Author Notes: I just re-uploaded this story because I suddenly realised that my scene breaks had disappeared. Thank you to emerald_dragon8 for the beta!

-***-

Humming happily to herself, Hermione took her keys out of her purse and opened the front door. Six months earlier, she had taken the plunge with Ron and bought the apartment. It had taken them years of saving but it was worth it. She loved the light airy feeling of the new apartment. Their furniture was new – much to the dismay of Molly Weasley – and they had thrown out the hand-me-downs they'd had before.

Over the past few years, Ron had surprised himself by his aptitude as an Auror and she was reasonably pleased with her job at the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Sure, he earned more than her, but Hermione comforted herself with the thought that she was making a real difference in the lives of house elves and other disenfranchised magical creatures. Her lips quirked into a slight smile as she realised that she was doing almost exactly the same thing she had done back at Hogwarts.

A slight frown passed over Hermione's face as she noticed the lights were off in the apartment. Obviously, Ron wasn't home yet. He had been having increasingly late nights at the Ministry lately. She wouldn't go as far as to say that their marriage was suffering but it certainly didn't feel like the happy early days of their relationship. To be honest, she couldn't remember the last time they had sex. It could have been last month. Or possibly the month before. It seemed nowadays either Ron was home too late or she was too tired from going in front of the Wizengamot.

Suddenly, Hermione heard a muffled sound coming from the bedroom. It seemed that Ron was home after all. An involuntary smile spread over her face. She wasn't tired at all today and Ron was obviously home early. Perhaps, they could rekindle some of their spark.

She remembered the early days of their marriage. How they had shagged in almost every room of their tiny apartment. How a smile had spread over her face every time she looked at Ron.

Hermione hurried towards the bedroom.

Later, Hermione wasn't sure what it was that had made her stop at the bedroom door. She supposed that it was providence but something made her pause at the door instead of just walking right in.

She could hear whispered voices from inside the room. She stopped dead in her tracks, her stomach turning over unpleasantly. She couldn't think of a single good reason why there would be somebody else in their bedroom.

Hermione leaned forward and pressed her ear against the door. She went over the past few minutes in her mind. She was always quiet whenever she entered the apartment and she didn't think she had made any noise that would have permeated into the bedroom.

"I love you, Ron."

Hermione felt somewhat nauseated as she heard the female voice whisper the endearment. A part of her mind still couldn't believe it. Ron couldn't be cheating on her. Sure they had their problems, but didn't all married couples? Harry and Ginny had separated for a few weeks last year but they were now back together and stronger than ever.

"Why don't you just leave her?" the female voice said.

Hermione concentrated harder at the door. They were talking about her! How dare they! How dare Ron do this to her!

"You know I can't right now," Ron said back, in a low voice that Hermione could barely catch. "It would break her. Next year, sweetheart. I promise."

She was furious. Not only was he cheating on her, but he was also planning on leaving her! How dare Ron decide what would break her? She wasn't some delicate flower that he needed to be scared of crushing.

Fuming, Hermione crept stealthily back towards the front door. She wasn't going to give Ron the satisfaction of seeing her like this. When she got to the door, Hermione leaned against the wall. Looking down, she realised her hands were shaking badly. Taking a deep breath, she tried to calm herself. She couldn't face Ron like this. She would just have to leave and not come back tonight. She could claim that she was working late at the Ministry.

With her mind made up, Hermione turned to leave. Her sleeve caught against a vase they kept on the hall table – a vase that was a wedding present to both of them. Hermione watched as the vase wobbled slightly, teetered and then smashed onto the hallway floor. Good, she thought grimly. It was quite reminiscent of their relationship. Ruined.

Hermione thought she could hear flurried sounds coming from the bedroom. Ron stuck his head out of the bedroom door, his hair ruffled. "Honey!" he said. "You're back early. I was just about to hop into the shower."

Hermione frowned. He sounded perfectly normal. She supposed that his paramour was now Apparating or flooing away from their bedroom. She was suddenly filled with a renewed surge of fury. She expected him to sound panicked or something, but here he was, acting like it was any other day and that she hadn't just been within an inch of catching him cheating on her. With a sinking feeling, Hermione wondered how many other times she had come close to discovering him. She felt like she had been blindfolded for most of their marriage and was only now seeing through the thin gauzy fabric.

"Hi," she said, proud to notice her voice didn't break or catch. "I just came in to get a coat." She strode purposefully towards their bedroom and right past Ron.

Hermione couldn't help sniffing as she entered the bedroom but she couldn't detect any smell out of the ordinary. She wondered how many times this had happened in their bedroom.

"Working late?" Ron said, sounding sympathetic. His arms wrapped around her from behind and he kissed the nape of her neck.

Hermione stiffened.

"Are you alright, honey?" he asked.

"Fine," she forced out, making herself sound cheerful. It seemed like it was a lifetime ago that she was standing out on their doormat thinking about how good their marriage was. She had the feeling that she should confront him about his cheating, but she just couldn't bring herself to. It was too painful. Too fresh. She knew she couldn't be calm and Hermione prided herself on being able to remain calm in the most stressful of situations. "I need to visit one of my clients. I won't be back till late tonight."

"Oh, that's too bad," Ron said.

She frowned. Was that a note of relief in his voice? She supposed it was. Doubtless he wanted to get back to that girl. She wondered who it was. Did she know the girl? Was it one of their classmates back at Hogwarts?

Hermione realised she needed to get out of there quickly or she would snap and punch Ron. "I need to go," she said abruptly, reaching into the closet for her coat. She pushed pass Ron and strode to the door of the apartment. "I'll see you later."

"Bye, sweetheart."

Hermione wanted to strangle him. He was still using endearments now? The rational part of her mind realised that he didn't know that she knew about the affair, but she was still so angry.

Standing outside their apartment, she leaned against the wall and took a few deep breaths. For the first time in years, Hermione didn't know what to do or where to go.

-***-

"I'll have a -" Hermione scanned the row of bottles behind the bartender, "… uh… just give me something and make it a double shot."

The bartender gave her a sympathetic look. "Man troubles?" he asked.

Hermione shrugged. She didn't want to tell a stranger that her marriage was falling apart. Especially since she was in a Muggle pub. One of her co-workers had suggested this place, at one stage, as a nice place to go after work but Hermione had been too busy. She had wanted to get home to cook dinner for Ron. Her stomach soured at that thought now. "Something like that," she said.

"Here you go," the bartender handed her an amber liquid. "Double scotch."

She slid him a twenty and stared at her drink. She barely noticed when he handed her the change. Normally, she didn't drink hard liquor. In fact, she barely drank at all. Perhaps, a glass of mulled wine at Christmas with the Weasleys and a glass of wine at celebrations, but that was all.

Oh well, Hermione thought as she picked up the glass. She sniffed it cautiously. It didn't smell terribly bad to her, but she suspected it would taste worse. She was going to sip it slowly but she was struck again by the image of Ron's arms around another woman.

Hermione lifted up her glass and downed the entire contents. She wrinkled her nose. The damn stuff burned as it went down her throat. The aftertaste wasn't bad though. Perhaps she could get used to liquor.

She waved at the bartender. "I'll have another." She could feel a flush on her cheeks. Whenever she drank, she ended up turning beet red.

He raised an eyebrow at her. "If you're sure." She gave him the money and he slid another shot over to her.

Hermione studied her second scotch and was about to down the contents when somebody made a surprised noise behind her. She turned around and almost fell off her chair.

"Easy, Granger," the person said. An arm steadied her.

Hermione pulled herself back up onto the chair. She was slightly ashamed. She had only had one drink – well two drinks, her mind told herself. Looking up, she focused on the person who had grabbed her arm. "Draco Malfoy!" she exclaimed.

He gave her a wry smile. "The one and only."

Hermione studied him. He had gotten handsomer over the past few years and the nasty look in his eyes had gone. Even his face had become less pointed. She suspected that if she were single – which, a nasty voice in her head reminded her, was likely to happen soon – and she didn't know him, she would be rather attracted to that f ace.

Suddenly, she noticed that a woman was standing beside him. That must be Astoria Malfoy, she thought. Harry had told her about Draco's wife. Harry had always said that Draco seemed somewhat nicer than he was at Hogwarts, but she had never believed him. Or rather, Ron had never believed him. Hermione was always ready to give people the benefit of the doubt, but her husband maintained that Draco Malfoy would never change.

"I'm Astoria Malfoy," the woman said, confirming Hermione's thoughts, as she extended out one perfectly manicured hand for Hermione to shake.

"Hermione … Weasley," Hermione said and smiled back. She suspected from the look in Astoria's eyes that the smile came out slightly twisted. "I knew Draco back at Hogwarts."

"Oh yes," Astoria said as she sat down on the barstool next to Hermione. "He's mentioned you. You were friends with Harry Potter, were you not?"

Hermione nodded.

Draco seemed to be studying her intently. "This might be irretrievably rude of me, but what are you doing here?"

Hermione seethed inwardly. She knew that it wasn't such a ridiculous question. After all, it wasn't exactly the nicest Muggle pub out there and she was drinking alone. "What are you doing here?" she retorted. She winced slightly at how that came out.

"We were walking past. Draco was taking me to one of our favourite Muggle restaurants and then he thought he recognised you in here. I thought we should come in and say hello since our reservation wasn't for another half hour," Astoria explained with an easy smile.

Hermione wondered wryly whether Astoria was always so nice. It explained Draco's miraculous turn-about after Hogwarts, anyway. "I'm drinking," she said flatly. Even though Astoria Malfoy was being surprisingly nice and even Draco Malfoy was being less of a jerk than she remembered, she still didn't want to tell them anything.

Draco looked like he was trying to make up his mind about whether to say something or not. "Are you having problems with Weasley?" he finally asked.

Astoria poked her husband in the ribs. "It's none of our business," she muttered out of the corner of her mouth.

"That's right," Hermione said firmly. "It is none of your business. I hope you have a wonderful dinner. Please leave me alone."

Still Draco didn't leave. Even after Astoria kept a firm hold on his arm and tried to drag him away, he stayed. "Astoria," he said quietly. "Can you leave us for a minute?"

Astoria raised a perfectly manicured eyebrow. "I suppose," she said. "I need to use the ladies room anyway. I'll be right back." She turned and walked away but not before shooting Hermione a quizzical look.

Hermione frowned.

"I need to tell you something," Draco said. "Alone. I didn't want Astoria to know."

Hermione stared. Was he going to tell her that he had been in love with her ever since Hogwarts or something? She didn't think so, but given her recent revelation about Ron nothing would surprise her.

"I know about Weasley's affair," he said.

Hermione brought her scotch glass down on the bar with a crash. Other patrons glared at her. "What?" she said, just a touch louder than she meant.

"It was…" Draco hesitated. "I was working on a case with Harry. We saw Ron outside talking to… someone. It was apparent that they were … intimate. Harry told me not to say anything."

Hermione had to take several deep breaths before she could speak properly and calmly. "Why the fuck didn't you tell me?" she spat out.

Draco looked sincerely apologetic. "I'm sorry, but I barely knew you at Hogwarts and what I did know of you… well… I spent my time insulting you and your friends. I didn't think you'd listen."

Hermione had to admit that he was right. If Draco Malfoy had come to her before tonight, she wouldn't have believed him. Hell, even if he had evidence, physical evidence, she still probably wouldn't have believed him. After all, Draco had obviously hated her at school. He had called her Mudblood countless times. She would have just thought that he was trying to destroy her happy marriage. "Why are you telling me now?" she said, her voice trembling just slightly. Her stomach was feeling queasy and suddenly Hermione had the urge to throw up.

"I thought it was the right thing," Draco said, looking like he was now regretting saying anything. "I'm sorry." He hesitated. "Look, if you ever need anything… If you ever need help or anything, come to me or Astoria. She'll help. She doesn't know anything, but she's the sweetest person."

Hermione didn't know what to say. This was Draco Malfoy. Her nemesis from school, and he was offering help? It was as though the world had been turned upside down. It was ridiculous. A thought suddenly occurred to her. "Why didn't Harry tell me?"

Draco opened his mouth but at that moment Astoria came back from the bathroom.

"We'd better go," she said apologetically and smiled at Hermione. "Or we'll miss our reservation. Hopefully we'll see you again." She turned to her husband. "We'll have to invite Hermione over for dinner sometime."

"Sounds good," Draco said blandly.

Hermione watched silently as they left.

-***-

"You're a bastard," Hermione snapped. It was the next morning and she had decided to talk to Harry. She sat back on her heels and glared into her fireplace. She knew that he usually got up early. Briefly, she wondered whether Ginny knew of Ron's affair but decided she didn't really care. The bastard was going to pay. Not just because of the affair. Of course, she was furious about that. The image of Ron sleeping with another woman had haunted her the entire night. But that wasn't the bit that rankled the most. It was the attitude he had displayed when she was eavesdropping on him.

Harry looked quizzically at her, his hair obviously rumpled from sleep. "Are you okay?"

"I know about Ron," Hermione said coldly.

She watched as puzzlement, shock, fear and then finally sadness went over Harry's features. He was never very good at keeping his emotions to himself, she thought grimly. Then she rethought. Obviously he had managed to hide Ron's affair from her. Perhaps Harry was better at lying than she thought.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you," Harry began.

She interrupted him. "I don't want to hear your excuses. Is Ginny there? Does she know?"

Harry looked at her in surprise. "No she's not. She had to go to work early. And she doesn't know. I'm sorry. Ron made me promise…"

She laughed, the sound sounding harsh even to her own years. "Do you realise how ridiculous you sound, Harry?" she snapped. "I was your friend, Harry. What the fuck do you think friendship means? You tell your friends these things. I would have told you if Ginny was sleeping around. I suppose I should be grateful you didn't tell her. Least my marriage wasn't pillow talk for you."

He just stared at her, blinking silently. She resisted the urge to Floo over and punch him in the face. She grabbed her wand and waved it over her fire, watching as Harry's head disappeared.

Hermione sat down heavily on the floor. She knew she was being slightly harsh towards Harry. Sure he should have told her, but knowing Harry he was too scared of hurting her feelings. He must have thought that it was just a one-off thing or something like that. It didn't make the fact he didn't tell her any more right, but it was at least understandable. Besides, it was Ron who had done this to her. Not Harry. As far as she knew, Harry's marriage was perfect.

Her lip trembled. Before last night, her marriage was perfect too. She stared around the bedroom her and Ron shared. Her side of the bed was neat as a pin while his side was rumpled. She had gotten home late the night before and slipped silently into bed beside him. She had ignored his attempts to reach for her under the blanket and had pretended to be asleep. This morning when she had woken up, Ron was gone.

He had left her an apologetic note about having to work on the weekend. The note promised to make it up to her later.

Her lips twisted into a mockery of a smile. No doubt he was fucking the other woman right now.

Hermione fiddled with the hem of her nightgown. She hadn't a clue what to do today. And she was beginning to feel a slight hangover. A part of her wanted to just go and down the red wine in their pantry. They had been saving it for a special occasion.

Well, this is special enough, Hermione thought grimly. She wondered whether Harry would tell Ron about their conversation. With thought, she decided that he probably wouldn't. Harry wasn't like that. He thought people would be better off working out their problems by themselves.

She thought back to the previous night. She now regretted not trying to get to know Draco and Astoria better in the previous few years. Obviously she still had the image of Draco as a spoiled brat. He had been during all their years at Hogwarts, after all. But last night had brought it across very strongly that Draco had changed.

Hermione bit her lip. She didn't want to just go over to Malfoy Manor unannounced though, despite what he said.

She frowned and went over to her filing cabinet she kept in their bedroom. Ron had always hated the fact that she brought her work to bed with her. Rifling through it, Hermione found the file she wanted. It seemed that Lucius Malfoy was due for parole in a few weeks, but there were certain factions in the Wizengamot who wanted him to serve out his full ten year sentence in Azkaban.

Even before last night, Hermione had had reservations about that. To her, it seemed as though Lucius Malfoy was just going to stay in Azkaban, without a proper hearing. As much as she detested the man, she felt like he deserved proper justice just like everybody else. Over the past few years, in her work, she was beginning to suspect that the Coventry Trials of the prisoners of the Second Voldemort War were a huge farce. None of the Death Eaters had adequate representation and all were sentenced to more than ten years in Azkaban.

Hermione had to admit that Azkaban was nicer now. Well as nice as a prison could be. Least it didn't have Dementors any more.

And they were all Death Eaters. Proven Death Eaters from the Dark Marks on their left forearms. But the Coventry Trials still left a sour taste in her mouth.

She bit down on her bottom lip until she tasted blood. Over the past few years, she had more than adequate experience in defending people against the injustices in the wizarding world. She had heard people call her a crusader for justice and some not-so-nice names.

"I'll do it," she said suddenly, her voice sounding funny in the empty bedroom.

She knew that Lucius Malfoy didn't have representation for his parole hearing. I am campaigning for rights for everybody, she thought grimly. Everybody includes ex-Death Eaters. Besides, she wanted to do something different for once.

With a wry smile, Hermione realised that this had started off as being a ploy to go over and talk to Draco Malfoy. She didn't feel like she could go to anybody else. For one thing, everybody else knew Ron and would probably tell him that she knew about his affair. She just wasn't ready to have that conversation yet.

As much as she still wanted to talk to Draco, Hermione realised – with surprise – that she wanted to act as Lucius Malfoy's counsel as well. It was the right thing to do; she knew it.

-***-

Draco Malfoy looked nowhere near as friendly as he had done the night before. In fact, when Hermione had brought up defending his father, he had looked downright hostile. "Why?" he had asked bluntly.

Hermione frowned. Why indeed? "Because it's the right thing to do," she said slowly. She was aware that she had to tread carefully and that one wrong word would land her in Draco's bad graces forever. She cursed inwardly for not treading more carefully. She should have known that the man would have been protective of his father. The Malfoys were always an insular family.

He raised an eyebrow at her. "Are you sure this isn't a way to get back at your husband?"

Hermione bit her lip. What could she say to that? Finally, she settled on the truth. "That is part of it."

Draco scraped back his chair and stood up. "I've heard enough," he said coldly. "You're getting nowhere near any member of my family. And I retract what I said last night. It was obviously out of misplaced sympathy."

Hermione gritted her teeth and resisted the urge to punch him in the nose. "You didn't let me finish," she said. "It would give me utmost pleasure to represent your father to spite Ron, but once I thought about it more, I realised that your father needs representation. I seem to be the only person offering it. You know my work. You know I can do this, and do it fairly. I'm not asking you to trust me, just to believe me!"

He tilted his head to one side and regarded her through lidded grey eyes. "The final decision lies with my father."

Hermione gave an inward cry of exultation.

A faint smile appeared on Draco's face. "Don't judge me harshly for loving my father, Hermione."

Hermione decided not to give a litany of reasons why Lucius Malfoy was not a lovable person. Undoubtedly, Draco had heard them all before. "I suppose," she said slowly, "that we do not choose our family."

-***-

Hermione wasn't sure why, but she dressed very carefully for her visit to Azkaban. She had spent a long time staring at her meagre wardrobe and had finally decided on Muggle business attire. It wouldn't hurt the case of Lucius – she had decided that if she was going to represent him, she might as well call him by his given name – if his defendant was dressed in Muggle clothing. Obviously, for the trial itself she had to wear robes, but first impressions mattered.

There was no Apparation onto the island, so Hermione walked over from the nearest Apparation Point, which was a good half a kilometre away. They certainly don't encourage people to visit, Hermione thought grumpily as she walked. She could feel a blister forming on her heel.

Finally, as she walked up a hill, she saw the first view of the island. It wasn't as breathtaking as the view of Hogwarts from the train. In fact, it wasn't even memorable. Over a short stretch of water, upon which dubious looking Muggle-style boats were bobbing, she could see several long, low buildings with bars on the windows.

The place strummed with magic. Hermione could feel it from here. Obviously, after the escape of Sirius Black, they had upped the security. Now, not only were there spells on prisoners from stepping a foot off the island, but there were also spells on the cells themselves and on the prison buildings. They were taking no chances, especially since the Dementors were no longer here.

Personally, Hermione was glad the Dementors weren't here any more. Like everybody else, she was terrified of the creatures. She could perform a reasonably good Expecto Patronum but she didn't want to have to.

Now, Azkaban – like the other wizarding prisons – was staffed by witches and wizards – mostly wizards. There was somebody waiting for her by the dock; a tall, brown, lean, weather-beaten man. He looked her up and down, from her fussy collared shirt, to her low heels and raised an eyebrow.

"My name is Hermione Granger," she said crisply, ignoring his look and extending her hand. It was half a second before she realised that she had given him her maiden name.

After a moment's hesitation, he took it. "The name's Joshua," he said, his voice a slow drawl. "Now, miss, are you here to visit a prisoner?"

"I am here to speak to my client," Hermione fibbed. She crossed her fingers behind her back. Hopefully after this session, it would be the truth. If it wasn't, then she had no more reason to come back here anyway.

He smiled at her and she could tell that he found her attractive. Almost unconsciously, she moved her left hand so that her wedding ring flashed in the sunlight. Immediately, Joshua's expression became businesslike. "So who is this client of yours?"

"Lucius Malfoy."

She almost enjoyed the shocked expression on his face.

-***-

Lucius Malfoy looked almost normal except for his bright orange prison scrubs. Hermione couldn't help but observing that orange was definitely not his colour. The uniforms of the prisoners had been changed along with other drastic changes to the running of Azkaban. It was apparent that with the lack of Dementors, Azkaban had become a far more humane place. Out of the corner of her eyes, she could see other prisoners. All of them had a slightly gaunt look, but none of them looked as haunted as Sirius did.

"You don't look surprised," Hermione observed.

"My son warned me that you might visit," Lucius said. His voice was dry and raspy. Hermione guessed that he didn't have much of a chance to use it. Azkaban still kept all of their prisoners in solitary confinement.

"Then he would have told you that I wish to represent you at your appeal," she said, slightly flummoxed by the intense look in his eyes. It wasn't just directed to her. Whenever somebody walked past, Lucius would stare at them intensely. She wondered whether it was some sort of side effect of being in solitary.

"He did, indeed," Lucius said.

Hermione stared at him for a few seconds, waiting for him to respond. When she finally realised that he wouldn't, she prompted him. "Well? Do you want my representation?" She had decided to be blunt. "I'm the best chance you have. Without representation, you are no doubt going to spend the rest of your prison sentence here and that's another ten long years."

He tilted his head to one side and looked at her through his eyelashes. Hermione had wondered where Draco had gotten that mannerism from and here was her answer. "And what prompted this altruism?"

"I believe that everybody should get the best possible representation," she said.

A harsh sound erupted out of his mouth. Lucius coughed a few times and she suddenly realised that he was laughing. "If you truly believed that, girl, you would have been in here long ago representing every other lost soul, every other Death Eater."

Hermione gave herself a mental kick. She knew that Lucius Malfoy was smart. Why hadn't she come up with a better lie? "It's part of the reason."

"No doubt," he said. A slow smile curved his lips. "No doubt you're doing this as revenge against somebody. Revenge against somebody who has hurt you. You have a deep sense of fairness and that is why you've chosen to represent somebody. You've chosen to represent me because that will hurt somebody."

Hermione felt cold all over. "Well," she said icily, "I'm glad Draco has informed you."

Lucius shook his head. "My son has told me nothing. You… you're one of those Mu… Muggleborns who have their inner feelings written all over their face."

"Why don't you just say Mudblood?" she snapped. "It doesn't bother me." Actually, Hermione reflected, that was the truth. The expletive annoyed her, but it didn't hurt her. Ron had always reacted so angrily and instinctively towards the word that Hermione had always felt indignant. But it was more on his behalf. She supposed it was a result of not having grown up with the term. It was like trying to swear in another language. A thousand 'Merdes' didn't have the same feeling as a 'shit' to her.

"I am led to believe that it is not politically expedient to say that word," Lucius said mildly, so mildly that for the second time in so many days, Hermione felt the urge to punch somebody.

"So?" she snapped. "Do you wish for me to represent you?"

He laughed again. "Be kinder to your client, Hermione, or you might give the impression that you're working for the opposition."

It took Hermione half a second to realise that, in his own way, Lucius had just let her know that she was now representing him.

-***-

It took Ron three days to realise that she was no longer working on the rights of under-represented magical creatures. Three days, where Hermione could barely stand the sight of her husband. The previous night, he had tried to put an arm around her in bed and she had stiffened immediately. The arm had retreated and she breathed a sigh of relief. It was three days where she was wondering whether either Harry or Draco would inform Ron of her knowledge. Three days where she was wondering whether Ron would simply leave her right then and there.

A part of Hermione told her that she was simply being vindictive. The sensible, mature thing to do would be to confront Ron. To divide their assets. To leave. To get divorced.

But she was beyond being sensible.

Ron had lost the right to a wife who reacted sensibly when he screwed that unknown woman in their bed, she thought furiously.

Ron came home that evening and she could immediately tell that he was angry. He slammed the door on the way in.

"Good evening, Ron," she said pleasantly. "Did you have a good day at the office?"

He glared at her and she felt a shiver of fear slide down her back. It was not a pleasant expression in her husband's eyes. Ron came up beside her and slammed a fist into the table. It shook. "Why didn't you tell me?" he demanded.

"Tell you what?" Hermione asked, widening her eyes. She had been wondering how long it would take Ron to realise that she was now representing Lucius Malfoy.

"You're representing that dirty ratbag scum!" he snapped. Spittle flew from the corners of his lips. "How could you? You know he's a convicted Death Eater. Don't you remember what Draco Malfoy called you at school? His father deserves to rot in Azkaban for the rest of his life for that! But here you are, representing the scum!"

"Everybody deserves fair representation," Hermione said evenly. It took all of her energy to remain seated and to keep a calm expression on her face. She wanted to slap Ron. She wanted to cry and ask what she did wrong. She wanted to demand who the woman was so that she could go and gouge her eyes out. Hermione had always thought that if anything like this happened that she wouldn't blame the other woman. She now thought differently. She would give anything to watch the husband-stealing bitch tremble. "Lucius Malfoy has as much of a right as you or me."

Ron sneered, the expression twisting his normally handsome features. "That bastard deserves nothing!" His expression changed and he laid a hand on her arm. She tried not to flinch. "Hermione, sweetheart," he said in a voice that trembled slightly, "don't you see? He doesn't deserve representation. He doesn't deserve somebody like you – beautiful, kind, smart – to argue his case. Why are you doing this anyway?"

She pushed her chair back with a scrape. How dare Ron say those things about her when she knew that he was sleeping with another woman? In the back of her mind, Hermione knew that Ron didn't realise that she knew, but it still didn't make her feel any better. Her voice, when she spoke, was frosty. "It's the right thing to do."

-***-

Hermione hadn't realised how difficult working on Lucius' appeal would be. Over the past few days, she had spent almost every spare minute on his appeal. She was determined that despite how despicable the man was, that she was going to give him the best possible representation.

She had never gotten a chance to talk to Draco about Ron, after all, but Hermione found herself telling Lucius the story. To her surprise, he had simply nodded and listened. It was more than she could have expected.

She had also been arriving home at odd hours, almost hoping to catch Ron in the act again, hoping to be able to catch more snippets of the conversation to figure out who the woman was. But it seemed as though Ron was being more careful. Probably last week had been too much of a close call for him.

"You don't have much of a case," Lucius observed one day as they were sitting in a meeting room in Azkaban.

She glared at him. "Well," she said tartly, "that's your fault, isn't it? It would make my job much easier if you were innocent!"

He snorted. "If you were a good enough defendant, then it wouldn't matter."

Hermione folded her hands on the table and then quickly snatched them up again. The table was somewhat sticky. She grimaced and wiped her fingers on her skirt. She didn't want to touch some unknown fluid in Azkaban. "Our case," she said quietly, "will focus on the fact you have changed. You regret your service to Voldemort. You regret torturing and killing in his name. You extend your deepest sympathies to the families of those you hurt. Prison has shown you the error of your ways. You've changed."

"I certainly have," Lucius said.

She stared at him in surprise. She didn't really believe that he had changed or reformed or however she was going to put it to the courts. She didn't believe that he regretted his past actions. She did however, believe that he wouldn't go around and commit any future atrocities. Lucius Malfoy was nothing if not a pragmatist. It was now no longer politically expedient for him to murder Muggle-borns. Therefore, he wouldn't. She wouldn't be defending him if she truly believed that he was going to be a threat to society. However, Hermione knew instinctively that the courts wouldn't accept that kind of argument.

"I hired you, didn't I?" Lucius gave her the ghost of a smile.

Hermione couldn't help but smile back. Whoever knew that Lucius Malfoy had a sense of humour, however slight, that didn't involve killing Muggle-borns? She was quite enjoying her meetings with him. There was a quick adaptable wit behind those grey eyes. Plus, she admitted, the man was quite handsome for his age. Even Azkaban hadn't seemed to give him the shrunken appearance of the other prisoners. She had asked him about it and Lucius had admitted to spending hours in his cell keeping up his muscle mass.

"So," she said briskly, looking down at her papers, "you should probably write letters to the families of everybody you remember… hurting."

He raised an eyebrow at her.

"It corroborates our story that you have reformed and are truly sorry for your actions," she reminded him, slightly impatiently. Hermione was somewhat surprised that she had an aptitude for this kind of work.

"You know," Lucius said slowly, "you would make a good Slytherin. If you weren't Muggle-born."

She rolled her eyes. "Concentrate on your case, Lucius," she said good-naturedly. "Now you should write letters to all of them. Expressing your sympathy. But don't ham it up too much."

He nodded. "You'll deliver them?"

Hermione was pleased that he had caught on to her idea. Most prisoners had no access to mail or anything like that. They would have an extra year added to their sentence if they were caught communicating with anybody from the outside world except their attorney. She thought that it would play in Lucius' favour if he sent the letters. The families might be swayed in their favour if they realised that Lucius was risking his own term in prison by sending the letters.

Of course, they could always report both her and Lucius for the letters, however, Hermione had read up on the regulations enough to know that the punishment for her would be a slap on the wrist. Lucius was right, she realised with surprise, I would have made a good Slytherin.

She was glad that Lucius didn't quibble about the possible extra jail time.

To her surprise, she found herself enjoying his company quite a lot.

-***-

"You're sleeping with him, aren't you?" Ron snapped one night as Hermione was eating her dinner quietly over the dining room table.

She choked on her roast beef. "Sleeping with who?" she demanded, feeling like she was living in some sort of dream world. Shouldn't I be asking him that?

Ron's upper lip curled. "Lucius Malfoy, that's who!"

Hermione burst out laughing. Out of everybody Ron could have mentioned, the last person on her mind would have been Lucius Malfoy. "Don't be ridiculous," she managed to get out between peals of semi-hysterical laughter.

He frowned. "I'm not joking," he said thorough gritted teeth. "You come home every day with a glowing expression. It's…" he hesitated. "It's like the look you had when we first got married." Ron knelt down beside Hermione and took her hand. "Hermione, sweetheart. I miss that look."

She yanked her hand away from him, ignoring the hurt look in Ron's eyes. "You're being idiotic," she said flatly. She stood up and took her plate to the sink. "I'm going to read a book in bed. Feel free to join me when you're no longer imagining things."

As she got ready for bed, Hermione frowned. She knew that she didn't like Lucius that way. It was ridiculous. If she was coming home looking happier for the past few days it was because she was enjoying the challenge of representing Lucius. Plus, she admitted, Lucius was a good conversationalist. She had forgotten how much she loved a good debate. Whenever she tried to talk with Ron, it either turned into a talk about normal household matters, or a talk about Quidditch. While she didn't mind Quidditch, she certainly didn't enjoy it as much as Ron did.

She bit her lip. Where had her marriage gone? Even without Ron's infidelities, she suddenly realised that she didn't have the kind of marriage she had always wanted.

At Hogwarts, Harry had always been a barrier between them. Whenever she and Ron had a spat, Harry was always there to calm both of them down and to be the voice of reason. It had always been easy for both of them to talk to Harry. But once they had gotten married and the first flush of young love had died away… Hermione felt a tear trickle down her cheek. Their marriage had grown tired and old.

Still, she thought, gritting her teeth, it didn't excuse Ron's actions. They could have worked it out.

Another part of her mind questioned the validity of that statement. Could they have worked it out? Or were they simply too different now? Perhaps Harry, their friendship and the trio had been all that kept them together. They had all grown up now and everything was different.

Hermione knew that Harry and Ginny had a happy marriage. It was obvious whenever anybody looked at the couple or whenever they saw the sparkle in either of their eyes when they talked about the other. When was the last time Ron's eyes sparkled like that when he thought of me? Hermione's bottom lip trembled.

She knew she was starting to feel sorry for herself and she hated it. She knew that it had been a long time since her own eyes had sparkled when thinking of her husband. She had thought that it was just a normal stage that marriages went through, but now, Hermione felt deep down that it most definitely wasn't normal.

Burying her face in her pillow, Hermione started crying in earnest.

-***-

"How's the appeal going?" Draco asked.

Hermione looked up from her delicious meal. Draco had invited her over to have dinner with his wife. She suspected it was partly a gesture to thank her for taking on his father's case, partly a way of checking up on her and partly probably for some private reason known only to Draco. "It's going fine," she said politely. She really didn't feel comfortable at the long dinner table that was set only for three people.

"How are you getting along with my father?"

Hermione frowned. Was that a sly tone she heard in his voice? "We have a perfectly acceptable working relationship," she said stiffly.

Astoria leaned over, smiling. "I'm so glad you've chosen to take on his case." Her hand went protectively to her stomach. "We're expecting our first child and I would like to have my father in law home when the child is born."

Hermione blinked. "Congratulations," she said faintly while both Astoria and Draco looked at each other in a way that was vaguely sickening to her.

-***-

They were having a break in their work on the appeal. Hermione had sat back on her chair and was nursing a flask of coffee she had brought with her. She made a face when she tasted it. "Damn it," she muttered, "I wish they let us bring our wands in here."

"They're afraid I'll use it to hold you hostage," Lucius pointed out.

She rolled her eyes. "If you can even use it. It's not like a gun. My wand's attuned to me."

He shrugged. "It's still possible, you know that."

"More than likely you'll end up arse-over-teakettle," she said crossly as she drank her cold coffee.

He chuckled and nodded. "I concede that's more likely to happen than not, but I do think you're underestimating my skills with a wand."

She stared at him and raised an eyebrow. Was Lucius Malfoy coming on to her? Hermione worried her bottom lip for a second before deciding that she was being ridiculous.

"What are you smiling about?"

"I was just thinking," Hermione said. "Ron seems to believe that we're having some sort of sordid affair. I could have sworn your son hinted the same thing. And just then, I thought you were flirting with me." She gave a self-deprecating laugh. "But that's just ridiculous."

"Of course." His tone was perfectly even.

Hermione looked up at him. She was noting the orange prison scrubs less and less nowadays. Lucius was staring at her with an intense look in his eyes. "It is ridiculous, isn't it?" she repeated.

"I said of course," he said sharply.

Hermione nodded and turned back to her work. She rubbed her hands together briskly, not knowing why she suddenly felt like she had lost something important.

-***-

Hermione swallowed. Now that she was standing outside the chambers of the Wizengamot, she suddenly felt nervous. She could feel her hands sweating but she didn't want to rub them on her new robes, for fear of staining them.

Behind her, Lucius whispered, "You look like you're the one on trial. It's only a bench of five members. Relax."

Hermione snorted. She would have never imagined it a few weeks ago that Lucius Malfoy would be trying to comfort her at all. She knew that it was only because she was representing him but she oddly felt better. She needed to win this case. The rest of her life seemed to be falling apart. She hadn't talked to Harry in weeks. The last time she saw Ginny, the conversation had been so stilted that Hermione hadn't wanted to floo her friend after that. As for Ron. Well… Hermione shook her head. She didn't want to think about Ron. For all she knew, he was screwing his mistress right now.

She turned around and looked at Lucius. Today was the first time he was dressed in anything other than prison scrubs. She had to admit that he looked good in his robes. They probably weren't the kind he was used to. She had bought them for him. "You need to look presentable," she had insisted. He had given the robes a looking over. "Just put them on," she had ordered him.

In those robes, Lucius looked distinguished, intelligent and like a productive member of society. My job done, Hermione thought in satisfaction.

The door in front of them opened. She took a deep breath and walked in, Lucius a half-step behind her.

She strode across the room, careful to keep her steps even and to look forward and to seem professional. She looked up at the bench and was disappointed she didn't even recognise any of the members.

"Hermione Weasley representing Lucius Malfoy," one of the judges read off a piece of paper in a drone. He looked sternly down at her and she felt like sinking into the floor. "Lucius Malfoy, you were charged with more than three counts of murder as well as serving Tom Marvolo Riddle, known to his followers as Lord Voldemort. The original court was more than lenient with your punishment. Tell me now why we should shorten their sentence?"

"Your honour," Hermione said politely. "My client has been a model prisoner." She was starting to feel better now. She was prepared. She knew her material.

Beside her, Lucius was nodding and looking serious.

Hermione mentally crossed her fingers and launched into her appeal.

-***-

"So?" Ron demanded when she got home. "What happened?"

Hermione smiled. "We won."

Ron goggled at her. "Are you telling me that five, sane, non-bewitched members of the Wizengamot voted to suspend the rest of Lucius Malfoy's sentence?"

"Got it in one," she said serenely. Secretly, Hermione was enjoying the expression on Ron's face. "As I said, we won."

He spluttered. "How could you do that?" Ron cried. "You know how dangerous that man is! He'll be killing other Muggle-borns within the month, I promise! How could you do this?"

Hermione whirled around and glared at her husband. She was enjoying the victory. She had been planning to file for divorce quietly in the next week or so, citing irreconcilable differences. Surely given what she had heard Ron say, he wouldn't contest it. But she suddenly couldn't stand it any longer. She couldn't stand Ron's sanctimonious bullshit! "How could I do this?" she said coldly. "How could you cheat on me?"

Ron's mouth fell open.

"Yes, Ron," she snapped. "I know."

"But…" he managed to get out. "How?"

"I came in a few weeks ago. I heard you," Hermione said. "Don't worry," she got out through gritted teeth, "I won't hurt you. Or her, whoever she is. I wish both of you a happy life."

Ron seemed incapable of coherent speech. "Whu… at?"

"I'm filing for divorce next week," Hermione said simply.

"You can't do that!" he burst out.

Hermione lifted up an eyebrow. She had imagined this day for the past few weeks. She had seen a million different scenarios in her head, but she had never imagined this one.

"She didn't mean anything!" Ron babbled. "I'm serious. I love you, Hermione. We can work it out."

Hermione could feel the blood freezing in her veins. "Ronald Bilius Weasley, you fucked this woman in our bed," she ground out. "You told her you loved her. You told her you wanted to leave me. You promised her you'd leave me." A part of Hermione's mind noticed the irony of the situation that she was arguing for the other woman, but she ignored it. "And now you're breaking the promise to her?"

"I lied!" Ron burst out. "You … we hadn't talked properly in months. We never had sex any more!"

"So this was all about sex?" she said icily.

"Ye… no!"

"Then, pray, Ron, what was it about?"

He looked down at the floor miserably. "I don't know," he muttered.

"Oh, that's precious," she snapped. "Ron, you don't know how you managed to fuck up our marriage enough to sleep with another woman. God knows it's not a perfect marriage but we could have worked it out."

A light suddenly appeared in his eyes. "Was this why you wanted to take the case?"

She stared at him.

"The Lucius Malfoy case," Ron said, sounding eager, "you wanted to get back at me."

She shook her head. The idiot actually sounded happy that she had been so vindictive. "I started because of that," she admitted, "but also because I wanted to."

"So you have been sleeping with him!" Ron accused.

Hermione glared at him. "You, Ron, are the only person who has been sleeping with anybody else during our marriage."

At least, she thought, he managed to look ashamed. She thought she saw a flicker of surprise through Ron's eyes. Perhaps, he had expected her to demand the identity of the other woman. Well, she wasn't going to give him the satisfaction!

"Our marriage is over," she said quietly. "I think it's been over a long time. I trust you won't contest the divorce?"

Without waiting for his response, Hermione left the room, feeling oddly relieved.

-***-

"He's devastated," Harry said with a note of pleading his voice. "Hermione, won't you speak to him?"

"Don't be ridiculous," she said. "That chapter of my life… it's over. I filed the papers at the Ministry this afternoon." A thought entered her head. "He isn't going to try to drag this through the Wizengamot, is he?"

Harry shook his head. "I don't think so. But he really wants to talk to you. To explain."

"I don't need explanations," she said angrily. "I want the last few years of my life back!" In the back of her mind, Hermione cringed at how melodramatic she was sounding. She studied the pale skin on her left ring finger and wondered how long it would take for it to darken to her normal skin colour again.

Harry sighed. "I'm worried about you."

"Don't," she said, a note of finality entering her voice. "I'll talk to you later, Harry. I'm going over to Draco's. They invited me over for dinner to celebrate."

"That's why I'm worried," Harry protested. "I was fine with you taking on the case. I know how much you believe in a fair trial. That's okay. But now you seem to be becoming friends with the Malfoys. Hermione. You aren't friends with them, are you?"

"You were the one who told me that Draco had changed," she pointed out, her voice trembling.

"I said that he wasn't as much of a bastard now as he was when we were in Hogwarts! That didn't mean you had to go and become his new best friend. Draco's bad enough, but now you seem chummy with Lucius Malfoy too!"

Hermione gritted her teeth. "Even if I were friends with Lucius, you have no right to dictate my friends." She was starting to be really angry at Harry. She knew that he had her best interests in mind, but deep down she still hadn't forgiven him for not telling her about Ron's affair. And frankly, his attitude was just pissing her off immensely.

"And you call him Lucius!"

"That is his name, isn't it?" she said frostily. "Anyway, I must be off now." Without waiting for a reply, Hermione tossed a cup of water on the fire and watched the steam rise from the hot coals. She had the bedroom to herself now ever since Ron had moved out a few days before. Closing her eyes for a second, Hermione decided to not think about the floo conversation.

Getting up from her keeling position, Hermione walked over to her closet and stared at her robes. She wasn't sure what she was going to wear to the Malfoys. She knew that it didn't matter and it was a celebration. She was the reason why Lucius was out of Azkaban. She could have turned up in a burlap sack and Draco would have had to invite her in.

She suppressed a smile. It would have been interesting to turn up in a burlap sack just to see Draco Malfoy's expression.

-***-

Hermione smoothed her satin dress as she stood at the doorstep of Malfoy Manor. She knew she was impeccably dressed. Muggle-style, but she had been told that they were going out to celebrate and she didn't want to wear robes if they ended up in a Muggle establishment. She knew the red sheath clung to her curves, showing them off. She knew she looked fine from when she had looked at herself in her own mirror not ten seconds ago before she Apparated.

Yet, she was nervous. And she didn't know why.

The door opened. "Please, come in," a low voice said.

Hermione blinked. If there was a world of difference between Lucius Malfoy in his prison scrubs and Lucius Malfoy in the robes she had bought him for his trial, there was the same world of difference between those robes and the suit he was wearing now. She was faintly aware that she was probably blushing. "Thank you," she said, in a faint voice as she stepped past Lucius.

"You look lovely," he said from behind her, his breath caressing her neck.

She took an involuntary step forwards and turned around to face him. "Thank you," she said again, feeling like a dolt.

There was a silence.

Hermione frowned. She wasn't sure what to say. It was almost funny. During the appeal process, she was never at a loss for words around Lucius. It was surprising, really, since she had always been almost painfully shy around people for all of her life. Most of the time, even around her best friends, Hermione had to concentrate to ensure that there were no awkward silences. But around Lucius, she always had something to say.

Except, now it was different than when they were in Azkaban. For one thing, Lucius certainly wasn't wearing that outfit in Azkaban. She was painfully aware of her blush. She normally didn't have such a strong attraction towards men. Even her attraction towards Ron had grown gradually out of a friendship. But right now, Hermione was suddenly aware that she hadn't had sex for months.

"I'm glad you chose that outfit," Lucius's words broke into her thoughts. "I have chosen a quaint little Muggle eatery."

She blinked. "You?" she repeated.

"Yes," Lucius said, in mild surprise. "Didn't Draco tell you? Tonight, I will be taking you out to thank you personally." His low voice caressed the words and she shivered.

"I thought Draco and Astoria would be accompanying us," she said.

Lucius shook his head. "I'm afraid you were mistaken. They are having a small party this weekend – to which you are, of course, invited – but tonight is my treat." He held out his arm. "Unless you want to freshen up or anything, shall we be off?"

Hermione took the chance to go to the powder room. Once there, she looked at herself in the mirror. She was flushed, and her eyes were sparkling. If Hermione didn't know better, she would have said her own face was that of a person in love. She shook her head and splashed a little water on her face to compose herself. She was obviously being ridiculous. Sure Lucius was handsome, but he was also a Malfoy! It was hormones, that was all.

It would be rude to leave now. She had to go and have dinner with Lucius. A date, her mind supplied helpfully but she quashed it.

As she emerged, Hermione placed a hand on Lucius's arm. "Let's go," she said.

-***-

Apparently Lucius's idea of a quaint Muggle eatery was a fancy five star restaurant. Hermione was glad that she had dressed for the occasion. The maitre'd had addressed her as his partner and Lucius hadn't corrected the assumption.

As they were handed the menus, Hermione gaped at the prices.

"My assets were unfrozen the minute I left Azkaban," Lucius said calmly. "I could easily afford far more extravagant meals. However, I like this place."

Hermione closed her mouth before her mind decided to offer to pay half the bill. Just half would have been about her monthly salary! "It's beautiful," she said.

His lips quirked. "I have you to thank for being here. I am aware that your work was pro bono, however, I feel that I should repay you."

She blinked. "That's not necessary!" However, she couldn't help wondering what Lucius was offering her. She wasn't poor, but she wasn't wealthy either. She wouldn't mind extra disposable income.

"Nonsense," he said. "I insist that I repay you. I have to admit that was the true reason I invited you out tonight." He leaned in towards her and Hermione almost forgot to breathe. "I'm going to find out how best to repay you."

She leaned back slightly, hoping he wouldn't take offence to that. From the look of amusement in his eyes, she suspected Lucius knew the real reason. "You don't need to repay me," she repeated steadily.

He smirked at her.

-***-

Three hours later, Hermione sat back and stared at the rest of her dessert. Chocolate soufflé with gold leaf. She hadn't even looked at the price but she suspected that it would have been exorbitantly expensive. It was delicious though. There were maybe three mouthfuls left on her plate, but she didn't think she could finish it.

"Thank you for the meal," she said politely.

Hermione looked up at Lucius and suddenly noticed a wicked gleam in his eyes. Their waiter came over to them and Lucius gave him – to her surprise – a Muggle credit card. He came back and Lucius signed the slip.

"I didn't know you had one of those," she commented as they walked out of the restaurant, more to break the silence than out of curiosity.

"There are many things you don't know about me." Lucius' voice was so soft that she had to lean in to hear it.

"What do you mean?" Hermione couldn't help herself asking. She suddenly felt like a spider that had just walked into a web. She looked up and shivered from the heat in his gaze.

Lucius' hand came up and caressed her face. "I think I've just figured it out."

"Figured what out?" she managed to get out in a strangled voice.

"What you want," he murmured and then those lips were down covering her own. Hermione heard a needy sound and suddenly realised that it was coming out of her own throat. Oh God, she felt like ripping off his clothes right then and there in the street. Out of the corner of her eyes, Hermione could see people give them scandalised looks.. She had never, ever felt like that before. His arms encircled her and she was pressed up against his tall lean form.

The rational part of her mind told her she was being ridiculous. She was kissing Lucius Malfoy! It was inconceivable!

Hermione told the rational part of her mind to shut up as she squirmed with exquisite pleasure. She could feel the hardness of his cock pressed against her stomach. With a sudden surge of wetness, Hermione realised how long it was since she'd had sex.

"You're coming home with me." Lucius's voice was a low growl.

Hermione nodded.

-***-

Her mind was fuzzy and her throat felt closed up. Hermione coughed slightly and opened her eyes. Silk sheets, brocade curtains… she definitely wasn't in her own apartment!

Hermione could vaguely remember details of the previous night. She had gone over to Malfoy Manor only to be told by Lucius that Draco and Astoria weren't going to accompany them to dinner. She had gone to Lucius to some five star Muggle restaurant where she was thankful that she was dressed appropriately for the venue. They had an exorbitantly expensive meal.

And then.

Hermione suddenly realised that there was an arm thrown across her waist. She shifted in the bed slightly and looked over.

Lucius Malfoy looked back at her. He reached over and pushed a curl out of her eyes. "Any regrets?" he asked quietly.

Hermione took a deep breath. She had obviously somehow ended up in bed with Lucius Malfoy last night. Lucius Malfoy. A former Death Eater who was only just out of Azkaban. A man who would have gladly murdered her when she was back in Hogwarts.

But still. Lucius was the man she had gotten to know over the past few weeks. Intense. Witty. Intelligent. He had never repented for his actions, regardless of how much they had managed to convince the Wizengamot of that. Yet, she was positive that he would never commit any of those crimes again. She had to admit that it wasn't out of any real moral quibbles on Lucius' behalf but rather because of a political expediency.

"I don't think so," she said slowly. It was true. She was surprised she had ended up here. But she wasn't regretting it.

"Good." He gave her a lazy smile and leaned down to kiss her. Hermione would have turned away (morning breath and all, she thought) but she forgot all about that as she felt his lips. She felt as though she was melting into the bed as he kissed her long and hard.

-***-

Astoria lifted an eyebrow as she saw Hermione exit from Lucius' room. "Did you have a good night?" she enquired politely.

Hermione was positive her face was tomato red. "Yes, thank you." With her face still flaming, she hurried down the stairs and out the door where she could Apparate away back to her own apartment.

Once she was back, she sat down at her dining room table and pressed her face into her hands. It was only a few weeks ago that she had come back that evening and heard Ron and his mistress together. A few short weeks. Yet so much had happened during that time. She had decided to represent Lucius. She had discovered… almost a kindred spirit, she had to admit, in Lucius. She had managed to get the man out of Azkaban.

And, they had ended up in bed together.

She wasn't sure what Lucius thought of it all. After all, she was still a Muggle-born and he had shown no real signs of renouncing his pureblood supremacist ways. Yet, this morning, he hadn't shown any disgust. In fact, he had seemed eager to repeat what had happened the previous night.

When she had gathered her belongings to leave, he had asked her to come to Draco and Astoria's party over the weekend. She had promised to come. So it seemed as though he wanted to see her again.

Hermione sighed.

She could probably think and over-think this for the rest of her life.

She hadn't a clue where this was going to lead. She had no clue about what Lucius' intentions were. Briefly, she wondered whether she was just another instrument in his battle to show the Ministry he had truly changed. She thought they truly had a connection, but it might have just been in her imagination.

She sighed.

There was no point in wondering.

She didn't even know what her own intentions were!

Still, Hermione thought, a smile creeping onto her face, I'm definitely going to Malfoy Manor on Saturday.

She ran a finger over her bottom lip. She could still taste Lucius. There was time enough to discover his intentions later. She wasn't sure she wanted a relationship with him, especially so soon after Ron. In fact, she wasn't sure she wanted a relationship with him at all.

Still, they did have a rapport. There was no way to fake that. They had chemistry in bed. There was no way to fake that either.

Everything else, well, Hermione supposed she would just have to discover where this was going to lead later.