Thank you everyone for your insightful and supportive reviews. Several of your comments have influenced character thoughts in this, the last, chapter. : ) Enjoy!
Elvish Dreams: Unfortunately, that'd be quite the wait, since I haven't even started an idea for it, let alone actually writing it. LOL
Musicgurl: Sorry, but this was the last chapter. :(

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Chapter Twelve
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Albus sat at his desk, finally alone in his office, deep in thought. It had been a long time since anything had come as much of a surprise as today's revelations had and he found he needed time to process today's events and what impact they might have. The long day may be now over, but the repercussions from it would last a lifetime and only time would tell what exactly those repercussions would be. It would certainly be an interesting ride, however. Of that much, he was certain.

x-x-x

Lucius strode off school grounds, his mind whirling, busy calculating all the possible outcomes from today's circus. His family had once again been brought into the spot light, something he was not happy about. He would need to work hard to contain the scandal -- a squib in the Malfoy line! He simply hoped, whatever else happened, this incident might teach his arrogant, impetuous son a lesson in thorough research of a subject matter before moving ahead with a plan. Ill thought out plans backfired all too often, an occurence he was, unfortunately, intimately aquainted with.

He snorted inelegantly, not particularly caring that the action wasn't very dignified -- he was alone, after all. At least it finally explained to his satisfaction why the girl was constantly such a thorn in Draco's side. Who else but a Malfoy could outdo a Malfoy so consistently? He wasn't completely comfortable with who the girl's father was, though, the wizard's place within the dark lord's circle notwithstanding. Severus was an excellent Slytherin, and over all, a good friend, but he wasn't from the purest background -- something Lucius hadn't discovered until very recently.

At least he didn't have to do anything about that -- a difficult task in itself, what with the girl being just who she was -- his sister had been a squib, and the girl, herself did not bear the Malfoy name, so couldn't taint the line, as such. In fact, he mused suddenly, by appearing to accept the girl -- for now -- he might actually help his position in the current political climate. He dreaded explaining his actions -- or lack thereof -- to the dark lord, however, but he supposed the whole thing could be far worse.

That settled in his mind, he turned his thoughts to the myriad of ways he could minimize the scandal and maximize the benefits of this unexpected . . . surprise.

x-x-x

Draco sat silent, sullenly staring into the fire in the Slytherin common room, his father's chastisement ringing in his ears. It had been thoroughly unfair of his father. He had done his research. There was no possible way he could have realized the truth of the matter. How could he? He'd had to strike while the time was ideal, waiting would have meant not being able to strike at all, and all the evidence had pointed to him being right.

And Granger's certainty, pointed to that how?

Draco ignored the thought. The chit was always 'certain', even when she was dead wrong.

Sighing, he stood, slowly making his way to his dorm. He needed sleep to figure out what he was going to do about this. At this point, all he knew for sure was that he suddenly found himself closely related to a bloody Gryffindor! That was something he'd never thought he would see.

As he finally crawled into bed, Draco had concluded only one thing; that he would sit back and see how events unfolded. He could determine what he was going to do from that.

x-x-x

Severus sighed as the doors to his quarters closed behind him, bringing to an end an incredibly long day. It had certainly lived up -- or perhaps, more accurately, down -- to his expectations, exceeded them, in fact. He just wasn't sure, at this point, just what the ramifications were going to be. There were simply too many fronts to consider; Lucius, Draco, society in general, and last, but certainly, in no way least, the dark lord.

Frankly, he was only concerned about three of them, society in general could sod off, as far as he was concerned. Draco was his godson, however, and the boy's ultimate reaction worried him. The boy may be an arrogant brat, but Severus still had hopes of him becoming an upstanding man and would hate to see this situation derail that. Lucius, on the other hand, was a whole other bag of galleons, and there was really no way of telling which way the man would lean. For all Severus knew, he would grab hold of this new information to simply bolster his already staunch belief in the superiority of purebloods, citing this as the reason that Hermione excelled. Or, he could go the completely opposite direction creating havoc for everyone involved.

The dark lord, now there was a true conundrum, one he had no clue how to even begin to unravel. That Hermione was female was a blessing, certainly. That would preclude the dark lord's command that she be 'indoctrinated'. Of course, the fact that she was Potter's friend created a whole new wrinkle. Would the dark lord seek to use that to his advantage? Only time would tell, he supposed, but Severus could hope that the dark lord had enough reason left in his insane mind to realize that their newfound relationship was certainly not about to bring about a miraculous change of heart in the know-it-all Gryffindor.

Sighing, he shook his head and began readying himself for bed. He did not have patrol tonight, and grading could take the path of the lemmings for tonight. He was going to take advantage of an evening to himself and simply sleep.

x-x-x

Hermione escaped to the dubious sanctuary provided by her private room, once again grateful instead of resentful of its separateness. The entire school was buzzing with the latest news, and she hadn't been able to go anywhere without being either stared at or interogated . . .though, her friends did help where they could.

Finally alone with her thoughts, she couldn't help but wonder what the future held for her. she'd grown up believing herself muggleborn, not just muggle raised. She had Professor Snape, harshest Hogwarts' professor for a father, Draco Malfoy for a 1st cousin, and Lucius Malfoy as an uncle.

"Uncle Lucius," she said, trying it on for size, then giggled. It did not sound anywhere near right, and she suspected it never would. She grinned mischievously, then, wondering if she would ever have the nerve to call professor Snape 'daddy' to his face. She suspected not, but it was fun to contemplate his reaction all-the-same -- after she graduated. She had no wish to lose her house the house cup this year, nor land herself in detention until she graduated. As it was, she had to admit that this new information would certainly make for some rather interesting . . . twists in her life for years to come, and she couldn't wait to find out what the future would hold for her; something she well knew her mother would encourage were she here to do so.

THE END

For now, we've reached the end of this part of Hermione's life. I should begin posting my next story within the next two weeks; though, at this point I have no clue which one it's going to be. It will be longer, that much I'm sure of. Me and short stories don't happen often. LOL