
Hermione wiped away her tears, took a deep breath and turning the first page, and resumed reading the Daily Prophet.
By: Rita Skeeter
'Yesterday, March 18th, Draco Malfoy – the only son of Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy and heir to Malfoy fortune, committed a horrendous crime against a muggle born witch, a fellow Hogwarts schoolmate, Hermione Granger. Disregarding the latest wizarding law Act #567, Mr. Malfoy assaulted and raped Ms. Granger in the Hocus Park.
To remind everyone, the law Act # 567 states: No wizard is allowed to physically mar a pure, half or muggle-born witch for any reason, especially if the said witch is a virgin.
Right after the ordeal, Draco Malfoy was taken to the Ministry while Ms. Granger to St. Mangos. Since this incident was the first of its kind, the ministry officials are uncertain in how to proceed farther. But whatever the outcome, disregarding the new law, will cost Malfoys dearly. Many speculate that prejudice beliefs drew Mr. Malfoy to do what he had done. Rumors in the ministry say that Draco Malfoy's life is on the line.'
Hermione closed the newspaper and placed it aside. She then took another one out and began to scan through it. The half of the front page on the second newspaper was a moving picture of Lucius Malfoy. The man could very well become an actor the way he hid his emotions. He looked composed, as though nothing out of the ordinary happened to his son. At the bottom of the picture was a small footnote stating that he had just come out from the ministry. As Hermione looked closer at the picture, she saw Albus Dumbledore and Arthur Weasley in the background shaking their heads. Hermione felt confused. Why would Dumbledore be at the ministry? Sighing, she turned the page over and read another article by Rita Skeeter.
At the high noon lunch hour, Lucius Malfoy, father of the accused Draco Malfoy, left the ministry with a slight smile on his face. After over three hours of intense meeting between Senior Malfoy, Albus Dumbledore, and some other elder members of the Ministry, a decision has been made. Although Senior Malfoy and the rest of the ministry officials keeping their final decision on the down low, we are certain that Lucius Malfoy came out of the meeting a victor.
Just as Hermione tried to reach for today's newspaper, she heard a bell shimmer, indicating that someone had just walked into her shop. Since she was sitting down, Hermione had to crane her neck to see who had entered her shop. Whoever it was didn't come in her view right away. They stood behind one of the massive bookshelves in the front of the store so Hermione had no idea whether the costumer was a witch or a wizard.
"If you need any help, please let me know," Hermione said aloud before taking the third newspaper and began reading through it. She quickly found another article by Rita Skeeter.
The fate of Draco Malfoy had been decided.
Since this incident was the first of its kind, the ministry officials thought it was only fair to let the victim, Hermione Granger, to decide the appropriate punishment for her assaulter.
Draco Malfoy had no comment for this new revelation. It is if though he doesn't care. Many predict that having Hermione Granger make the decision for the ministry is actually worst for Draco. Since they have been rivals, long before this all ever happened, everyone is sure she will sentence him to life in Azkaban.
The ministry forbids the Daily Prophet or anyone else in the media to come close to Ms. Granger and ask her regarding this decision. Ms. Granger has one week to make her decision. If she hasn't by then, the ministry will take the choice away from her.
By the time Hermione had finished the last article, she was pale as a ghost. How could they do this to her? How could they place such a decision in her hands? Yes, she did want to see Malfoy punished, but she did not want to be the one making the decision of the punishment. This had got to be some sort of a joke.
There is no way she would comply with the Ministry's order and be responsible for sending a man, guilty or not, to a life in prison. Even though Hermione was violated in the worst way possible, she could never bring herself to become a playmaker of someone's life.
Hermione decided to wait out the week that was given to her to make such a horrid decision. She was going to take no part in it.
Sighing, Hermione picked up the first newspaper again and looked at Draco's picture. She could still make out the slight motion of his lips: 'Forgive me'.
"Forgive me as well, Draco, but I refuse to make any decisions on the Ministry's behalf." She whispered back to the paper before folding it to place it aside. She then scanned her store to see if the costumer that entered earlier was ready to make a purchase. She waited a few more minutes before speaking aloud once more. "Please let me know if you require my assistances in anything. I will be glad to help."
"I am sure you will, Ms. Granger," a male refined voice drawl from the left side of the shelves. A moment later the owner of the voice emerged to her view
"Mr. Malfoy?" Hermione asked baffled and then scowled slightly when the wizard inclined his head in greeting.
Indeed, the wizard who was steadily approaching her was none other than, Lucius Malfoy. As always, the air of arrogance and superiority was all around the blond aristocrat.
"I'll have to ask you to leave, sir." Hermione pointed toward the exit.
"Come now, Ms. Grangers." Lucius chided the witch. "Surely you have better manners to show than that. Being impolite to costumers isn't beneficial to any business."
"I see no costumers here." Hermione retorted.
"Today, Ms. Grangers, I am one of you costumers." Lucius said before slamming today's Daily Prophet on the counter. "Have you read the news today by any chance?"
"I have." Answered Hermione as she accepted the three knuts that Lucius owed for the paper. "What of it?" She asked callously.
"I was wondering what your answer to the ministry's demand might be." Lucius pondered.
"What ever decision I make, has nothing to do with you, Mr. Malfoy." She retorted.
"Oh, I beg to differ, young lady." Lucius informed her through gritted teeth. "What ever your decision might be, I have every right to know about it, since the one you are planning to condemn is my own flesh and blood."
"If your flash and blood hadn't assaulted me than I wouldn't have to be responsible giving felons the death penalty, no matter how much they deserve it." Hermione answered calmly.
"Is that what you are planning to do, Ms. Granger?" Lucius scowled. "Give my son a death sentence?" When she didn't answer fast enough for the Slytherin, Lucius asked, "Are you ready to carry such a burden your entire life?"
"No…I… would never…" Faltered Hermione. "I mean I haven't thought about it yet."
Lucius nodded in understanding before pulling out a green velvet box out of his robe pocket and placing it on the counter. "I have a proposition for you, Ms. Granger."
Looking cautious at the small box in front of her, Hermione inquired, "What proposition are you talking about?" Her eyes widened when Lucius opened the velvet box to reveal the most exquisite Victorian engagement ring with an oval emerald center surrounded by tiny diamonds. "What is the meaning of this?" She asked the wizard.
"Surely you understand what this ring represents, Ms. Granger." Lucius said sardonically
"What I mean, Mr. Malfoy, is why are you showing this ring to me?" She fired back tightly
"Let's call this a truce of sort." Lucius elaborated. "I would like it very much if you would consider joining my family. As my new daughter-in-law."
"What?" Hermione asked aghast. "Is this some sort of joke?"
"Believe me when I say that I only speak the truth." Lucius inclined his head slightly.
"Forgive me if I do not jump with joy from such a lovely proposal, Mr. Malfoy." Hermione said dryly.
"There is no need for sarcasm, Ms. Granger." Lucius accused.
"How could you even think that I will consider your proposal?" Hermione said in outraged. "Your son physically assaulted me, for heaven's sake"
"I am well aware of what he did to you, Ms. Granger," he said quietly. "What Draco did was way out of line, intoxicated or not."
"What do you want from me?" Hermione closed her eyes in memory of the rainy night. "I have nothing left to give."
"But you do, Ms. Granger, you do." When she seemed to wait for his answer, Lucius continued. "Your acceptance at becoming the next Madam Malfoy."
"Why would I ever agree to become Draco's wife?" Hermione fumed. "Draco and I hate each other and his actions only proved that."
"You are wrong." Lucius whispered. "I know my son better than anyone. Whether or not Draco realized it himself, I know for a fact that his feelings toward you changed after the time you dared to slap him in your third year."
"How did you…?" Hermione began to ask but than stopped when Lucius tapped one of his temples and she knew that he was referring to legilimens. "It doesn't matter what Draco feels for me. The deed is done and now I am one of the untouchables."
"That is another reason to agree to this union. No other wizard will want you."
"You despicable son of a b…" Hermione seethed.
"Temper, temper." Lucius scolded.
"I wouldn't agree to this union if Malfoy was the last man on earth!" She was totally livid now. How dare he say such things to her? And here she was actually feeling sorry for whatever sentence Draco might have to carry our.
"Ms. Granger," Lucius began solemnly. "I know that you are angry right now and maybe I shouldn't have approached you in such a manner but as a father, I am desperate here. I can't even begin to tell you how Narcissa is taking all this." Lucius shamefully lowered his eyes. "Please…Hermione, before you make any decisions regarding Draco, I implore you to visit him and speak with him face to face."
"What is the point when he is going to deny everything anyway?" She watch Lucius pull a tiny glass vile with a murky green liquid out of his breast pocket and the placing it on her counter. "What is this?"
"Veritaserum." Lucius whispered. "This potion should help you find out the truth from Draco himself if you decide to visit him."
Not able to believe that Lucius Malfoy would stoop so low, Hermione said with uncertainty, "I…I have to think about this. Please give me sometime to think this over before making any decisions."
"Of course," Lucius inclined his head once more before taking the ring as well as the Daily Prophet he purchased and gloomily leaving Hermione to her solitude.
Hermione looked at the counter where the potion still laid while she contemplated what to do next.
Authors Note: Thank you for reading. Please review if you like this story. Also please read and review my new fiction 'Behind the Closed Doors'. It is a LM/NB pairing but I think it is a worthy read. That is my favorite story to write right now. Thanx again!