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Chapter 7

Potions was, thankfully, an uneventful affair. Hermione and Draco sat hand in hand under the curious stares of their classmates. Even Snape looked slightly interested, occasionally glancing through his curtain of hair to see the two staring resolutely ahead, refusing to acknowledge each other or anyone else. Both felt it better to ignore their situation around others. Snape swept over to his desk, frowning slightly in frustration as he contemplated the piles of parchment strewn over the usually spotless surface. Under Dumbledore's instruction he had spent most of his waking hours, and probably the few he had asleep, trying to concoct a antidote to a permanent sticking solution.

But its title was holding true.

Growling slightly, he glanced up at his class who were staring agape at the top of his head. Dunderheads.

"Get to work! You have an essay to complete."

He poured once again over the pieces of parchment as the class shuffled around, hurrying to extract parchment and quills from their bags.

Goosegrass was a possibility but there was too much of a risk of the skin peeling away. Although that would certainly solve the problem, albeit in a more gruesome way. Snape was willing to take that path if only for his own peace of mind. He hated not knowing the answer. Shuddering, he realised he and Granger shared a trait.

The unfortunate pair leaned on their desks, bored and uninterested as they had finished the essay already. Draco glanced at Hermione and frowned when she returned the look. She screwed up her nose and stuck out her tongue. Draco smirked and crossed his eyes. Hermione stifled a giggle, looking away quickly so that he would not notice.

Draco turned away fast too; had he just tried to make a Mudblood laugh? His father would be ashamed if he ever found out.

"Sir, could Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger please come to see Professor Dumbledore?" A tall third year had shuffled into the room, unheard by the muttering class.

Not bothering to look up from his work, Snape waved a careless hand towards the door. Taking this as their permission to leave, Hermione and Draco followed the third year from the room.

"Do you have any idea what he wants us for?" Hermione asked her hopefully, thinking Dumbledore had come up with a solution.

"No idea," the girl replied, "But there was a tall blonde guy with him. Looked a bit like you." she said, jerking her head at Draco who paled considerably at her words.

How did he find out? Surely Dumbledore wasn't foolish enough to say. Or had his father known he had made Granger laugh? Please, no.

Hermione turned her gaze to Malfoy whose face was contorting with worry. They journeyed along the familiar path to Dumbledore's office without a word from her, and anxious mutterings from her pale companion. He could not have appeared more worried if they had been told Voldemort himself awaited them.

Dumbledore's office door flew open before they could raise their hands to knock and a livid Lucius Malfoy faced them, cane in one hand, other clenched in a tight fist. His face was placid but Hermione noticed a slight twitch on the left side of his jaw which betrayed his true emotions. And those were? You might ask. Hermione could only identify two emotions from this informative twitch. And those were shame and unadulterated rage.

His eyes swiftly swept their bodies, finally locating the conjoined hands. Suddenly his grip on the cane became tighter.

"Draco," he nodded, not even deigning to acknowledge Hermione, "I can see that I find you far from well."

Dumbledore stood from behind his expansive desk and came around to face the group assembled in his office.

"As I have explained in my letter, Lucius, we are trying all that we can to separate the two. There was really no reason for you to come."

"I'm afraid I could not quite believe what I was reading, Albus. A father must come and check on his son in such a situation."

Lucius threw a dirty glare at Hermione. It was so swift that Hermione barely noticed it. Draco, however, did and gulped uncertainly. If his father said or did anything harsh, she obviously deserved it. He knew best. Draco knew this at least.

"I can assure you, Lucius," said Dumbledore, a curtness creeping into his voice that Hermione had never heard, "Your son is quite alright as you can see. He and miss Granger are living together tolerably well I dare say."

Hermione wondered why Draco had been so silent up to this point. She had expected him to cry to Merlin when his father arrived. To bemoan being stuck to a Mudblood, to demand that her arm be severed so that he might have his superior freedom. But he merely stood. Pale, quiet, staring reverently before his imposing father. They were remarkably similar, Hermione noted. But Draco's face had something more of a kindness in it still than his father, something which Hermione knew he would lose in time if things continued the way the did.

"Is this true, Draco? Are you quite happy?"

Lucius Malfoy's tone had something of an edge to it and Draco shifted from foot to foot unsure how to answer the pointed question.

"Not happy, father, how can you expect me to be so? I must tolerate my situation, as a good Malfoy should."

His father nodded in reluctant acceptance of his answer. A declaration of his abhorrence of Mudbloods would have perhaps pleased him more as he had forever been unsure of his son's strength of feeling on the subject; he always seemed to make rather half-hearted affirmations of his beliefs. But they were affirmations nonetheless.

"I am afraid, fellows, that I am much to busy to entertain company for much longer," said Dumbledore, full of regret, "I have Cornelius coming in a moment and although he is forever running late, I do rather expect him in a matter of seconds."

Lucius turned to Dumbeldore and nodded stiffly, "Thank you for your time, Albus, I shall be leaving."

"Lucius, always a pleasure." Then with more feeling, "Miss Granger, Mr Malfoy, I promise to keep you informed of developments. Professor Snape is trying his utmost."

"Perhaps I shall have to have a word with dear Severus," muttered Lucius as he stormed from the office.

Hermione smiled appreciatively at Dumbledore before being dragged from the room by Draco who was moving at speed to keep up with his father. They soon reached a quiet corridor, still following the statuesque man when he suddenly span around.

"What do you want, Draco? I am in rather a hurry and I don't care to spend much more time in its presence."

Hermione felt her veins bubble. It?

"Excuse me but it has a name and that name is Hermione Granger, Mr Malfoy. I am polite enough to use yours."

Draco stared at Hermione open-mouthed and stupefied. No one spoke to his father like that, how dare she? The girl was brave to the point of foolishness.

"Shut up, Granger you leave my-"

But he was cut off when Hermione was suddenly slammed into the stone beside them, making Draco trip a little as he went along with her. Lucius Malfoy's wand was pointed at Hermione's face and his face had developed a light pink flush as he breathed heavily in anger.

"How dare you," he hissed, "How dare you speak to me like that, Mudblood. I am your better. You should be bowing before me and never speaking directly to me. You shame my family while you stand in the presence of my son and I."

He jabbed his wand forward and the expression of indignation on Hermione's features changed to one of panic as she gasped and her hands flew up to her throat. Draco started - he was choking her.

"You have made me ashamed of my own son, Mudblood, are you proud?" A flick of his wand to the left and Hermione's face jerked along with it, a pink mark appearing on her cheek.

Draco panicked - she was turning purple, her eyes bloodshot.

"Look at how pathetic you are. Look at her Draco," he jeered.

Draco couldn't look.

"Draco! Look! This stupid Mudblood you are with canno-"

With a bang Lucius Malfoy flew across the corriodor, landing in an expensive silk heap on the other side. Hermione gulped in air like a child dying of thirst and sank to the floor as Draco looked on helplessly. She had used wandless magic to throw his father off.

His father said Mudbloods couldn't use wandless magic because their stolen power relied on wands. It had been wordless magic too. Granger was perhaps as powerful as his father.

The blonde heap opposite them stirred and stumbled to its feet, seething with rage.

"Mudblood!" he cried, starting forward. Hermione scuttled back, trying to pull Draco with her so that she could move faster. But he had other ideas.

"No, father! Leave her," he said, hauling her to her feet and placing her shivering body lightly behind him.

Lucius halted as though a shield charm had impeded his progress. He stared at his son, incensed at his impertinence, believing it to be Hermione's influence.

"Draco what is the meaning of this?"

"Not in the school, what would society think? You're a governor, father. You must wait."

Lucius recalled his surroundings and raised a lofty eyebrow. His son was not defending the Mudblood, thank Merlin, just his father and his family name, as a good Malfoy should.

"You are right, Draco. Thank you, son."

Draco dipped his head to his father, his lips in a stiff line. Lucius, gathering his robes around him, patted his son on the shoulder before giving Hermione a look of disdain that promised vengeance and marching down the corridor as though he had not just attacked a young woman in front of his son.

Draco turned quickly to the girl behind him who had not made a sound the entire time.

"Merlin, Hermione, are you alright?"

Dun Dun Dun. Damn that Lucius Malfoy. The wizard cops should be after him! Please review :)

Emma x