Chapter Four:


For a few short weeks, they had been able to be together as he had wished. Hermione with him in his bed, kissing her as she moaned beneath him; her clawing at his back while she muffled her cries with his shoulder pressed tightly into her mouth. She had still preferred for him to take her harshly – or rather, her taking him roughly.

It didn't matter to him; nothing had mattered as long as he had his naughty obsession within his bed. Together, they had taken out their frustrations with each other, and to him there was nothing better than this.

Then, within a few short weeks, it was all over and done with.

Potter had been captured – alive, but in bad shape. He had been brought to the manor by Fenrir and his group of Snatchers. Bellatrix had been so gleeful about calling the Dark Lord until she noticed that one of them had the sword that Snape had entrusted to her.

Lucius knew what she had feared. The same fear he had had when it was discovered by the Dark Lord that he had been part of the reason that his precious diary had been destroyed. Since the sword had been in her vault, most likely they had taken other items as well. It would not fare well on her with the Dark Lord, and she had panicked.

The Weasley boy had been tortured while Potter had been taken below. The boy had not stayed down there long, and he had managed to escape after Wormtail was ordered to bring Hermione to the room.

Bellatrix had planned to torture her in order to get the boy to talk since he was giving them nothing. Yet, Wormtail never appeared. Later on that night, Draco had found him dead.

Potter and Hermione had burst through the door, both of them fighting for escape. He had been stunned in the kerfuffle, and the last thing he saw was his Hermione disappearing with the weakened Weasley boy clutched within her arms.

He had paid dearly that night, along with Bella, who had taken most of the punishment from the Dark Lord. Yet, despite the pain he had suffered, one thing kept repeating in his thoughts and was that she had been fighting to escape. She had wanted to leave, and he had foolishly believed she had wanted to stay with him. That had hit him harder than anything the Dark Lord had cursed him with.

Now, he sat in the Great Hall at Hogwarts with his arm wrapped around his boy's shoulder while Narcissa wept on the other side of Draco. The Dark Lord had been defeated at last, and although he should have been content with the fact that his son was alive, he wasn't. His eyes were not fixed on his son but on Hermione.

She was walking up the aisle toward him, holding the hand of the Weasley boy as they followed Potter out of the Great Hall. Hermione hadn't even bothered to look at him during the battle, but he had kept his eyes fixed on her regardless of what was happening around him.

Just as Hermione passed, she must have caught a glance of him, because her head whipped quickly around. She looked at him in fright, and her eyes quickly glanced over at Narcissa and then back to him. The red-haired boy pulled at her hand, as she had slowed her pace when she saw Lucius, and she turned her head away, walking out of the Great Hall without another look back..

~*~

Hermione stood in front of Severus Snape's hospital bed. He looked up at her, fully alert, even though he had lost a great deal of blood from Nagini's bite. His flesh was still not completely healed, and occasionally his dressing would bleed through, but the Healers informed her that he would be fine.

She had been consistently with him since he was brought here, taking it upon herself to be the one to protect him when he was in such a vulnerable state. She owed him this much, even though she had already saved him back in the Shrieking Shack.

She had been the one that had managed to halt his bleeding until they got him to St. Mungo's. It was lucky that they had saved him, because just as Snape was ready to pass out, he had given Harry his memories. And with those memories, Harry had been able to defeat the Dark Lord.

Severus moved within his bed, attempting to make himself more comfortable.

"Would you like some water?" she asked, merely because she was feeling useless for just standing there.

"No," he replied.

"Are you in any pain?" she asked after she saw him wince when he shifted again in his bed. "If you're uncomfortable I can get the Healer."

"No."

"There is no need to stay in pain just because of your pride."

"When I want a potion for my pain, I will ring myself, Miss Granger." He looked at her pointedly.

"Fine," she muttered as she flicked through a book upon the bedside table at the foot of his bed.

They fell into silence again as was normal for them. They had known each other far too long and worked with each other over the past year too closely, for her not to learn he didn't care for unnecessary chatter.

"Has he tried to contact you since the final battle?" he asked suddenly, which almost caused her to drop the book off the table.

"No." It took her a moment to answer him, but when she did, she answered him sharply, letting him know that this was not a subject she wanted to talk about.

He ignored her tone and continued with the subject, "He came here – he asked about you in a round about way, but…"

"But? What?" she asked a little too sharply for her taste, because it came out too defensive. Quickly, she changed her tone and asked, "Did you say anything to him?"

"Should I have?"

"Don't start this, Professor. I'm not in the mood for it."

He glared at her, an intimating look that might have scared her a few years ago, but now it did nothing.

"You're going to have to deal with it someday."

"What makes you think I'm not dealing with it right now?"

"How's your relationship with that Weasley boy?" he abruptly asked. He appeared to be changing the subject, but she knew better.

"That's none of your concern."

"Does he make you comfortable at night? Are you able to let yourself go, or do you turn away from him because you still think of Lucius?"

"Shut up! You know nothing about it!"

"Don't I?" he mocked, smiling at her with a taunting expression, which made her want to slap him. "I think I know more about what happened between you and Lucius than you will ever admit to yourself."

"Is that right?"

"Your purpose at the manor had been to get information from him, and what did you learn in the end? Remind me, Miss Granger."

"I don't believe you." She shook her head. "I told you from the beginning it was a bad idea."

"Ah, so you did allow him to – and I know you allowed him, because I have known Lucius Malfoy far too long to not know when he has bedded a girl."

"You're a bastard. How dare you throw this in my face?" She wasn't going to deny it. It was pointless, considering whom she was talking to. "You asked me to let him believe that I was submitting to him. You had been the one that saw he had an interest toward me, and you were the one who suggested for me to use it."

"Yes, I suggested you use that interest to gain knowledge, but you didn't need to sleep with him in order to get it!"

She couldn't answer him. She knew she had failed, and there was nothing worse to Hermione than this. She had not really accomplished anything with her time there, as she had kept putting off asking Lucius for the information that Professor Snape had wanted. She had been so concerned with dealing with her morals, that she had lost the purpose of her stay there.

Professor Snape had been right to suggest to Professor Dumbledore that she was not up to the task. She had meant to prove him wrong, but she had failed miserably.

Over a year ago, she had happened to come upon a conversation between them when she had learned that Professor Dumbledore was going to die, and Professor Snape was going to be the one to kill him. When she was caught, Professor Snape had wanted to Obliviate her, but Dumbledore would not let him. Instead, he had given her the option to help them – to keep the secret of what had been spoken and agree to be the liaison with Professor Snape when he defected to the other side. She readily agreed without any hesitation. Professor Snape hated the idea, as he did not trust her to keep his identity a secret, but Dumbledore talked him into it.

When she had been caught at Godric's Hollow and brought to the Manor, she had fought with every ounce of energy within her to not expose him. Part of it was for Harry, but a part of it had been to prove Professor Snape wrong.

When she had proven that she had not exposed him, things had changed between them. Professor Snape had come to her under the cover of interrogating her, but in reality he was getting information from her.

She had told him everything that she had thought might be useful to him, even if it sounded mundane. But it all had come falling down around her when she mentioned to him about Lucius touching her, and his interest toward her. Suddenly, Professor Snape had suggested a new plan for her, and it had been for her to lead him on in order to get his guard down and woo him into talking to her. She had never said yes to the plan, but when she had attempted to do as he had asked, Hermione had found she had no courage to go through with it.

It had been too late by the time she had decided to stop, not because Lucius wouldn't let her, but rather she had become affected by him. The day she had discovered she felt nothing for Ron as she had knelt between Lucius legs, was the day she had felt something die within her. She should have felt something for Ron. Hermione had thought of Ron all the time, and yet, when she had been with Lucius, she had felt no remorse for doing the things that she had done with him. She had hated Lucius for it; she had hated herself as well, and yet she had never been able to stay away from him, though she had tried.

Now that she was chastened by Professor Snape, she could do nothing but bow her head and avoid his eyes. He must have pitied her, because the next thing he said was, "I knew I should never have suggested it. I should have realized the state you were in."

Hermione looked up at him, and saw he did show remorse.

"Why are you bothering to say any of this, Professor? Do you want to get it out in the open that you were right all along when you told Dumbledore I was too weak – too emotional? That I was completely worthless being in there? Is that what you want me to admit?" She broke down in hysterics, letting her emotions get the better of her.

He didn't answer her. She stood there crying in front of him until she came to her senses and realised this wasn't the place to do it. Professor Snape was lashing out at her for some reason, and she really did not need to take this; she would not be his punching bag. She turned to leave, but Professor Snape stopped her. "Hermione, you have to look at the situation you were in, and the one you are in now. War changes people; the line between sacrifice and survival is blurred during those times. So I warn you, don't become me. Don't hold yourself to a past that you cannot change."

She knew what he meant. He knew the guilt she would feel for the actions she had taken with Lucius. And there was guilt. To be truthful, she had not used Lucius for information; she had used him for comfort – everything Luna had warned her about.

Hermione felt like she just wanted to shut down her thoughts and feelings. Her mind was making excuses for her actions, but her conscience was riddled with guilt.

If only Professor Snape stopped talking right there, but of course he didn't. "I must also warn you about prejudices. They don't go away overnight. He can change, but he has to be the one to change – you can't be the one to do it for him."

Nodding her head, she replied softly, "I know."

Later on, as Hermione watched Professor Snape sleeping comfortably in bed, she thought about his words again. The words, 'He can change, but he has to be the one to change,' repeated in her thoughts. The way Hermione took those words was that Professor Snape believed she would go back to Lucius. That whatever happened between them at the manor wasn't finished.

However, she decided it had to stop. She was far to messed up emotionally from this, and to seek a relationship with a man who hated her parentage was just plain foolish. Whatever happened between them wasn't real, and she kept to that belief.

~*~

Her daughter and son played some distance away. Today had been ideal weather, not too cold, not too hot, so she knew her children would want to stay out for as long as they could.

She sat on the bench with her arms folded as she watched them play with other children, whose parents sat grouped together on the other side of the park. Hermione did not care to join them, and nor did she feel left out. She was expecting a visitor, like she did every week when she came here.

Since her divorce from Ron, she had come to this park. At first, it was just by herself as she took long walks to think things over. She had thought a lot about her marriage then. How their relationship had had its moments of bliss, but because of her past with Lucius and never being able to tell Ron about it, she had hardened somewhat.

As the years went on, Ron had begun calling her cold and lashing out at her for withdrawing from him. He had wanted to know why she woke up crying in the night, and why she refused to let him comfort her during those times.

She had known she had been distancing herself from him, and so it had not surprised her when he had come home one night and told her he was leaving her for another woman. Hermione had thought it was only karma paying her back for sleeping with a married man. Although she had every right to hate Ron for doing what he did, she did not. There was a part of her that was grateful he was gone now.

Especially now, when she saw a blond child run past her to join her children playing. He had finally arrived, and she turned her head around to see him walking toward her.

He smiled at her, and she noticed he was carrying two cups of coffee. He had taken a great step in showing her that he had changed since the war. He had taken to wearing a few Muggle clothes when he was around her. He had even started to shop at Muggle stores in order to show her that he could. She knew some of his prejudices would never go away, but she took it to heart that he was trying.

It would have been better had he done it for himself rather than for her. But then, she reassured herself they were only taking baby steps at this time. They were getting to know each other in a friendly way, and even if this didn't work out for them, she might have been able to show him that being Muggle was not so bad.

He passed her the cup before he sat down, and she took it greedily. Lucius sat close to her and immediately extended his arm behind her to rest it on the back of the bench seat.

"Scorpius does like coming here," Lucius muttered as he took a sip from his coffee.

"Yes, and the children do enjoy his company. He's very inventive with the games he makes up." She praised his grandson as she always did.

"Yes, being an only child and not having many children to play with will do that."

"Yes," she agreed.

They could have gone on with this mundane conversation for a while, and she probably would have been content by that, but Hermione felt it was now time to speak about what they had been avoiding for a very long time.

"Something happened to us back then, didn't it? It wasn't just about comfort or control, was it?"

Lucius looked over at her and sighed heavily as if he had expected her to speak about it, but wished she hadn't.

"For me, yes."

"I never told you all of it. There were things that happened at that time that I never spoke to you about."

"It doesn't matter. You don't need to tell me now."

"It could change everything, you know. Wouldn't you want to know then?"

He nodded his head in what she thought was agreement, but instead he replied, "I thought I had lost you forever. You never spoke to me for years, and if we saw each other out if public, you avoided looking at me. And I thought to myself that you were still angry, filled with hate that I knew so well. But then, the hate was dying within me, and I held on to the hope it would die with you, too." He moved his arm, placing it around her shoulders to pull her closer to him. "I'm content. You're here now. I don't need to go back there. You can't change any of it, Hermione."

She gave him a look of uncertainty; she wanted to let it go, but fear made her think if she didn't say something, it would come back to haunt her. Lucius saw her troubled expression, so he leaned in and whispered into her ear, "Let's not talk about it. Let us just enjoy the day and start afresh. I want to forget about the past."

"I do too, but it just seems like it won't let me."

"I know the feeling, but I keep telling myself the mistakes of my past are my past." He smiled at her and then took a sip from his coffee. "Are you able to forgive me for all that I have done to you?"

"Strangely, yes."

"And yet, you cannot forgive yourself?"

"I have tried. I've tried for so long. I hated myself for having feelings for you, and when it was over, I hated myself because I couldn't forget you. But with you now, I feel horrible with myself for not being able to get over this. I can't work this out, and it's driving me mad."

"Hermione, for some reason life has given us a second chance. We don't have to live in the past anymore." He nestled her more tightly into him, kissing the top of her head in a soothing manner. "We can work on this hate and guilt. Day by day, we will work on it, my dear. Take all the time you need, even if it is a lifetime. Together, we will get through this."

She nodded her head and with all the strength she had within her, she replied, "Yes, together. We will work on this."


Thanks to Sunny33 for the beta. I don't know what I would have done without you. To, SR thanks for the prompt. I know you were determined to have your prison fic. XD