A/N: Oh, it has been so long! Hopefully, it will only be a week until my next update! Please read and review!

"So what do we do now?" Hermione asked in a whisper as she lay in the crook of Draco's arm, her fingers trailing circles on his bare chest.

Sighing, he looked down at her and lifted her chin with one finger, placing a chaste kiss on her lips. "I'll do whatever I have to do to keep you safe."

A crack announce the presence of Bogie. "Master Draco, sir," he said, bowing obsequiously, "Master Lucius says he would like to see you in his study." Bogie looked from Draco to Hermione, and back to Draco, "Now, sir."

Rolling his eyes, Draco sat up and rubbed his hands over his face in exasperation. "Yes, all right. Tell him I'll be there in a moment."

"Er, sir?" The house elf began to wring his hands in distress.

"Yes, Bogie, what else does my father command?"

"Er… he would also like to see Miss Hermione, too." The large, bulbous eyes stared up at Hermione, whose eyes opened wide in shock.

"Me? What the bloody hell would he have to speak to me about?"

"Master Lucius did not says, Miss."

Draco gave Hermione's arm a squeeze. "Thank you, Bogie, we both will be right there." He looked at Hermione, taking in her sheet-covered body and disheveled hair. "You know how judgmental my father is. You will need to get dressed and look as appropriate as you can. Whatever you do, do not listen to a word I say to him. I told you, I will do whatever it takes to keep you safe."

Twenty minutes later Draco found himself walking through the tall mahogany doors to Lucius Malfoy's study, leaving Hermione waiting on one of the several couches in the adjacent sitting room. As he had suspected, his father meant to interrogate them separately.

"Draco Malfoy, have my aging ears deceived me," came Lucius Malfoy's voice from behind the Daily Prophet floating an inch above the large desk, "or did I really hear the words 'I loved you. I loved you, and you left me,' uttered from the lips of the mud blood and directed at you?"

Draco did not flinch, this is what he had expected. "No, sir, you heard correct. Quite an accomplishment, do you not think so?"

The daily prophet began folding itself, unmasking an expression of unadulterated disgust. Slamming his fist on the desk, Lucius bellowed, "No, I do NOT bloody think so! What in the name of Merlin are you doing? If the Dark Lord found out about your… your egregious lack of propriety he will call this whole plan off and find another way of getting to Harry Potter. To think, you meddling around with a filthy mudbood!"

"If the Dark Lord heard word about my 'lack of propriety' as you call it, I'm quite certain he would be resolved in thinking I was making some form of progress."

"It is not this current task that concerns me… as much. I am referring to the past tense phrase 'loved'." As he said the word his top lip curled. "How long have you and her been hiding some affair? I demand an answer, and it better be agreeable."

Draco and his father stared unwaveringly at each other. "Everyone needs a play thing, Father. You cannot deny that she would be tolerable, were she pureblood. Fix that unruly mane of hair on her head, and one might even be tempted to call her beautiful."

"Such filth, Draco, I truly am disappointed. What of Miss Parkinson?"

"What about that trollop?" Draco barked.

"It has been planned since infancy that you and her would be conjoined legally."

"As if I give a damn! You dislike her family just as much as I dislike that insufferable imbecile. Should the Malfoy line really be so tainted by such an idiotic whore who couldn't tell her arse from her head?"

"Draco Malfoy! I do what I must to ensure this family lives. No matter who I must like or not. If word got out to the rest of the followers that my only son, the last in the line of one of the oldest pureblood lines, heir to…"

"Heir to WHAT?" Draco through out his arms to indicate everything around him. "This manor and our heads?"

"That's a LOT more than most can say! There would be an uproar about this, people claiming that you do not uphold all that the Dark Lord is fighting for. Do you want them to turn against us?"

"Is it really us you are worried about them turning against, or are you worried about them turning against you?"

With a wave of Lucius's wand, Draco felt a hard slap on the face. "I warn you, do not try my patience Draco. I was not blessed with much of it."

Draco looked back at his father still sitting behind his desk. "If you would silence your tongue long enough to let your brain comprehend, you would realize my past indiscretions are not wholly with out their benefits. I can convince her to alter her allegiance much more easily if she loves me."

Lucius sat in silence, wand still in hand. "Explain."

"Silly girls do stupid things for love." Draco swallowed before his spoke again, convincing himself to remain in control. "A silly mud blood would do anything. Even abandon the only friends she has in the world. With this advantage, we would not require deception to buy us more time - there is a much greater chance of us succeeding unscathed."

As his father flicked his wand once again, Draco heard the doors behind him open once again. "You had better be right, Draco, in your assertions. There are barely five months left. Send in the girl."

Draco nodded and turned to leave, taking large strides to the open doorway.

"Oh, and Draco," Lucius added.

Draco stopped and slightly inclined his head towards his father, such that only an ear was turned towards him.

"Do not think I will not feed you to the wolves if you fail."

"I do not think it is me you will have to worry about."

Hermione stood as she saw the doors open again. She had been so worried that she had hardly noticed she had bitten her lip so hard it was swollen. Watching as the exchange occurred between the two men, she had cocked her head to the side with her brow knitted, not being able to hear what had transpired. She had not heard the words, but she saw the ferocity on Draco's face.

"My Father would like to speak to you, now." He did not stand closer than two feet from her before turning on his heels, heading for the grounds of the manor. Hermione watched as he reached the door, pausing to glance back at her and giving her a half-hearted smile before disappearing from sight.

"Enter!" Came a bellowing voice from within the study. Shifting her glance back, she straightened her shoulders and held her head high in contempt and stepped into the snake pit.

"In your stay here over the past month, I have seen no change in your demeanor. I highly doubt that Draco will succeed unassisted. I'm sure he will not like seeing his pet broken in, however, changes must be made. You are still just as rude and insufferable as you were when your pathetic life was given back to you, under my roof."

"Yes, because you are the epitome of couth and courtesy." Hermione retorted. "You are speaking to me from behind a paper. To most, that would be seen as socially unacceptable"

Lucius snapped his paper down. "You really should learn to hold your tongue if you wish to keep it. Considering your kind are not relevant in civil society, I do not think it should be offensive if I wish not to look at you more than I am obliged to."

"Then may I leave, seeing as there seems to be nothing to be said of any relevance?" Hermione inclined her head to stare directly into his eyes. "I will, in doing so, save you the trouble of looking at me."

"Impertinent and insolent mud blood! How dare you speak to me like this! If you do not conform to the requirements of my master I will have no quarrel disposing of you myself. I will not have my life put on the line for someone of so little consequence."

"So little consequence? It seems as if I am actually of every consequence to the continuation of your life." Her nostrils flared in indignation as her cheeks were flushing red hot with anger. "Every breath you take Lucius Malfoy is given to you because I have still almost five months to convince your master that Draco has not failed. To think, your life hangs by a thread in my hands." She smiled devilishly, "Who knows, maybe I will slip up just to see you punished for it."

In an instant of unadulterated hate, Lucius Malfoy flicked his wand and a red jet of light was sent at Hermione who flew up into the air, her body wracking with excruciating pain. While lights erupted behind her eyelids, while silent screams of pain reverberated in her head.

A/N: So what do you think will happen next! Please review!

Narratively yours,