Thanks for the reviews guys, I hope you enjoy this chappie
Severus stood at the bottom of the stairs, adjusting his bow tie in the mirror. He sighed with a combination of nervousness and impatience and glanced upstairs to where Hermione would be getting ready in her room. Tonight would be the night where he and Hermione would infiltrate the death eater circle. To Severus, it seemed quite presumptuous to be holding a ball after their so called Lord and Master had been vanquished, but he knew that Lucius had more to celebrate as the ministry had suspended his trial for the time being due to "lack of evidence", in other words they had received quite a large amount of money which sated them for the time being. Still, Severus could not help but be suspicious as to why so many Death Eaters would gather in such a short time after Voldemort's demise, especially since many were wanted by the ministry. Interrupting his musings, Hermione stood at the banister of the staircase and gave him a small smile. Except it wasn't Hermione in a sense, as she had already taken her polyjuice potion and transformed into Valerie Greengrass, a petite woman with cascading blonde curls, quite raised eyebrows and pale eyes. Severus regarded her, she was attractive, he could admit but felt a twinge of irritation that he could not look upon the "real" Hermione.
Hermione fingered the blonde curls in her hand with scepticism "I look ridiculous don't I?"
"No, you look fine" grunted Severus indifferently and then after a moment consideration beckoned her towards him, "It will just take some getting used to"
"I understand" said Hermione sympathetically, after all Severus would need to transform as well. She paced her hand on his arm, and he didn't look at her but she could feel his tension ebbing.
"This is it," he breathed to himself and took a swig of a flask he had conjured and drunk it with a sour expression. Immediately his face began to contort until he resembled Balthazar Greengrass, taller than his wife, with dark hair and eyes and an aristocratic face. Hermione looked at him with a mix of awe and fear.
"Severus?" she whispered.
"Balthazar!" Severus sneered, "What a perfectly pretentious name."
In spite of herself, Hermione giggled.
Severus grimaced, "Find this amusing Valerie?"
Hermione repressed the rest of her amusement.
"This is not time for jokes, we have an important mission. Let's go over the plan one last time- we arrive at the Malfoy Manor, when upon arriving, I will engage in conversation with Lucius, Crabbe, Goyle and associates, whereas you-"
"Will attempt to get information out of Narcissa, Walburga Black, Druella Black," Hermione went on to mention the notable female guests she had learnt over the past few days.
"Yes" conceded Severus "and if anything were to go amiss, say your cover was blown, tap this coin and my own coin will grow hot and I will know to come looking for you."
Hermione examined the coin on her hand with a strange expression, what a coincidence that Severus would have the same idea to charm coins like which she had used for Dumbledore's Army. She glanced up to see Severus was eying her, as if searching her thoughts.
Hermione held out her hand, "Ready?"
Severus nodded grimly, took her hand and they apparated.
Hermione swallowed with trepidation as she gazed upon the Malfoy Manor standing ominously before her, it was all too soon she would be back here, only months ago was she tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange in this very building. Severus kept a firm grip on her arm and led her to the gates which were illuminated with floating lanterns. Two scruffy men in ill-fitting suits stood at the gates, Hermione guessed they were very low on the hierarchy of Voldemort's followers, probably snatchers or thugs.
"Names?" one of the men said in a strong cockney accent.
"Mr and Mrs Greengrass," said Severus without missing a beat. The two men found their names on a list and compared them to a photo, and after a moment moved aside to let them in. Hermione refrained from breathing out loudly in relief. Together they walked up to the entrance of the manor where they were greeted by a man who took their cloaks.
"Valerie!" Hermione turned at the sound of her name and saw Narcissa walking towards her. With a commendable effort Hermione managed to smile politely.
'Come join us for a drink," she said brusquely, dragging Hermione away from Severus.
Severus on the other hand was approached by Maximus Crabbe and Ambrose Yaxley and was snapped up for a game of backgammon.
Hermione was pulled into the kitchen by Narcissa and thrust a glass of wine. She seemed almost about to burst and dived deep into a rant "I cannot stand Bellatrix at the moment, she's up to something, that pretentious little snit, acting high and mighty, her usual neurotic ways," Nacissa glanced over her shoulder in case anyone was eavesdropping. Hermione drunk her wine slowly, she should be glad at least that she would not have to pry information out of Narcissa Malfoy.
"You think given she's wanted by the Ministry she'd be laying low, but no," seethed Narcissa, "She knows something we don't."
Hermione raised her eyebrows in question. Narcissa leaned in closer, "If you ask me," she whispered, "It's something to do with the Dark Lord."
"The Dark Lord," said a high pitched voice, reminding Hermione of Umbridge, rang through the kitchen. It was Walburga Black, Sirius's mother. Hermione managed to conceal her surprise and interest.
"It's a shame he's gone, he had the right idea he did, eradicating those blood traitors, those mudblood scums," She went on, "Oh my scum of a son, on trial at the ministry, killed 13 muggles and Peter Pettigrew he did, never mind those muggles, but killing a wizard, a loyal servant of the Dark Lord, scum he's is. I'll never forget the moment I blasted him off my tapestry. Let him rot in Azkaban."
Hermione almost chocked on her wine. Sirius! How could she have forgotten him, for at the moment he was on trial at the ministry.
"Nevermind him," said Narcissa in sympathy, 'Think of Regulus,"
"Ahh no!," moaned Walburga, almost comically while placing the outside of her hand to her forehead, "My beautiful, talented son, gone! Disappeared!".
Narcissa looked like she immediately regretted bringing up Regulus. "Walburga, why don't you go find my mother, I'm sure she will be glad to see you."
Walburga nodded remorsefully before departing the kitchen.
"So," said Hermione tactfully, "What were you saying about Bellatrix?"
"Oh nevermind her at the moment, I've had enough!" said Narcissa dramatically, "How's your dear Daphne?" Hermione was forced into a discussion about her "daughter", while Narcissa rambled on about Draco learning his first words. Severus on the other hand was not having much luck, Yaxley and Crabbe not talkative individuals did not give much away. Severus frowned in frustration once dinner was served and he was forced to give up his efforts on these two. Severus and Hermione were seated at a very long ornate wooden table, which was piled up with food such as turkey, vegetables and seafood. Various house-elves rushed around serving wine to impatient witches and wizards. Hermione felt her chest constrict in sympathy for these poor elves. A man sitting opposite to her on the table gave her a curious look while his hand swirled around the wine in his glass. He, very subtly ran his tongue over his lips, eyeing Hermione. A woman took her seat next to him, it was Bellatrix Lestrange, and Hermione was stunned. She was beautiful, stunning as Azkaban was yet to claim her amazing looks. Her black hair was flowing smooth curls, her skin was radiant and her eyes were bright and dazzling. Hermione would have been mesmerised by her beauty if Bellatrix hadn't rudely barked at the nearest houseelf for a glass of wine and upon receiving the wine, Bellatrix downed the entire glass. The man sitting next to her looked at her with a mix of embarrassment and irritation.
"Bellatrix," he said heavily, "will you please behave"
"Rodolphus," Bellatrix sneered, 'might I remind you next time you decide to shag some muggle in the cellar, will you stop playing with your food before you eat it? The screams are downright irritating. You are the one who needs to behave"
"Bellatrix, I think it would be best to have a more savoury conversation in the presence of guests," Rodolphus said stiffly, glaring at his wife.
Bellatrix gave a devilish grin, "Nevermind dear, I have a present for you later which might fulfil your appetite." Hermione frowned at Severus, confused by which part of the conversation was true and what might be the gift. They were then joined by Narcissa and Lucius, who sat next to Bellatrix, opposite Severus and Hermione. Bellatrix and Narcissa began to whisper furiously at each other. Lucius through the pair a bored and disdainful look.
"The estate you have here Lucius, is quite impressive," said Rodolphus from the other side of Bellatrix, "I heard you were living in London though,"
"Well I recently moved back here after the death of my father,"
"I am sorry to hear of his death, Abraxas, dragon pox I hear?"
"Yes, yes," Lucius waved his hand dismissively, "Narcissa persuaded me to move back here, she wants Draco to have space to grow up and her dear sister needs somewhere to hide from the authorities,"
"I heard that Malfoy," Bellatrix spat.
"You ought to be grateful for my hospitality Lestrange," countered Lucius, "I'm sure Rodolphus would gladly take you back."
Bellatrix looked highly affronted by the idea. "My marriage is none of your business, Malfoy,"
"Well you do seem to be in better spirits, a new secret lover? Sneaking out in the middle of the night I hear?" the voice of Walburga rang from a few seats down. A few people stopped eating to wait for Bellatrix's reaction. But she simply smiled knowingly and took a sip of wine. After a minute of awkwardly fishing for something else to talk about, a man sitting next to Hermione piped up, "So I hear Snape is going to be trialled at the ministry,"
Next to Hermione, Severus stiffened and said, "Are you aware that Dumbledore is going to act in his defence?"
"His defence!" shrieked Bellatrix, "That filthy traitor! Should have known he was working for Dumbledore! Never trusted Snape, that dark arts obsessed freak."
Under the table Hermione grabbed Severus's knee in reassurance, hoping he wouldn't lose his temper.
"You idiot," sneered Lucius, "He is merely sucking up to that old bastard for information, for when the Dark Lord finally does return,"
"Do not mention him!" growled Bellatrix, "for you are not mourning in his absence, you are rejoicing, you are not a true servant for the Lord, I am his only true servant,"
The man sitting next to Hermione spoke up again, "If that be true Bellatrix, why are you neither mourning in his demise, instead you are in happier spirits then you ever were?"
Bellatrix laughed, but not a joyful laugh, almost a malicious laugh, "Rabastan, in the end the Dark Lord will have one servant to reward for her service, and that would be me, not you cowards!"
Lucius, Rabastan and Rodolphus looked offended and angry but decided not to say anything as it was not worth provoking Bellatrix any further.
After dinner, the guests made their way to the Ballroom for some dancing and Hermione mouthed to Severus, "How rich are they, having a ballroom their own house!" Severus who had grown up with an impoverished childhood eyed the blatant flaunting of their wealth, such as the many paintings and antique furniture with disgust. They entered the ballroom and Severus excused Hermione to search for Lucius.
"Hello Valerie," The same man who had eyed her at dinner had approached her, Rodolphus Lestrange.
"Hello Rodolphus," said Hermione uncertainly.
"My dear, you do look lavishing this evening," he purred, "and I thought after that feast I would be too full for dessert."
Hermione swallowed nervously, but didn't want to take any action incase she blew her cover.
"What are you talking about?"
"Oh don't play coy with me, Valerie. Why are you acting so cold," he said as he ran his finger lightly up her arm, "its driving me crazy, and forgive me for my wife's outburst at dinner, I do not take muggles like that anymore, its only you Valerie, only you."
Hermione stood there feeling confused and stared at the man in front of her, he was thickly built with brown hair and a handsome face. He was very attractive in a superficial kind of way, he reminded Hermione of Lockhart.
"Come with me," he growled and before Hermione could protest he dragged her out of the room and into another room which resembled a study. Hermione hoped that someone saw them and told Severus because she wanted to get out of this situation as soon as possible. Rodolphus grabbed Hermione around the waist roughly and pulled her into him.
"My god Valerie, I have waited too long to have you,"
Instinctively Hermione pulled out her wand and held it in front her, defensively. Rodolphus merely chuckled if she was playing a game and before Hermione could react, he yanked the wand from her hand and discarded it behind him. "I don't have time for your games tonight," he breathed heavily, "I must make you mine again" Hermione felt almost nauseas at his words. He approached her and before she knew it Hermione was backed up against the wall. "I love seeing the fear in your eyes, dear, your struggle, try to defy me but this will end up the way it always does, you know you cannot resist me, that's why you keep coming back for more, you little whore, you dirty minx." Hermione squirmed and tried to turn away but Rodolphus had pinned her against the wall. "Stop pretending you're not enjoying it, I know you love it when I touch you, when I touch you here" Rodolphus ran his hand over Hermione's backside and grabbed it roughly, almost painfully, "or here" he touched her waist, "or here" he cupped her breasts, ignoring her protests, "or even here" and he slid his hand between her legs. Hermione yelped in fear and horror and Rodolphus began to grind into her whilst kissing her neck.
Suddenly the door of the room was bashed open violently and there stood Severus looking livid. "Take your hands off her!" he barked furiously. Rodolphus gave him a look which translated to "I was only having a bit of fun" but nonetheless conceded and took his hands of a very white faced and terrified Hermione. Wordlessly Severus shot a spell at Rodolphus and he broke out into angry looking welts and hive all over his body. He moaned in pain and fell to the floor in the foetal position.
"Grab your wand" Severus said to Hermione flatly and left the room. Hermione took one last look at Rodolphus on the floor withering in pain and followed Severus.