Chapter 1: Prologue
Hermione blinked in disbelief as she read her latest case assignment; she had been assigned to assist a former Death Eater. The name and case file were waiting at her assignment’s placement.
She gritted her teeth and read over the assignment again. It was a low security case. Apparently, the man she had been assigned to was generally unresponsive to everyone, not showing any signs of aggression. Still, no one wanted the case.
He’ll probably want a new caseworker once he sees you.
At least she hoped so. In all of Hermione’s time volunteering to help newly released prisoners, the only time she thought twice about her line of charity was when she thought of helping one of those.
As always, the ex-convicts at Wizarding Britain’s Rehabilitation House for Reformed Men greeted her in a chorus when she entered. The House was set up for newly released ex-convicts from Azkaban who had no home or place to go to and needed help with basic job skills, job opportunities, securing housing, and clothing. It helped reduce the chance that they would commit new crimes.
The men there all respected and cherished her, making her feel a little like royalty when she arrived. They knew she had their best interests in mind and seemed to count themselves lucky that a celebrated war heroine was bothering to help men of their stature in her free time.
But Hermione felt that it was a duty.
She had seen the Ministry’s cruelties during and after the war. As bad as Azkaban was ever rumored to be, she knew that it was even worse now. It was usually far too harsh in its treatment for many, even former Death Eaters. And she never refused a case. The worst of the Death Eaters had received the Kiss or a life sentence. This was a new world; if they weren’t ready to make amends, their intolerance would not be accepted.
As she passed the familiar faces of the men she had been working with on and off, they yelled out their hellos and their latest achievements. She smiled and waved, informing them that today she was off to meet a new friend.
The House’s Coordinator, David, a stocky bald man who often flirted with Hermione, ushered her back to the last room and opened the door. “Malfoy, someone’s here to see you.”
Her breath caught in her throat.
Malfoy? Lucius Malfoy? Of course, how many unKissed Death Eaters are left in Azkaban?
The man sitting in the chair by the window gave no clue that he had heard anyone enter. He sat still, staring out of the window. His long platinum hair, tied in a ponytail, was nearly gray now, but longer than ever.
David gave her a sad smile and handed her a case file. “You know how to summon me if there’s a problem.”
“Yes, David, thank you.”
He nodded before turning to exit.
Hermione stared at the back of Lucius Malfoy’s head for several moments before exhaling quietly and sitting on the small bed provided near the wall. She opened his file.
He had served a five-year sentence in Azkaban. His wife, Narcissa, had divorced him shortly after his sentencing and taken most of his money. The rest of his assets, including Malfoy Manor, had been seized by the Ministry. Draco, his son, had married but had soon divorced after having a child. He was now living on the outskirts of London, alone, like a hermit.
Apparently Lucius Malfoy owned nothing and no longer had any ties to anyone. If there was someone who needed a way to transition back into the wizarding world right now, it was him.
Hermione cleared her throat loudly. “Hello. Mr. Malfoy. You er--you may remember me.”
She waited for recognition of her voice to take hold and perhaps a glare of contempt or a snarky response.
But Lucius didn’t move or respond. Instead of relief, Hermione found herself annoyed.
Of course he remembers you, how could he ever forget?
She had only been held captive and tortured right in front him just five years earlier. That one day alone had changed her life forever.
She and Ron had tried to make a go of it, but she always saw guilt in his eyes for not being able to come to her rescue, and it seemed, for him at least, he could never forgive himself for not saving her from that one trauma. But deep down, she had always wondered if their attraction was born out of convenience and close friendship instead of real love. She wasn’t sure what love was anymore. And in the end, whatever they had had wasn’t enough, and now he was--
Stop it, Hermione! You’re doing it again!
Hermione pursed her lips determinedly. She didn’t have time to be meditating on the past, regret, or Ron. There was so much to be done, and the sooner she got through with this particular case, the better.
“Mr. Malfoy, I’m here to help you. Now, we have a lot to do. We have to register you for a work opportunity program, perhaps find you one that will teach you a new skill. Of course, you’ll have to reapply for a Limited Wand for Restricted Magic. And then there’s the renewal of your Apparation license, although if it’s not absolutely required, that may not happen. As you probably already know, it may be a few years before you can secure final approval, but we can put you on the road to getting started.”
Still no response.
If only he would look at her or something.
She stood up, and stood beside him, cautiously putting her hand on his shoulder, hoping to get some sort of reaction--a flinch, a jerk, something.
Lucius eyes remained fixed on the window.
She studied his face and found herself frowning. This was not the intimidating proud Lucius Malfoy before whom she used to cower.
This man appeared to be broken.
The lines on his face were more pronounced than they should have been for a man his age, and his eyes, those were the worst. His steel gray eyes had a watery forlorn look to them that made her heart break.
This is not Lucius Malfoy.
She huffed. Feeling more angry than anything. More angry than she should have. Why she was angry even she did not know.
“Mr. Malfoy, if you would please look at me.”
When he didn’t, she balled her fists and considered just walking out. If he didn’t want her help, then she wasn’t going to waste her time. This wasn’t her bloody job; she was just a volunteer. There were others who actually wanted her help; she was one of the most popular volunteers!
She was staring down at him, considering whether she wanted to leave, when she noticed a fly on Lucius hand. She watched it curiously. It was busy crawling up his thumb. Just the sight of it on his skin gave her goosebumps, and yet Lucius's hand didn’t move a bit. He appeared to be completely numb.
Hermione wrinkled her forehead, reaching down to swat the fly away, brushing his hand as she did. He still didn’t move, his eyes only blinked, staring straight ahead.
She pressed her hand into his softly, caressing it soothingly. Her eyes watered in pity. What had become of him?
She held his hand and squeezed, and then finally, Lucius moved. Only slightly. He took in a deep breath and then closed his eyes, as if relishing her touch.
She smiled. Lucius Malfoy was in there somewhere.
Chapter 2: I'll Shelter You
When Hermione came back the next day, Lucius was sitting in the same position by the window.
“I brought you some paperwork; I wanted to find out if you had any skills that would help me match you to one of the work transition programs available to you.”
He didn’t turn. Hermione huffed, walking over with her list of questions.
She stood behind him, looking down at him once again. “Well if you’re not going to talk to me, would you at least acknowledge that you can hear me?”
He sighed softly.
“Well that’s something,” she muttered, coming closer. She remembered touching him yesterday and the reaction she had gotten, so she ventured to reach out to place her hand on his shoulder. His eyelids fluttered before resuming their usual vacant look.
She studied his face curiously, sliding her hand over his shoulder and down his back softly. His eyelids fluttered once more and he sighed again.
Her hand brushed against his long ponytail. She stared at it. His hair could use a good brushing.
“When’s the last time you brushed your hair?” she asked.
Lucius, of course, did not reply.
What are you doing? You’re here to help him get work, a trade, and now you’re fussing over his bloody hair? I'm going barmy.
Hermione set her jaw. “Well, if you’re not going to talk, I can’t really help you. Here are the forms, you can fill them out or not,” she said more forcibly than she had planned, dropping them on his lap before turning on her heel to leave.
When she made it outside of the door she found herself breathless, her heart racing.
Why was she getting so worked up over Lucius Malfoy not talking or responding to her? Why did it matter? Her thoughts drifted to the way her touch had made his eyelids flutter, as if he had been shocked to be touched.
Or perhaps just relieved to be touched.
“What am I doing?’ she whispered to herself.
“Frustrating, isn’t it?” David asked, interrupting her thoughts. He shook his head, staring past her into the room.
Hermione was embarrassed to feel her face flush, as if he had caught her with a dirty magazine. “Uh… what’s that?”
“You try to help someone, and they treat you like dirt. Typical Malfoy behavior, that is. I wouldn’t take it personally; he’s been like that toward everyone. Thinks he’s too good to talk to the rest of us.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Did it ever occur to you that he might be traumatized?”
David laughed sardonically. “Right, Lucius Malfoy traumatized. If it’s all right with you, I think I’ll stick to my first assessment. Everyone else here agrees, he’s a right foul prick, and he can rot for all I care.”
Hermione felt her anger rising. Anger at David’s judgmental bias and ignorance of psychological distress, and anger at herself for even caring this much to be angry on Lucius Malfoy’s behalf.
“Yes, well, he talks to me,” she said, haughtily raising her chin.
David looked surprised. “But you’re…”
“I’m what?” she demanded threateningly.
David shook his head, “… nothing.”
Hermione drew closer to him. “You see to it that you give Mr. Malfoy your best treatment. He trusts me, and I’ll find out if you are mistreating him in any way…”
“Hermione, you don’t have to be that way. How long have we known each other now?”
“Not long enough it seems. I’ll be back tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? But you always come on weekends.”
“Well, this is a special case. I’ll be here every day until he gets on his feet.”
David stared at her curiously before nodding his head, looking guilty for earning Hermione’s scowl. “All right.”
She walked away with a confident attitude of someone who had done their job of putting someone in their place. But once she was outside she took in a deep breath, unsure of why she had been so roused to defend Lucius Malfoy. Or why she had committed to coming back to visit him every day when she was only expected to come once each weekend.
But there was one thing Hermione Granger was absolutely certain about: she was very unnerved and it had everything to do with Lucius Malfoy.
“Hello Mr. Malfoy, nice to see you up and waiting for me,” she said humorlessly as she moved toward the side and sat on his bed.
“Now, I have a possible job interview for you, a kind older man in Edinburgh who owns a hippogriff ranch needs a field hand. Of course you’ll need some knowledge of hippogriffs and a disposition suitable to work around them, but we can manage that, can’t we?”
She gave an obligatory pause as if Lucius would respond, knowing full well that he wouldn’t.
“There’s also a magical welder position available with a man right in the center of London. Now, that would mean you would have to reapply for your wand license straight away. It would be restricted for use at the job, of course, but it’s a great way to get back into the swing of things, and you get to use magic regularly. Do either one of these options excite you?”
She looked curiously upon Lucius’s vacant stare. The thought that he had perhaps almost been Kissed or spent too much time around Dementors flittered across her mind, but she pushed it away and forced a smile on her face.
“Yes, it’s obvious the magical welder position is much more in line with a person of your knowledge and stature,” she said as if agreeing with something he had said.
“First things first then, if you’re going to be reapplying for a Restricted Wand, we must make sure that you’re properly trained on the skill of magical welding and that you’re magic is contained with no malicious intent to harm. You’ll have to be prepared to have your Mind Scan conducted by the Ministry and answer a series of questions, and then, of course, there will be a job interview.”
She waited one moment, surveying his face for any signs of irritation, frustration, acknowledgement… anything. Still that same blank vacant stare. She straightened, fingering her wand, her curiosity building.
What was wrong with Lucius Malfoy? Five years in Azkaban did not make someone a vegetable, and clearly, he was not a complete vegetable. He was able to clean himself, to move, to eat, but outside of that, he appeared almost catatonic… except for when she touched him.
She gripped her wand, raising it, considering whether she should… no, that was an invasion of privacy. She could not perform Legilimency on him to see what was going on in his head. That would be for the Ministry to do if he chose to follow up with the magical welding position.
Or any position really.
No one would dare hire Lucius without being guaranteed he had no covert plans to return to his old ways. He was an ex-Death Eater, lower than a mass murderer in the eyes of the wizarding world.
Hermione thought on it some more. She could just go into his mind very quickly to see what exactly she was dealing with, if there was any hope of her actually helping him. In and out, just like that. She stared at the point on his temple where she would do it. Just a flick and a spell.
She sighed in resignation. Guilt and anxiety defeated the idea once more, and her eyes drifted from his temple to his hair.
His once beautiful white blond golden locks were now just gray with highlights of his former hair color sprinkled here and there. His ponytail was messy and looked matted. She clicked her teeth, looking around the room for a brush.
When she didn’t find one, she Transfigured a small comb that she carried around in her briefcase.
“But before we can do any of that,” she said, as she struggled to slide off the mangy rubber band that was holding his hair together, “we have to do something about this… don’t they provide you with basic grooming tools here?” she asked rhetorically, not expecting an answer.
She ran her hand over his hair, almost soothingly as if to reassure him. When she heard him sigh, and tilt his head back into her touch, her heart sped up in excitement.
She repeated the motion, this time much slower, keeping her eyes fixed on the back of his head for the same reaction. He leaned his head back further, sparking a small smile from her.
She was more than slightly disturbed that this tiny reaction from her former enemy had captivated her attention. It was as if a need had been sparked, she wanted to see more of a reaction from him. She continued to stroke her hand over his hair with care, brushing it slowly and carefully. She took care not to yank too hard, caressing her hand over his hair after each stroke.
There was a low murmur, and she paused. “You like that, do you?” she whispered. Suddenly aware of how intimate the act would appear to an outsider, she looked back at the door, rose and murmured a locking spell on it.
She wasn’t even sure. She just knew that she didn’t want them to be interrupted or seen like this.
Lucius’s head remained tilted slightly back as if waiting for her to return, and she wasted no time in sitting down behind him and resuming. This time, scooting much closer with her breasts nearly pressed against the back of his chair.
“How’s that?” she whispered, smoothing her hand slowly over the top of his head as she continued to brush.
Lucius hummed softly, which made Hermione smile once more. “Honestly, Mr. Malfoy, if it takes this much attention to acknowledge my presence, I wonder what it will take to get you to speak.”
She looked down, trying to get a glimpse of his face, to see if he was smiling in response to her teasing. Nothing. Her smile turned into a frown. If she could only get one glimpse into his mind, to see what was going on, it would make things much easier.
There are mind healers for that sort of thing. You know the protocol.
Yes, of course she did.
She was the one who helped revamp the guidelines for what volunteers of program could and could not do. And there were good reasons for those guidelines. Despite the rigorous training and screening required to be a volunteer with the rehabilitation program, Hermione had heard more than one story about volunteers overstepping their bounds. A few had created trouble by becoming over-involved in the lives of the ex-cons they assisted to the detriment of the convict or themselves.
But this was different, she reasoned. Something was seriously wrong with Lucius, and before she would take him to be examined by mind healers so that he could get his magical welding license, she felt she was obligated to have an understanding about what was going on first. With the Ministry on a revenge quest, whatever they found could be exploited and land him back in Azkaban, or worse, a spell damaged ward for the rest of his life.
Just one little peek.
She held on tight to a fistful of his hair in one hand as she put down the brush and reached into her robe pocket to withdraw her wand once more. Taking a deep breath she lightly placed it against the weakest area of his temple and whispered, “Legillimens.”
And then she felt cold, very cold. All of the pictures before her were grey. There was no color, only bars, darkness, and flashes of grey. She shivered and then gasped when she saw something cloud Lucius’ memory with a large gaping mouth that was so close, too close, threatening to suck out his very soul.
Hermione ended the spell quickly, frozen in shock as she stared down at Lucius.
He had been locked up with at least one. And from the looks of his memories, it had floated near him in his cell for who knows how long, threatening to Kiss him at any moment.
Hermione set her mouth in a determined scowl, narrowing her eyes. The Ministry had lied about severing their ties with Dementors. Allowing a Dementor into a prisoner’s cell was cruel, inhumane, and qualified as torture.
She didn’t even want to imagine what havoc the thing must have wreaked on Lucius’ mind. She surmised that he probably had to share a cell with it day in and day out until he was what she saw before her; a shell of his former self.
It was no wonder why his eyes were vacant. Whatever was left of the real Lucius Malfoy, his heart and soul, was buried somewhere deep inside, perhaps even in hiding, the rest had probably been drained from him slowly. It was a horrifying thought; almost worse than the thought of the Kiss itself. Somewhere, in there, Lucius Malfoy was still there, lost and probably terrified to come out.
Hermione gripped her wand tightly, balled her other fist and straightened her posture in a determined pose. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Malfoy. You may have committed some horrible crimes, but…” she stopped and then abruptly turned around, unlocked the door and walked out. She was going to find David.
Hermione was taking Lucius Malfoy home.
Chapter 3: A Slow Awakening
Hermione’s mind raced as she walked back into the room with Lucius after having a long and exhausting argument with David, who finally consented to allowing her to withdraw Lucius. David seemed almost resigned and a bit relieved to be rid of both Lucius and Hermione by the end of their spat. Hermione wanted to make haste to get them out before he changed his mind and called the volunteer agency.
Not that they could have done anything about it. Lucius Malfoy was a free man now. He could go where he liked. He was not bound to the Rehabilitation House, and Hermione was a war heroine. David didn’t have a leg to stand on. Still, she didn’t want to get into a long drawn out discussion with the agency to explain her actions.
Hermione took a deep breath, looked around the modest room as she put down her purse, and whispered an enlargement spell to accommodate whatever items Lucius owned. She was a little surprised to see only one robe hanging in his closet along with a handful of trousers. No other effects.
“Come on, you’re going to have to help me out here,” she huffed, as she pulled at his shoulder to urge him to stand. He didn’t move for a few minutes, but when she pulled on his biceps and continued to plead, he finally sighed and stood slowly on his own.
“Thank you,” she said in relief, pulling his arm not so gently as she made her way to the door.
“Hold on, Hermione,” David said, stopping her. “You have to sign this if you’re taking him,” he said, handing her papers she was all too familiar with.
What the hell are you doing, Hermione? a lone voice screamed somewhere in the back of her mind.
Ignoring it, she quickly signed the release forms and pushed past David, who looked on pitifully as she and Lucius made their way to the front door.
She quickly dragged him towards the Weasleys’ flying car, stuffing him into the passenger seat while trying to be mindful of any signs that he would break his trance-like state. She was almost expecting him to scream at her or shake her as she folded his legs inside, but he cooperated and allowed himself to be seated before she closed his door and slid into the driver’s seat.
“I bet you’ve never been in one of these before,” she said almost cheerfully. Taking a deep breath, she tried to focus on getting the car in gear and off the ground, eager to keep her mind from launching into another protest about taking a newly released ex-Death Eater home with her.
She put up the Invisibility Shield as they climbed higher into the air. The car jerked a bit and then dipped.
“Sorry,” she said, shifting gears. “I just acquired this, so I’m still figuring a few things out, but it should be smooth riding from here out,” she said, frowning, looking down at the gauges.
“You’re probably wondering what I’m doing with the Weasleys’ flying car,” she mused, glancing quickly over at Lucius who stared blankly ahead. She shifted another gear and then put her hand on his thigh briefly, patting it reassuringly. Something like recognition flashed in his eyes before he closed them and she had to turn her head quickly to pull up right before the car capped the tips of a few trees.
“Ooops!” she squeaked, pulling up on the steering wheel hard.
When the car was finally up at a safe level, she let it cruise.
After several moments of silence she sighed. “Well, since you asked,” she said as if Lucius had been grilling her about the subject matter. “This was a gift from Ron.” She snorted, contorting her face at mentioning her ex-boyfriend’s name. “Something to ease his conscience, I suppose. He contacted me a few weeks ago to tell me that the car had found its way home, somehow. Can you imagine? All this time, it’s been hiding out in the forest, and now it decides to come home….”
Lucius continued to stare ahead, and Hermione continued as if he had asked a question. “Why? Because he knew how limited my commute is… I can’t bloody well take the Floo to the Rehabilitation House because of the Ministry’s fear of allowing the men access to the Floo Network. And the bus takes too long and it’s really for the men living there. Apparition? Yes, well, it’s not my first choice, it makes me nauseous, actually. And I absolutely refuse to get on a broom to fly over London, so this works out perfectly.”
There was silence as they glided over various buildings. Hermione switched gears, which seemed to slow down the trip. She was actually enjoying the scenery. She imagined that Lucius probably appreciated seeing the wide-open spacious sky from this perspective, and thought it would be nice to prolong the trip to her home.
“Nice to be outside, isn’t it? You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy it now.”
A few more moments of silence passed before she found herself sighing. “Pardon? Ron and I?” she asked, pretending as if Lucius had posed another question. “Oh that, well, let’s just say I no longer believe in fairy tale endings. He’s taken up with Loony Lovegood,” she said with much spitefulness.
“It was just as well. I’m very busy, no time for silly games, and Ron is still very much a boy. I can’t waste time on things like hanging out in pubs, parties, and going to Quidditch matches. On top of my volunteer activities, I’m interning at St. Mungo’s to be a Healer,” she said proudly, sticking her nose up in the air as a familiar watery quality began to blur her eyes.
Her break-up with Ron had been a long time coming. Deep down, she thought it had been doomed from the outset because of all they had been through. It always seemed as if Ron felt he had to prove himself where she was concerned, and that he could never quite let go of everything they had been through. Instead of bringing them closer together, it felt as if it had been slowly tearing them apart.
When they finally broke up, it had been dramatic, nasty, and painful. However, since then, he had been trying to salvage what he could of their friendship by sending her brief owl messages and giving her gifts, such as the car. But his efforts had nothing to do with his interests in reconciling their failed romantic relationship, only their friendship. It seemed he had wasted no time in going out with other girls after their break-up, and if the rumors were true, he had finally settled on one girl: Luna Lovegood. Somehow that had hurt Hermione worse than the break-up itself. Not only had she lost her boyfriend and, possibly, one of her best friends, but Luna was someone she had thought of as a close friend and confidante. She would have never thought that the eccentric blonde girl had eyes for Ron, or that she would date her ex. Perhaps Hermione had underestimated the spacey girl and should have been watching her more closely.
She shook her head, drawing her lips into a tight line. “It’s no matter now,” she said out loud. “These are the best years to be single. Relationships just complicate things,” she said bitterly, gripping the steering wheel harder. She realized just how upset she had made herself by talking about the subject when she looked down and noticed that she had passed her home.
“Damn it,” she cursed, shifting the gear again which caused the car to jerk dramatically, pushing Lucius forward. His body offered no resistance as he slid forward, hitting the dashboard hard.
“Oh, no, Mr. Malfoy! I’m sorry!” she cried, trying to pull him back into the seat with one hand while she kept her other hand on the steering wheel. “Oh, for Pete’s sake, protect yourself! I know you hear me!”
She groaned when he didn’t respond as she circled her house before landing in her backyard. She abruptly cut the engine off, unsnapped her seatbelt and ran to the other side, kneeling down and pushing Lucius back up so that he was sitting straight in his seat, rubbing his forehead and checking him for injuries.
“Honestly, Mr. Malfoy, you’re going to have to work with me a little bit if you want to get better,” she scolded as she removed his seatbelt.
“Come on now, let’s get you out,” she said, pulling his legs out, before standing up straight. “I’m not going to lift you. Get up,” she ordered. When Lucius didn’t move she scowled, debating on whether she would yell out when she thought of something. She leaned over to smooth her hand over his hair and whispered in his ear. “Let’s go inside, I’ll make us some tea. Doesn’t that sound lovely?”
Lucius’s eyes fluttered as Hermione’s hand stroked his head. When her breath hit his ear, he swallowed before his eyes finally moved to meet hers.
The air nearly left her as he stared deliberately back at her. “What do you say?” she asked, feeling her heart race and her knees going weak.
He nodded slowly and she stood back to give him space to stand up.
Lucius kept his eyes fixed on hers as he climbed out of the car and straightened up to his full height. She found herself gawking up at him, as the subdued power he radiated seemed to leak out even as he remained silent.
“Uh… follow me,” she said a bit shakily as she forced herself to turn her back on him and walk to her back door.
Shortly after leaving Hogwarts, Hermione, along with Harry, Ron, and Neville, had been given a sizeable monetary award along with the Order of Merlin, First Class, for their service in helping to defeat Voldemort. She had put away most of the money to pay for her studies as a Healer, but the rest she used to purchase a small two story gray stone house in the rural town of Melton. It had a vegetable and flower garden that she enjoyed tending to as well as enough privacy to allow her to read and think in peace. She considered her home a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of work and all of the attention she received whenever she was out in London.
Once they entered, Hermione pointed towards the loveseat in the living room. “You can sit down here, if you like,” she offered. Lucius walked over slowly in the same trance-like fashion he had done everything else before taking a seat.
She turned to go deeper into the kitchen to begin fixing a tray for tea. “Do you like milk and sugar?” she called to him. “Of course, you’d probably like yours plain, silly me,” she said to herself.
When everything was ready, she brought out the tray and set it before him on the coffee table, taking a seat across from him.
“Drink,” she said, holding the cup out for him to take. When he didn’t, she put it down firmly.
“What happened to you, Mr. Malfoy? Talk to me… please,” she implored.
His eyes remained fixed on hers. This new development of intense eye contact was starting to unnerve her. She stood up and walked around the coffee table to take a seat beside him on the couch.
“Mr. Malfoy… Lucius,” she said, putting her hand on his thigh once more.
“Please,” she said, bringing her hand up to cup his chin to turn his face to meet her gaze once more. “What happened? Did they-did they torture you?” she asked, keeping her voice gentle and soft, trying to coax anything from him.
Lucius’s eyes didn’t change, but his lips twitched, and she anticipated that finally he would pull away from her touch, but instead he did the oddest thing she had seen him do yet. He closed his eyes with a low hum and cocked his head slightly while pressing his cheek against the hand holding his face. Before she realized what she was doing, Hermione began to stroke his face, slowly, tenderly, as if trying to soothe away any memory of what he may have endured.
“They did, didn’t they? They let Dementors into your cell,” she said, her eyes watering as she leaned forward, bringing his face closer to hers until their foreheads were pressed against each other.
She held them together in that pose for several moments, her eyes closed as she tried with her every movement and breath to convey her sympathy. “I’m going to make sure you get back to yourself. You’ll be talking and working and living life to the fullest in no time.”
And she meant every word; she was Hermione Granger, after all, the brightest witch of her age, and if anyone could bring a tortured man back to life, she knew that she could.
She watched him eat, as she ate, until most of it was gone.
“Can you climb stairs? Of course you can, let me show you your room,” she said, grabbing his hand and leading him up to the guest bedroom she had prepared for him shortly after they had arrived.
She opened the door and stepped inside, turning around to watch Lucius’s reaction. It was a quaint room. There was a medium-sized bed that Ron used to sleep on whenever they had a row, and there were a few Muggle portraits of various landscapes. The walls were a dark sea blue, and she always thought it had a calming effect on anyone who entered it.
Lucius remained at the door, his eyes fixed on the darkened window on the opposite wall. Hermione immediately went to it, and closed the shade.
“Well, it’s not as nice as the Manor, but it’ll have to do,” she said smartly, as if Lucius had made a complaint. Turning around, she jumped back in shock; he was standing right behind her, staring down at her.
“Merlin, Mr. Malfoy! Make some noise if you’re going to be moving about like that,” she said in a half scolding, half impressed tone.
Without thinking, she placed her hands on his chest, feeling for the clasps of his robes. As she undid each clasp, she could feel heat seeping in her face, wondering how far she planned to go in helping him in this particular endeavor.
What are you going to do, bathe him, too?
She slipped his robes off, letting the garments fall to the floor around his legs. They stared at each other for a few moments.
“You’d like me to draw your bath before you retire, I presume?” she heard herself asking, recognizing an unfamiliar tremor in her voice.
Goddess, what ARE you doing?
Lucius nodded his head slowly, which surprised Hermione.
She let her eyes fall down to his broad shoulders and torso, before briefly glancing down to his trousers. A blush crept into her face as she realized she had been surveying his body for signs of physical deterioration. She remembered Lucius to be a well-built man, which had always been apparent, even through the long flowing robes he wore when she had been a child.
“All right, but I’ll just draw it, you’ll have to bathe yourself,” she struggled to say before moving past him to make her way to the loo.
What if he’s slipped or worse, drowned himself? What kind of caregiver would you be to bring him here to die?
“Ridiculous,” she muttered. He had been doing just fine by himself. Just because he was unresponsive and blank around the eyes didn’t mean he was completely helpless.
Still, she hadn’t even heard the splashing of water signaling him getting into the bath or exiting, and almost ten minutes had passed.
Gripping the paper in her hand, she rose, softly tiptoed out into the hallway to put her ear against the bathroom door.
There was no sound at all. She rapped her knuckles lightly against the door. “You all right in there?”
Slowly turning the door handle, she was greeted by the sight of a bare-chested Lucius sitting in the tub. His head rested against the wall, his arms were on the edges of the tub, as if he were in a Muggle whirlpool. His eyes were closed, giving him the appearance of someone asleep.
“Mr. Malfoy?” Hermione said, after clearing her throat and getting no reaction.
He slowly opened his eyes, to gaze at her before closing them once more.
“Sorry, just wanted to make sure you were okay. You can soak as long as you like, but if you’re not out in an hour, I’ll come back to check on you, all right?”
For some reason she couldn’t move her feet as she stood there staring at his wet chest. His muscles had gone slightly slack from his time in Azkaban, but considerably much less than she would have thought. His chest was broad and defined. There were scratch marks, some bright red; some faded purple, along his arms as if someone had been digging into his skin. It only made the unblemished, alabaster skin surrounding it more alluring.
Her eyes drifted to the fading bubbles in the bath, and though she tried with some effort and strain, she could not see anything else. Realizing she had been staring far too long, she backed out quickly, shutting the door quietly as she crossed the doorway.
She stood outside of the doorway for many minutes, contemplating the way seeing him in the tub had made her feel. Had it really been so long since she’d seen a shirtless man that seeing the wet, partially-defined chest of a catatonic ex-con could get her knickers damp?
Only he wasn’t catatonic, was he?
He had opened his eyes and nodded his head… for her. He was coming around. First, the stare in the car, then nodding for her when she asked him if he wanted a bath, and now, he was actually opening his eyes and acknowledging her.
She smiled. It had only been a few hours, and Lucius Malfoy was making progress toward rehabilitation already.
Chapter 4: Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back
Hermione awoke with tears on her cheek. She cursed under her breath. She had been crying again in her sleep. As usual, she couldn’t remember what she had been dreaming about, but the sneaking suspicion that it had something to do with Ron, Luna, and her pathetic miserable life, was strong.
Taking a big sniff and wiping her face, she paused and listened. The normal still quiet of her house at this hour was broken by soft muffled sobs, coming from outside of her bedroom door. Hermione arose slowly and quietly, tiptoeing to the door to listen.
She could hear the definitive sound of sobs and soft moans, but they were very muted, as if behind another door.
Her eyes widened as the daze of waking herself from a nightmare began to wear off.
Lucius was crying, or having a fit or something. She opened the door quickly, ready to practically run into his room, and then stopped short of pushing the door open in panic.
That will hardly calm him down, Hermione.
“Right,” she muttered, carefully opening the door and peeking through in the darkness.
She couldn’t see much. Just stark white hair in a messy ponytail lying against a curved back facing the door. Lucius was in a fetal position, holding himself, his covers thrown off of him, and he was sobbing and moaning.
“It’s okay, Mr. Malfoy, I’m here,” she said softly as she walked slowly towards his bed. “It’s all right, you’re safe. You really are. Mr. Malfoy?”
She stood near the edge of his bed, staring down at him. His rather impressive form, folded into itself as he rocked while he sobbed, was surreal to behold. To see a man, whom she always thought of as so powerful, in the grips of such frailty was more than a little heartbreaking to witness. She felt her eyes water as she thought of the possibility that this was not something that would ever go away.
“No. No more,” she said firmly, more to herself than anything. “Mr. Malfoy,” she called louder, leaning over to get a better look at him.
His eyes were clenched shut and he was still on his side, his sobs had quieted a little but he was still moaning low, as if he were afraid of being heard now.
“Lucius…” she said, placing a hand on his sweat-soaked shirt. He immediately stopped rocking and moaned once more, only this time it wasn’t a moan of someone in deep psychic pain; it was one of relief.
She didn’t pull her hand away, instead pressed it against his back harder, sliding it down to the center to rub him there, back and forth, up and down as she chanted his name over again.
“Lucius… Lucius… it’s all right. You’re safe… you’re safe here with me.”
She felt his breathing slow and heard him swallow rapidly a few times before pulling out of his self-made cocoon. Straightening out on the bed to lie on his back, he stared up at her in the dark.
She reached up to wipe his brow, and he closed his eyes, taking in deep slow breaths, apparently comforted by her touch. She felt a rush of assurance and delight to see that she could bring him so much relief with a single touch. And so she leaned in without thinking twice, to place a kiss on his forehead.
Lucius’s hand shot up quickly and he gripped her wrist tightly, causing Hermione to pull back in startlement. She stared down at him fearfully as she began to worry that perhaps she had overstepped her bounds. Perhaps her touch had not only brought him back from the abyss of his torment, but it may have also brought back the old Lucius Malfoy who would cringe at the thought of a Mudblood touching him.
His gripped tightened until she found herself trying to wriggle herself free from it, but she could not, his hold on her was steady. “Lucius, you’re hur—”
Before she could finish, he pulled her down so that her forehead bumped against his and their lips brushed. But instead of kissing her, he seemed to be more intent on breathing her in. As he inhaled her scent, his eyes closed once more and his grip on her wrist slackened.
She paused, knowing full well that she should at least make some effort to pull back, but for some reason she was unable to do so. Seeing him so close, feeling his breath on her mouth, his lips almost touching her skin, his eyes closed in contentment because of her proximity was all very intoxicating.
And although the thought disturbed her, right now, Hermione wanted nothing more than to fall into him, press her lips against his, so that she could hear his appreciation for her kindness. She could almost picture the life in his eyes as they opened in recognition and closed in gratitude.
“Are you all right?” she breathed against his lips, only pulling back a little so that she could discern his full expression in the dark and give him room to respond.
Lucius closed his mouth and nodded slightly.
She exhaled, not sure if she was relieved or a little disappointed that she was no longer needed. When she moved to get up, he quickly wrapped a firm arm around her waist, holding her close to him.
“Lucius…” she said weakly, not sure of what to say. It felt good to have a man’s arm around her, a man who needed her, wanted her company.
You’re sick, Hermione. He’s obviously ill, and you’re desperate. Pathetic!
“I mean… Mr. Malfoy. This is hardly appropriate. I can sit with you through the night, but I can’t stay here with you like this… it’s not proper,” she said stiffly, trying her best to sound stern despite her anxiety. Perhaps he could see through her, could smell her desire to be held.
She shifted and tried to rise again, but his grip around her torso became tighter as he pulled her closer, pressing her body into him. Panic began to rise as she considered her circumstance. Would she have to fight Lucius to break free? And if she did manage to get away, what then?
Before Hermione could contemplate any of that, he murmured something and his chest shook with what felt like a great sob. She looked up to see his face wet with newly formed tears which were threatening to fall from his chin.
“Please,” he whispered.
She froze, staring up at him, feeling her body shake with every great effort he took to calm down; his embrace was firm with desperation and need.
“Don’t leave me… please,” he said brokenly.
Hermione found herself immediately nodding to reassure him that she wouldn’t as her body relaxed and caved into the pressure of his arms. Slowly, she laid her head on his chest, listening for the sound of his racing heart, signs that that his sobs were subsiding, and with the hope that he would say something else.
But he didn’t.
His breathing and his heartbeat slowed, she could feel it in her temples as she tried not to think of the fact that she was sleeping in the bed with the ex-Death Eater she had brought home to help rehabilitate, or that the ex-Death Eater was Lucius Malfoy, and that she was lying on his chest in a sheer nightgown. She summoned all of her willpower and energy to block out how nice it felt to be in the grip of a man’s firm embrace.
But it took every last bit of her energy not to think on it, and before she knew it, Hermione was fast asleep.
She gasped loudly, rising up abruptly with her eyes fixed on Lucius as she wrangled free from out of his now loose embrace to climb out of bed.
He was watching her with sleep-hazed eyes, a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. It was a strange sight. She found his smile was almost refreshing to see, yet, it held a smug and sinister arrogance that reminded her of who he was…
Who he is, Hermione, who he IS. This is Lucius Malfoy you’re dealing with.
She set her jaw, her annoyance with herself and him growing. “Do you find this funny, Mr. Malfoy?” she asked, as she began to back away from the bed.
His smile became a smirk, which unnerved her even more than his smile. She could feel herself scowling, although why she was scowling, she wasn’t completely sure. He had done nothing wrong. If anyone had done anything inappropriate, it had been her.
She mentally cursed herself for falling asleep on top of him.
Lucius seemed to notice the change and sighed, his eyes taking on a sad resignation before looking to the ceiling.
He’s playing with you. Perhaps David was right, this is all a game to him.
“What happened last night?” she demanded. “Were you having a nightmare?”
Lucius didn’t answer.
“I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s going on with you! And I can’t bloody well jump in the sack with you every time you have a fit. That was the last time. Now I know you can speak, I heard you, so I suggest you start talking… soon. I won’t be toyed with, Mr. Malfoy. I’m trying to help you, but, if I even suspect that you’re not being straight with me, it’s right back to the Rehabilitation House with you!”
She felt awful saying it, but she was losing control fast, and she had to make sure he knew she wasn’t going to be played like a secondhand fiddle for his amusement.
“I want to stay,” Lucius said simply, looking at her plainly.
She looked down at him in shock. “What?”
“Nightmares… every night, nightmares…” his voice trailed off as his eyes took on a familiar, far away quality she found disturbing.
“What happened to you, Mr. Malfoy?”
His eyes slowly moved from the ceiling back to hers, and then he shook his head, indicating that he had nothing to say on the matter.
“Fair enough,” she conceded. “For now… but we do have other things to discuss. Like your rehabilitation.”
Lucius snorted and rolled his eyes.
“You may think it’s something to laugh at, but this is a chance for a real life for you. A second chance. There are still opportunities and believe it or not, you can still lead a decent life.”
“Spare me,” he drawled, setting his grey glare on her. It made a shiver run down her spine.
Her previous comfort with the frail catatonic Lucius was rapidly dissipating. The memories of the Lucius Malfoy of her past, the Lucius Malfoy who instilled fear in her with one look, was flooding back and she found herself stepping back slowly.
His glare softened, his eyes full of regret and something that looked like longing. “You’re afraid… of me.”
“I am not,” she said with a bravado she didn’t quite feel.
He chuckled softly in what sounded like hysterical amusement.
Hermione’s brow furrowed. “I don’t have time for games, now, do you want breakfast or shall I leave you to it? We have much to discuss,” she said in the formal business tone she usually reserved for her cases.
“Breakfast,” Lucius sighed.
“All right. Well, get washed up,” she said, turning and leaving quickly, and shutting the door behind her.
When he finally descended, she found herself trying her best to look deep in concentration and unaffected by his presence. Why she was engaging in such a charade, she didn’t even want to begin to think about.
Instead of sitting across the table from her, where she had placed a plate, Lucius took a seat beside her, scooting his chair close. She looked up to see what he was up to.
“What are you doing? Your plate is over there.” She pointed at his plate insistently.
Lucius stared back at her with a hint of a smirk on his lips, as he took a piece of toast from the stack in the center of the table and began to eat, ignoring where she was pointing.
Hermione huffed. Standing up, she walked over to retrieve his plate, and placed it in front of him before sitting back down.
“We need to talk about your plans for getting a restricted wand license, and interviewing; you need to be prepped and to take a training course. Until you’re certified to receive a wand, it probably wouldn’t hurt if you started reviewing the properties and hand motions of casting ‘Reparo’ and matter construction spells as well. You are applying for a magic welding position, after all.”
Lucius sniffed after she said the job title.
“Funny, just days ago, you had nothing to say on the subject, and now you’re sticking your nose up at it,” she pointed out.
Lucius set his jaw as if struggling not to say anything before dropping his toast and sitting back, appearing frustrated.
“What is it? Out with it!” she demanded.
He glanced at her briefly before staring ahead, his eyes brimming with anger and sadness; they were beginning to take on a watery quality she didn’t like.
“What do you expect, Mr. Malfoy? You think you can just go back to Malfoy Manor and live like a king again? That life is over! Now, I was taking pity on you before, I saw that you were… troubled. But now that you’re obviously feeling much better, it’s time to take some responsibility for yourself and your life. They’ll be no more temper tantrums; I won’t tolerate it!” she finished, placing the job section of the Daily Prophet before him.
“You see right here, there’s a magic welding training course that’s perfect for you.”
Lucius glowered at her and looked down at the paper hatefully before abruptly rising from the table. He stood there for a moment, staring out of the kitchen window.
Hermione pursed her lips. “You can pout all you like. You’re enrolling in this course, or picking another trade or it’s right back to the House with you,” she said firmly.
Lucius glared down at her before closing his eyes briefly. When he opened them again his eyes had the same far away look from before.
This time, Hermione wasn’t buying it. “Oh, come off of it! I see right through that act of yours. Your ‘poor me’ pity routine has run its course. Now, if you’ve finished breakfast,” she said, standing up, “you can help me clean up.”
Lucius continued to look out of the kitchen window, fixed in his position.
“Mr. Malfoy!” Hermione demanded.
She was beginning to get very frustrated with him, and annoyed, mostly because he seemed to be able to bring forth tears at will. Right now, his eyes were watering again, and a single tear finally boiled over, sliding slowly over his cheek.
She sighed loudly in exaggeration and threw her hands up.
What happened next seemed to take place in slow motion before her eyes. Lucius was moving around the kitchen table, away from her, walking towards the kitchen window. Hermione almost rolled her eyes and turned away until she noticed the cutting board and knife she had taken out to cut up some fruit for a breakfast salad she never got around to making. She watched him for several minutes as he stood there staring at the knife with his side to her.
She hadn’t even realized she was screaming Lucius’s name and diving over the kitchen table as she watched him pick up the knife and aim it downward toward his heart.
Chapter 5: That Word
When Hermione opened her eyes, all she saw was blood. It was everywhere and her head hurt like she had been clobbered with a Bludger. Her chest and knees hurt from the dive she had taken towards Lucius which had, fortunately, adverted the aim of the knife away from his heart.
As lucidity began to set in, she scrambled to take in the sight around her.
They were leaning awkwardly against the kitchen sink, Lucius chanting "I will not. I will not.” over and over in a hypnotic trance. The cutting knife that he had tried to use to kill himself was lodged deeply in his upper arm. He held his arm right below the gruesome wound leaking over his hand, soaking his shirt, Hermione, and the floor.
She reached over his chest to take a closer look at his wounds and saw that if she removed the knife, it would cause profuse bleeding as it had just barely missed an artery.
“Mr. Malfoy,” she whispered cautiously. Lucius ceased his chanting but continued to stare blankly ahead.
“Mr. Malfoy… I can fix this, but I need you to stay completely still and not try anything.” It seemed almost ridiculous to make that request, as he apparently had zoned out, but she felt compelled to talk, to say something.
Wincing, she tried to rise, reaching out for the chair with one hand while placing her other hand on the sink door in order to hold herself up. She glanced around, and grabbed two dishrags and a dishtowel. Next, she stripped Lucius’s blood soaked shirt off, and ripped the sleeve from it to tie under his wound before taking a deep breath, and yanking the knife from the flesh.
Hermione expected him to scream. But he only gasped and then closed his eyes as more blood than she had seen in a long time poured over the makeshift tourniquet on his arm.
She quickly pressed the cloth to it before hopping towards the icebox to retrieve the safety kit above it. She rummaged through it and found some blood replenishing potion and skin repairing salve she had taken from her internship.
“Here you go,” she said, sitting back down, putting the potion to his lips.
Lucius stared ahead not moving.
“Please, help me help you,” she pleaded. His lips parted slightly, and she gave a small smile at his effort.
She briefly debated about whether to take him to the hospital, but decided it was best that he remain at her home, where she could keep an eye on him. Besides, at the hospital, there would be questions. Lots of questions; many she was not prepared to answer.
Lifting him and having him only half support his weight on the way to the couch had been difficult, so she did not try to move him much after that.
Pulling up the armchair adjacent to the couch, she sat watching him until he closed his eyes and fell asleep. Over the next several hours, she read a few books, made lunch, read some more, made dinner, and then sat back in the armchair, watching and waiting for him to awake until finally she fell asleep as well.
She went straight to the kitchen, and when she didn’t see him there, she searched the entire first level before barreling up the stairs, taking two to three steps at a time. He wasn’t in the guest bedroom, or any other room. Her heart felt as if were going to leave her chest as she made her way to the window and looked down, half expecting to find him lying broken on the ground. When she saw him though, a breath of relief escaped her. He was standing in the front yard, looking out at the street.
She rushed down and out the front door, ready to pull him back inside when she came upon him and saw that he was regarding the large tree she had been meaning to have cut down. When she came to stand beside him, Lucius’ blank and distant gaze shifted. She followed it to the grass before him, where a slug was clinging to a patch near her walkway.
“Shall I put you out of your misery?” he whispered, staring intently at it as he lifted his foot.
“Mr. Malfoy, no!” she said using her hand to push him back a little in an effort to spare the slug.
“Ever the heroine,” he said snidely, finally looking up to glare at her, his lip curling in a familiar fashion that made her shudder. “It’s pointless… its life is meaningless.”
“To you perhaps.”
“It’s doomed to die soon anyway. They don’t live very long,” he argued.
She found the spark in his gaze exciting. There was a promise of determination and a will to live there. It was even more encouraging that he had said more to her in a few short minutes than all the time they had spent together, so far. She tried to mask her shock and excitement at this new development.
“That’s all relative, isn’t it? And even if it is true, he should be able to live out whatever days lay before him, however few they are,” she retorted.
Lucius gave a brief sniff, which she was beginning to recognize as an acknowledgment of some sort.
“Very well,” he said turning and heading back toward the house. She followed him closely, hoping he wasn’t headed to the kitchen where she had hidden all of the knives. Instead, he began climbing the stairs. She followed silently behind him.
Taking off the trainers she had given him, he continued to disrobe to his pants, and then climbed into bed, curling up to face the wall.
“Would you like to be left alone to rest?” she asked. “Or perhaps I could make you breakfast,” she offered.
He didn’t answer. So, she turned and descended the stairs, bringing back up a few pieces of toast and some orange juice.
“I’m sorry about yesterday. I… I didn’t mean to push you. I know you’ve been through quite a lot and it’ll take some time. We’ll get there,” she reassured.
He sniffed once more; this one was more muffled and almost sounded like the prelude to a great sob. Instead, he remained quiet. Hermione watched him for a few more moments and then slowly rose and left him to himself and his thoughts, whatever they were.
By midday, her internship had contacted her, as well as the volunteer agency, inquiring about her whereabouts. She owled them both back, stating that she needed some time off. The prisoner rehabilitation program was particularly interested in her concern with Lucius, and wanted her to come in to give a report on why she had checked him out of the House.
They had no authority to bring her in, but technically, they could require him to come in and give a full report about his current housing and activities. He was a free man, but once a convict, there would always be someone who had enough power to summon him for a status report if they so desired. It was one of things she detested most about the Ministry’s new stance on reformed criminals. They were never allowed to truly be free, even after they had proven themselves rehabilitated.
To avoid the messiness of such a summoning, she gave a lengthy report on her observations and reasons for why she thought the House was inadequate for his rehabilitation.
She pulled out all the stops and asked that the program directors cooperate in assisting her in this endeavor, keeping any discussion about it out of the media to assure not only the success of his progress, but privacy for other prisoners that the agency supported. It was the best way to keep them out of her business, as well as anyone else who might be nosing around asking questions, at least for the time being.
After bringing Lucius his lunch, she ate hers alone, reading a book, but by dinner she had become restless, and brought her dinner up to eat with him.
They ate together on his bed in awkward silence, and when it was over, she rose to leave.
“Stay…” he said softly.
Hermione paused and eyed him curiously as she took a seat again. They sat looking at each other in silence for several minutes. The weight of it was growing too heavy for her, so she tried to make small talk.
“You know I have lots of books here, I’m sure you’re bored out of your mind. You’re free to…”
“Read to me…” he said.
“I said, read to me.”
She opened her mouth and then closed it again. “What would you have me read?”
She studied him thoughtfully for several moments. “Are you familiar with Moby Dick?”
He quirked a puzzled eyebrow which made her smirk. “Be right back,” she said excitedly.
When she came back with the book, she found Lucius settled in his bed comfortably, looking up at her expectantly.
“Comfy?” she asked sarcastically.
She wrinkled her brow at the soft-spoken order. “Mr. Malfoy, I am not your servant. Now, I will read to you, but you will mind your manners with me.”
He pursed his lips and gave a barely noticeable nod.
As she began reading, she noticed that his eyes were closed as if preparing to sleep. She stopped when she heard faint snoring sounds, closing the book softly to leave.
“Stay,” he croaked.
“I thought you were asleep?”
“Stay with me," he repeated.
“I can’t. Mr. Malfoy, I told you before…”
“Just for the night,” he said. “Please…” he barely whispered.
She approached his bed slowly and he reached out his hand for her. She took it to avoid the awkward tension of leaving it hanging in the air, and found him pulling her down on top of him.
“Just a few minutes,” he muttered. He sighed in what sounded like great relief as her body covered his in an uncomfortable position. She moved to straighten herself out and then finally settled.
“Thank you,” he whispered before stilling suddenly. He remained stiff under her; so much so she became alarmed that perhaps she had done or said something to rattle him.
When she lifted her head, he was staring up at the ceiling, gawking at something. She quickly looked up to see what he was looking at, but only saw her plain white ceiling riddled with a few cracks in the paint.
“It used to just… watch me,” he said, in a strained voice.
Hermione was afraid to look at him now, afraid of shutting him down, afraid of what he was about to tell her; just afraid.
“Sometimes,” he continued, “it would come down like it meant to touch me, but it never did.”
She began to rub her forehead against his chest to soothe him, and his grip around her became tighter, pressing her into him.
“I’m sorry… I’m so sorry…” she said, not knowing what else she could possibly say.
“And I wanted it to. I wanted to forget, I wanted to - ”
Hermione held hear breath, waiting for him to finish, but he instead he let out a long ragged sigh. She didn’t know what to say to that, so she pressed her head into him harder to acknowledge his pain. She listened to his heartbeat, waiting for him to go on, but he said no more. Sadness, gratitude, and relief lay with her now. They had made great progress today, she thought.
For the next hour, they simply breathed together in silence, each deep in their own thoughts until sleep overtook them.
In the arms of a seriously broken man.
Who are you kidding? You’re taking advantage of him for your own selfish needs. What is wrong with you?
Hermione was shaken out of her thoughts when Lucius’ hand snaked down to join with hers. It felt strange to have him holding her hands like a lover, but she didn’t completely dislike it.
And then he was raising it up to his lips, kissing it and covering it with a soft tenderness that still surprised her.
He guided her palm against his lips, holding her hand gently, murmuring, as if each kiss he gave her was a rich chocolate morsel he wanted to savor.
She didn’t even bother to pull her hand away this time. This felt too good. It always did. She found herself snuggling tighter against him, pressing her breast against his side as he continued.
“Surprisingly feminine hands,” he said wistfully, a small smile of marvel on his face as he studied her hands and fingers before placing them to his mouth once more.
“Lovely, really,” he continued.
Hermione closed her eyes, caught between being offended and enjoying being cherished. Guilt began to bubble in her stomach at the thought that perhaps she was using this man, this damaged former convict whom she used to loathe, for her own comfort.
She froze when his hand began to guide her hand downward over his chiseled chin, down his neck, and then finally resting it on his chest.
Lucius held her hand over his heart, and Hermione focused on the beat of it, until it felt like his pulse was in her hand. She heard him swallow above her as the hand holding hers to his chest pushed down towards his belly. She could find no words to protest, nor could she move as Lucius continued to guide her hand, slow and tentatively, waiting for her to stop him.
“Call me Lucius, please…”
“Lucius… I don’t think…”
Lucius stopped, squeezing her hand painfully, causing her to wince. “Yes, you’re right, why would you? I’m Lucius Malfoy, a convicted Death Eater,” he said bitterly.
“Lucius, that’s not it…”
“Oh, I’m sure it is. And believe me, if I weren’t in such a desperate state, I would never entertain the thought of letting a Mudblood touch me,” he spat, quickly removing his hand from atop hers. He forcibly pushed her hand to the side before rolling over to the farthest corner of the bed so as not to touch her at all.
Hermione sat up straight staring down at him with scorn. “Right, I was wondering when the old Lucius Malfoy would show up! You’re a miserable old sod, it’s no wonder you ended up the way you did,” she spat, climbing out of the bed and making her way to the door.
She paused. “Oh, and here,” she said, reaching up to pull a dust covered book atop a row of other books from the bookcase stationed against the wall. She threw the book at him, just shy of the bed so that it landed with a smack on the floor beside him. “That’s a real tale for you; you may have heard of it: Harry Potter: A Living Legend. You should check it out sometime, but don’t even think about asking me to read it for you. You can read your own bloody bedtime stories, and that goes for everything else as well,” she sneered before turning on her heel and slamming the door.
Chapter 6: Healing Rituals
Later that night Hermione found herself tossing and turning, unable to sleep. Her bed suddenly felt strangely huge and cold, and her thoughts drifted reluctantly to Ron. She wondered if he slept over at Luna’s, or if they had perhaps gotten their own flat or were moving towards that.
“Wanker!” she growled, staring up at the ceiling. Her troubled thoughts were interrupted by the familiar sound of sobs and moans coming from down the hall.
Let him cry!
Her anger at Lucius flared for a few moments and she tried to hold onto it, but the sobs went on, becoming more desperate as the moments went by.
Oh bloody hell!
She sat up, and then swiftly made her way to his room, where she found him curled up as he had been the first night, clutching himself.
She shook her head, wanting to yell at him to snap out of it, but instead, she just stood there, watching him for a few moments. The sound of him crying was grating and slowly eating at her resolve to stay angry with him.
He doesn’t deserve your sympathy.
“I’m sorry… so sorry,” he whispered brokenly, as if sensing her presence. Hermione inched closer to his bed, standing at the edge looking down at his pitiful form as he held himself, soaking the pillow with his tears.
“Turn over,” she said flatly.
Lucius went still before turning over quickly, staring at her with tear-riddled eyes. “I’m sorry,” he repeated.
Hermione nodded as she took off her robe and climbed into bed on top of him.
Lucius sniffed a few more times before tentatively closing his arms around her, as if she were a security blanket he had been waiting for, so that he could settle into sleep. He sighed deeply and Hermione felt a rush of satisfaction that once again, he was so affected by her touch. That satisfaction was almost immediately replaced by guilt and annoyance that his response to her touch, in turn, affected her so much.
This is getting out of hand.
Right. It had been out of hand the moment she had decided to bring him home. Lucius squeezed her tighter to his chest and she found herself sighing in the same content manner he had expressed only moments before. She stiffened.
“It’s all right, you know,” he said softly.
“No, it’s not,” she said curtly.
“I know you’re lonely,” he said softly.
Her lips thinned in protest. “You know absolutely nothing about me!”
He chuckled then, and Hermione’s anger blossomed once more as she began to rise.
Lucius’ face grew somber and desperate. “Don’t leave! It’s less lonely when you have someone to be lonely with, isn’t it?”
Hermione didn’t reply, only found herself sinking back onto his chest. They lay there for several moments in silence until without any thought, her hands wandered up to his chest, gliding over it with a soft caress. She tried not to think on it as she began to make little circles with her hand. His hand covered hers and squeezed before lifting it to his mouth to place a tender kiss on her palm.
“I love your hands,” he said.
The way he spoke while he held them was almost romantic. She found herself swallowing as Lucius placed another kiss to her palm in the same place.
Her eyelids fluttered and she unconsciously moved against him, her covered breast rubbing against his covered chest. She could feel her nipples growing hard with arousal. When he murmured in response before kissing her hand again, she had to bite her lip to keep from uttering a sound.
His kisses were becoming firmer and the last one lingered, his mouth pressing, tickling her palm as he caressed it with his lips. Shifting once more, she moved against him, this time her lower thigh made contact with something she had not expected, something surprisingly hard and long. She gasped.
“I’m sorry,” he said apologetically. “Please don’t leave. I… I can’t help it. I’ll try to make it go away.”
He was holding her hand delicately in his as if expecting her to snatch it away.
“No, don’t,” she whispered, taking her hand and sliding it over his chest and down his belly towards his prominent erection.
She heard a low strangled whine in her ear and looked up to see Lucius with his eyes clenched shut as if concentrating very hard. His hand moved quickly to cover hers once more as he began to guide her hand with insistence towards her destination.
Cursing under her breath as her last shred of doubt tore away, she allowed him to push her hand under the loose elastic of his bed trousers, he wore nothing underneath and soon she could feel soft curls and then the warm soft skin tightly stretched over the steel of his cock. Merlin, he was hard.
“Oh… oh, yes, keep touching me! Please don’t stop touching me…” Lucius moaned as his hips jerked, quickly placing himself within her grip and closing his hand back over hers as if her hand were some sort of mechanism designed specifically for his current intentions.
He squeezed her hand with his, pushing it back and forth over himself. Hermione stared down, wanting to see it, but yet reluctant to push the covers off of him so that she could. Instead, she watched as their hands rose and fell making punctuated indentations in the duvet with each movement. She was beginning to get used to his rhythm when he sped up at a furious pace before crying out, spilling over her hand.
She paused, not sure of what to do, his hand still covering hers. Glancing up, she saw that his face was almost completely turned away on its side at an awkward angle, as if he wanted to bury his face. His breath was short and labored and she could feel his heart beating wildly.
“I usually last much longer,” he said tersely, as if scolding himself.
“It’s all right,” she reassured.
“Don’t tell me it’s all right!!” he snapped.
“Lucius,” she said softly. “It’s been a long time for you. It’s all right, it’s normal.”
“Yes, of course, that’s it. It’s been a long time… a long, long time,” he murmured, his face still turned.
She sighed, watching him in sympathy, her hand loosely holding his sticky cock under his own. Slowly he loosened his grip and when he did, she wrangled her hand free and rose.
“Right,” he said with bitter resignation, finally turning his head to watch her with hurt eyes.
“Lucius, I’m not leaving… I’m going to get my wand, it’s over there,” she said pointing to the desk. “You do want me to clean this up, don’t you?”
His eyes softened and he forced a small smile before nodding his head. “Yes.”
She climbed up over top of him carefully, going to the desk where she had laid her wand. Once she retrieved it, she cast a cleaning spell on both of them and then climbed back into bed with him.
“Will you stay the whole night?” he asked hesitantly.
“Yes, Lucius, the whole night,” she said before slipping back down to lay her head on his chest.
“Thank you,” he said, she could hear the smile in his voice, and she felt satisfied, more satisfied than she had in good while.
He didn’t respond.
She clicked her teeth, almost tempted to shake him but restrained herself. “Lucius, please… come back to me,” she said soothingly. She touched his forehead and then he blinked, his eyes sharpening once more with recognition.
Hermione watched him for a few more moments. “What did it do to you?” she asked carefully.
Lucius’ lips thinned. “Nothing… it didn’t do anything.”
“Then why do you stare the way you do? It’s as if you’ve disappeared. Sometimes, it almost looks as if—”
“I’ve been Kissed?”
She nodded slowly.
Lucius gave a humorless smile then. “If only I were so lucky.”
“Don’t say that! Being Kissed is worse than death! You don’t deserve that! No one does,” she admonished.
Lucius chuckled. “Says the Mudblood who was tortured in my drawing room right before my eyes.”
“Damn you, Lucius!” she spat, wanting to wring his neck.
“Too late, my little Mudblood; I’m already damned,” he said with a sneer.
She shook her head. “I don’t understand you, one moment you’re—”
“Weak. Last night I was being weak when I begged you to stay with me. I’m fine now, you may leave.”
She beat her fits into his chest angrily and became increasingly frustrated when he didn’t retaliate, only lay there allowing her to continue.
“What is wrong with you?! I’m trying to help you!”
He surveyed her with cold eyes then, studying her with a calculating look that made her sit up and pull back away from him.
“Why? Why are you helping me?”
“What?” she asked.
“You heard me. From what I gathered so far, it seems you haven’t changed your do-gooder ways. You probably volunteer out of some sense of commitment to social justice and the greater good. Only, I’m not an elf, am I? I’m… well, I’m not someone you should have brought into your home.”
Hermione found herself twiddling with the duvet, looking at her hands instead of him. “I thought you would do better here,” she said quietly.
“And why do you care how I do?” he sneered. “Do you really think I would have done the same for you?”
She knew the answer to that. No reflection required. “No.”
“Because I care. Someone has to.”
He chuckled once more, with a hollow sound that was cold and cruel. “You know what I think? I think you’re lonely. Yes, that’s it, I think you’re a sad, lonely Muggle-born still trying to prove your worth by fixing up an old Death Eater. Tell me, is it working for you?”
“Aaarrgh!” she growled, fixing her mouth and moving to rise, he grabbed her around her waist and pulled her down.
“NO!! Let me go! Let me—”
Before Hermione could finish her sentence his mouth was pressing against her and his tongue had snaked its way into her mouth.
She heard herself moaning and the sound of it, the thought of what they were doing felt so wrong and obscene. She pushed at his chest in protest, but in vain, caving into the kiss several times before it broke. They were both breathing heavy, locked into an intense staring war.
“I hate you,” she said, feeling little conviction about the statement. Right now, she hated herself more for enjoying his lips, in spite of calling her that word only moments before.
“Good,” Lucius drawled, a small smug smile on his face.
Hermione’s brow furrowed as she stared back at him with a puzzled expression. “You’d rather me hate you, than—”
“Than to have your pity. I don’t need your pity. You can hate me all you like, but don’t look at me like I am some pathetic invalid. I’m not pathetic! I’m—”
“Lucius Malfoy,” she finished for him.
He sniffed airily, raising his nose slightly. “Yes, and I am hungry,” he said suggestively.
She smirked. “Then I suggest, Mr. Malfoy, that you fix yourself some breakfast.”
“Fine, I will,” he said defiantly.
“Good,” she said with a cheeky smile.
“Good,” he repeated.
Their eyes locked in a strange new silent understanding that their relationship had just taken another turn.
Hermione silently chuckled to herself and then rose, climbing out of bed.
“Will you be joining me?” he asked.
She turned to regard him in mild surprise. “Are you offering to cook for me, Mr. Malfoy?”
Lucius sighed wearily. “I know nothing about cooking, but I will see what I can put together for us. I’m not a free-loader or cripple,” he stated boastfully.
Hermione smirked. “I never took you for such. Yes, I’d like some breakfast, please, just promise me one thing…”
“What?” he asked skeptically.
“That you’ll stay away from the knives,” she said with a teasing smile.
Lucius rolled his eyes and huffed, waving his hand half-jokingly to signal that she should leave.
She couldn’t help but smile at that. Even a half-serious gesture from Lucius Malfoy meant there had been some progress.
The prisoner’s rehabilitation program wrote her a lengthy owl stating its concerns about her well-being. While they respected her status as a war heroine, they would be keeping close tabs to make sure she was all right and that Lucius’ transition back into the wizarding world was a smooth and safe one for everyone.
Smooth and safe. Well one out of two wasn’t bad.
Although, lately, things had been going better than all right. Over the last few weeks, Hermione and Lucius had developed a ritual of some sort. They would awake in each other’s arms, talk about nothing important for a few minutes and then Lucius would say something snarky and offensive only to have Hermione scold him and leave. Afterward, he would go and make breakfast for the both of them. Hermione would come down and watch Lucius fiddle with things in the kitchen experimentally before he presented her with his latest creation. She would always accept whatever he made graciously, but would offer delicate suggestions on how to improve or offer to show him how to make the dish better. Lucius always refused as if affronted, but she could feel him studying her every move whenever she would make dinner later in the evening.
During the day, Hermione would leave information about certificate courses in magical welding and applying for a limited magical license. He would never read it around her, but she always noticed that the information was never in the same place she had left it.
After she made dinner, they always sat around and discussed people and places as Lucius tried to piece together what had happened during the years he had been locked away. But he never asked about his family, or her friends. Only people who really didn’t matter. Lucius seemed to enjoy hearing about the various developments in their lives as if Hermione were recounting an entertaining play he had missed. Any mention of the actual events of the war, or anyone close to either one of them, would immediately bring the conversation to a standstill.
And at night, he would go to his bed and she would go to hers for a little while. She would always come to him a few hours later and use her hand to bring him relief before they would fall asleep and wake the next morning to begin the ritual again.
One morning she woke to find him not in bed next to her. Instead, he was sitting at the desk, staring out the window, fully dressed.
“You should go back to your studies now. I’m well enough to be left alone here.”
She opened her mouth to protest, but then stopped when she considered what words she should say next. ‘No, I have to stay here, you’re not well.'
That wasn’t exactly encouraging.
Instead, “I want to make sure that you’re all right.”
His jaw went rigid. “You’re missing your studies to take care of me. I won’t have it,” he said firmly.
Hermione sighed. “Lucius, if you want to know the truth, I was thinking of taking some time off long before I was assigned your case.”
Lucius turned in the chair, his face very serious and concerned. “Why? You’re brilliant, you shouldn’t let that go to waste. What would you do instead?”
She blushed at hearing him compliment her so matter-of-factly, it was surprising and flattering. “I… I don’t know really. I’ve always wanted to be a Healer, but, sometimes, being smart isn’t enough.”
Lucius huffed at that. “Nonsense! What’s this you’re on about?”
Hermione sighed. “Some of the others, well, they really seem to love it. I only like my Healing studies. I like it a lot, but I don’t love it. It’s not my passion . I’m not sure I really have one, actually.”
Lucius regarded her for a moment. “So you think your true calling is tossing me off every night? Is that what you plan to do for the rest of your life now?”
Hermione pursed her lips. “No, in fact, I think I’ll stop doing that immediately.”
He gave her a sly smile. “Very well, but you have to give me at least two week’s notice.”
Hermione chuckled at that.
“You don’t have to love your job, Hermione. I’m sure they need you there. You’re very good at… helping others,” he said softly, in a gracious tone.
“I’ll go back soon. I’ve told my supervisor that I’m taking some time off to care for a sick friend. He said to take as much time as I need. Besides, I’m ahead in all of my trials by at least one full semester,” she said proudly.
“How surprising,” he replied sarcastically.
She smiled. “So, what are making me for breakfast today?”
“Lucius… what are you—”
“Shhh, just… just let me… just for a little while…” he whispered as he began to grind his hard length against her thinly clothed center. His hands were digging into her arse cheeks, squeezing and pawing eagerly as he lifted his hips while pressing her into him.
She gasped and moaned, taken by surprise at her own arousal from the friction.
“Yessss, that’s it, Hermione…show me how you would—”
“Lucius…” she started, in an empty and feeble effort to protest.
His grip on her arse grew tighter as he pushed her body hard while pressing his cock once more against her in a simulated thrust. “Shush! Now show me how you would do it… if I were inside of you. Show me…”
Hermione could feel herself growing wetter at his request. Her nipples hardened and her body was betraying every protest she normally used. Her cautious nature was no match for the insistent motion of Lucius’ hips, or the way he was clawing at her arse, and rubbing his thick hard length against her clit over and over again.
“Ooh, Lucius,” she reluctantly moaned as she began to move her own hips against his cock, trying to feel more of it, even through her nightgown and knickers.
Lucius growled. “Yes… yes… just like that. That’s my girl…”
His voice, thick with lust and pleasure, opened up a pent-up dam within Hermione as she lifted her robe and sat up to straddle him.
Lucius gasped when she did, his eyes taking on a dazed dreamy quality as he looked up at her full breasts and high cut black cotton knickers in wonderment. His hands immediately covered her breasts, squeezing them possessively. Hermione placed her hands on his chest to position herself correctly on his now leaking cock as she moved back and forth in the same way she would have liked to if he were inside of her.
“Oh, yes! Don’t stop, Hermione. Yessss….” he urged, as he bucked against her.
She moved back and forth over him as he squeezed, pinched and caressed her breasts, both of them working themselves into a sweat. When she looked down to see him looking back up at her, she felt moved to lean over and cover his mouth with hers. As soon as she did, she felt a spattering of his hot sticky release, hitting her belly and chest. She let the kiss linger, their tongues lazily swirling as the dying moan of his climax vibrated in her mouth.
Pulling back, looking down at the messy evidence of their passion, she tried to quell her own need and unfulfilled climax, concentrating instead on the man under her. She closed her eyes for a moment, calming herself.
When she opened her eyes, Lucius was looking at her with a guarded self-conscious expression.
“You’re lasting much longer now,” she said with a cheeky smile.
Relief showed on his face as he gave her a satisfied smirk. “I told you. Why would you ever doubt? I’m—”
“Lucius Malfoy,” she finished, as she was in the habit of doing lately.
She shook her head and climbed off him to do a cleaning spell before they retired for the night.
Chapter 7: Memories
The next morning when Hermione awoke, she found Lucius watching her. “What are you looking at?” she asked in bemusement.
“I like watching you sleep,” he said simply.
“How charming,” she said sarcastically, pulling the covers up higher.
Lucius sniffed haughtily. “Hardly. You’re quite strange with your bushy hair, huge eyes, and obvious overbite… a fascinating study, really.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “My overbite isn’t prominent at all, but of course, you’re the great Lucius Malfoy, god of vanity… go on, get all your insults out now so we can move on and have breakfast,” she said with resignation.
He stared at her for a few more moments before asking, “Why didn’t you name me?”
Hermione didn’t understand what he was talking about. “Pardon?”
“In that book, Harry Potter: A Living Legend. Why didn’t you list me as one of your tormentors when you went before the Wizengamot.”
“You really read that book?” she asked in surprise.
“Of course, you gave it to me to read, did you not?”
“Yes, but I was being a nasty piece of work when I did that.”
“Well, I did read it. Now, answer my question,” he insisted.
Hermione blushed, looking away, not really sure why she didn’t want to face his gaze. Suddenly, she felt exposed. “I… I don’t remember who I named. I was such a fright after everything was over. I was in shock really. Everyone was.”
“Yet you had the clarity of mind to name Bella, Greyback, the Lestranges, Peter… all of them, except for me. You were tortured in my home and yet you didn’t name me as one of your tormentors,” he said, pausing to let the statement linger in the air.
She swallowed. “I saw you… when they brought us in—you, Draco, and your wife—I saw all of you, your eyes. You didn’t want to be there. There was so much regret and fear.”
“And that excuses me?” he asked incredulously.
She shook her head. “No, of course not, but… well, I think you and your family have been paying for joining the wrong side for a very long time. Long before the war was over.”
“Not long enough, it seems… at least in Draco’s opinion.”
She kept quiet at the mention of his son. Lucius saying Draco’s name was a bit shocking, considering he had been avoiding the subject for weeks, and she found that she was slightly apprehensive about what he would do or say next.
“He hates me.”
“Lucius, I’m sure—”
“You don’t know anything about me!” he snapped, “… or my family. When I say my son hates me, believe me, Hermione, he does. I know him better than anyone.”
She nodded to acknowledge deference on the subject. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, raising her hand to his cheek.
He closed his eyes and sighed, pressing his face into her hand. When he opened them again, his voice was much gentler. “No, I am. I don’t blame him. I don’t blame them for anything. It’s the least I deserve.”
Hermione shook her head. “You have to stop this. You’ve paid your penance.”
“How can you say that? After everything I’ve done to you and your friends?”
“I’m not saying that… that I completely forgive you for everything. I just think you deserve a second chance like anyone else that’s done their time. And you’ve done more than enough time with that thing locked in your cell with you. I’m going to talk to Kingsley about that soon.”
Lucius gave her a small sad smile. “You’re so naïve, girl.”
Hermione narrowed her eyes. “I’m not a girl anymore! I think you know that!”
He smiled genuinely then. “Yes, I suppose not, but in some ways you still are… do you actually believe they care about the conditions in Azkaban? Especially about the welfare of Death Eaters responsible for the deaths and insanity of so many? It’s a wonder they let me out alive at all,” he mused, more to himself than to her.
Silence fell between them, Hermione watching him, Lucius staring past her at the wall. The thought of Death Eaters and the deaths of so many she called friends, made her sad and angry, but she was tired of being angry. She had spent so much time living with anger, it got old. Sadness had grown more comfortable, perhaps too comfortable. When she looked up, Lucius was staring off again. She reached up and touched his arm, bringing his eyes back to her.
“You miss them,” she said, determined not to look away despite the intensity of the pain flashing in his eyes.
“Yes, all the time. And I regret… well, I regret I wasn’t better to them.”
“I’m sure they miss you, in their own way.”
He gave her a stiff, forced smile before turning over on his back, exhaling loudly. “Tell me everything.”
“I thought you said you read the book?”
“There are things missing in that book… things about my family, my… my friends.”
Hermione bit her lip, unsure if it were the right time for him to hear it all. What if he thought he was ready but it proved to be too much? Would it cause another setback?
“Lucius, I’m not sure that—”
“Now!” he demanded. Even though he did not raise his voice one decimal, the icy tone suggested that refusing his demand would not produce pleasant results.
She sat up, pulling away from him and folding her legs. “All right. Everything?”
Lucius didn’t seem surprised at all that Narcissa had remarried and was living in the Virgin Islands with her new husband. He scoffed with a tickled look on his face wondering out loud how she was faring on the beaches of the tropics with her delicate porcelain and very burn-prone skin.
His face turned a deep shade of pink and his eyes grew fiery when he learned that the Ministry had seized all of his remaining assets not claimed by Narcissa, and that Malfoy Manor was being used as a Museum on the War. With a great deal of bitterness, Hermione described how there were exhibition plates in each room recounting how she was tortured, who died in what room, and how several of the furniture pieces were protected by magical shields because they were supposedly Dark artifacts. Of course, Hermione thought that last part was complete rubbish. Dark artifacts would never be on display so openly.
She told Lucius, with a great deal of conviction and zeal, how she felt the Ministry was using the Manor as a scapegoat for its own indiscretion and corruption during the war. The price of admission didn’t hurt either. It was one of the most popular tourist attractions from all over the wizarding world, within and outside of Great Britain.
Lucius stood up then, and began to pace. Hermione didn’t know whether to be worried or excited to see him so energized. However, she found herself growing more excited as he began to slip into his old cool demeanor, pausing to tell her to go on, repeat what she had said, or pause when he wanted to think about something she had told him.
She was surprised to see him reflect a fair degree of sadness at hearing about the fate of the Lestranges, both of whom had been sentenced to be Kissed. When Lucius inquired about Snape, Hermione was taken aback and gaped at him openly.
“I thought you knew?”
“I know he died, but… are there any honorariums in remembrance for his service?”
Hermione was hesitant, noticing the concern and silent demand in his eyes.
“Nothing?!” he exclaimed in angry disbelief.
“Well, there is the Headmaster’s portrait, at least, now there is. They wouldn’t allow it for the longest time, but Harry, Ron, Neville, Ginny and I, we petitioned for it. Everyone signed on… even Draco,” she said quietly.
“That’s it? No other acknowledgement?” he asked again.
Hermione shook her head. “No… and there are those who still doubt his innocence.”
Lucius pursed his lips, folding his arms as he looked out of the window. “I suppose it is to be expected. There are no real rewards for sacrifice.”
“Nor complacency,” Hermione said tersely.
Lucius turned from the window. “Is that what you think I was… complacent?”
“No, you were much more than complacent,” she said, not able to hide the bitterness in her voice. “But those who did nothing… who stood by and let that monster take over the wizarding world, they’re just as—”
“Guilty. Yes, I suppose you’re right.”
They stared at each other for a moment before Hermione dropped her eyes. “I’m sorry, that’s just how I feel,” she said, almost apologetically, trying to rein in the anger she felt for those who unwittingly assisted Voldemort with their silence.
Lucius nodded his head. “As I said before, I deserved what I got.”
“Lucius, I didn’t say that,” she sighed, not exactly sure about how to feel about him at the moment.
There was another awkward silence when Lucius took an audible gulp, “When Bella was… hurting you…”
She wasn’t hurting me, you prick, she was TORTURING me!
“… I wanted to stop her. She always did take things too far but… well, my hands were tied. But, I wanted to stop her, and more than that I wanted to stop him.”
Hermione fought to control herself from screaming 'Then why didn’t you?'
Instead she managed to quell her anger just enough to remain silent.
“But by the time I realized I was on the wrong side,” Lucius continued, “it felt as if it were too late. It was bigger than me and my family. Bigger than all of us. I didn’t know how to stop it. I could only hope…”
“Hope that Harry would come through,” she finished a bit more smugly than she wanted to sound. Still it felt good to say. She watched him closely to see if she had hit a nerve.
“Well, I didn’t say that,” he said, giving a brief sniff.
Hermione smirked. “I’ll be sure to send Harry your gratitude.”
“If you dare…”
“Don’t worry, Lucius, your secret admiration of Harry is safe with me,” she said teasingly.
Lucius rolled his eyes and turned his back to her. “What would you like for breakfast this morning?” he drawled.
“How long will it take me to get my restricted license?” he asked casually, as he flipped through one of her magazines as if he were asking about a recipe.
Hermione paused from wiping the table. “Pardon?”
“Honestly, for such a bright witch, I find you a bit slow on the uptake some days,” he drawled.
Hermione’s eyes went wide and a big silly smile grew on her face. “I knew it! You’ve been thinking about it, haven’t you? Do you think you’re ready?”
Lucius sighed. “I never said anything of the sort. I’m simply making conversation. If I knew it’d lead to an interrogation, I would have chosen another topic.”
“Oh, stop it, Lucius! Now, you’ll have to go through a Magical Welding Training Course to show satisfactory proficiency to get a certificate. Then you may apply for a Restricted Magical Wand License. Although…”
“What? Tell me,” Lucius asked uncertainly, finally looking up at her.
“Well, as you know, the Ministry has sort of a grudge against former Death Eaters…”
“I suspect they’ll probably want to do a Mind Scan on you,” she said hesitantly.
Lucius sighed. “No. Absolutely not. They’ve taken enough from me. They’re not getting in my head. Never again. For all I know they’ll try to steal my thoughts, what few good memories I have left… perhaps even implant some of their own.”
“Lucius, you’re being silly, the Ministry—”
“Locked me up for five years with a Dementor, Hermione. Five years with that soul sucking thing hanging over me, draining from me everything of value!” his voice rose in obvious frustration.
“You’re still valuable,” she said softly.
“Do you know that sometimes I don’t even know how much time has passed,” he continued. “Hours, even days go by and I don’t even know the difference! I don’t feel a thing. Sometimes I even don’t know where I am! Besides the memory of your touch, most of my best memories are gone now!”
Both Hermione and Lucius’ eyes widened, surprised by his admission. Lucius closed his mouth, setting his jaw, his eyes darting from Hermione’s shocked expression to the magazine he had been reading. He picked it up and rose from the table heading for the stairs.
“Lucius,” Hermione called to him.
Lucius paused at the foot of the stairs, his back turned to her, silent.
“I enjoy you as well,” she said.
Hermione was certain she saw him give the slightest of head nods before he continued on to climb the stairs. When she heard his bedroom door close, she exhaled. Her mind was racing with thoughts, possibilities, and feelings that scared her more than anything had in recent memory.
When she went up for bed, she noticed his empty plate sitting by the door. She decided to drop the pretense of going to her own bed, knowing full well she would only wind up in his, and knocked. When Lucius didn’t answer, she pushed opened the door.
“How rude! Did I say you could enter?” he asked coldly.
“No, but… well, this is my home,” she said plainly.
“Then why bother knocking at all?”
“To give you sufficient warning,” she said, approaching his bed.
“I’d like to sleep alone tonight,” he said quickly.
“No,” she replied.
“I said no, now move over,” she insisted.
“I’ll do no such thing!” he protested.
“All right, sleep alone then, but don’t ever ask me—”
Lucius sat up and pulled her down into his lap, covering her mouth with a passionate hunger he had not yet displayed. She found herself squirming in his grip but not to get away; she wanted much more. He threw her onto her back facing the opposite direction from which they usually slept, quickly covering her body with his own, his greedy mouth seeking hers out once more. This time, Hermione spread her legs without thinking and Lucius adjusted himself between them, pressing his hardness against her insistently without any hesitation.
“Lucius,” she gasped in the few moments of respite he gave her to breathe.
“You enjoy me as well? Hmm? Is that what you said?” he whispered low into her ear.
“Yes… yes. I. Enjoy. You.” She panted as he began to rock between her hips in a purposeful steady dry fuck that failed to satiate her growing desire. She needed much more. But a small quiet still voice bade her mouth from requesting it; instead she twisted her hips against his in an effort to bring herself release.
Lucius’ hands were on her breasts, his mouth moved from hers to her neck and back to her mouth again. His body was working frantically, pressing her deeply into the mattress, trying to touch what their clothing prevented. She wrapped her legs around his back and buried one of her hands into his hair, her hold tightening as her orgasm approached. She heard a long low moan emanating from his throat and the hand on her breast squeezed as Lucius threw his head back, his whole body shuddering spasmodically. The thought of him once again climaxing without her drove her to work herself harder against him. It was only moments later she found herself crying out as her first orgasm in nearly three months shook her. Lucius collapsed, lying heavy against her body, her legs still wrapped around him.
Once he gathered his breath, he kissed her on the cheek and opened his mouth, presumably to speak. Hermione waited in tense anticipation for what he was about to say, and when he decided instead to keep his silence and bury his head into the mattress, she sighed the most discreet breath of relief.
Chapter 8: And Still I Am
The next morning when Hermione awoke, Lucius was watching her, like he always did. But instead of launching into his usual brand of insulting wordplay, he began to play with the fabric of her nightgown, tracing the detailed needlework lining the center.
She watched him do this for several moments before asking, “Something on your mind?”
He shook his head. “No, not really. I was just thinking… or trying to remember really…” His voice trailed off.
She thought that she should be used to this by now, him trying to remember, trying to sort things out. But every time he broached the subject of recalling or discussing something more serious than local gossip, she found herself anxious, waiting for him to realize that he really hated her, that she was supposed to be helping him get better, not drawing him into some strange complicated relationship she couldn’t even name.
She nodded stiffly, trying to be encouraging. “Yes? Remember what?”
“Remember what love felt like.”
There were no words for what Hermione was feeling. Love? She had never known it. That she had been certain of. She thought she had, but love couldn’t hurt her the way she had been hurt. And why was Lucius speaking of love now? Her mind scrambled to block out any speculation about that before it even began.
“You must love Draco… he’s your son,” she said quickly.
Lucius chuckled. “Yes, I suppose I do, but that’s not the kind of love I am speaking of… when I think of what I remember of my time with Narcissa, I don’t remember ever feeling love.”
“I’m sure you’re mistaken,” Hermione said dismissively.
“Or maybe those memories have been taken from me,” he said sadly. “But I don’t think so. I’m not sure I ever really loved her. I cared for her very much, yes. But love…” he said in a far away voice.
“True love is rare… I’m not sure it really exists,” Hermione said stiffly, staring up at the ceiling, trying not to appear as affected by the subject as she was suddenly feeling.
Why can’t you get over him?
“He really hurt you, didn’t he?” It was a statement more than a question, and when Hermione looked over, she saw with some discomfort that Lucius was staring down at her clinically.
“I allowed myself to be hurt. You can’t get hurt unless you allow it. I’m over it now,” she said forcefully.
“It’s a shame really,” Lucius remarked.
“What? Don’t tell me you think Ron and I should have stayed together? I’m tired of everyone telling me that. It’s like they’re politely telling me I messed up the love of my life and I need to find a way to fix it,” she said bitterly.
“No… I meant it’s a shame you and he couldn’t salvage the friendship. Friends are hard to come by. Lovers often come and go.”
“Not for me. The perfect lover is your friend, more than anything,” she insisted.
“It’s a nice idea,” Lucius said, humoring her.
“It’s not an idea,” she continued with conviction. “It’s the way things should be. Ron and I were really good friends, we should have been perfect lovers. It doesn’t get any better than falling in love with your best friend. It was supposed to be perfect!”
“Silly girl, who put such fairytales in your head? Muggles I presume.”
“My parents have been married for over twenty years!” she said proudly.
“And you think it’s perfect?”
“Because they are together?” he posed.
“Because… because they’re happy, I know they’re happy. I see them!” Hermione felt defensive all of a sudden.
“You see what they want you to see. They have problems just like everyone else. The only people that know if they’re happy are those who are in it. But, I assure you, there are times when they don’t want to be in it. There is no perfect, Hermione.”
The sound of her name on his lips always caught her off guard, and she gave up her line of argument, falling into contemplation with him.
“Then what is love if there is no perfect?” she asked softly.
Lucius remained quiet, contemplating her question. “I don’t know. As I said before, I’m not sure I’ve ever been in love…” he said, resuming his traces along her nightgown. “How would you like your eggs this morning?”
Hermione was reluctant at first, suspicious of his intentions, but once it was clear he was being earnest and wanted to learn more, she became excited and often went into long lectures about various aspects she thought were most important. Lucius would wane from being completely interested, to boredom, to outright disdain for her lectures. He often expressed his feelings bluntly which either lead to more discussion or a heated argument.
Whether they were talking amiably or arguing with one another, it was clear; they were comfortable with each other. And that one significant detail did not go unnoticed by either one of them.
One afternoon after lunch when Hermione had gone out to the garden to prune the rose bush, Lucius followed her.
“You must be getting bored. Sitting around here all day tending to me. I’m not even sick enough to occupy your time now.”
“If that is your way of trying to get rid of me again…”
“You’re wasting valuable time here, playing Healer with me. I haven’t had a… spell in weeks.”
“Yes, but, after what you’ve been through, there are many adjustments to be made.”
“And I’m not even pursuing a restricted wand license or considering the magical welding position.”
She turned to him, giving him a knowing smile. “I know you are thinking about it.”
“I am not. Malfoys don’t weld! Can you even imagine?”
“The great Lucius Malfoy welding? Yes. You’d be the most distinguished, refined magical welder Britain’s ever seen,” she reassured.
Lucius gave a dignified sniff. “It just wouldn’t work.”
“Well, if you’re really against it, we’ll find you something else.”
“I’ll find something else on my own. You need to get back to your internship.”
“I will, Lucius… I will.”
Lucius looked down as if suddenly embarrassed, shaking his head.
“What is it?” she asked.
“I suppose I must sound like an old man to you. I’m not trying to be your father, forgive me.”
She smiled, touched that he would even ask for her forgiveness. “I didn’t take it like that. You’re my… friend. And good friends scold you when you need it.”
Lucius quirked a small smile at that. “Yes, that they do.”
Hermione gave him a smile and returned to pruning. Lucius stood watching her for a moment before speaking.
“I was wondering, perhaps, if I could go into town. I’d like to get new robes,” he said, looking down at his Muggle attire in exaggerated distaste.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “You want new robes? To wear around the house?”
“I’m a wizard, woman! Now, are you trying to help me get back to my old self or not?”
Hermione laughed. “All right, to Diagon Alley we’ll go, but first, can you help me re-soil the tulips,” she said, nodding over towards the tulip bed.
Lucius scrunched up his face.
“Two robes and an owl of your own,” she offered in a business tone.
“I prefer cats,” Lucius said. “And will my robes be tailored?”
“I insist that they’re tailored!” he said firmly, before turning begrudgingly towards the tulip bed.
Once they arrived, there were murmurs and gasps of shock at the sight of both of them, together. Lucius gave his usual sniff and set his nose in the air, his eyes peering down condescendingly at all of the twisted and disgruntled faces looking back up at them.
“Come, Hermione, we have lots of shopping to do,” Lucius drawled, moving forward as anyone within a few feet of him parted. Some of them looked fearful, while others glared on hatefully.
She heard the words ‘Death Eater’ and ‘Malfoy’ spat not too quietly behind them as they walked on.
She tried not to look back at the faces of those who openly stared in question at her and Lucius accusingly. Instead, she tried to look past them into the street, but there were only more gaping faces, all of them the same.
“Perhaps this wasn’t such a great idea,” she muttered, staring at the onlookers.
Lucius smirked. “Don’t tell me you were expecting applause for bringing me along… and I thought you were bright.”
Hermione scowled up at him. “I thought that we’d get a few stares and comments, but not people gawking and hissing at us like this. We can always order your robes.”
“Nonsense, woman! You can’t buy a good tailored robe by owl. These people mean nothing to me. They never have,” he said, giving a bothered eye roll at an older woman pointing him out to her friends.
“Let’s go,” Hermione said pushing on ahead of Lucius toward the area of Diagon Alley where Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions was located.
They walked a good few blocks, and had gotten used to the stares, when Hermione saw a familiar patch of red hair next to a much shorter crown of wispy golden locks. Hermione felt her knees go weak and she could her heart beating in her ears. The thought of Apparating crossed her mind and then she remembered whom she was with.
Shit, shit, shit!
“Perhaps, we should look at familiars first,” she said, making a sharp right, grabbing Lucius by the hand and pulling him along.
“What is it?” he asked in confusion.
“Just follow me, don’t say a word,” she snapped.
“‘Hermione! Is that you? Hermione!” she heard Ron calling loudly.
She continued walking, determined to look consumed in her mission to shop, seemingly oblivious to all other distractions. To her dismay the familiar scent of Ron’s new cologne grew much stronger, the same cologne he had suddenly taken to wearing during their last few weeks together as a couple. When she felt his large hand shaking her shoulder, she stopped in her tracks. Turning around, she tried to feign her surprise.
“Geez, are you going deaf or something?” Ron sounded slightly out of breath. His eyes darted to Lucius and back to her in concern.
Hermione clenched her teeth as she took in the sight of Ron and Luna. Luna was holding a small bag with an odd looking glass object winding its way out of the top.
“Hello, Hermione,” the blond girl said in a dreamy voice, giving Hermione a small smile.
Hermione could barely summon a smile in return, but managed to give the girl a faint one. “Hi, Luna.”
You spacey, double-crossing, dirty little bitc—
“Mr. Malfoy?” Luna said in puzzlement, interrupting Hermione’s thoughts.
Lucius’ eyes seemed to be taking in the scene before him with great interest. When Luna greeted him, he gave the girl a brief nod and then turned to regard Hermione. “We don’t have much time.”
Hermione smiled up at Lucius gratefully. “You’re right; it’ll take a while, won’t it? I’m sorry guys; we’re in a bit of a hurry.”
“Hermione!?” Ron exclaimed, his face saying everything his mouth could not as he waited for an explanation.
“What, Ron?” Hermione said with a challenge in her voice.
He stared back at her and then looked at Lucius again. Lucius smirked smugly to which Ron responded by narrowing his eyes before they grew wide with understanding and he let out a soft amused laugh. “Oh, right, I almost forgot,” he said with relief.
“Forgot what?” Hermione asked, narrowing her eyes.
Ron gave Lucius a nasty smile. “No need to state the obvious. Just make sure you stay vigilant at all times.”
“So you’re dating Mr. Malfoy now, Hermione? It’s strange but, it actually makes sense. Everyone needs a challenge,” Luna said, smiling between the two of them.
Hermione’s mouth dropped open but before she could reply, Ron was shaking his head and laughing. “Of course not, Luna. Malfoy here is one of Hermione’s latest projects. She’s a volunteer at that prisoner rehabilitation program. ‘Member I told you about that?”
“Oh, yes… how is that going, Mr. Malfoy?” Luna asked.
Lucius stared at Luna with a bemused expression but didn’t reply.
“For your information, Ron, Lucius is my friend. A very good friend. You remember what those are, don’t you?”
Ron stared back at her in hurt shock. “’Mione, I thought we were okay. I even gave you the car as a peace-offering. What more do you want?”
Hermione pursed her lips. “Nothing. I don’t want anything, Ron. I’m happy for you, I really am. Both of you,” she said, looking at Luna. “Now, I’d really love to stay and chat but we have some shopping to do and not much time.”
“Yeah, all right,” Ron said hesitantly, his eyes taking in Lucius once more, only this time more carefully. “Owl me sometime, all right?”
Hermione chuckled. “Right. Sure thing, Ron. Don’t hold your breath waiting for it though. Come, Lucius,” she said turning away, taking Lucius by the hand once more.
She and Lucius walked in silence until they reach the familiar shop. Hermione stood looking at all of the different animals in the window, calming herself from the encounter, when she felt Lucius give her hand a tight squeeze.
“What is it?” she turned and asked in concern.
“Nothing, just thought you might need a little squeeze,” Lucius said, looking down at her hand in his.
She held her head high. “I’m fine.”
Lucius smirked. “No, you’re not, but you appear to be, and sometimes, that’s all that counts.”
She gave him a small smile before turning back to the store window. “A cat?”
“Yes, a cat,” he said, smiling genuinely.
After Lucius chose a rare white Abyssinian that immediately took a liking to him, he seemed to radiate a powerful and vibrant energy Hermione had never seen from him before. His eyes, which often appeared like grey clouds before a storm, now sparkled like the silver lining to a rainbow after the rain.
She found herself staring into those eyes as he made carefree conversation completely focused on her. Everything else suddenly seemed like background noise and she easily tuned it out as she began to imagine that his smile, his sparkling intense gaze, and his effortless charm were for her. Only her.
She blushed as she realized she had been walking alongside Lucius Malfoy as if he were her lover.
He sort of is, Hermione.
Sort of. But he was also her case. She was supposed to be helping him. But he was helping her as well. She smiled in contentment as he took her arm without hesitation and continued to walk with her towards Madam Malkin’s.
When Hermione reached the shop, she rushed forward in unexpected excitement at seeing the older woman who had become a friend of sorts after years of shopping for school robes.
“Oh, Hermione!” the older woman said with open arms as she walked briskly towards her.
“Madam Malkin! So good to see you!”
Hermione returned the woman’s firm hug, enjoying the warm reception. It felt good to have an older woman hug her, it felt motherly, and Madam Malkin smelled divine. When she pulled back, the woman took in Hermione’s appearance from head to toe, while Hermione took note of hers. She was wearing fine electric blue robes. Her hair was swept up elegantly, and the spectacles perched on her nose gave the impression she was ready for a night at the show, but it was clear she was working.
“It’s about time I got you back in here. Whatever you want is on the house. Just tell me what color you’d like,” Madam Malkin said.
“Actually… I’m here with a special friend,” Hermione said with a bashful smile.
“Special friend, eh? I heard you and the Weasley boy broke up… you’ve got a new one already? You always were a quick study,” Madam Malkin said with a cheerful wink.
Hermione blushed and smiled, looking behind her to see Lucius’ reaction to the woman’s comment. But he wasn’t behind her. She huffed in exasperation, throwing up her hands.
“Hold on, be right back,” she said, turning around and running out of the shop.
She didn’t have to look far. Lucius was peering into a magical healing shop right across from Madam Malkin’s. As Hermione approached, she saw with some degree of sadness that he seemed to be staring at a product promising to prolong moments of bliss and happiness. Its label said it was recommended for those with severe depression—with a Healer’s permission, of course.
A pang of sadness and helpless longing to soothe him came over her.
“Lucius,” she said tentatively.
“Oh!” Lucius appeared startled out of his thoughts, giving Hermione a brief glance before turning to enter the shop. “There you are! Come, we don’t have a lot of time!” he said, as if it were Hermione who was holding them up.
When Hermione caught up to him, she noticed with dismay that Madam Malkin’s face was quite distressed and she had her hands clasped over her mouth.
“I… Hermione, what is the meaning of this?” she asked quickly with fearful eyes.
“Madam, Lucius is a friend…”
“A friend! You can’t be serious!”
“Indeed, I am. Now, we’re here to have him fitted,” Hermione felt herself becoming angry, and tried to keep her voice level.
“I’m sorry, Hermione, I can’t serve Death Eaters.”
“What do you mean? There are no more Death Eaters, Voldemort was defeated, and he served his time!” Hermione said sternly.
“I mean—” Madam Malkin shook her head. “Look, I have a great reputation here and it’s been made clear to me that shops that cater to certain types fail. I can’t afford to risk it. I just can’t. If someone saw him in here...”
“But I’m with him, doesn’t that count for anything? He’s paid his debt, and he’s with me.”
“I’m sorry, Hermione. Now, if you want to give me his measurements, I’ll be happy to make a robe for him and send it along.”
“That’s all right. We can take our business elsewhere, isn’t that right, Lucius?”
“Yes, I do think that’s best,” Lucius drawled before taking a big sniff and turning on his heel with Hermione to walk out.
Once they were out in the street, they walked a few more blocks towards The Leaky Cauldron.
“Did you want anything else before we leave?” Hermione asked quietly, keeping her focus ahead, bracing herself for a snide remark from a hurt and bitter Lucius.
“No,” Lucius said quietly.
She stopped and looked at him, taking in his long expression as he paused to raise the cage with the cat in it and peer at it.
“I’m sorry, Lucius, perhaps we can go to Twilfit and Tatting’s. They’re still very enamored with purebloods. I’m not sure if they would like someone like me in their shop, but—”
“That’s all right,” he said quickly. “We’ll just order robes by catalogue.”
Hermione nodded apologetically giving him a small, sympathetic smile.
He stopped staring at the cat and looked up at her in annoyance. “Do I have to insult you to get you to stop looking at me like that?”
She laughed softly, shaking her head. “No.”
“Really, I think I’m over Diagon Alley. The shopping here is subpar, at best,” he drawled haughtily.
She smiled. “You know, I do believe you’re right. Let’s go home.”
Chapter 9: In All Honesty
That evening, Hermione and Lucius made dinner together in silence, each appearing deep in their thoughts, reflecting on their trip to Diagon Alley, the events of the day, and the meaning of it all.
When at last they sat down to eat, Lucius broke the silence with a comment about Luna’s odd attire and jewelry, which made Hermione snicker in amusement. He seemed pleased to see her smile, and went on recounting the various wardrobes and strange behaviors he recalled from the day. Their conversation fell into easy gossip about various people in the wizarding world. It seemed almost therapeutic, and when dinner was over, Lucius assisted Hermione in cleaning up the Muggle way she so often insisted on doing.
“Well, look at you, washing dishes—the Muggle way, I should point out,” she said with a bit of laughter in her words.
“You would,” he drawled, turning his nose in the air as he continued to scrub a plate.
“Of course,” she teased, “How could I not? Who would have ever imagined, the great Lucius Malfoy washing dishes like a Muggle! That’s not something to be taken lightly.”
Lucius’ eyes went hard and he dropped the dish in the sink water so that it splashed up. “Shut up! Just shut up about it!”
Hermione stared back at him bewildered. “What did I say?”
“You know right well what you said. You’re mocking me!”
“Lucius, I was joking! I always tease you about your name.”
“Well, stop it! It’s not funny anymore! I’m not great… I’m nothing! That much was made painfully clear today,” he said, drying his hands and throwing the dishtowel down on the counter. He stared out the kitchen window, his nostrils flaring. Hermione stood still watching him, and then looking around for the first time in many weeks, for anything he may use as a weapon on himself.
Finally, he looked back at her. “You think I’m going to try to kill myself again?”
Hermione swallowed. “I…”
He shook his head. “Well you’re wrong. They’re not worth it. They’re not worth taking my life for.”
“You’re right, they’re not,” she agreed.
“I did five years… five bloody years! I don’t pretend I suffered more than anyone else, but I’ve suffered, too. They’re not the only ones. Everyone paid a price for what happened… everyone!” he said angrily, his eyes glaring at his reflection in the window.
Hermione nodded. “Some more than others,” she said quietly, thinking of all the friends she had lost, within a span of weeks, when the war was at its worst. As hard as she tried to fight it, old feelings of anger and bitterness about their senseless loss rose. She tried to push them down so that she could concentrate on the man she knew Lucius to be now, but it was hard.
Lucius’ tight grip on the counter hardened, the stress on his hands made visible by the bulging veins showing through his skin.
“I’m sorry; I know you lost many people,” he said apologetically. “And I know I’m connected to all of that. That’s all they see when they look at me, isn’t it?” he said, dropping his head as if the weight of it was too much.
He was right. Hermione closed her eyes, letting the faces of all of those she had lost float once more to the surface before taking in a deep breath, then exhaling. She wanted to hold on to them, but she also wanted to move forward, and moving forward meant forgiving him. Lucius needed to learn to forgive himself so that he could move forward as well. She didn’t want him to do that alone, she wanted to help him do it, with her by his side. She knew that for certain.
When she opened her eyes, Hermione saw that Lucius was still leaning over the counter, frozen in self-loathing.
“Lucius,” she said, moving towards him and placing one hand over his. As soon as she did, his breathing slowed and he closed his eyes.
“I wasn’t mocking you. I like it when you’re proud and confident. You’re best like that. If you weren’t the great Lucius Malfoy, you wouldn’t be you, or the man that I want.”
He turned around, his eyes boring into hers. “You… want me? What do you mean?”
Hermione opened her mouth, for once, not sure what would come from it but compelled to explain. “I mean that, I want to be with you. I enjoy your company and I know you enjoy mine. I think we can make it work.”
Lucius stared at her dumbfounded. “Do you realize what you’re saying?”
She remained quiet, sensing he had more to say, and he didn’t disappoint.
“Did you see the way they were staring at us? Is that what you really want? You want to be the object of gossip and derision? Don’t fool yourself, Hermione. You don’t want me. Not like that. Perhaps I should be moving on. This is getting out of hand.”
“It has been for some time,” she stated, bluntly. “But, we’ll figure it out.”
Lucius shook his head. “No, I think I should move back to the Rehabilitation House. I’m relieving of you of your duties as my caseworker.”
“You can’t do that; you don’t get to decide!”
“I can request a new caseworker if I feel the one I have is confusing her job with her feelings,” he said coldly.
His sharp retort didn’t dissuade Hermione in the least, if anything it emboldened her. “You don’t have a problem with it when I come to comfort you in the middle of the night! You know what I think? I think you’re just scared!” she said brazenly.
“Scared?” Lucius repeated, narrowing his eyes.
“Yes, scared. Scared that someone might actually care about you, and that you might care for them as well. You’re scared to live. That’s why you won’t take the welding job. It has nothing to do with your pride. You don’t want to take a chance and end up failing… that’s why you were going to kill yourself. It’s easier to cut yourself out of life, to reject a chance at happiness, than to face disappointment if it doesn’t work out. What a coward you are!”
Lucius’ upper lip curled into a snarl as he balled his fists at his side. “I’m no coward!” he thundered. “You can’t even fathom the lengths I’ve taken to protect my family, my community. I made the wrong choice, but it doesn’t make me any less courageous. Instead of pointing fingers at me, you might want to look at yourself with your frumpy old robes and books, hiding out in your house, taking care of someone who would have killed you only a few years before. What are you hiding from, Hermione? Perhaps the possibility that for all your hard work and perfectionism: you’re short, little life hasn’t really amounted to much at all.”
Hermione stared back at him with shocked hurt eyes. “Bastard… get out of my sight,” she whispered fiercely.
Lucius gave her one last sneer before making his way up the stairs, leaving Hermione with tears in her eyes as she collapsed in nearest chair, her heart in her stomach.
It didn’t make sense. Even though she was a celebrated war heroine, with very close and beloved friends, a promising internship under one of the top Healers in Great Britain, not to mention she had considerable savings and owned her own home, she felt empty.
Besides her failed relationship with Ron, she really didn’t find the field of Healing as wonderful as she had imagined, in fact she was disappointed. Although she could easily see herself doing it, she knew it wouldn’t be as fulfilling as she once had imagined it would be. And then there were her friends. Not only had she felt the loss of Ron and Luna’s friendship, but the rest were all getting married and moving on, away from each other. They managed to keep in touch here and there but everyone was so busy, and in love.
She realized with much sadness that she had all but given up on love and life. Hiding from the truth of that was much easier than dealing with it and setting it right. She didn’t have the energy, and it felt like so much work. She felt that she always had worked so hard to be happy. Her friends didn’t seem to work nearly as hard at it, yet they all seemed so happy. Why did she have to ‘work’ at being happy? She thought she deserved more than a little and could feel her resentment growing just thinking of having to start over and make another try at it.
Another tear fell and she clenched the duvet in frustration. She was angry with herself, Lucius and his cutting and uncanny assessment, and her damned tears.
Oh stop your crying, you miserable—
There was a knock at the door and she held her breath. She didn’t want to see him, not right now, not like this.
“May I enter?” she heard him ask through the door.
“I’d like to be left alone,” she said.
“Very well,” came his reply.
After only a few seconds, she thought of calling out to him to come back, that she had changed her mind, but then thought of how fickle and weak it would make her appear. Instead, she turned over to try to get some sleep.
“Oh, Lucius,” she moaned, as he began trailing kisses along the places his hands had been. His hot wet mouth felt glorious against her skin, and her body responded to each one as a flower, withering from drought, responds to fresh rain.
His fingers found her cunt and spread her open. She twisted her hips, begging him with her body for more. He chuckled at her insistence bringing a pleading sigh to her lips.
“Mmm?” He hummed as his mouth glided over her belly, down to the soft curls that covered her mound. She moaned in anticipation, grinding her hips against his mouth, her hands finding his hair and pushing against his scalp insistently.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “So sorry.”
“Don’t stop,” she moaned. “Don’t stop…”
“You don’t have to beg, love. You never have to beg, whatever you like,” he murmured against her inner thigh.
She gasped and let out a small cry as his tongue found its way to her center, lapping at the sensitive bud there.
“Oooh, don’t stop… don’t… Lucius…”
“Mmmm,” he moaned against her cunt, his attention to his feast becoming more intense with every little sound she made.
Her whole body felt like an instrument he was masterfully playing, and he was a virtuoso at it. His tongue, long and hot against her, seemed to know just how much pressure and speed to apply to make her climb higher and higher. It would be long before she…
“Oh, God!” Hermione cried out, her eyes flying open as she realized that she was not dreaming and that there was indeed a hot mouth working diligently to bring her to orgasm.
She looked down to see an all too familiar head covered with grayish blond hair bobbing up and down. His eyes were closed and he seemed to be engrossed in his work, and she found herself hard pressed to tell him to stop.
“Bastard,” she hissed, as she felt the rising tide of her approaching orgasm.
“Mmm-hmm,” he murmured against her cunt in agreement.
“You bloody bastard,” Hermione moaned, closing her legs around his neck, pressing his face tighter against her. He moaned when she did, digging his fingers deeper into her thighs as his grip on her tightened.
“Luuucius!” she cried out as her first orgasm crashed over her, causing her to tremble and loosen the hold she had on his head. She tried pushing him away, he grabbed at her wrists until they were locked in his hands and continued to lap at her now very sensitive clit.
“Oooh…oh, no… no… I can’t… I can’t take anymore,” she moaned in protest, turning her head from side to side in near delirium.
“Mmm,” Lucius hummed as he continued to bury his tongue inside of her while sucking on her at the same time.
Despite her initial fear of being over stimulated, Hermione found herself twisting once again in a frantic rhythm to find release. She felt Lucius shudder between her legs, groaning loudly into her cunt and then bright dots burst before her eyes as she came once more.
They lay there for several moments, his hands loosely holding her wrists, her legs slack and trembling with his face between them, resting on one of her thighs.
“You’re still a bastard,” she said with a smile.
Lucius chuckled, sending tingling vibrations through her already sensitive lower half as he raised his head. “Yes, I am, and this bastard is still very sorry for what he said,” he said.
She didn’t even try to hide her satisfaction as she ran a tender hand over his head. Lucius sighed in contentment, laying his head against her thigh once more.
“This bed is much better. I should have been sleeping here all along,” he mused.
Hermione shook her head and swatted his shoulder playfully. “Get up here so we can get some sleep.”
“You slept well, I take it?”
“Very,” she almost purred.
His hand found its way to her forehead, brushing away a wayward curl hanging near her eye. He twirled it with his finger, watching it coil and then pulling it playfully to watch it recoil again. “You do have the strangest hair.”
“Insult me all you want, especially if plan to apologize the way you did last night,” she said with a grin.
“I meant what I said. I didn’t mean to hurt you,” he whispered apologetically.
Hermione narrowed her eyes, skepticism written on her brow.
“Well, perhaps a little,” he admitted. “It is how I respond when I feel pushed.”
“I didn’t mean to push you, Lucius, I just meant—”
“I know what you meant, Hermione, and you were right. I’m… reluctant to try anything new. I don’t really understand this new world. It feels like I have to relearn everything, and I don’t know how it will all turn out for me in the end. All I know is that it doesn’t feel like something I can control and I don’t like that. I don’t like it at all.”
“I know that but I’m here for you, and we’ll learn together. You don’t have to do this alone,” she reassured
“And what would your friends say to that? You saw how Weasley reacted to seeing us together. What would Potter say? Your supervisor? The tabloids… have you thought this through at all?”
Hermione swallowed. “It’ll do us no good to be fearful.”
Lucius quirked one eyebrow. “I’m no coward, but a Gryffindor, I am not. And I wouldn’t call it fear so much as an aversion to gossip and prying busybodies.”
“Interesting, I thought you loved gossip,” she said teasingly.
“When it’s about others, of course,” he said with a small smirk.
Hermione smiled. “Well, I’m ready for it. You’re worth it.”
Lucius’ face became sober as he stared down at her.
“You worry too much, Lucius. We don’t have to parade ourselves around Diagon Alley, we can stay right here,” she reassured.
“Why do you want me?” he asked.
“You heard me. You know I hate it when you do that; stop stalling and answer my question,” he demanded.
“I… I enjoy your company, I like the way you challenge me, I like your confidence. In spite of all that you’ve lost, you’re still arrogant.”
“And you enjoy that?” He sounded surprised.
“Yes, I do. It’s amusing…”
Lucius’ face fell.
“…. and empowering,” she added quickly trying to convey how he made her feel. “If you can be arrogant, so can I. I’m just as smart.”
Lucius chuckled. “Smarter, I think. At least sometimes.”
“Don’t go getting a big head over it, I said sometimes,” he warned.
“Right,” Hermione tried to stop smiling. “I also like the way you care about others, even when you don’t show it. I can tell that you’re particular about whom you care for, but when you do care, your devotion is quite compelling. You’re so wonderfully complex.”
“And you love puzzles, don’t you?”
“And what happens when you figure me out and get bored?” he asked.
“I won’t,” she insisted.
Lucius gave her a skeptical look and sighed. “What am I going to do with you?”
Hermione smiled. “Make me crepes?”
Lucius frowned. “You know I hate making those.”
“I’ll help you, come on,” she said jumping out of bed.
Chapter 10: Uninvited
Lucius and Hermione made crepes together and then sat down to eat while discussing what people would probably say if they knew of their relationship.
Hermione enjoyed watching Lucius laugh while stroking his cat, as she mimicked the reactions of everyone she knew and some that she didn’t know quite so well. As an only child, she had had imaginary friends for a number of years and enjoyed puppeteering. She didn’t realize how much she had missed it until she began talking in the voice and mannerisms of Harry, Ginny, Neville, George, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, and Hagrid.
“You’re quite good at this, perhaps you are studying for the wrong profession,” Lucius remarked, after a good hearty laugh.
“Well, thank you very much,” she bowed graciously.
“I’m serious, you know.”
Hermione’s smile faltered. “Right, Hermione the Puppeteer. How ridiculous does that sound?” She shook head at the image.
“I’m sure there’s more to it than that. You’re fond of books; there must be a way to merge the two. You could start your own business, creating characters and stories for young children, with a moral of course,” he added with a smirk.
“It’s a nice thought, but I’m going to be a Healer.”
“Yet you’re still here with me, ditching your studies at the hospital,” he pointed out.
“I’m not ditching, I’m—”
“Taking some time off. Yes, yes, yes,” he said in a bored tone, looking down at the cat in his lap as he stroked it. “Well, if you won’t share your hidden talent with the world, I must insist that you at least share it with me more often.”
“Fine, but no more for now. I was hoping to do something different today.”
“Like?” Lucius asked, appearing intrigued.
“Would you like to learn how to fly the car?”
Lucius made a face.
“If you ever do get a job, I’m not sure they’ll allow you to use the Floo by yourself, but even if you can, it’s a good back-up since you won’t be able to Apparate for a good while.”
“Right,” he said thinking. “It’s just so…”
“Yes,” he said, curling his lip in disgust.
Hermione smiled widely. “Let’s go!”
A few times, she thought that he would give up, and she mentally deliberated how she would take over if that were to occur, but he didn’t. In fact, Lucius seemed quite intent on mastering the ability to steer, asking more questions about how the car ran and what the different gadgets on the dashboard meant. They had a very bumpy landing, but Lucius looked quite satisfied with his first trip out and asked Hermione if they could practice more often.
“If you promise to learn how to land, yes,” she teased.
“I’ll maneuver this thing better than you can by the end of the week, watch me,” he said confidently.
Returning back inside, they made lunch, but before they could begin to eat, a knock on the door interrupted them.
They both stared at each other quizzically and then Hermione’s eyes went wide and she groaned. She knew exactly who it was.
“You better go up to your room, unless of course, you’re in the mood for a row with Harry.”
Lucius sniffed indignantly. “I’m not running upstairs to avoid him. Let him see me. I’ll play nice if he does.”
“Harry won’t like seeing you, Lucius. He’s probably already worked himself up in a right state after hearing about us from Ron. Please, let me handle this,” she implored.
Lucius threw a dangerous glare at the door as if he were going to get up and open it himself, which made Hermione anxious. But then he rose with his plate. “You will come up when he’s gone, yes?”
“Yes, of course,” she smiled.
He gave her a stiff nod and then climbed the stairs.
There was more insistent knocking at the door, but Hermione waited until she heard Lucius’ bedroom door close before opening the door.
When she did, she found Harry looking quite putout. His eyes were intense and searching the foyer behind her, like he was looking for a kidnapper in a hostage situation. He wasted no time in pushing past her and coming in.
“Well, hello to you as well, Harry! Come right in!” she said sarcastically.
“Where is he?” Harry demanded, going to the sitting room and looking around before moving past her and heading towards the kitchen.
“I presume you’re speaking of Lucius?”
Harry stopped and turned around, staring in incredulity at Hermione. “Lucius? He’s Lucius now? What has Malfoy done to you?”
“Harry! Get a hold of yourself! I brought him here. And he’s my friend. Please keep your voice down!”
“Then why is your Floo closed? That’s dangerous, Hermione. You didn’t even warn anyone you would be closing it!”
“I’m sorry, Harry, I should have told you. But I don’t want any unannounced visits, even from close friends right now. It wouldn’t be good for him.”
“Good for him?! I don’t understand, Hermione. First Ron tells me you and he are no longer friends, and then he tells me you’re out shopping with Lucius Malfoy in Diagon Alley. Have you gone completely nutters?” Harry sounded frustrated, confused, and fearful.
“No, Harry, but you and Ron have if you think I need either one of you scolding me about whom I should be associating with. I am not a child. Since when do you care what I’m doing with my life, anyway? I haven’t seen you or heard from you in weeks!”
Harry’s eyes shifted, a guilty expression appearing on his face. “I’ve been busy, Hermione. You know I’m an Auror now, and Ginny and I are planning a wedding; it’s been hectic.”
“Yes, well, life goes on, doesn’t it? For everyone.”
“What are you doing inviting Malfoy into your home? He just got out of prison!” Harry informed, looking at Hermione as if she were daft.
“Yes, I’m very aware of that, Harry, I’m his caseworker, you know,” she said warily.
“Please don’t tell me you’ve been bringing all of your cases home?!”
“No, just Lucius.”
Harry shook his head. “Why?”
Hermione paused briefly before deciding to come clean. “Harry, please, stay and have some tea. I have a lot to tell you.”
“That’s… that’s outrageous! Kingsley would never allow that. He must not know,” Harry said in distress.
“I don’t know, Harry. How could he not know what’s going on in Azkaban? He’s the Minister,” Hermione said skeptically.
“Well, he’s been swamped and he relies on a lot of people. I’m sure he doesn’t make personal visits to Azkaban. There’s plenty of room for abuse when his attention is elsewhere,” Harry reasoned.
Hermione nodded. “Perhaps.”
“It’s wrong, though. No matter what those prisoners did, it makes us no better than they are if that’s how we treat them.”
“I’m glad you agree,” Hermione said in relief. “I went in to see Kingsley on a few occasions, and he’s always out. So, I’ve written a few letters and filed a formal complaint, but I haven’t heard anything from anyone.”
Harry shook his head. “No, complaints get thrown into a pile never to be seen again. Kingsley is very busy these days, but I know a few people who can give me his schedule. I’ll talk to him myself,” Harry said, burying his face into his hands. “We’ll set it to right.”
She threw her arms around Harry’s neck, giving him a big hug and then a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you, Harry.”
Harry smiled back at her briefly and then his stern expression was back. “Listen, Hermione, I know you want to help Lucius Malfoy, and it sounds like he wasn’t treated properly, but that’s no reason to open your home to him.”
“Harry, he’s not who you think he is. He’s lost so much, and he’s learned so much, and I’m learning a lot from him.”
Harry shook his head. “I don’t like it. What if he turns on you?”
“He won’t,” she said firmly.
“But what if he does?” Harry countered.
“Harry, he won’t,” she insisted.
Harry put his tea down and sat back, appraising Hermione. “He’s got you twisted around his finger. How do I know you’re not under the Imperius?”
“Ms. Granger isn’t a house elf, Mr. Potter. You don’t need to try to find the proverbial sock to set her free,” Lucius drawled from the kitchen doorway.
Harry jumped up, drawing out his wand.
“Harry, put that away!” Hermione scolded, shocked to see him draw on an unarmed man.
“You do know I’m wandless, I presume,” Lucius stated simply.
Harry’s eyes darted from Hermione to Lucius before lowering his wand.
“Harry, that’s enough! Now, I’ve said all I’m going to say about this,” she said with a finality that made Harry frown in defeat.
“Fine… fine. But you know how to reach me if you need help,” he said.
“Yes, Harry,” Hermione said wearily.
Harry turned a green-eyed glare toward Lucius. “And you, if you lay one hand on her, I’ll—”
“Use your ‘Expelliaramus’ on me; yes, I know. I’ll be sure to remain on my best behavior to avoid such a fate,” Lucius drawled with an eye roll.
Harry’s wand twitched in his hand, his grip on it tightening as if in effort not to hex Lucius.
Lucius stared at it with an amused dare on his face.
“I’d better get back to work,” Harry said finally, looking at Hermione with noticeable annoyance.
“I’ll walk you out,” she said.
“You told him about me,” he said accusingly.
Her face flushed, feeling guilt tugging at her, but she knew what she had told Harry was for the best.
“I told him about the Dementor in your cell,” she defended.
“That wasn’t for you to tell, Hermione!”
“I’m sorry, Lucius. Someone needed to know! I’ve been trying to see Kingsley for the longest time. I’ve written letters and filed a complaint weeks ago, but I haven’t heard anything! Someone has to put a stop to it so that no one has to go through what you did.”
“I get to decide who knows about my affairs. Me! No one else! To think, I trusted you,” he spat angrily.
“Please, Lucius, you’re taking this all wrong,” she pleaded, feeling anxious that she had underestimated Lucius’ hate for Harry.
Lucius shook his head, his hand reaching out to grip the banister as he stared at the floor. “The last thing I need is Potter acting on my behalf. He’s already sanctimonious enough, and you had to make me out to be some sort of… mentally challenged pity case.”
He sounded hurt, and it hurt her to think that she had been the cause of that.
“I didn’t mean to humiliate you, Lucius. It’s quite obvious you’re not mentally challenged; Harry would have never stood up to you, or drawn his wand, if he pitied you!”
Lucius looked up, a small smirk on his face. “Yes, he was quite frightened, wasn’t he?”
Hermione gave Lucius a terse look of warning. “That’s not something to be proud of!”
Lucius chuckled, slowly reaching out with one hand. She sighed in relief that he seemed to have calmed down as she took his hand. When he pulled her close, holding her in his arms, she felt compelled to apologize once more.
“I didn’t mean to embarrass you, I swear,” she whispered.
Lucius took in a deep breath. “It’s… fine. I’m touched you care enough to have the great Harry Potter, a living legend, seek justice on my behalf.”
“Oh stop it,” she groaned, rubbing her face into his chest.
They held each other for several moments in silence when Lucius finally pulled back to look down at her. “Do you think I can have another go at the car?” he asked.
Hermione sighed reluctantly. “All right… but please wait until we get in the air before you step on the gas this time.”
The tension from Harry’s unexpected visit had been forgotten and after they had finished dinner, Lucius volunteered to clean.
Hermione busied herself re-reading and catching up on what her internship was covering at the moment, giving some thought about exactly when she would return. She got so caught up in reading that by the time she looked up it was very late.
When she came up to slide into bed, Lucius was already waiting for her.
“Taking over my room now?” she asked, folding her arms at him in mock disapproval.
“Our room,” he said smugly.
She paused at the foot of the bed.
When did it go from them discussing the possibility of being in a relationship, to him claiming her room as his as his own? Hermione frowned.
“Our room?” she repeated.
“Oh, get in bed, we’ve had a good day, please don’t ruin it,” he said in a softer tone than normal.
She couldn’t help but smile. Perhaps she was over thinking everything thing now that the possibility of being in a real relationship again was very real.
When she slipped into bed, she found him naked.
“Someone’s randy, I see,” she remarked staring at his cock with a naughty grin.
“Always,” he said leaning over to give her a passionate kiss.
When he pulled away, he grabbed her hand and kissed the palm before bringing it to his chest to lie over his heart.
“Do you feel that?”
Hermione felt the pulse of his heartbeat vibrate for a few moments and then smiled. “Yes.”
“It’s yours… all yours, Hermione.”
She stared up at him, his eyes were searching hers for a reply, but she had no words.
What does that mean? Surely, he can’t…
He was moving her hand again, guiding it over his chest, his stomach, and then to his hard cock, moving it back and forth. She gripped it tightly, massaging him the way she knew he enjoyed best.
“Yes,” he breathed. “Yes.”
He pulled his hand off hers as she continued to work his length and cupped her chin, sliding his thumb against her lips with the slightest of pressure.
“Open up for me,” he whispered. She paused in her ministrations and then resumed, opening her mouth tentatively to accept his thumb. He slid in the tip.
“Ah-ah, no teeth,” he said instructively, pushing his thumb further over her teeth until it was buried to the bottom knuckle inside her mouth.
She watched for his reaction as she closed her mouth around the intrusion, sucking softly. She made sure her teeth did not graze his digit, hoping he would be pleased with the promise of her effort.
She felt his cock twitch in her hand, it was harder than it had ever been before and now he was pushing himself against her.
He began to move his thumb in and out of her mouth, making her chase it a bit as she began to suck on it more insistently. She had never taken a man into her mouth but suddenly she wanted much more than just his thumb.
“Enough,” he said, withdrawing his thumb, and pushing her hand away from his cock.
“Please… take me into your mouth,” he pleaded, his eyes desperate with need.
Hermione licked her lips, nodding, before kissing him deeply. When she began to slide down, kissing his chest and nipples, running her tongue between them along his torso; she heard a strange whimper from above. Encouraged, she quickly found her prize and took him eagerly into her mouth.
Lucius hissed as she did, gripping her shoulder and then petting her head as if she were his cat. She struggled to breathe at first, but then learned to inhale through her nostrils as she slid her mouth up and down as far as she could. She experimented, trying different pressure points, and when she found what he responded to the most, she put her all into giving him the best she could do.
He bucked and moaned with increasing fervor the longer she went.
“Oh, yes, Hermione, yes. What a beautiful mouth… beautiful… all of you… so beautiful. I love you… I love you…” he moaned.
He’s just saying that because you’re polishing his knob.
She was sure of it and continued to work her mouth over him, caressing his bollocks as she did. When she felt him stiffen, she inhaled in preparation. She felt his hand on top her head and him raising his hips off the bed. He pushed himself further into her mouth and then the slightly bitter tang of his hot sticky release hit her tongue. She coughed a little before swallowing everything he gave while making sure to keep her mouth firmly tightened around his cock.
“Hermione!” Lucius exclaimed as he finished emptying into her mouth. When he was completely spent, he gently pulled her off by the hair. She released him with pop and rolled over onto her back, trying to catch her breath and soothe her sore mouth.
“That was brilliant, love,” he said in admiration. “Brilliant…”
Gazing up at the ceiling, she found herself trying to figure out what was wrong. Something was bothering her. Maybe it was the way he called her ‘love.’ No, that was just a term of an endearment lovers often used, whether they were in love or not.
But he had told her he loved her. Of course, she had been giving special attention to his prick when he had said that, but still….
“Come here,” Lucius said, holding both arms over toward her.
Hermione looked up at him from her position halfway down the bed. “Well aren’t you a dear all of a sudden,” she quipped.
“Witch, you haven’t seen what I’m capable of when I’m in love,” Lucius said with a smile.
Hermione frowned and sat up.
“What’s the matter?”
“I thought you said you weren’t sure if you had ever been in love?” she questioned.
Lucius smiled. “Well, I know now…”
Hermione shook her head, staring at him in incredulity. “You can’t be serious.”
Lucius seemed taken aback and hurt. “You don’t love me,” he said. It was a statement not a question.
“When I said I wanted you, I didn’t mean… Lucius, we’re just getting to know each other,” she said carefully, trying not to hurt his feelings.
“I see,” he said neutrally, his face turning impassive, something she hadn’t seen in weeks.
“Look I’m sorry; I thought we saw eye-to-eye on this. I do want to be with you, but I’m not… I’m not in love.”
“I’m just something to play with, then? While you play hooky from school?” he said. The icy tone in his voice alerted her that she was in danger of a wicked row.
“That’s not what this is, and you know it,” she said.
“Do I? You know what I think?” Lucius asked.
Hermione straightened and put her chin up, preparing herself for a verbal attack. “No, but I’m sure you’re about to tell me.”
“For all your talk about being courageous, I think you’re the one who’s scared now. You’re scared of falling in love.”
“That’s ridiculous! Who’s afraid of love? Real love is something everyone wants,” she said matter-of-factly.
“Unless, of course, they think it has to be perfect. You don’t want to fall in love, you want to plan it. You probably have a timetable drawn up on how it should occur, down to the very month,” he said with a sneer.
“Shut up!” she snapped, irritated that he could so easily make her lose her composure.
“Yes, that’s it, isn’t it? You think we have to be together for a certain number of years and go through the right stages before you can call it love. That way you can prevent anyone from ever hurting you again the way Weasley did.”
“Stop trying to get into my head! You’re not even doing a very good job of it,” she said, gritting her teeth, aware that her voice had risen considerably, nearly on the verge of shrieking.
“Really? Is that why you’re yelling at me and baring those conspicuous teeth of yours?” he questioned with a calculating smugness that she found infuriating. Well two could play at that.
“You’re one to talk about love, with your insults and cruel head games. I don’t even believe you when you say you love me. You’re not even certain if you loved the mother of your child. I doubt you’d know love if it bit you in the arse!”
Lucius stilled, staring at Hermione with a deadly glare. She held her breath, waiting for his worst.
“For once, Hermione, you are wrong. I can finally say I know what real love is. Your touch has kept me alive and whether you love me or not, the hope that you will one day love me, well… that’s enough to keep me going for long time,” he said slipping out of bed.
Hermione gaped at him in disbelief as he walked toward the door.
He paused at it. “If you’d like me to move out, I will.”
She couldn’t fix her mouth to say anything, and so she watched in silence as he left and closed the door, leaving her to her thoughts.
She stared at the closed door for a long time after he left.
It was ridiculous to even think about loving someone after a few months of spending time with them. Lucius had been right about one thing, there was a right way to fall in love and that meant that there was definitely a wrong way as well. As she thought about their predicament, suddenly, old familiar and forgotten feelings of guilt began to resurface.
This was her fault. Of course someone in Lucius’ condition was vulnerable. He had been abandoned by his family, robbed of his best memories, and now left penniless and at the mercy of someone who took pity on him. It was no wonder he thought he was in love. He wanted, probably needed, to know someone loved him.
And she did care for him. Very much.
He made her laugh, think, and feel free; like she could do anything she wanted to if she put her mind to it. She had always thought she could, but somewhere along the way, she had started doubting herself, doubting what lie in store for her in life. But his confidence, his will, emboldened her to embrace her own once more.
But that couldn’t be love, could it?
“No, it can’t be,” she said out loud, noting with disdain how hollow her voice sounded when no one was listening.
Chapter 11: Perfectly Imperfect
Walking on eggshells didn’t even begin to describe the careful and tense interactions that ensued between Hermione and Lucius for the next two weeks. Hermione immediately broke their daily ritual the morning after their argument, rising unusually early to make breakfast. She didn’t want to be caught in awkward conversation about nothing with Lucius, while everything lay under the surface like a huge hippogriff in the center of the room.
By the time Lucius came downstairs, she would be done with her meal and reading the paper in the next room. But being in the next room with Lucius fixing his own breakfast in silence still proved to be too much, so she had taken to sitting out back near her garden while he ate.
They moved around and away from each other like this for days. Lucius began spending more and more time in his room, while Hermione spent more time near her garden, and going out to run errands.
She began corresponding with her supervisor at her internship, and was told she could return at any time. The temptation to return became stronger with each day; it would certainly be much easier than dealing with trying to avoid Lucius.
A week later, when the usual monthly checkup owl from the prison rehabilitation program came, she couldn’t even reply to it.
Update? They want an update on how I’m doing? Funny, that.
“Is that a letter from the program,” Lucius asked. Hermione dropped the letter, startled. She clumsily bent over, trying to pick it up while keeping her eyes on him. She had to grasp at it a few times before she had it and then straightened.
“Yes, they want to know how we’re doing,” she fibbed.
“You mean how you’re doing. They’re worried, I’m sure. I know they care nothing about my progress,” he stated without any bitterness in his voice.
“Don’t… I don’t want your pity or apologies. I thank you for what you’ve done for me, but perhaps it’s time for me to move on. I think going back to the Rehabilitation House, until I can find suitable employment, may be best for both of us.”
“No!” she protested. “You don’t belong there. You can stay here!”
“I don’t belong here either, it seems,” Lucius stated, watching her face.
“You do, I just… Lucius, I’m not ready for… love,” she said.
“And how will you know when you’re ready?” he asked, moving closer to her.
“These things take time,” she said, moving back unconsciously.
He began walking more confidently toward her, while Hermione tried to stand her ground. But her nerves overrode her courage, and she found herself taking several steps back.
“That’s not an answer,” he drawled. “How will you know when you’re ready, hmm?” he asked in the low sultry voice she often dreamed about. She tried to move away but it was too late, he had moved quickly to cross into her personal space, wrapping his arms around her waist.
“Lucius…” she began to protest.
“Answer the question!” he demanded.
“No…” she shook her head, pulling away.
In the next instant, Lucius’ mouth was on hers, devouring her, as he pulled her closer. He pressed his body against hers, moving them back toward the wall.
When he finally released her mouth, she gasped for breath, her eyes hazy and drunk from the kiss.
“Answer me!” he repeated.
“I-I don’t… I can’t be in love! It’s too soon,” she tried to reason.
“Liar,” he growled, pushing her more forcibly against the wall. “You love me, I know you do, Hermione,” he said as he ground himself into her.
“No, you’re mistaken! You’re not well, Lucius,” she said weakly.
He chuckled and then attacked her neck, sucking as he tried to grope her breast through her bathrobe.
“I’m just as unwell as you are, my dear,” he whispered, untying her robe and pulling it off her. “And the sooner you admit that, the sooner we both can enjoy each other properly.”
Hermione did not protest as he undid his pants, pulling out his prominent erection. She stared at it. She had missed it, had been dreaming about it. He smirked at her hungry gaze. She couldn’t even bother with the pretense of protest as he lifted her nightgown to her waist and hoisted her up against the wall, pushing himself between her legs. With one quick motion, his hands were pulling her knickers aside and he was pressing the smooth head of his cock against her wetness.
“Say it,” he ordered.
“No!” she refused defiantly.
“Lie to me, then,” he said in a softer tone, pressing himself into her only slightly as he waited for her reply.
“I won’t lie… I won’t… Oh, God, Lucius!” she gasped, as Lucius sank himself into her with one quick and hard stroke.
She heard herself moaning in wanton passion as he gripped her arse, pulling her onto his cock, thrusting upwards again and again. “Lie to me, Hermione… tell me you love me,” he panted as he worked himself into her at a feverish pace.
“I don’t… I don’t,” she moaned again and again, keeping her eyes closed as she held onto him, taking everything he was giving her.
“Doesn’t matter. I love you enough for both of us…” he whispered as he continued to drive himself into her against the wall. His hands were her only support, her legs had already gone weak and she could feel herself shaking from the building eruption of her approaching orgasm.
“Ooooooh, Lucius… Lucius…” Hermione cried out as something deep inside of her exploded. Tears began to flow freely from her eyes as she dug her nails into Lucius’ back.
“Yes, that’s it, love, come for me… come for me,” Lucius encouraged picking up his pace, even as she shook against him.
It wasn’t long before Lucius’ head fell and he groaned loudly into her neck as he came violently inside of her before freezing, still holding her tightly against the wall. “I love you, Hermione,” he whispered once he had collected his breath.
“I love you,” he repeated, kissing her cheek before pulling out and setting her down gently onto her feet.
She was still crying when he did, she couldn’t stop. His hand reached up to wipe her cheek and she shook her head, and put her hands up, pushing him away. She couldn’t look at him, and focused instead on her hardwood floor. Lucius was watching her, she could feel his eyes on her. Willing herself not to look at him, she waited until she saw his feet start a slow retreat. She held her breath until they vanished from her sight and she could hear them no more.
The wall was the only thing holding her up, and she stayed planted against it for what felt like an eternity. The realization of what she had to do crashed over her like cold water, and just like that, all post-coital feeling was gone and her rational thinking mind began to plan.
Once Hermione peeled herself off the wall, she walked over to sit down at her writing table where she kept all of her stationary for post. She pulled out a quill and some paper to write a brief note to her supervising Healer at the St. Mungo’s internship.
She would be returning to her internship immediately.
Truthfully, even though she would miss the days she and Lucius spent talking, she also missed having an independent purpose. It was obvious that Lucius had fully recovered. Well, as much as he would ever be able to. She had been deluding herself, trying to rationalize wanting to spend time with him by telling herself that he was still not well.
But no more. She was a Healer in training
“And I’ll be a damned good one, too,” she said to her reflection, giving it one more glance before heading to her desk to write a note to Lucius.
I’ve taken your advice and decided to return to my internship. My hours will be long, so please don’t wait up for me. If you need anything, just leave a note. If it’s urgent, you can Floo to Harry’s; the coordinates are enclosed.
She contemplated if she should add a closing salutation like ‘sincerely’ or ‘all the best’ but those sounded false and cold, especially when she knew he would much prefer to see the world ‘love.’
But that was out of the question.
Standing at his door, she listened for a few moments. She wasn’t sure what she had been expecting to hear, but her ear was pressed to the door nonetheless.
The thought of opening the door and slipping into bed with him flitted across her mind but she pushed it away as she drew back. With a fair degree of determination and willpower, she stuck the note to the door and turned away towards the stairs.
Once downstairs, she took one final look around before reaching in for some Floo powder to begin her first day back at St. Mungo’s.
But they didn’t. A few confided that she had kept them all on their toes, and that her questions were always useful and necessary. Someone even told her that her absence had been like losing an unofficial teacher.
Her supervisor also seemed very pleased to have her back. She put Hermione right in the thick of things and gave her the most difficult rounds. Afterward, she grilled Hermione about the application of her experiences.
When Hermione came home that first night, she was absolutely exhausted, and headed straight for bed. She noticed that Lucius’ bedroom door was closed and kept walking past it toward her own.
For the next several nights, when she came home, she noticed with increasing concern that the house was always deadly quiet. Sometimes she would go into the kitchen and it would be cleaned spotless, but empty. Other times she would go into the sitting room, looking for signs that Lucius had been there. There were never any.
When she would climb the stairs, it would always be the same. His door would be closed. She thought several times of knocking but then what would she say? She had obviously hurt him, and felt guilty for it.
But more than that, she missed him terribly. She wanted to tell him about her day, her accomplishments, how her classmates had praised her and how much attention her supervisor was giving her. She wanted to hear his response. Perhaps it would be approval, smug satisfaction that he had been correct about her returning, or maybe he would insult her to keep her ego in check. She tried to imagine what he would say, but that only made her heart ache more.
Your heart aches because you love him.
The thought, the feeling, the certainty that she did love him had been growing stronger throughout the week, with each passing day she went without seeing or hearing from him. She had never missed anyone so much. She had never wanted to see, touch, or hold anyone this much. If that wasn’t love, she couldn’t imagine what else it could be. It had to be love.
“Maybe… maybe I do,” she finally said out loud to herself, as she stared at the door, she contemplated whether to enter.
She closed her eyes, letting out a long sigh. “Yes, I do,” she said with a small smile, walking toward the door. She listened and heard nothing, then decided to knock.
There was no answer.
She knocked again, this time louder and longer. Still no answer.
“Lucius,” she said, opening the door. She stared, bewildered at his perfectly made up bed, and took a step inside to look around.
Despite the fact that it was already dark, it occurred to her that perhaps he may be sitting out back.
She ran down the stairs and toward the back door into the black night. It was still and quiet, and there was no one there.
As she went through each room of the house calling for him, her anger rose at the thought that Lucius had probably moved out without leaving a note or saying goodbye.
When it became clear that Lucius was nowhere to be found, she immediately Apparated to the Rehabilitation House, prepared to have an all out row with him and drag him home. Instead, David seemed shocked to see her and stated that he hadn’t seen Lucius since Hermione had carted him out months before.
She Apparated home and called out to him once more before pacing her living room. The silence was almost deafening and real panic began to set in. Opening her Floo, she considered going to Harry’s, perhaps even filing a missing person’s report.
“No one would care,” she muttered. Perhaps Harry would even be relieved or smug about Lucius abandoning her.
Abandoned. Yes, that’s how she felt right now.
She didn’t even bother to wipe her face as copious tears flowed down her cheeks.
“I just needed some time,” she whispered. “I didn’t know. I was scared. You said you’d wait for me!” she shouted out, the sound of her voice hitting the walls flatly, making her words sound empty.
She busied her mind with thoughts of searching for him again. But with each scenario; some of them ending with her finding him, others ending with her not, she found no peace. When she had tired herself from pacing, crying and yelling, she forced herself upstairs to go to bed. But she couldn’t sleep in her own, instead she went to his bed, curling up and deeply inhaling the duvet for traces of his scent. She held his pillow in her arms vertically, pretending that it was Lucius in need of her touch.
She hadn’t had someone cook her breakfast since…
Her eyes went wide as the last haze of sleep fell and clarity took hold. “Lucius!”
She jumped up and ran down the stairs. Lucius was at the sink, his back turned to her as he cut fresh fruit. There were eggs, ham, and even crepes on the table.
“It’s about time,” he drawled, with his back still turned. “I thought I was going to have to Ennervate you.”
“Where were you?!” she practically shouted.
“Lower your voice, love, I was out.”
“Out!? Out!? Do you know how worried I was? I thought you had moved back into that dreadful Home, and when I went to look for you, they said you hadn’t been back, and so I came back here… I didn’t know what to do. I thought of contacting Harry but then—”
Lucius chuckled. “Now, that would have been truly amusing.”
“You selfish sod! Do you know how worried I was?” she asked angrily.
“You always worry too much. Come, sit down and eat,” Lucius said cheerily.
Hermione scowled. “You think making me breakfast makes up for putting me through hell? You still haven’t told me where—”
Her eyes caught the tip of a long skinny black wooden object sticking out from under the day’s Daily Prophet. She walked slowly toward it. “Lucius…” she gasped.
Lucius turned with a plate full of sliced apples and oranges. “Oh, that. Yes, you’re looking at a Class C Magical Welder. And that, my dear, is my wand.”
She felt her eyes becoming damp as her mouth opened to ask a question, but there were so many questions that she didn’t even know where to begin.
Lucius seemed to understand her confusion and proceeded to explain. “The man seeking magical welders said he would put me up if I would sign up for the welding course, immediately. He’s actually a rather fine gentleman, surprisingly non-judgmental. I stayed at his home while I enrolled.”
“But, I thought… why?”
Lucius gave her a small smile. “I was thinking, how hypocritical it was to ask you to take a chance on me, when I haven’t even taken a chance on myself. Well, I did. And I passed with flying colors. They even made me a special certificate,” he said, sliding the certificate and his wand out from under the Daily Prophet.
Hermione took the certificate, marveling at it, her gaze shifting from the writing on it back up at Lucius and then back again.
“This is… impressive, Lucius.”
“Yes, it is,” he said boastfully. “Apparently, I am the fastest learner in the course’s history. So impressive, that the instructors petitioned for my Restricted Wand License without a Mind Scan.”
“No Mind Scan?” she asked in surprise.
“No. My instructors and new supervisor were quite offended at the mention of it. I got my wand within a few hours of passing the course,” he said proudly.
“You must be damned good,” Hermione murmured in shock.
Lucius shrugged. “Really, welding is so simple. At least the basics are. I have a few ideas about how to hone my new craft.”
“I’m sure you do,” she said, looking at him in admiration. She took in the table filled with food, Lucius’ new wand and his certificate. “I don’t deserve this… I hurt you.”
“We’ve hurt each other. That’s going to happen, you know,” he said reassuringly.
“I didn’t mean it,” she said.
Lucius stared at her, waiting for her to finish.
“I… you were right. I was scared. I’ve always lived by rules. Rules help me stay in control. I always thought there was a proper way to do things, but… well, following rules hasn’t really worked out for me, has it?”
“Oh, I don’t know about that. You’ve made a rather good life for yourself. You’re still young and already a war heroine. You own your home, you’re studying to be a Healer and… you drive,” he said with a smirk.
She chuckled in spite of herself. It felt so good to have him home; he always put things in perspective for her.
“But, Lucius, those things are meaningless without love. Nothing is really worth it if you don’t have that.”
Lucius reached out to grip the chair in front of him, looking down at the table. “You have that,” he said quietly.
“Yes, I do… and now I know it. Lucius, I love you, too.”
It felt good to admit it. She hadn’t realized how long she had wanted to say until she heard herself utter the words. It felt like a confession she had been holding in, and now that it was out, she felt free.
When Lucius looked up, his eyes were wet and glossy and he seemed to be trying with great effort to control his facial expression.
“Come here, you silly girl,” he choked out, holding out his arms. Hermione ran to meet him, nearly toppling him over in the process.
Lucius laughed cheerfully and they held each other for several minutes, until Hermione’s hand ran down his back and found his bum, squeezing suggestively.
“Mmmm,” he murmured. “You really shouldn’t start something you can’t finish, Hermione,” he said with dark warning in his voice.
“Oh, I can finish it,” Hermione challenged.
Lucius smirked, leaning in to suck on her neck, as his hands roamed over her thinly covered nipples, pinching them through the cloth.
Hermione groaned, pushing him back, running her hands over his chest before sliding down to her knees, pulling his trousers with her.
“My, aren’t we eager?” he mused, sounding slightly out of breath with excitement as he looked down at her.
Taking his hard cock in her hand, she gripped it firmly so that she could lick his entire length with her tongue. Lucius gasped and reached back to find something to brace himself with as she began to suck. She eagerly closed her mouth over him, pushing herself to take every inch until she could feel the head of his cock hit the back of her throat.
What she couldn’t take in her mouth, she massaged with her hand until Lucius was fucking her mouth with abandon. When he pulled her off of him and ordered her to lay on her back, she didn’t think twice. He sank down to his knees above her, taking in her body with adoring eyes.
“You’re so beautiful,” he said, staring at her lovingly as he ran his hands over her breasts and down her sides.
“Oh? I thought I was a strange creature?” she said with one eyebrow raised, reminding him of all his past insults about her appearance.
“A strange, beautiful creature,” he said with a warm smile as he leaned in to take one of her nipples into his mouth.
“Oh, I’ve missed those lips,” she moaned.
“And they’ve missed you,” he murmured over her skin as his cock found her wet center.
He kissed his way up to her mouth, pausing to stare into her eyes. “Thank you, Hermione… for everything,” he said seriously.
“No, thank you,” she said.
Lucius’ eyes began to water once more as he stared down at her. “I’ve been dying to make love to you,” he whispered against her lips.
“No… don’t make love to me,” she drawled in an impressive imitation of his own. “Take me hard.”
Lucius pulled back, reflecting surprise and puzzlement. “Pardon?”
Hermione smirked, wrapping her legs around him tightly, as she pushed herself against the head of his cock. “You heard me, stop stalling.”
Hermione playfully swatted at his chest. “I’m serious. Shag me into the floor, please!”
“You never have to beg, love, remember that,” he said as he proceeded to thrust his full length inside of her.
She cried out her pleasure at being filled to the hilt; writhing underneath him as she chanted her approval and his name again and again. It was as if Lucius were releasing all his passion into her at once, his hips pinning her in place as he grunted with every thrust.
Hermione whined in ecstasy, her cries becoming more strained as Lucius continued without any sign of letting up.
“Take it for me, love. Take it all,” he grunted as he continued to fuck her.
She had never seen him so feral and ruthless in his ministrations. It turned her on even more than she had imagined.
“Oh yes, Lucius… give it to me… give it to me good,” she moaned.
“I’ll give it to you, all right,” he said, pulling back and grabbing her ankles, spreading her wider as he repositioned himself to descend at straighter angle.
“Oh! Oh, my! Oh, Lucius!!” she cried.
“Yes, love, yes!” Lucius grunted. “This is what you wanted… and I’ll always give you what you want, Hermione… Anything. You. Want,” he said punctuating each word with a hard thrust.
“Say my name,” he demanded as he continued.
Hermione couldn’t think straight as her cunt was stretched and filled. “Lucius….”
“Hmmm? What’s my name, Hermione,” he drawled, sounding quite dark and delicious.
“Lu-Lucius… Ma-Malfoy,” Hermione stuttered as he began to hit the same magical spot over and over.
“Ah, yes…yes,” he said, lowering her legs and slowing down his thrust considerably as he leaned in to kiss her. “Tell me you love me, love.”
“I do Lucius. I love you… I love you so much,” she said, lifting her head off the floor to meet his lips.
When their kiss broke, he moved slowly inside of her, every stroke was soft and tender. “And I love you, Hermione. You’ve kept me alive with your touch. You don’t ever have to give me anything but that. Just keep touching me… promise me that,” he begged.
“I promise Lucius. I promise,” she whispered earnestly.
They continued to move back and forth against each other, each twist and rotation of their hips a silent declaration of their new bond. And when they both came, it was together, their mouths joined in a desperate kiss as they moaned in unison.
They lay there on the kitchen floor for a long time, staring at each other, until Lucius perched himself on one elbow. “Well, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we have a feast to finish.”
Hermione laughed softly. “I can’t believe how much you food you prepared.”
“Well, I figured you’ve been spending so much time at the hospital that you hadn’t had a decent meal in days.”
Hermione narrowed her eyes in mock offense. “I can cook for myself, thank you very much.”
“Not very well, at least, not as well as I can,” Lucius said coolly.
“Oh, you’re incorrigible!”
“Yes, and you love it,” he drawled smugly.
She smiled. “Thank you for breakfast.”
A devious gleam twinkled in Lucius’ eyes. “You can thank me by catching me up on the latest gossip and telling me about your week.”
“With character voices?” she asked.
“Of course,” he said, rising to help her off of the floor. “Allow me,” he said, grabbing his wand and doing a cleaning spell on both of them.
Hermione smiled. “You know, Mr. Malfoy, I do believe you are officially rehabilitated.”
Lucius smiled. “Yes, I would say so.” They both fixed their clothing and then Lucius held out Hermione’s chair for her, waiting for her to take a seat before taking his.
“I must say, I’m surprised you didn’t want me to make love to you. It would have been the perfect romantic start to our new love affair,” he said, sliding her plate of fresh fruit to her.
Hermione scrunched up her face and placed the hands he loved so much over his. “I don’t want perfect, Lucius. I want you.”