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Draco came home from work a few days later to find that Hermione and dinner were not waiting in the dining room as usual. One of their house elves told him, "My lady ordered dinner served an hour later than usual. If Master wishes to find my lady, she is in the laboratory."

Wishing that Hermione's first order to the house elves had been something other than if his orders ever contradicted hers, to obey hers without punishing themselves for disobeying his, Draco started for the laboratory. He was hungry, and if he were going to get anything to eat he would have to ask Hermione to rescind her order not to serve dinner yet.

Then it occurred to him to wonder what Hermione was brewing in the laboratory. She never closely inquired about his activities, and he never asked about hers, but if she wanted to hide something from him she would have done it while he wasn't home. Ordering dinner to be late was almost certainly an invitation for him to go down to the lab. Well, he would just have to ask her about what she wasn't hiding from him.

Draco walked into the basement, and opened the door that led into the laboratory. When they had moved in, it had reminded him of the potions laboratory at Hogwarts, minus Snape lurking there. Hermione had put more lights in and cleaned it up so it didn't look as dark or dreary. His wife stood by one of the counters with a cauldron bubbling before her, a book by her elbow, and potion ingredients scattered over the rest of the counter. She turned around to look at him when he walked into the room.

"Hello Draco," she said, "I'll be at a stopping point for tonight in another hour or so, and we'll have dinner then."

"Ok…um, what are you working on Hermione?" Draco said walking over to where she stood to peer at the open book to see what recipe she was following. Then he noticed the chapter title. 'Fertility Potions! What the…? I thought that she didn't want kids, or mine anyway, and there's still time until we have to have the kids the contract demands.'

"No, it's not exactly a fertility potion that I'm working on," Hermione said, answering his unspoken question. "The only thing it really does is ensuring that if a child is conceived, it will be a boy. It stays in effect for two and a half years, or until a successful birth has occurred. I just like to be prepared for any circumstance."

Draco nodded, finding the recipe in the book. Well, assuming things stayed as they were, their first child would have to be on his way by that time. He started reading through the recipe. 'Hmmm, it takes about two months to make. Oh, what's this bookmark for?' Draco thought to himself.

Hermione saw him fingering the bookmark. "Leave it on the page it's on," she said, "and if you're going to stay here make yourself useful and hand me the powered hen's teeth. It's in the cabinet behind you."

Draco nodded, carefully hiding that he had flagged the page by the bookmark just in case it was something important, before turning around to start rummaging through the cabinet. He would come back to the lab later that night and see if she removed the bookmark to a different page.

"It was a copy of "Legilimency and Occlumency: The Theories of and Commentaries on," Master," Draco said, kneeling before Lord Voldemort as he gave his report in the house that the Death Eaters used as a base of operations. This information he knew that he couldn't hide from the Dark Lord, so reporting it was the only thing he could do.

Draco had gone back to the laboratory that night to get another look at that potions book. Hermione had removed the bookmark to the page she was working on, so he had flipped through the book trying to find the page he had flagged. Then he had noticed that there was something wrong with the page numbers. There were two page 1143s, two page 254s. The book repeated itself, as if the printer had mistakenly put two copies of the same book in one cover.

Draco had known that something was up, and about two hours later, he had finally found out what it was. There were two books in one cover; one a perfectly ordinary potions book, the other the most through commentary on Occlumency and Legilimency. The meaning was obvious; Hermione had started or shortly would be starting Occlumency and Legilimency lesions. The contract did not forbid breaking into each other's minds, well, so long as they didn't do anything to hurt each other.

"Then the question seems to be," Lord Voldemort said, appearing to be thinking out loud, "is if she is taking the lessons to defend herself from you, or so she can get information from you. In the first case, it would be a threat Dumbledore could not ignore, and in the second, an opportunity he could not ignore. This must be a recent development, though, as my spy has yet to report this." After a few moments, he spoke louder. "Are you faithful to me, young Malfoy?" he asked.

"Yes Master. I will serve you in whatever way you require me to," Draco answered. To answer in any other way was instant death.

"Then stand and follow me."

Draco did as he was told, and followed his master through the house to the basement where a potions laboratory had been set up. 'Merlin, this place looks just like the potions dungeon at Hogwarts! The only thing that's missing is Professor Snape! Oh, nope, this place has that too,' Draco thought to himself. Indeed, there was Professor Snape, who had stopped stirring whatever he was brewing to bow to Voldemort. 'He must be the spy Lord Voldemort mentioned just now.' Draco had suspected that Snape, the potions master and his father's friend, was a Death Eater for a long time, but this was the first undeniable proof he had ever seen.

"Severus," the Dark Lord said, "I have brought you an apprentice."

Draco's eyes widened in surprise, but he still managed a bow for the man that was once again his instructor. Because Snape was a spy, he had to know Occlumency in order to hide what he was from Dumbledore. Which in turn meant, Draco knew, was that he was going to learn Occlumency himself!

"Are you aware, my lady, of the possible consequences of what you have done?" Snape asked Hermione in a neutral tone.

Hermione sat in the dining room of Grimmauld Place with Snape, Dumbledore, and Harry. Snape had told Dumbledore that Voldemort had ordered him to give Draco Occlumency lessons, and then Dumbledore had called them to a special meeting. And she had admitted to planting that book where Draco could find it, and that getting Draco Occlumency lessons had been her aim in doing it. "Yes, I was aware of the possible consequences when I made my decision. I analyzed them before doing anything irreversible to make sure that it was worth the risk."

Snape looked at her questioningly, and Harry still looked shocked. Dumbledore merely raised an eyebrow and said, "And your conclusions were…?"

Hermione took a deep breath, and then explained. "I knew that whatever Voldemort suspected, the only response he could make would be to have someone give Draco Occlumency lessons. He needs someone that can stay close to me to find out about whatever it was that my father was doing, and it might be impossible to replace Draco so Voldemort wouldn't kill Draco. The only uncertainty lies in what Draco decides to do with his opportunity.

"The first possibility is that he uses Occlumency and Legilimency to hide his mind from mine, or he attacks my mind. I would have to learn Occlumency myself to counter this, but that isn't impossible to manage. In effect, nothing would change," she said, and the three men nodded.

"The second possibility," Hermione continued, "is that he learns those arts, and pretends to betray Voldemort in order to act as a spy for him. The way to deal with this would be to keep him isolated from our operations, and have him give his reports to one person only. I would suggest that he give them to you, Dumbledore. He can't overpower you, and you are the one most likely to be able to see through a charade. You will just have to see if his reports match what you are getting from the Professor. In this scenario, you may be able to feed him misinformation you want Voldemort to act on, and the benefits outweigh the risks."

"The third possibility is that he does turn against Voldemort. He's smart enough to know that he can't run, so he'll offer his services as a spy. I know that we already have the services of a skilled spy," Hermione said, nodding at Snape, "but two people will hear more than one. If one spy is discovered, we will know immediately because their reports will not match, and possibly we will be able to avoid a disaster created from making a decision from misinformation Voldemort would try to feed us."

Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, well put Hermione. But you made this decision without telling or consulting anyone. Apparently you thought you had the right to make this choice yourself, why?"

"Because I'm the one that will be most effected by the consequences," she answered. "If Draco makes the right decision, I can't divorce him. Well, I suppose one of us could still die, but if not, I'd be stuck with him for the rest of my life. That was a choice only I could make Professor."

"And you'd be willing to do that?" Harry asked, looking perplexed. "You'd be willing to stay married to Malfoy for the rest of your life?"

Hermione took a deep breath and then answered, "Yes, but if--and only if--he makes the right decision about this."

After a few seconds of silence, Snape started chuckling, which then turned into outright laughter. Hermione and Harry stared at him, and then glanced at each other, wondering if the man had gone insane. They had never seen anything even approaching humor coming from Snape before this.

Even Dumbledore looked at least mildly surprised. "Severus…?" he asked, apparently not quite sure how to continue.

When Snape stopped laughing, he looked at Hermione with newfound respect. "My lady, I must admit that I didn't think you capable of being this sneaky. Do you realize what you have just done? The Dark Lord is use to tricking others to do as he wills, but you have just tricked him into giving your husband the tool Draco will need should he decide to betray him! Maybe it's appropriate that Draco has been assigned to be my apprentice; I may end up teaching him more of my arts than originally intended. My lady, you are either absolutely brilliant, or positively insane, to come up with something like this."

Hermione stared. This was probably the best complement Snape had ever given to anyone. "Er…thank you Professor. I probably should say, though, that often the only difference between brilliance and insanity is whether you get the result you wanted or not."

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