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A Repairing of Self

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Hermione barged into the Minister’s office, her face practically buried in a book. “I did not know it would take this much work just to restore my parents’ memories,” she said as she walked up to his desk and placed the book onto it.

She looked up to see the Minister staring at her, his eyes widened slightly with surprise. She heard shuffling at her side and glanced over to see none other than Lucius Malfoy standing beside her and looking at her with a single raised eyebrow. Hermione felt her cheeks heat up.

Looking back at the Minister, she pinched her brows. “I’m so sorry, Kingsley. I did not realize you were in a meeting,” she said as she took a step back.

He recovered from his initial shock and gave her a soft smile. “It’s quite alright, Miss Granger. I know you’ve been struggling with getting your parents’ memories back. I’m glad you’ve found a solution.”

She sighed as she pointed to a passage in the book. “I didn’t, though,” she argued. “The spell I had used is different from the normal Oblivation spell because of the way I had modified their memories. I would need someone who knows Charms as well as I do and we would have to work together. Not only that, but the time leading up to their restoration requires that they drink the Memory Restoration Potion three times. Neither of my parents are trusting enough to drink anything handed to them by a stranger just once, let alone, three times.”

“That’s pretty smart for a pair of Muggles,” Lucius commented, speaking for the first time.

Hermione glared at him. “Imagine that,” she quipped. “Not that you would understand, but both of my parents graduated at the top of their classes at Oxford University and both had a great dentistry practice here in London before the war began.”

“I am very well aware of your parents’ accomplishments, Miss Granger,” the aristocrat informed her. “Although where they had disappeared to remained a mystery to me until just now.”

Kingsley clapped his hands together, drawing Hermione’s attention back to him. “So, what is it you need from me, my dear?” the Minister asked, hoping to curve the conversation back to the matter at hand.

The Muggle-born sighed. “Honestly? Just help. As I’ve said, I will need someone fluent in Charms to help me perform the necessary spell. Whoever you can get me that can help me there, also needs to be knowledgeable in potions. The Memory Restoration Potion is extremely complicated and will require two people to make. I can do it, just… not alone,” she explained. She closed her eyes and bit her bottom lip. “Also… The trip to Australia and accommodations won’t come cheap. I was hoping to ask for an advance on my paycheck to help with the expenses.”

“The ingredients for the potion will be expensive as well,” Lucius mused as he picked up the book and scanned over the potion’s recipe. He remained stoic as he read through the potion.

The young witch frowned. “Yes...” she agreed, “Harry and Ginny did offer to help me financially, but I fear neither are equipped to actually help me otherwise. Plus,” she looked at Kingsley again, “they did just get married. They’ve returned from their honeymoon not even two days ago. I hate the idea of borrowing money from them.”

Kingsley nodded gravely as he thought over her current situation. “Miss Granger, I would love to help you in whatever way I can. I will give you whatever time you need off so you may travel to Australia and retrieve your parents. I can even give you the funds for your round trip ticket, but I do not believe it will cover either the cost of the ingredients or your accommodations in Australia. How long do you intend to be away?”

Hermione shook her head. “I don’t know, Kingsley. I’ll have to find my parents and gain their trust first. I do not even know if they are still living in the house that I had secured for them.”

Kingsley looked at Lucius. “You could help her,” he suggested, causing the aristocrat to raise an eyebrow and Hermione to open her mouth in surprise. “It could be a part of your reintroduction into Wizarding Society and show that you truly have changed.”

“Minister Shacklebolt, I do not believe this would be a wise idea,” the aristocrat protested calmly.

Hermione quickly shook her head and raised her hands. “Oh, no, I quite agree. Mr. Malfoy and I...”

“It would be perfect,” the Minister said, smiling. He glanced at the Muggle-born. “Who better to see that Mr. Malfoy has been rehabilitated? If you do this, Hermione, you can even claim your trip to Australia is work-related, which will provide you with better accommodations on your trip there and back again. You may even be able to secure a few… perks from the Ministry in Australia. Besides, you said you needed someone who was well-versed in both Charms and Potions.” He waved a hand at the blond. “Lucius here is more than qualified to meet your needs and expectations.”

Lucius stood straight. “Kingsley, this is not going to end well. I implore you to reconsider.”

The bushy-haired brunette found herself agreeing with the Pureblood again. “Mr. Malfoy and I have a history,” she told the Minister. “It isn’t a good one, either. We can’t...”

“It would be a great way for him to repay you for the grievances you experienced within his home,” the former Order member pointed out. He looked back up at Lucius. “And you could consider your debt to our society officially paid off. Isn’t that the reason you had come here in the first place, Lucius?”

Charity,” the aristocrat insisted. “I had meant charity.”

“This will be a charity,” Kingsley stated. “Help Miss Granger retrieve her parents and restore their memories. Be gentlemanly and on your best behaviour and you can consider this a charitable contribution.”

“And if I refuse?” the blond asked, folding his arms.

The dark-skinned wizard shook his head. “You wanted to know what you needed to do to regain some status within our society. You were the one who came to me with a proposal to offer more charity. This is my request. Do this, Lucius, and people will see you as a wizard who has reformed. You may still have the Mark on your arm, but you are not the same person you once were,” he told him. “Refuse, and you’ll be right back in the position you are now. You need Miss Granger as much as she needs you. Besides, don’t you have a summer home in Australia?”

Lucius glared at the Minister for a moment longer before he steeled himself. Grabbing his cane angrily, he glanced at Hermione. “We leave in an hour,” he told her as he turned on his heel and stormed out of the room.

~*~

Hermione hurriedly followed Lucius down the hall, the sound of her heels echoing off the walls. For an older person, the man was much quicker than she had imagined. “Mr. Malfoy!” she called out, trying to rush to catch up with him.

Lucius did not acknowledge her or slow down. The Muggle-born wished she hadn’t worn such a tight business suit for it had prevented her from stretching her legs out more as she hurried after him. He paused at the lift and she made a dash towards him. “Mr. Malfoy!” she repeated, finally catching up to him as he waited for the lift door to open.

He turned and regarded her coolly as she brushed her hair out of her face. “I don’t want to do this anymore than you do,” she assured him.

He raised a single, perfectly chiseled eyebrow. “Then don’t,” he told her.

She clicked her tongue. “So, what? I’m supposed to just leave my parents in Australia without their memories? I can’t do that, sir. They are my parents.”

“They’re Muggles,” he pointed out. “Ignorance can be bliss. Besides, don’t you think they are better not knowing who you are?”

“Do you have any idea how long it had taken them to conceive me?” she asked as the lift door opened. She followed him inside, knowing she, too, needed to head down to the main entrance anyway to Floo home and pack. “Not that it matters to you. What if Draco had erased yours and Mrs. Malfoy’s memories to save your lives? Wouldn’t you want him to come back for you?”

He leaned against his cane, watching her with unreadable eyes. “Narcissa and I are no longer married,” he pointed out. “Though I’m sure you already knew this. As for Draco, well, I doubt it would make much difference as we rarely see one another anyway.”

“But if he had erased your memory of him… Wouldn’t that bother you?” she questioned.

He lifted his chin, seemingly in thought. “If he had erased my memory, I would have nothing to be bothered by, now would I? Of course, Draco hasn’t done such, so my emotions do not matter in this situation.”

The lift doors opened again, revealing a busy entrance hall filled with wizards and witches coming and going. “Don’t delude yourself into thinking I want help from you,” she told him, following him out of the lift.

He glanced at her. “One hour, Miss Granger. I do believe it is Spring in Australia, so make sure you pack appropriately. I will have a carriage pick you up,” he informed her.

She stared at him, flabbergasted. “You don’t even know where I live!” she insisted.

He gave her a droll look. “Didn’t you renovate your parents’ home here in London? Is that not where you have been living for the past three years after you and Mr. Weasley parted ways?” he drawled.

It took her a moment to remember that her breakup with Ron had been all over the Daily Prophet. Of course Mr. Malfoy would know about it. “You were there, weren’t you?” she asked, watching him for any indication of fallacy. “You were one of the Death Eaters who had destroyed my parents’ home.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Do not assume things you know little of, Miss Granger. The Dark Lord did have a few of his followers go to your parents’ home to retrieve them, however, in case you have forgotten, I was under house arrest, so no. I had no part in that destruction.”

“Then you don’t know where I live, so how are you planning to ‘pick me up’?” she asked, folding her arms.

Rolling his eyes, Lucius sighed. “Does it matter right now? You now have 50 minutes to pack, unless you plan to venture to another country without a lick of clothing,” he commented. “While I won’t dissuade the idea, it would be highly inappropriate and I doubt your parents would be willing to trust a girl who is naked.”

Hermione gasped and shrieked, “You pig! How dare you! I will not be spoken to with such disrespect!”

He paused and glared at her. “Miss Granger, every moment you waste arguing with me is yet another moment in which you are not gathering your belongings so we can leave. I, for one, want to be done with this business as quickly as possible as I take no enjoyment in the idea of helping you and your Muggle parents.” He glanced up at the clock above Gringotts and pointed at it with his cane. “You now have forty-nine minutes. If you are not ready by then, I will either take you as you are or drop the cause entirely, consequences be damned. These people are of no relation to me and, honestly, I couldn’t give a damn if they get their memories back.”

She scowled at him, her arms folded tightly over her chest. Turning on her heel, she walked away from him. Hearing the sharp crack of Apparation, she glanced behind her to see he was gone. She rolled her eyes and Apparated herself. She had no idea how he expected to show up to her house in “forty-nine minutes” when he shouldn’t even know where she lived, but she wouldn’t put it past him to do so.

She grabbed her suitcase from the top of her closet and threw it on her bed. It truly didn’t take her long to pack. By the time she closed her suitcase, she heard a knock at her door. Securing the lock, she picked the bag up and carried it to the front door. She glanced out of the peephole and was mildly surprised to see Lucius Malfoy standing there, his head turned slightly as he gazed at something she couldn’t see. Unlocking the door, she opened it.

He turned his attention to her. “Ready?” he asked.

Her eyes widened when she saw he had, indeed, brought a horse-drawn carriage to pick her up in. One of the beasts opened up its wings and she gasped. “You brought pegasi?!” she asked, unsure if she should really be surprised. “There are Muggles living on this street!”

He shrugged. “And to them, the creatures look like ordinary horses. What’s your point?” He took a step back to give her room to pass him. “I managed to secure passage on a ship that will bring us to our destination, but we must depart now.”

She frowned as she stepped out of the house and closed the door. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you planned this,” she quipped as she locked the door and waved her wand over it, casting protection spells upon it.

“A true gentleman is always prepared,” he responded as he lifted her suitcase. He frowned. “Is this all you are bringing? Did you pack evening wear as well?”

She scoffed at him. “This isn’t a pleasure cruise, Mr. Malfoy. I can’t believe you wish to go by ship. We have to get to Australia, gain my parents’ trust, and bring them home. We won’t have time for any pleasantries.”

“You realize the Memory Restoration Potion will take at least two weeks to make?” he drawled as he secured her suitcase to the back of the carriage. He opened the carriage door for her, offering her his hand to help her into the carriage.

“Yes, and in those two weeks that we wait, we will have to gain my parents’ trust,” she told him. “As I said, we won’t have time...”

“Are your parents so dull that they do not dine out or even attend galas?” he asked, leaning against the carriage door.

“No,” she replied. Sitting down, she frowned at him. “Aren’t you getting in?”

He raised an eyebrow. “If I did, there would be no one to drive the carriage,” he told her as he closed the door.

Her eyes widened as she felt the carriage tilt and shift. She looked forward, knowing he had climbed into the driver’s seat. She heard the crack of the whip and the carriage surged forward. As they moved forward, she realized she had forgotten her book in her suitcase.

~*~

They arrived to their destination quicker than Hermione had expected. Of course, once they had gotten far enough from the Muggles, the pegasi had flown. She had no idea where they were, which both frightened and concerned her. She had left a note for Harry, but she knew that wouldn’t be enough. He would want to speak to her.

The door opened, and Lucius looked up at her, offering a gloved hand so he might help her out of the carriage. “You did manage to secure your passport, I assume?” he asked as she climbed down.

“Of course,” she told him. “May I ask why we are taking a ship and not an aeroplane? Wouldn’t that have been faster?”

He grunted as he lifted her suitcase from the back of the carriage along with his own. “I will not get on one of those Muggle deathtraps. Remember, Miss Granger, we are wizards. Our magic would interfere with the technology and we could crash.”

She rolled her eyed and scoffed. “Oh, don’t be so dramatic. Unless one of us becomes upset or enraged, I highly doubt we would crash a plane. You’ve ridden brooms before, I take it? Those are far more dangerous than any aeroplane.”

“And you don’t believe you would become enraged halfway through the voyage with me? How adorable,” he drawled. “We aren’t even on the boat yet and I am already feeling quite irritated. You must be the epitome of poise and discipline.”

She frowned at him. “Oh, I feel quite irritated myself,” she assured him as she followed him towards the docks. “But it’s not enough to crash a plane.”

He stopped and turned to look at her. She nearly collided with him, but managed to pause just in time. He looked down at her. “Trust me, darling,” he said, the endearment ringing sarcastically in her ears, “it will be.”

She pinched her lips together as they reached the ticket booth, or one of them. She watched as he handed the cashier a few Galleons and her eyes widened slightly. A magical ship? She wondered to herself.

“Your papers, miss?” the cashier asked, snapping Hermione’s mind to the present.

She reached into her purse and pulled out the necessary documents, handing them over to the cashier. He glanced over them before returning them to her with a smile. “All looks in order,” he assured them both. “I hope you have a pleasant trip.”

A bell dinged from the counter and Lucius took Hermione’s elbow gently in his hand and led her out onto the docks. She snatched her elbow away from him and glared at the wizard. “Do not think you can take such liberties with my person, sir,” she snapped.

He waved her indignation away and continued towards the ship. “Keep up,” he said, deliberately picking up his pace.

She had to practically run to keep up with the blond. Oh, how she wanted to slap him! She knew he was walking fast on purpose just to annoy her more. They made their way onto the ship, showing their papers when necessary. They continued further onto the ship, and Hermione grew curious when she realized they weren’t going below deck.

They entered a room and she had to stop herself from rolling her eyes. Of course Malfoy would chose the best room on the ship. “Is this the captain’s quarters?” she asked as Lucius placed their luggage on top of a bed.

He snorted. “Don’t be ridiculous, Miss Granger,” he said as he opened up his own suitcase and began unpacking it with his wand. The robes floated towards an open closet and hung themselves as his many shoes followed and situated themselves under the clothes.

She frowned. “And just where am I supposed to put my things?” she questioned, looking about.

Lucius flicked his wand at a cabinet and it opened to reveal an armoire, with ample space to put her things. “If you need more room, which I doubt,” he looked pointedly at her relatively small case, “there is another closet within the lavatory if you wish.”

“I will not put my clothes in the lavatory!” she hissed as she began unpacking her own suitcase in much the same manner that he was, sending her clothes to the wardrobe.

He didn’t respond as he finished emptying his suitcase. Closing the case up, he tucked it neatly on a rack within the closet. “We still have a few hours left until supper, so, if you don’t mind, I would like to shower and begin preparing for it. Would you like to shower first?”

“All I did was sit in the carriage,” she pointed out.

“Have it your way, then,” he said after a moment. The look he had given her was a mixture of disgust and annoyance.

“Wait,” she said. He had offered for her to shower first, and well, since she hadn’t done so since earlier that morning, a shower did sound lovely.

He paused and watched her grab some effects of hers from the armoire. As she walked to a door and opened it, she stopped and stared at it. It was another bedroom, this one smaller than the one they were currently in with nothing more than a bed inside it.

“I was wondering where you were going to sleep,” she mused as she turned to look at him.

He opened another door and she sighed, seeing that it was the bathroom. As she walked past him, he grabbed her arm again, causing her to glare up at him. He lifted an eyebrow. “That room you saw was where the First Mate will be sleeping. So, yes, there is only one bed for the two of us,” he informed her. “Try not to take too long in the shower.”

She gasped as he released her and glared at him. “You’re mad if you think I’ll share a bed with you!” she growled. She slipped into the lavatory and slammed the door shut.

Her nerves were shaking and she could feel something cold slither up her spine. She pressed her back against the door and took in her surroundings. It was a relatively large bathroom for one aboard a ship. She wondered, briefly, if they would have to share it with this First Mate. She shook her head, of course they would! She was annoyed that they had taken over the First Mate’s quarters. Why could they have not gotten a normal room below deck like everyone else?

“Because he’s Lucius Malfoy, Hermione,” she grumbled to herself. “God forbid he have anything less than the very best.” She rolled her eyes as she reached over and turned on the water – Yes, the bathroom was that small. She continued to mumble mockingly about the wizard. “No doubt he paid the entire crew off to make sure he received every accommodation available because Merlin knows any ship with him on it has to be a pleasure cruise for him. And he honestly thinks I’m going to share a bed with him, as if I would even want to!”

She had set her clothing atop the closed toilet and undressed. As she stepped into the cramped shower, she started by washing her hair. “I wonder what sort of fine cuisine he will have them meticulously prepare for us. Plenty of caviar, no doubt, and some escargot. Maybe the juiciest cuts of tender lamb, too...”

Throughout her entire shower she mocked small things about their voyage, much of which hadn’t even happened yet, though she assumed they would. It would be just like Lucius, after all. The best of the best, naturally. Every luxury money could buy. She supposed she shouldn’t complain, but the whole situation just irritated her to no end. She had no desire to spend two weeks or more with the bastard. And she was NOT sharing a bed with him!

She dried off and dressed, spelling her hair dry and not caring that it was as wild as ever. As she opened the door, she squeaked when she really did collide with the irritating wizard. Had he been standing there the entire time?! “Um,” she hesitated. She blushed as she pushed past him. “The loo is free now, if you like. I… think there is still some hot water left.”

He said nothing, just stared at her as she walked into the room. Had he heard everything she had said? That wasn’t possible. She hadn’t even spoken loudly enough for him to hear!

He slipped into the lavatory and closed the door behind him. She set her jaw. Well, if she had ended up taking all the hot water, she supposed it would serve him right anyway. All she heard, though, was the sound of running water, so she assumed it was all fine. She went to the armoire and pulled out her hair brush. There was little she could do to fix her hair, as she had forgotten her potions for it. So, she just pulled it back into a messy bun and tied a bow into it. It wasn’t her best hair style, but it would have to do for now. Perhaps, when they got to Australia, she could stop at an apothecary and pick herself up a bottle or two of the Sleekeazy.

Lucius exited the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist and another hanging around his neck. “You’re not attending supper in that,” he scoffed in disgust.

Seeing him so dressed down had shocked the girl and she stared at him for a moment. All those layers of robes hid perfectly sculpted, lightly golden muscles, peppered with fine blond hairs that led a trail into his towel. Hermione felt her cheeks redden as her thoughts unwantingly wondered what lay beneath the towel. She blinked and shook her head as his words caught up to her. “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” she asked.

He stepped into the closet and closed the door behind him. “You look like a Muggle peasant,” his muffled voice said from behind the door.

“I do not!” she shrieked.

He exited the closet, fully dressed, and glared at her. “Would you stop that? You sound like a banshee!” he growled. “And, yes, you do.” He waved a hand at her clothing. “It’s like you bought those at a Muggle second hand store.”

He walked up to the wardrobe and rifled through it, looking for something he found more “appropriate.” “Just what do you think you’re doing?” she demanded as he began tossing clothing onto the floor.

“These clothes are inappropriate, all of them,” he commented as he tossed a pink jumper over his shoulder.

Hermione screeched as she rushed up to him and forced herself between him and the wardrobe. She pushed at his chest, trying to get him to move. “Do not touch my clothes!” she protested as he grabbed a red lace negligee.

He took a step back and stared at the satin material before Hermione yanked it out his hands. He raised an eyebrow. “Do you intend to meet a gentleman in Australia?” he asked as she balled the nightgown up and stuffed it back into the armoire.

“That is none of your business!” she shouted as she bent down to start picking up her clothes.

Lucius pointed his wand at the pile and, with a single wave, the entire pile vanished. Hermione pulled out her own wand and pointed it at him. “How dare you!” she growled. “You will return my clothing, sir, or I will have you arrested for theft!”

He snorted. “I’ll buy you new clothes,” he assured her. “I will not be seen traversing another country with someone who looks like a pauper. You’ll wear decent clothing that is more appropriate and befitting your station.”

“My clothes are fine just the way they are, thank you very much!” she argued. “And I am not a pauper!”

“You’re right,” he agreed as he pointed his wand at the clothes she was wearing. “You are not a pauper. You are a war heroine and a representative of the British Ministry of Magic. Draco even told me once that he had witnessed how well you clean up. My son has never been known to lie to me, Miss Granger. When you aren’t snarling or screeching like a banshee, you do have a nice face.”

“Am I to thank you for the compliment that is laced with insult?” she asked him, still pointing her wand at him.

He smirked at her. “I won’t even require you to thank me when I purchase you new clothing.”

She rolled her eyes. “Given that you destroyed my clothes to begin with, I won’t,” she assured him.

He tilted his head as he lowered his wand. “I could transfigure what you are wearing now into something a bit more suitable,” he offered.

Her eyes narrowed. “No, thank you,” she said, lowering her own wand. “And if you try to, I will turn your robes pink,” she added in warning. “Neon pink, with fluffy baby pink piping.”

He watched as she turned on her heel and stormed out of the room. She truly was infuriating, but he couldn’t help but widen his smirk as he followed her out, quick to steer her direction to where the dining area was.

~*~

Hermione was astounded by the grandeur around her as Lucius lead her into the dining hall. She absently placed a hand on his arm as her eyes widened. “This is a cruise, isn’t it?” she asked him quietly.

He gave her a single nod. “You didn’t expect anything less, did you?” he countered with a raise of his brow. He tucked her hand into his elbow and patted it lightly.

She gazed up at him, noticing, for the first time, how elegantly he was dressed. She blanched. “This is a formal supper we’re going to, isn’t it?” she questioned, immediately feeling vastly under-dressed.

His white gloved free hand held his cane, though Hermione was unsure if it was really meant to help him walk, or if it was simply an accessory. Often times, the cane seemed like an accessory, but she had seen him limp a time or two, so it made her question his need for it. Of course, she knew his wand was actually inside of it, but it still made her wonder.

“Lucius, old chap!” said a burly man with a thick dark mustache and deep mauve robes.

The two men shook hands and Hermione was able to spy a lady with the man. The woman was tiny in height, but rather hefty. Her robes matched the man’s as well, indicating that they were, indeed, a couple. “Hector,” Lucius greeted as he shook the man’s hand. “And Mrs. Mabel,” he added, his smile widening as he accepted the woman’s hand graciously and placed a kiss to the back of it. The woman blushed flirtatiously and it was all Hermione could do to hold back a groan and roll of her eyes.

As it was, Hermione’s own lips widened in a dazzling fake smile as the man, Hector, set his beady eyes onto her. “And who is this beautiful, young lass?” the man asked, offering the Muggle-born his hand.

Lucius grinned. “This? Oh, this is...”

“Hermione Granger,” the girl finished, not allowing Lucius to introduce her.

“Well, I’ll be!” Hector said as Hermione placed her hand into his and he kissed the back of it. “What a great honor it is to meet you, young lady! I have heard so many tales of your deeds during, and even after, the war.” He grinned scandalously at Lucius. “How did you manage to capture the eye of this beauty?”

“He’s Lucius Malfoy, dear,” the woman, Mabel, said, speaking for the first time. “Any woman would be more than eager to be on his arm.”

Hermione frowned as she dropped both of her hands. “We’re not here for pleasantries,” she assured them both.

The couple glanced at one another and laughed. “Of course not, my dear,” the man chuckled, winking at Hermione. He leaned down conspiratorially and said softly, “It just wouldn’t be ‘proper’ if the Gryffindor champion was seen consorting with the big, bad, Death Eater, would it?”

Hermione’s face fell and she opened her mouth to argue, but Lucius gently took her hand and tugged her away. “No, it wouldn’t,” he said in response to the man. “Which is why we are merely business partners. Now, if you’ll excuse us, Miss Granger here has not eaten since this morning, and I would hate it if she fainted from lack of food.”

He gave the couple a small smile and a nod of his head, to which they bid their farewells, offering to meet up again later. As soon as the couple was gone and Hermione was following Lucius further into the hall, the Muggle-born glared up at him. “I am not consorting with you,” she stated, both angry and a little offended that they had made that assumption.

“Naturally,” he agreed, “but...” He stopped and sighed. Closing his eyes, he turned to her and began softly, “the only way I was able to procure this ship was by… stretching the truth a bit.” Her eyes widened as he continued, “The captain and crew believe that I have convinced you to join me on this cruise in an effort to seduce you. They even provided us with the best accommodations this ship has in an effort to help me in my seduction.”

“You’re ‘Lucius Malfoy’,” She told him, poking him in the chest. “Since when have you ever needed assistance in that field? And we are not here so you can seduce me! We have to get to Australia and...”

“I know,” he said, grabbing her hand to stop her from poking him. “But this is the quickest way I could get us to Australia.”

She folded her arms and glared at him. “What sort of cruise is this? What have you tricked me into, Mr. Malfoy?”

He glanced at a couple who was passing them. As Hermione followed his gaze, she noticed the way they leaned into one another, as well as the way they were dressed. Lucius stepped closer to Hermione and slipped a hand around her waist, smiling at the passing couple and greeting them with a nod.

Hermione’s face fell as Lucius pressed his hand into her back, urging her to move with him into the dining hall. She glanced at the various couples, each seating at their own tables, as Lucius led her to a table set for two. She stared at him. “It’s a couples’ cruise,” she surmised.

He pulled out her chair and waved a hand at it, indicating for her to sit. “It is more than that, darling,” he assured her. As she sat down, he leaned down and said softly, seductively, in her ear, “Most people joining us tonight are on their honeymoon.”