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A/N:  Hey guys- Sorry that took so long.  I was suffering from severe writer's block, not to mention I'm simultaneously working on two other stories.  Anyway, hope you enjoy it.  I really like this chapter a lot.  Leave some lovely reviews.
-Ivy









"For once in my life I'm scared to death.  I'm taking a chance letting you inside..." -Lifehouse "First Time"




A week later as Hermione sat in her office, she still couldn’t shake the slimy feeling that had come with Lepus Leeder’s kiss on the hand.  It had sent shivers up her body then and it still sent shivers through her.  She suddenly felt a whole new admiration towards Draco in his ability to sit through conversations and dinners with them.  If it had been her, she would’ve caved in long before now.  It was a good thing she wasn’t Minister of Magic.
   
“Dr. Granger?” her current patient, Maurice Roscow said inquiringly.  “Are you even listening to me?”
   
Hermione blinked and turned back to Maurice.  He was one of her oldest clients at eighty-five.  Hermione loved Maurice to death.  He was a very sweet man who had had relationships problems with him wife a while back because of an affair he’d had long ago.  Now, seven years later, things were better than ever.  Hermione actually wondered why he still came into see her.
   
“Maurice?”
   
“Yes, Doctor?” Maurice asked.
   
“Why do you still come to see me?” Hermione asked.  “It may be an impatient question from a young woman to an older man, but I truly want to know.  You’re doing so well.  You don’t even need my help anymore.”
   
Maurice smiled gently.  “You don’t seem to understand, Dr. Granger, that I come because I like talking to you.  I’m sure many of your patients do.  Besides, it isn’t often in our day and age when old men like me talk and are truly listened to.”
   
Hermione grinned.  “Thank you, Maurice.”
   
“Unless of course you don’t want me in here anymore?” Maurice asked.
   
Hermione laughed lightly.  “Of course I do.  I love our meetings.”
   
Maurice stood up.  “If I were sixty years younger, I would’ve knocked you off your feet.”
   
Hermione laughed again.  “We’ve already had this conversation, Maurice.  I’m sure you were quite the charmer in your Hogwarts days.  I’m afraid though, that your wife has already had enough trouble on your part.”
   
Maurice shrugged.  “I’m still trying to figure out why she never comes into see you.  I’m sure she would love the attention as well.”
   
Hermione smiled as she held the door open for Maurice.  “Let her know that I’d be happy to see her if that is what she wishes.”
   
Maurice shook her hand.  “Next week, same time?”
   
Hermione inclined her head.  “If that is what you wish.  Have a nice week, Maurice.”
   
“You too, Doctor,” Maurice disappeared.
   
Hermione turned to go back into her office for her first drop-in appointment.
Sitting back down at her desk, she smiled at what Maurice had told her.  She remembered many stories he had told her about his Hogwarts days when he’d dated three women at once, all without their knowledge.  One of them had even been his wife who had stayed married to him despite her knowledge of his brief affair.  Some love really was strong.
   
Looking out the window, Hermione oversaw the usual hustling and bustling of a busy Wednesday morning.  Draco crossed her mind and she wondered what he was doing.  Was he thinking about her?  Was he preparing his campaign?  Was he writing a new bill?
   
A knock on the door came and Hermione turned to see Susan.  “Your drop-in is here.”
   
Hermione began to smile at the newcomer and then looked in horror at Lepus Leeder standing next to her secretary.  Susan gave Hermione an odd look and then motioned into the door to Lepus.  “I hope you’ll be comfortable, Mr. Leeder.”
   
Lepus smiled slowly at Susan.  “I’m sure I will.  Thank you.”
   
Hermione’s last hope of avenge vanished as Susan closed the door and for the first time in her life as a doctor, she felt trapped in her office with a patient who scared her.  She wondered if this was how psychiatrists felt when seeing a patient with a serious case of schizophrenia or some other mental illness.  It was for that reason that Hermione had decided to skip over the psychiatry course.  Unfortunately, the scariest part about Lepus was that Hermione was very sure that he was perfectly sane.
   
“Good morning, Mr. Leeder,” Hermione did her best to not be afraid.  Indeed, if Draco could do it, so could she.  She’d faced much worth fighting beside Harry, but she wondered why one man could unsettle her so much.
   
“Lepus, please,” Lepus smiled a cold smile that did not quite reach his eyes.  “How are you this morning, Dr. Granger?”
   
She nodded respectfully, sitting at her desk.  “Please sit, Lepus.  Make yourself comfortable.”
   
Lepus sat in one of the leather armchairs, eyeing her as if she were prey and he was a predator.  She knew he wasn’t here because he needed therapy.  If anything, he was here to question her about Draco and their nonexistent relationship.  On the heels of that thought came the need to be protected.  She did not want to be alone if Lepus tried anything.  Hermione had a sinking sensation that he would no doubt go to very violent measures if she refused to answer any of his questions.
   
“How can I help you, Lepus?” Hermione turned back to her client.
   
“Well, I’ve had a hard time sleeping this last week, Dr. Granger,” Lepus said slowly. 
   
Hermione kept her eyes trained on him as she reached for a piece of parchment and a quill.  “And why do you think that is, Lepus?”
   
“Well,” Lepus mused.  “I feel like it’s a combination of a few things.”
   
“Such as?” Hermione scribbled a quick note and then set her  quill aside.  “It would help me to help you if you would tell me a little bit more.”
   
Lepus just stared at her intently.  Hermione felt, in his gaze, as if bugs were crawling all over skin.  “Can you excuse me for a second?  I have to go and talk to my secretary.  Would you like me to bring you a cup of tea?”
   
Lepus shook his head.  “No thank you.”
   
Hermione slipped out the door and immediately felt dread lift off of her.  If only she could escape and go anywhere else, then she would truly feel better.  Unfortunately, running away would only serve to fuel Lepus Leeder’s fire.  Arriving at Susan’s desk, her secretary smiled at her, completely unaware of the feeling of enchainment that Hermione was currently having.  How could she?  Hermione thought to herself.  Susan had no idea how potentially dangerous the Leeders were. 
   
“Yes, Hermione?” Susan asked.
   
“I want you to send this immediately to the Ministry of Magic,” Hermione commanded.  “To the Minister.”
   
Susan looked at her curiously but did as she bid, tying the note around their owl’s leg and sending him flying off. 
   
Hermione smiled at her and then headed back to her office, the sense of dread increasing with each step that she took.  When she got back into her office, Lepus was standing over her desk, rifling through the drawers.  “What are you doing, Lepus?”
   
“Just looking,” he smiled connivingly at her.  “Do you mind?”
   
“I do actually,” she said, forcing her voice to be as commanding as possible.  “Those are my private files in there and patients are not allowed to see them.”
   
Lepus brushed past her and sat back down at a chair. 
   
“Now tell me,” Hermione managed to regain a shred of composure though she knew she was wearing fast.  She could hear it in her voice and if she could, it was completely probable that Lepus would hear it too.  “Why have you had trouble sleeping?”
   
Lepus just looked at her.  “I couldn’t stop thinking of you.”
   
Hermione was silent.
   
He stood up and walked closer to her.  “And I figured that the only way that I could clear my head was if I took you.”
   
Hermione forced herself not to gulp and took a step backward.
   
“The Minister of Magic’s a lucky bastard,” Lepus said, stepping even closer.  “He’s screwing you, isn’t he?”
   
“That’s none of your business,” she said vehemently.  She turned to her phone.  “This is sexual harassment and I won’t have it.  I’m calling Security.”
   
A flash of red light and the phone was disabled.  Hermione looked back at Lepus who was almost upon her.  “You’re not going anywhere.”
   
He was upon her and when Hermione tried to take a step backward, she tripped over her chair, crying out as she fell on her head.  Lepus just laughed and pulled her up until he was pressing her against him.  Hermione couldn’t stop shaking as Lepus trailed a hand down her arm.  Closing her eyes, she prayed for someone to save her.

   
~*~*~


A tap on the window interrupted Draco as he was about to contact his father.  He hadn’t been able to stop thinking of seeing the Leeders at the Ministry’s Valentines Day party.  Even more, Hermione hadn’t said a word after they had left the party.  What was worse was she hadn’t even let him walk her to the door, she had simply left.
   
Draco walked to the window and saw an owl waiting to be let in.  Pulling it open, he unattached the note from around the owl’s leg and read it quickly, his eyes widening in horror at the contents of it.

Draco-


Lepus Leeder is here. 


Please come immediately.


Hermione



   
Without a second thought to what he had to do, Draco Disapparated, praying that when he got to Hermione she would still be unharmed.
   
When he arrived at the office, he hurried toward the door of Hermione’s office. 
   
“Minister!” Susan Bones called.  “Dr. Granger’s seeing someone.”
   
“I don’t care,” Draco said angrily.  “I’m the Minister of Magic and her note said she needed to see me.”
   
The secretary sighed but let him pass.  Barging into the room, Draco looked in horror at Lepus Leeder trying to force his tongue into Hermione’s mouth.  She slapped him hard and Draco saw Lepus look at her angrily, raising his hand to strike her.
   
Draco reacted without a second thought, his head hitting the corner of her desk as he shoved Lepus off of Hermione who looked extremely worse for the wear.  Lepus roared in anger at the sudden assault and wheeled to face Draco who was backing out of the corner that the desk made so he had more space. 
   
When Lepus saw who it was, he laughed without mercy.  “I should’ve guessed.  The great Minister of Magic plays the knight to save his damsel in distress.  How sweet.”
   
“How dare you come in here and try to rape her!” Draco slammed his fist into Lepus’ eye.  “I could have you killed for this.”
   
“On what law?” Lepus taunted.  “I’m afraid your treatment of criminals is rather soft in this country.  That will all change once I become Minister of Magic.”
   
Draco punched him again, hitting him in the ear.  “You won’t.”
   
“Watch me convince your people that you are worth less than crap,” Lepus sneered at him.  “Watch me convince them that you’re only playing them for your gain.  They’ll be eating out of my hand in no time.”
   
His words only slightly disturbed Draco who took his anger out at Lepus by punching him across the nose and the gut.  “You seem like you’re scared, Lepus,” Draco snarled as Lepus watched him from the ground.
   
Lepus snorted.  “Scared of you?  Impossible.”
   
“All you’ve done is talk,” Draco said quietly.  “I’ve been beating you up and you can only stand there and give me empty threats.”
   
“I’m afraid you’re the weak one, Draco Malfoy,” Lepus stood up.  “You can’t even face what I’m saying like a man.  Instead you hit me like a boy.  Pathetic.”
   
Draco took a step back.  Was that really how he was acting?  Like he was fifteen?  Was there really any meaning to Lepus’ words?  Draco turned to Hermione who was huddled in the corner.  “Are you okay?”
   
Her eyes widened in horror.  “Draco turn!”
   
Draco wheeled around to find Lepus right behind him, preparing to strike.  Before he could, Draco wrenched his arms behind his back and forced him to the ground.  Lepus simply smiled at him coldly.  “Pathetic.  Wait until the papers see what I’ve reduced you to.  People would pay big money to see you like this, attacking an innocent citizen.”
   
“People won’t listen to you,” Draco snarled.  “I’m their Minister.”
   
“Their Minister the boy,” Lepus chuckled.
   
“Draco’s more of a man than you’ll ever be!” Hermione called from across the room.  Draco felt strengthened by her comment and turned back to Lepus, ready to choke the life out of him.  He had never wanted something as badly to kill the man that lay damaged by his own hand underneath him.
   
“What are you going to do, Minister?” Lepus whispered.  “Kill me with your bare hands?”
   
Draco turned back to Hermione who shook her head, tears streaming down her face.  “Just leave him be.  Let him go.”
   
Reluctantly getting off Lepus, Draco pointed to the door.  “Go.  If you value your life.”
   
Lepus hobbled from the door and turned to look at Hermione and then back at Draco.  “It’s not over yet, Malfoy.”
   
Draco smiled unpleasantly.  “I’m well aware of  that, Leeder.  Now go before I call security and have you locked in Azkaban simply for existing.”
   
The door shut behind him and Draco turned back to Hermione who collapsed on the floor, tears streaming down her cheeks.  Draco hurried over to her, picking her up and bringing her to a chair where he placed her in his lap.  He held her close as she shuddered and shook as the aftereffects of the attack slithered through her.
   
“I’m sorry,” Draco whispered into her ear.  “I’m so sorry, Hermione, for dragging you into this.  You don’t deserve any of this.”
   
“He scares me so much, Draco,” she whispered back. 
   
“I wish I had come sooner,” Draco squeezed her tightly.  “You suffered so much for my sake.”
   
“You came as soon as you could,” Hermione stared at him, tears streaming out of her eyes.  “I’m just glad that I had the brilliant idea to write you and get you over here.  Who knows what would’ve happened to me otherwise.”
   
Draco shuddered at the thought.  Had he really acted like a fifteen year old boy?  Would it have been more noble of him to stand up to Lepus’ threats?  Were they empty or did he actually mean them? 
   
As if reading his thoughts, Hermione squeezed him.  “Thank you so much, Draco.  No man has ever stood up for me like that.
   
“And you weren’t acting like a boy,” she kissed his cheek.  “You were acting like a man who was fighting to save me and to punish him for his actions.  He was just goading you.”
   
Draco sighed, laying his head on her shoulder.  “I’m really worried now.  We’re going into dark times now.”
   
Hermione shrugged.  “Perhaps.  But you have something that Lepus will never have.”
   
“What’s that?” Draco asked curiously.
   
“You have the peoples’ trust,” Hermione explained.  “Lepus would scare them into doing what he wants to do.  But the people trust you.
   
“I saw that article about your ratings.  Seventy percent Draco!  Seventy percent think you’re doing a really great job.”
   
Draco just held her.  “I know but-”
   
“What?” Hermione asked.  “What’s wrong, Draco?”
   
He lifted her off his lap and looked her in the eyes.  “Merlin knows I want to  but-”
   
“What Draco?” Hermione asked, running her fingers through his hair.
   
“I can’t see you anymore,” Draco said, his voice rough.  “It’s too dangerous for you and I don’t want to put you through that.”
   
Hermione rolled her eyes, a reaction that Draco hadn’t been expecting at all.  “We went on one date where we unluckily ran into the Leeders.”
   
“Yeah and then he just came and attacked you,” Draco said, reminding her.
   
“You’re sounding an awful lot like Harry,” Hermione shook her head.  “When he was going out with Ginny and then left her because he didn’t want Voldemort to attack her.
   
“And you sound just like that,” she laughed.  “Trying to be the noble knight, willing to sacrifice everything for the princess.”
   
Draco chuckled.  “The last thing I want is to sound like Potter.”
   
Hermione laughed.  “Merlin forbid.”
   
He turned serious again, looking deeply into her eyes to see if she regretted anything, if she was scared of anything.  He didn’t see anything but affection there.  “But I don’t want you to get hurt.”
   
“I’ll be fine,” Hermione insisted.  “Seriously.  I fought beside Harry for seven years in situations way more intense than this.”
   
Draco shook his head in awe.  “You never cease to amaze me, Hermione Granger.”
   
“It’s good for you to be surprised,” Hermione whispered. 
   
“I just-” Draco started and then was cut off by Hermione placing a finger gently over his lips.
   
“Shh,” she smiled.  “Now why don’t you do something more useful than talking to me?  I can withstand more than you think and I want to be with you.”
   
Draco just grinned.  “What do you want me to do?”
   
“Kiss me,” Hermione whispered.  “Just kiss me.”
   
Lowering his head, his lips brushed hers... first the bottom, than the top, and then the bottom again before she wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed herself to him.  He deepened the kiss, requesting entrance for his tongue.  She gave it to him, intertwining her tongue with his.  She sighed at the movement and he wrapped his arms tightly around her, reveling in kissing her again.

And so he let himself get lost in this kiss.  The future would come but for now he was content.

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