YOU NEED TO READ THIS CHAPTER—EVEN IF MOST OF IT SEEMS FAMILIAR, THINGS HAVE CHANGED!!

H-

It would seem you left something some might deem necessary at my home. Perhaps your naked feet will remind you of your loss.

-S

Hermione read the letter over and over, each time groaning. She had hoped she could have at least a few days of silence, enough time to get over her mortification. But no, that damn man had to have an owl harass her with its incessant pecking! And what was worse, she knew she had left her shoes there, but had hoped they were somewhere not visible so she could possibly… maybe… well hell she didn't know how she could get the back with out him knowing. But she would have figured it out!

She sat down at her table and penned out a quick reply.

S-

I am sure that in the goodness of your heart you, however deep you have to search, you will find that you want to send me the shoes without a fuss. I beg of thee.

-H

H-

The goodness you assume that lurks somewhere within me, cannot be found. Therefore, a fuss is necessary. I propose another date, Wednesday at 5, say? And perhaps if you actually beg, I will concede and give you the shoes. Perhaps.

-S

S-

Damn you. I really hate how you just assume I am available to your beck and call. However, this time, I am not. I already have a date that night, so I would really appreciate you just returning my shoes.

-H

Severus read that letter, and couldn't help but sitting back and staring angrily at it. He didn't exactly have a right to be angry, after all, they weren't dating exclusively… yet. But he found that the more he thought over it, the more he liked the idea. So if she wanted her expensive shoes back, she would have to agree to his terms or they would remain his. And by the looks of them, they were her "special occasion" shoes. He really couldn't imagine Hermione Granger owning too many expensive pairs of shoes.

He picked up his quill gain, and replied.

H-

You may either agree to my terms, and reschedule your date, or you can kiss the lovely heels goodbye. Wednesday at 5. Wear something sexy.

-S

She was a little shocked at his demand, and very curious as to what he had in mind. Something sexy? She sighed and knew if she wanted her favorite pair of heels back, she would have to reschedule her date with Dean.

S-

Fine. Bastard.

-H

Hermione pulled out a clean sheet of paper, and addressed it to Dean.

Dean-

Sorry, I am going to have to reschedule our dinner on Wednesday. Something came up. How about Thursday for lunch?

-Hermione

Hermione tied the letter to the owl Harry had bought her. "Dean Thomas, Ministry of Magic, Magical Law Enforcement Department. And be quick about it, will you?" The light grey owl hooted at her in adoration. It was a little thing, but it got the job done. However, if she wanted any parcels delivered, she had to first owl Harry and ask to borrow Hedwig.

She felt rather bad for the poor little guy, she hadn't been exactly nice to it, yet it obviously loved her very much. Merlin, she hadn't even given it a name! After two months of it living in her kitchen, you would think she would have done at least that. But she didn't really want to name it. Naming it would permanently link her to it and it to her. And after Crookshanks died, she never wanted to be tied to another pet. But she really should call it something else than 'Owl.'

She watched the gray little guy flutter off. It was charmed so Muggles couldn't see it, Harry had said. That way, she didn't have to wait for the cover of night to send an owl to someone, or have to Disillusion it every time she needed something sent. It was helpful, but she still was annoyed at having to send for Hedwig. But Harry had bought him for her to keep her company after Ol' Crooky, as he called him, died.

Glancing at the clock above her desk, she noted it was 10 am. A rather late start for her, but under the circumstances, it was understandable. But she needed to get to work. Luckily, she was head of the Charms and Curses Department, so she could usually make her own hours. It was her job to crack the most difficult charms, hexes, and curses on any object that came to them. Sometimes, however they were called to the objects. Such as the case she was currently working on.

Draco Malfoy, newly reformed according to the Daily Prophet, had a large sum of objects needing to be lifted of their curses and hexes. It was all very public, and Hermione hated it. Richard, her second in command, as he liked to call himself, took over most of the work, as he knew the history behind Hermione and Malfoy. He knew that Hermione hated being in the Manor because of what had taken place there before the final battle. Her torture. She never spoke of it, but he knew. Ron had a big mouth.

However, they were drawing closer to the end of it all, and the objects and their curses were becoming more and more complex. So her presence was needed more and more. But if she didn't hurry up, she knew she would be working well into the night. Malfoy hardly cared when they were there working, he lived in his villa somewhere in France. But still, she hated working there any longer than was necessary.

She quickly showered, and put on her work robes. The ones with the new Ministry emblem over the right breast, as was new protocol within the Ministry. It was annoying to have to alter some of her robes to the specifications of the new Minister, but if she wanted to keep her job, she would comply.

She quickly threw her hair up in a Muggle scrunchie, and grabbed her wand and the Malfoy file she had taken home to look over. Then she apparated to the foyer of the Manor. The wards had been set to allow Richard, her, and the few interns that her department had taken on in the last month.

"Ah, Hermione, there you are." Richard was a decently good looking man. Tall, nice build, broad shoulders, blue eyes, and black hair. Very attractive indeed. And he had a deep voice, one that was welcoming, and cheery. At one time, Hermione had harbored feelings for him, and they had dated. But that was before she had been promoted to "boss". She wouldn't, and couldn't be involved with someone under her.

"Hey, sorry I am late. What did I miss?" She side stepped one of the contractors Malfoy hired to redo the lower floors. "I thought he agreed the contractors would leave the first floor alone until we were certain we had gotten everything."

They walked along the right hall way and into another room, where the interns were hovering over a copy of the file Hermione had. "He agreed, but they said they were starting this floor now, because the second was finished."

"I don't care if that floor is finished! They can work on the third if they need to, but we are not done on this one! Don't they understand that it's their bloody lives we are trying to keep safe?"

"I told them that, but they were adamant. But since we are almost done, except the Library, I have their word they will not go anywhere near there."

She grumbled something sounding closely like 'bloody idiots,' which made one of the interns, Jobe, chuckle. Hermione glared at him, forcing him to focus his attention back on the file.

"Miss Granger, we have located 70 books on Mr. Malfoy's known cursed list. There are 34 more on the list that we cannot locate, and we haven't begun to search for unknown cursed objects. And then there is a statue in the back of the library on the second floor, which almost took off Albert's arm when he moved passed it, that needs your attention."

"It did not almost take off my arm! It missed. But I already told you that, Margret." The young man named Albert had red hair and freckles, like a Weasley. But he was sure they were not related.

"Honest, Miss Granger," he said with his sweet American accent. "I wasn't in any danger."

"Why were you up there to begin with? You know we haven't cleared that area yet." Albert flinched. He knew Miss Granger was mad. She preached all the time of safety and making sure not to put themselves in any danger that was unnecessary.

"Well- I- I was- there was-"The boy was mercifully saved when one of the contractors with a greasy nose and rose cheeks walked in.

"Sorry, mum, fer interuptin'. Bu' one of me men found some-fin yer may want'er take a look at." Hermione looked back and forth between the large contractor and Albert.

"Fine, I am coming," then she turned to Albert. "Don't think this is over. We will talk about it when I get back."

Hermione followed the man out to the main foyer, where the grand staircase was covered in men with yellow hard hats and tools. One section was completely clear of men, but their tools remained. The man motioned for her to take a look, and with Richard close behind her, she noted the uplifted marble step. Underneath where the dark marble had originally been, was a dark blue book, with gold lettering written on it. Hermione lowered herself to inspect the area and the object, but was careful to touch nothing.

"Who found this?" she asked without looking away from the book.

"I did, Miss." A young man standing close spoke up. She quickly looked him over, and then focused on the book again.

"Did you touch it?"

"No, Miss." He sounded nervous.

"You sure?" She raised her eyes to Richard who had asked the question.

"I swear I didn't touch anything, sir. I just lifted the old marble, and there it was." He eyed the book like it was a cursed and dark monster. Which- it probably was.

"Alright, we will need the area cleared for the time being." Richard announced rather loudly.

The workers gathered their tools, and moved away from the stairs.

"Are you in charge here?" she asked the man that had showed this to her.

"No, mum. Tha' would be Mr. Thornton, ov'r ther'" He pointed to a man wearing a white hard hat.

"Mm, yes. Thank you." She told Richard to go talk to the man and inform him that the contract work would have to be postponed, as this new development meant that the manor was not as secure as originally thought.

Hermione then turned back to the book. "Margret," she called to the young blond intern, who walked by. She paused. "Yes, Miss Granger?"

"Would you please go fetch me some the gloves in my bag please? And after that, I'll need you to catalogue this."

"Yes, Miss Granger." The girl almost ran to do ask requested. Hermione chuckled. She was reminded of herself when she was younger. Always eager to please.

Margret returned rather quickly, gloves in one hand, and clipboard and Muggle pen in the other. She sat down next to Hermione and handed her the gloves.

"Now, first I want you to describe the area surrounding the book. Be sure to catalogue each detail. Then I will lift the book, after you are done, and we will go from there. Understood?"

After a good hour of cataloguing and taking note of each little detail, Hermione and Margret carefully placed the book in a stone box, as was protocol with objects like these. The book would have to be taken to the Ministry and analyzed there, before it could be returned to Mr. Malfoy's collection. All of his "unknown" dark objects would be the same.

"Hey," a nock came after the greeting. So like Richard. "Can I come in?"

Hermione put her quill down on the table. "Sure."

"So how was the date?" He said with a smirk and a classic Richard pose: arms crossed and leaned up against a wall.

She felt her face flame up and the memories of the date with her former professor envelope her. "Oh Merlin!" she whimpered.

"Please, Richard, don't bring that up right now." She picked the quill back up and continued with her report on the day's finds.

"What? Didn't you have a good time?"

At her blush and refusal to meet his eyes, he laughed.

"Or perhaps you had too good of a time?"

"Richard!" she tossed a wadded piece of paper at him. "I asked you to leave it alone!"

He held his hands up, palm out. "Fine, fine. Just answer me one question and I swear I'll drop it."

She eyed him. "One question and you swear to leave this alone."

"Swear."

"Deal."

"Was he any good?"

/ Hello! Wow, I am sooooo sorry for the horrid delay in posting this. I have been so freaking busy that its insane. But I hope to get more chapters out soon!

Also, I am sorry for having to rewrite this chapter and all that follow it. But I just couldn't continue on like I was. Hopefully, you like this more than or at least as much as the old chapters!

Reviews make me feel less self-conscious and gangly.