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As the third day locked in the room dawned, boredom began to set in. Although he was loathe to admit it, Lucius began to wish he had not ripped all the books. At least reading them gave him something to do, ultimately fruitless as the studying had been.

Devoid of any activity to occupy him, Lucius found himself ridiculously over analysing everything Hermione Granger had said and done, searching for any hidden clues. It was this that made him ponder why she had seemed so concerned about how the Dark Lord treated him. Lucius could not help but wonder why she cared. Surely there were far more important things to worry her; missions for the Order perhaps, or maybe (Lucius hoped) mysterious disappearances of her friends. It did not make much sense that she seemed to care about him or his family.

This led him to think about his son. He was filled with a need to see Draco, to discuss those few shouted words last night and the Dark Lord’s reaction to his failure to capture Kingsley Shacklebolt. Although Lucius had trained himself to show no weakness, he still felt stab of fear at the prospect of his inevitable punishment and of the punishment his family may have had to endure in his place. The Dark Lord would, of course, be very angry. He wondered for a moment if Draco had been captured during an attempt to hastily rectify his father’s mistakes before the Dark Lord had been notified of it, or else been sent on a doomed mission in order to punish Lucius with the shame of having both Malfoy males behind bars. Forcing his mind from such unpleasant thoughts, Lucius cast his eyes around the room for something else to occupy him.

The tray of food Hermione had brought in on the first day was still on the floor in front of the armchairs. Occasionally Lucius found his eyes wandering over to it, but he stubbornly refused to eat anything from it. Quite aside from the probability that it was made by the muggleborn, he knew it was likely to be laced with Veritaserum. He would not be foolish enough to blab all the Dark Lord’s secrets just for a morsel of food. Nevertheless, he found his stomach aching with hunger whenever he looked at the welcoming loaf of bread and mug of steaming hot soup, obviously kept warm by magical means.

As the hours wore on, though, his resolve began to flicker, and he found himself absent mindedly staring at the tray whenever he had nothing else to think about. It was tantalising, the forbidden fruit. His normally rock hard will began to crumble as the hunger pains stabbed in his gut. Finally, although he felt almost sick with anger and frustration, Lucius resolved to at least investigate the food.

Reaching down, he took the mug of soup with a shaking hand, raising it to his nose and allowing the mouth watering smell to engulf his senses. It did not smell tainted. He lifted it to his lips. But his subconscious refused what he consciously longed for. Lucius felt his fingers contract violently around the mug, until it broke into chipped pieces, one of which embedded deep into the palm of his hand.

Cursing wildly, Lucius shook the piece free and wiped his hand on his robes. In the commotion, he did not notice the door open behind him nor did he hear the gasp from Hermione Granger. The first indication he had of her presence was when she exclaimed, “You’re bleeding!”

Hermione had forgotten for the moment who she was speaking to. In the shock of seeing Malfoy with a cut a bloodied hand, her more basic protective instincts took over. Rushing over to him, she pulled out her wand and took his hand in hers.

“Don’t touch me!” Lucius snarled, savagely wrenching back his cut hand. This reaction was provoked more by his embarrassment at being found in this state than her hand coming into contact with his, although it seemed to suggest otherwise.

Hermione went white and took a few, stiff steps away from him. Her brow furrowed slightly and she said in a forcibly even voice. “That was uncalled for. I was only trying to help…”

Lucius turned abruptly away from her, still clutching his bleeding hand. “I don’t need help! Not from…”

“Me?” Hermione whispered, feeling more hurt than she knew she should. This was Lucius Malfoy after all. “What, because I’m muggleborn? In case you didn’t notice,” her voice became stronger, “You’ve cut yourself badly and I’m the only one here with a wand. Unless you’d rather be stubborn and bleed to death?”

Goaded by the mocking tone that had crept into her voice, Lucius swung back round to face Hermione. “The Dark Lord is coming, and then you will be punished for your insolence.”

Hermione sighed, though refrained from rolling her eyes, and sat heavily in one of the armchairs. “Voldemort is currently in France recruiting the giants. He couldn’t care less that you’re bound for Azkaban.”

“You are wrong.” Lucius responded automatically, although his blind certainty wavered a little. Had he not seen the Dark Lord abandon many loyal servants to Azkaban, in his years of servitude? Of course, he had always been told they had been insignificant, that the Malfoy family would be better protected…

Shaking his head, as though the physical act would shake those poisonous thoughts from him, Lucius turned his attention back to his bleeding hand, which was now dripping on the floor. So, apparently, did Hermione. Raising her wand once more, she said in and almost gentle voice. “Let me help you.”

Lucius considered his options. He was unlikely to die from the bleeding, but it was a deep cut and he could feel himself getting weaker with each droplet of blood spilt on the ground. He thought briefly about ripping his cloak and binding it up the way muggles did, but immediately dismissed that. The only other way to stem the bleed, though, was to give in and allow the girl to heal it, which was dangerous in itself. He vaguely remembered Draco complaining that she was always top of the class at Hogwarts, so she was likely to be an accomplished witch, but who knew when the parents were no more magical than a plank of wood?

Eyeing her suspiciously, Lucius thrust his hand towards Hermione, then averted his eyes so as not to see her touch him. Hermione sprung forward and the spell was completed in less than ten seconds.

“Thank you.” Lucius winced as his years of in-bred manners produced the customary response. He quickly covered it up with a sarcastic, “Your parents must be so proud.”

“They are actually,” Hermione replied lightly, seating herself once more in amongst the soft pillows of the armchair. In the brief silence that followed, Malfoy paced and Hermione watched him like a hawk. Finally, she said, “You know why I’m here.”

“And you know what I am going to say.” Lucius hissed, fed up of having only her for company. “What makes you think I would know the location of Bellatrix Lestrange?”

Hermione sighed. “I know it’s no use to tell you, but I’m going to anyway…believe me when I say it really is in your best interest to co-operate.”

Lucius stopped his frantic pacing, frowning slightly. Why was she being so open with him? “Why? What could you possibly do to me?”

“Not me specifically…” she replied, obviously choosing her words very carefully. “But the Order has plans in motion…plans I don’t entirely…” She stopped, her face very white, and scanned the room with her eyes. When she next spoke it was with the falsely confident voice of someone hastily trying to cover up a mistake. “What happened to the books?”

“What?” Lucius was thrown momentarily by the question, but quickly recovered his smooth voice. “They were useless. I burned them.”

“All of them?” Hermione whispered, with the look of someone who had just seen something revolting. “But…you had no right…they were mine!” The colour rose on her cheeks. “How could you?”

“Do you really think I care that they were yours?” Lucius outwardly sneered in retort, although he was, once again, surprised by Hermione Granger. What sort of person was she, to leave an imprisoned Death Eater reading material from her own collection?

Hermione leapt to her feet, her hand closing over her wand in the folds of her robes. Lucius taunted her with his eyes. “Are you going to hit me again, interrogator?”

Hermione shook her head slowly, her anger abating almost as quickly as it had come. “No. No, I’m not like…”

“Me?” Lucius interrupted, sitting himself down in the chair opposite her. “I’m thankful you are not. I should have to change myself a good deal.”

She ignored his insult. “No, I was going to say…someone else. It doesn’t matter.” Silence fell again. Lucius’ mind was racing. Whose name had she been about to say? Surely not someone from the Order? He wondered just how much Hermione Granger wanted to be in the Order. As far as her interrogation was concerned, he guessed she was none too keen on being a member. And giving him the books…that was the most surprising revelation of all.

“You know about Draco’s capture, I assume,” Hermione said, her voice resuming the business like tone.

Malfoy made a concerted effort to tune himself back into the present conversation. He nodded begrudgingly. “I suppose you used the same cheap trick to apprehend my son as you did me.”

Surprisingly, Hermione smiled sweetly. “Of course. It’s funny how easy it is to fool Death Eaters.” She met Lucius’ withering glare with equal fervour, although failed to outstare him completely. “I suppose I should tell you that he has agreed to help us.”

Lucius briefly considered keeping himself composed but instead chose to laugh out loud at her comment. She seemed offended, which only served to make him laugh harder and more scornfully. It was insulting that the Order had not thought him worthy of a more subtle opponent. He pressed the tips of his fingers together, leaning back in his chair. “Do you truly think I would believe that?”

“I’m sorry to say that it is the truth, Mr Malfoy,” Hermione replied, wide eyed. Lucius felt a pang of doubt, but it was quickly overcome.

“Well, you are obviously mistaken in the truth. Which would not be that difficult, considering…” He purposefully left his sentence dangling in the air.

Hermione’s nose wrinkled as though the carefully aimed insult had actually been a disgusting odour. She got up, obviously admitting defeat, and headed for the door. But before her hand touched the smooth wooden panels, she turned back with a look on her face mimetic of having forgotten something. “If Draco hasn’t talked how is it that the Order now knows that Amycus Carrow is currently in Scotland doing deals with the Goblins?” She turned to leave.

Lucius felt as though he had been slapped again. Only those in Voldemort’s inner circle knew the other Death Eaters’ locations. He could feel his heart thumping against his chest and cursed himself inwardly at how easily the comment had affected him. The Order could have obtained the information from a variety of sources. Ultimately it did not change anything. His heartbeat slowed as he repeated this information to himself.

Hermione opened the door with exaggerated slowness, her heart unknowingly beating at the same rate as Malfoy’s. She could see the wide corridor stretching out in both directions, and instinctively thought of the route to the room Draco Malfoy was incarcerated in. She creaked the door open another few inches, hoping…

“Wait,” Lucius said, hating himself. He had to be certain of his instinct, and for that to happen he needed to see her eyes. He heard her breathe out, before she closed the door and turned back around. Fixing her with a formidable stare, Malfoy said in a dangerous voice barely above a whisper. “My son gave you that information?”

“Yes. Your son gave us that information.” She nodded, but her eyes flickered from side to side, stopping him from being able to accurately discern the truth from them. She scratched her nose. With a snarl, Lucius began pacing again, his mind overflowing with thoughts. Regardless of whether Draco had talked or not, the only free Malfoy was now Narcissa. And that meant that if Draco was captured on a mission for the Dark Lord, only his wife was available to take his son’s punishment. He may have participated, and indeed initiated, acts of incredible cruelty before with a heart as cold and emotionless as ice, but he was utterly unable to sever his emotions when thinking about those acts being performed on his wife.

He threw Hermione a disgusted look. “Can’t you see what the actions of your wonderful Order have accomplished?”

“Nothing more heinous than the acts Death Eaters perform every day,” she replied coldly, but she avoided his gaze again, and he knew that she did not like comparing the Order to the followers of the Dark Lord.

Seizing upon this, he continued savagely, “You are no better than us, no matter how much you wish it to be so. At least followers of the Dark Lord are not pathetically afraid of showing their true natures. We do not need our actions to be wrapped up in morals to justify them to ourselves.”

“We are offering you protection, Malfoy!” Hermione responded heatedly, two pink spots appearing on her cheeks. “Give us one piece of information and you, Draco and Narcissa will be saved from Voldemort.”

“You mean we would become glorified prisoners; prized fools for you to boast about to all your Ministry friends!”

“You’re a prized fool for following that awful man!” Hermione shouted, her voice shrill. She bit her lip and raised her hand up to cover her mouth. Lucius allowed himself a satisfied smile, but it soon faded into a grimace as the words slithered their way into his consciousness.

He could feel her eyes boring into him, presumably waiting in the hushed silence for his response. But his ordinarily active mind was blank. No witty response was ready to slip off his tongue. He let himself drop into an armchair, Narcissa’s face exploding in front of his eyes. He fixed his sight on the fire, concentrating entirely on the gently dancing flames until the image in his head faded away.

When he looked back up, Hermione was gone.

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