Chapter Twenty-Five: Saturday Morning

The characters and canon situations in the following story belong solely to JK Rowling, Scholastic, and WB. I am not making any money from the publishing or writing of this story.

Beta credit: bunnyhops and CoquetteKitten

 

Lucius’ amusement with her mortification somehow relieved the awkwardness almost immediately, and she found herself laughing as he smiled at her. He was so sure of himself, and so comfortable in his own skin. I’m glad he’s going to be my first . . . first. He’ll keep me from being embarrassed even though I won’t know what I’m doing.

 

She looked at her wizard appreciatively, taking in his handsome features that were so similar yet so different from Draco’s own. Lucius’ clean, strong build and aristocratic face reflected his personality perfectly – he was the epitome of arrogance and strength blended with an attractive amount of danger, and Hermione liked it.

 

As they left the alcove, Lucius said, “I hope you don’t mind, but Draco asked me to stay for the match. Please don’t let me keep you from your friends.”

 

Could Lucius Malfoy be feeling insecure? Hermione suddenly felt confident and a bit playful. She took hold of the front of his robes to pull him down to her level and at the same time pulled herself up on her tiptoes. She bit her lip in an attempt to keep a straight face and whispered, “My friends will all be on the pitch playing, and I’ll be by myself, alone in the stands.”

 

His eyes narrowed, and he pursed his lips in thought. Only the tiniest twinkle betrayed his mood. “That would be in breach of your rules of courtship.”

 

“I’ll have to sit with the faculty, probably between Minerva and the Headmaster.”

 

“Oddly enough, that’s where I plan to sit.”

 

“Perhaps we’ll end up sitting near each other.”

 

“Minx,” Lucius chuckled and leaned down the last few inches to her mouth, kissing her breathless and cross-eyed. Unlike Draco, he never flinched when they were interrupted. Instead, he finished the kiss in a slow, savoring sort of way and then pressed one more to her nose before he acknowledged the Headmaster.

 

“Albus.”

 

Hermione knew her face was bright red, but the Headmaster continued as if he hadn’t interrupted such an intimate moment. I’ve kissed Draco in front of Harry and Luna. How is this any different? “Good morning to you both. I hope you will excuse my absence from the table this morning. Aberforth and I were chatting by Floo, and time got away from me. And speaking of time, the match is due to start shortly.   Have you made other arrangements, or shall we all walk together to the pitch?”

 

It was the only way Hermione would be able to get there without Harry, and so it was agreed. At the door, the Headmaster paused. “Oh, Lucius – before we leave here, perhaps you would like to give Miss Granger her gift? It arrived while you were visiting.”

 

There on Professor Dumbledore’s desk was a box wrapped identically to the one used to package her dress. Lucius crossed the room and retrieved it, handing it to her with a bow. As his head reached her level, he murmured, “For you, my lovely. Wear it for my next visit.”

 

Hermione blushed and bit back her delighted smile. “I will. Thank you, Lucius.”

 

He cast an elegantly executed Shrinking charm on the wrapped box, and Hermione tucked it into her purse. Only moments later, they were on their way.

 

She was struck by the difference in walking with each of her wizards. She and Draco had only just begun acknowledging that they liked to touch one another, but this was already reflected in the way they walked together. Their hands brushed, he wrapped his arm around her, and she leaned into his side. Draco leaned down to talk to her in a low voice, and she responded by raising her head to catch his eye.

 

She wasn’t as casually comfortable with Lucius yet – at least, not away from her nook between his jaw and shoulder. Most of their interactions had taken place in the privacy of their alcove. Now, walking together for the first time outside the Headmaster’s office, there was an air of formality between them that Hermione wanted to dispel. His restraint showed in the way he tucked her arm under his so that her hand rested on his forearm, and the way he kept an appropriate distance from her side. Does he feel awkward, too, or is he trying not to push me too far? His pace was dignified, and Hermione wondered if he ever hurried. She finally decided that Lucius didn’t seem like the sort of man to let time get the best of him.

 

The Headmaster was a brisk walker, much to Hermione’s surprise, and so he remained several paces ahead of them. She’d never actually gone anywhere with him, and she was amazed at their progress through the castle. Thankfully, he didn’t attempt much conversation, other than the occasional comment thrown over his shoulder to Lucius about the weather and the upcoming game.

 

Streams of students and faculty were making their way to the pitch as well, and she became aware that she and her wizard were drawing attention. Witches and wizards openly gawked at Lucius, and many of them made sure to call overly familiar greetings to her. They’ve never given me the time of day before now. What’s changed? Astoria’s words of warning flitted through her head, and she pointedly ignored the next opportunistic student to open their mouth.

 

The way some of the witches looked at Lucius caused a surge of possessiveness within Hermione. Her grip on his arm tightened, and she glanced up at him with narrowed eyes. He must have sensed her ire; he cast his eyes downward at her, barely moving his head, and raised his eyebrow inquisitively.

 

It was an eloquent, wordless conversation. Her response to his silent enquiry was a clipped nod of her head in the direction of the next admiring witch. Lucius’ mouth twitched in amusement. Hermione’s eyes flashed in warning. Her wizard ended the silence by lowering his head toward hers as they continued walking. “I presume you don’t like the attention, pet?”

 

“No!” She hissed self-consciously, “They’re all looking at you like you’re . . . like you’re something to be bought at Honeydukes.”

 

He looked down at her mischievously. “Perhaps I’m very sweet.”

 

His answer did nothing to cool her irritation, and the attention only grew more concentrated the closer they drew to the stands. Now the crowd walked along beside them, and more students and faculty members took the opportunity to strike up conversations with her, and by extension Lucius. Mostly they were giggling witches and admiring wizards, who quickly introduced themselves to him (she certainly didn’t bother to offer that courtesy) as ‘good friends’ of Hermione and then fled. Lucius remained imperturbably courteous throughout. At one point, he leaned to murmur, “I rarely allow myself to be distracted by the people around me. It would be wise for you to do the same.”

 

The teachers lingered a bit longer, under the guise of talking with Hermione about her classes. These short conversations quickly gravitated toward her wizard, who was polite but offered no encouragement. The worst was Professor Slughorn. He immediately latched on to them as they left the castle, walking much too close to Hermione as he employed an air of familiarity with Lucius.

 

“Lucius, old boy! Come for Draco’s last match, have you?” The professor hadn’t even glanced at her as he spoke over her head. It figures – before, I was only interesting to him as Harry Potter’s swotty friend. Now I fall completely in Lucius’ shadow. Not that I particularly want him to notice me.

 

Lucius placed his other hand over hers on his forearm and ran his fingers over the dragon mark. She glanced up at him. He was looking straight ahead, but Hermione could see a tightness around his eyes and mouth that hadn’t been there just a moment ago. His normally elegant drawl had a clipped tone, too. “Horace. As you can see, I am visiting with my lovely bride-to-be.” He either doesn’t like the professor or the fact that he completely ignored me.

 

Slughorn didn’t seem to notice Lucius’ thinly veiled irritation, and he certainly didn’t acknowledge Hermione. “How we’ll miss our young Slytherin prince! I certainly hope you plan to host one of your matchless dinner parties in honor of his graduation.”

 

Lucius was still stroking her arm in long trailing patterns, and now goose bumps broke out on the sensitized skin. He disregarded Slughorn and said to Hermione, “My dear, you’re cold. Where are your robes?”

 

He was looking at her tenderly, and his fingers were still moving along the flesh of her arm. She shivered, but not because she was chilled. “I must have left them in the Headmaster’s office.”

 

Their pace had slowed some due to the crowd congestion as they neared the stands, and Lucius pulled her to the side. He slid his black outer robes off and draped them around her shoulders in a proprietary way. As he leaned down to wrap the material around her, he ran one long finger down the placket of her shirt in the same suggestive motion he’d used in their alcove not long ago.

 

“Lucius,” she whispered. The entire exchange since Slughorn had last spoken took all of ten seconds, but the professor was completely forgotten. Lucius’ eyes moved to her mouth, and he said in an undertone, “Your lips are begging to be kissed, but I find myself reticent to share such intimacy with our audience.”

 

He rubbed her bottom lip with his thumb several times and looked as if he wanted to say more, but Professor Slughorn loudly reminded them of his presence. “Of course, I would be happy to help with the guest list. We have some very promising Slytherin graduates who will benefit from the support of your family.”

 

Lucius winced in annoyance and pressed a kiss to the shell of her ear instead. She sighed in pleasure as his warm breath tickled through her loose hair. Her wizard stood to his full height and replied, “We will be indisposed for the summer. I’m sure you understand.”

 

The professor didn’t look as though he understood in the slightest. He opened his mouth to argue even as Lucius steered Hermione around him. “And Horace,” he added over his shoulder as they turned toward their tower, “In the future, I suggest you show more respect to the future Lady Malfoy.”

 

“Blasted waste of space and magic,” muttered Lucius as he wrapped his arm around her and drew her against his side. They climbed the stairs like this, and Hermione realized that some of her wizard’s formal manner had vanished since the professor had pestered them. It seemed that being snubbed by the head of Slytherin had a silver lining after all.

 

“You know, you really shouldn’t allow yourself to be distracted by the people around you,” she couldn’t help but counter with a smirk.

 

When they reached the top, there was a brisk wind blowing, and Hermione was immensely grateful for her borrowed robes. Lucius guided her to the seats beside Professor McGonagall, and then arranged them so that he was between the two witches. He murmured as they sat, “Otherwise, she’ll monopolize you.”

 

He greeted Minerva cordially, nodded politely to the other faculty members nearby, and draped an arm over the back of Hermione’s seat. He kept up a quiet, steady conversation with her and her favorite professor while they waited for the match to begin. Every so often he gently straightened one of her curls between his fingers.

 

Their seats were along the railing, and Hermione leaned over it to catch sight of Draco. Both teams had finished warming up and were taking one last lap high above the stands before heading toward starting positions. As the Slytherin players approached overhead, Draco must have caught sight of her. Suddenly his broom broke into a steep nosedive toward the pitch.

 

Hermione, who had never learned to relax around brooms, tried to control her panicked breathing. Oh Merlin, he’s going to die. I’ve only just started kissing him, and he’s going to die right in front of me. Seconds later, he pulled up in front of her with a cocky grin on his face. She missed the expression at first, though, because she was too busy taking in the sight of Draco Malfoy in full Quidditch garb. Circe, mother of magic . . .

 

Draco was, on any given day, beautiful. Tall, well-formed, and classically featured, he stood out from his peers. His expensive robes hung and clung perfectly, and Hermione had developed a recent admiration for the way they subtly showed his physique. Now, though, her aesthetic appreciation morphed into full-fledged lust at the sight before her.

 

His long legs, bent as they were in balance astride his broom, stretched the fabric of his fitted white trousers across the taut muscles of his thighs. His robes had come untied during his flight, and now hung down around his elbows, and his jersey was already stuck to his chest with sweat. That left the shape of his wide shoulders and strong upper arms exposed to her quickly glazing eyes.

 

And then there was this subtle shift in personality. Draco was almost always collected, always confident, but in a measured way. Even when he was blushing, his shoulders were thrown back and head held high. Now, though, his attitude matched his posture and he exuded a smug arrogance that Hermione found mesmerizing. I’d totally ride his Firebolt. And oh Merlin, I mean it. She blushed, a steady burn spreading from her cheeks down to her toes, and for once it had nothing to do with embarrassment. A teasing sensation of tingling and coiling began in her lower stomach. She allowed herself only a lingering, open-mouthed gape before looking up to his face. When she saw his satisfied expression, she snapped out of her trance and swallowed the drool that had collected in her mouth.

 

“I think you’re missing something, little witch.” Draco held something in his hand, and he held it out toward her in a playful manner. It was his scarf. He landed on the empty seats beside her and clambered down to stand at her level. Handing off his broomstick to Lucius, who clapped him on the back, Draco turned to the curly-headed witch. He brought the scarf over her head and proceeded to loop it loosely around her neck. When he was done, he slowly trailed his fingers down its long ends, barely brushing against her breasts. It was enough to send a pool of wetness to her knickers, and she fought against the urge to wrap herself around him. Instead she scowled and viciously tugged on the lacings of his Quidditch robes, tying them securely. When she looked up, he was still looking quite smug.

 

“Don’t fly recklessly. Don’t fly too high. Don’t fly too fast.” She emphasized each point with a finger-poke to his chest and tried not to be distracted by the way his green robes complimented his hair and eyes.

 

He suddenly looked at her very seriously. “I am . . . confused. Are you upset with me, or nervous, or angry?”

 

Hermione was instantly delighted. Our first conversation, at the Slytherin party. He remembers it! She countered, “I am very nervous. And I don’t want to be, so I am trying to be angry. But I’m not upset with you, not really.”

 

The sounds of the filling stands grew fainter as a bubble formed around them. Draco’s eyes were sparkling. He leaned down so that she arched backwards to accommodate him. Her hand came up to his shoulder to steady herself, and he wrapped a hand around her back. “Miss Granger,” he whispered, “Are you keeping me from fun?”

 

Lucius cut in amusedly. “Just hurry up and kiss her, Draco, before your entire team comes to drag you to the pitch.”

 

He did, and the noise around them vanished for a few seconds again. Draco pulled away to give her one of his full-on smiles as he took his broom from Lucius. Then he treated her to one last smug smirk before he kicked off to rejoin his team. Hermione cast a surreptitious glance over at the other occupants of the tower. No one gave any indication that they’d noticed the Slytherin Seeker land in their midst in all his sweaty glory to flirt with her . . . and kiss her. I’ll bet they’re being respectful because of Lucius. Students wouldn’t be nearly so discreet.

 

She’d thought that too soon. No sooner had she sat than Minerva leaned across Lucius to provide her own brand of commentary, including her evaluation of Draco in his uniform. She ended by saying, “Merlin’s wand, Hermione – if you think you can still pretend not to be affected by these two men, you’re sorely mistaken. Why on earth are you blushing?”

 

Lucius looked immensely amused, and a red-faced Hermione realized that his earlier comment about their audience was true. This is how it will be from now on – I’m going to have to learn to practice restraint. She was drawn from her musings by the sound of the starting whistle. The match had begun.

 

With a wild flourish of maroon and green robes, the teams snapped into action. The two Seekers fought to have the first clear look from high above the pitch, and Draco directed his broomstick straight at Harry’s as he tried to knock him off course. If he dies, I’m going to be furious with him. Resolved not to spend the rest of the match pondering his mortality, Hermione turned her focus to the wizard beside her, who had slipped his arm beneath her borrowed robes and was running his fingers up and down her side. Lucius was talking with Minerva, and it sounded as though the two were placing bets on the outcome of the game.

 

“Five Galleons on Gryffindor.”

 

“Only five, Minerva? Surely you’re more confident in the success of your team than that.” Up and down, up and down went his fingers, and Hermione fought to keep her eyes from crossing with pleasure.

 

“Five is more than confident on a teacher’s salary, Lucius.”

 

“One hundred on Slytherin.”

 

“Only one hundred, Lucius? Surely you’re more confident in the success of your team than that!”

 

They bantered back and forth while the sun rose higher, and soon the two had convinced most of the other tower occupants to join in the gambling pool. Hermione leaned her head against her wizard’s broad shoulder. He glanced at her, one side of his mouth lifting in a smile, and tugged on one of her curls again. This is nice; almost as nice as sitting on his lap. She rubbed her face against his waistcoat, taking in his fragrance.

 

“Are you warm enough, my prize?” He leaned to put his mouth close to her ear and stayed there, awaiting her answer.

 

“Yes, thank you.” She drew his arm around her more closely even as she said it.

 

“I would very much like to kiss you right now. Our next visit cannot come soon enough.”

 

“When will it be?” She asked quietly. Under the cover of the robe, she tangled her hand with his at her side.

 

He was already straightening to sit upright. “Will you visit with me tomorrow evening?”

 

She looked up at him from the corner of her eye, drinking in the sight of his handsome profile. Mine. Up to this point, Lucius had summoned her to visits through messengers and notes. Now for the first time, Hermione had the power to choose whether or not to accept his invitation.   I could tell him I’m busy, and he would have to accept it. Except I don’t think I’ll be too busy for Lucius for a long time to come. She felt confident and playful, and replied, “That depends. Will there be kissing?”

 

Lucius leaned down once more. “And then some.”

 

She turned her focus back to the match, trying desperately to ignore the desire her wizard’s words had stirred within her. Hermione shifted in her seat, trying to relieve the pleasant ache between her legs. I will be needful and writhing long before Friday. I wonder what ‘and then some’ means . . .

 

Harry and Draco were still unharmed. Lucius and Minerva continued ironing out their rules for the betting with those around them, and he turned to Hermione again. “What do think, pet? Shall we place money on players or points this game?”

 

He looked surprised when she answered, “Betting is a waste of time and money. It’s true that some odds are based on skill, but there are often too many variables in Quidditch. The Arithmancy needed to make an accurate prediction would be terribly complicated. Besides, it’s just a game.”

 

“So you don’t have a preference for who wins?” Minerva looked across Lucius to Hermione with a raised eyebrow.

 

“I have a preference for both Seekers to remain alive and in their original shapes, and preferably with no brain damage. And I’d like Ginny to land in one piece.”

 

“Speaking of Weasleys, one seems to be missing. Doesn’t the youngest boy play Keeper for Gryffindor?” Lucius’ tone was civil, but both witches tensed at the question. Hermione had forgotten all about Ron in the morning’s excitement until this moment. What’s going on at the Burrow, I wonder?

 

Minerva merely replied, “Vicky Frobisher will do a fine job.” She added in a wry tone, “We’re just lucky there wasn’t a meeting of the Charms club this morning, otherwise I might have had to suit up.”

 

The three grew silent again as Slytherin earned eighty points straight in a row. This put the green team ahead by one hundred ninety points. She couldn’t drag her eyes from the match. Draco and Harry were two blurs weaving through the rest of the game, dodging players and Bludgers in a synchronized search for the Snitch. Now they were high above, circling, now diving down to the bases of the towers. She saw them push against each other as they curved around obstacles, saw the single-minded grimness on their faces as they swooped past.

 

This was the part of the match she hated most. Seven years she’d watched Harry seek for the elusive Snitch, and at each match she’d watch her easy-going friend’s deadly alter ego appear. When the first whistle blew, Harry’s smile dropped from his face and all that mattered was that damned, whizzing, and gold ball. She’d seen and could recall with clarity every one of his various injuries: broken bones, dislocated joints, and concussions that didn’t faze him. As soon as he was mended, he was back on the pitch.

 

Now she found herself doubly cursed with nerves. If they kill themselves or each other, I’ll never forgive them! She sat, wand drawn, prepared to protect them in any way she could.

 

Lucius may have found humor in her distress, but he offered comfort and distraction. He slipped his arm back under her robes and ran his fingers along her back, across her side, and around to her stomach and ribs. His thumb brushed back and forth under her right breast, eventually rubbing against its underside as he had her bottom lip earlier at breakfast. “They’ll be fine, pet.”

 

She felt her face turn red and buried it in the silk of his waistcoat. I can’t believe he’s doing that here, at the match. Gaaah, don’t let him stop. Even as she leaned into his touch, she argued, “You don’t know that – they could kill each other – crash in a big pile of crushed bones and spurting blood!”

 

His expression, when she looked up, was a mix of horror and amusement. “What goes on in that head of yours? Quidditch injuries are rarely fatal, and I don’t recall there ever being such a one at Hogwarts.” He pointed downward to the side of the pitch where Madame Pomfrey stood beside her first-aid tent. “See – your Healer is at the ready.”

 

Minerva leaned forward to join the conversation. “Hermione, you should be more concerned that Gryffindor is losing! And rather badly, I might add. At this point, Harry might do well to end the match on his own terms. Don’t you think, Lucius?”

 

“You’re alluding to the ’94 World Cup? That’s certainly one option. Although I hardly think trailing by one-seventy-five is losing badly at this point. They could still catch up.”

 

His thumb was still tracing the bottom curve of her small breast beneath the cover of her robes. Hermione worked through the fog he was creating in her head and replied, “That strategy you’re talking about – it’s flawed. Look – Harry and Draco are right on top of each other. Even if Draco does see the Snitch first, there’s no way he can be sure that he’ll grab it first. And if Harry pulls a Wronski Feint, I’ll kill him myself.”

 

Her momentary attention to something other than possible fatalities began a lively discussion of Quidditch strategy. Lucius seemed impressed with her knowledge of the game, and Hermione was slightly offended. “What, you think I’ve sat in these stands all these years and not paid attention? The summer between fourth and fifth years, I made a comprehensive study of Quidditch. The history alone was fascinating, and I do have a prodigious memory.”

 

“And you’re sure you don’t care to place a bet,” Lucius coaxed. He dangled a large coin purse over her lap.

 

“Well,” Hermione waffled, “if it’s that important to you.” She took the heavy velvet bag and looked inside. There had to be more than fifty Galleons, as well as some Knuts and Sickles. “I’ll put twenty Galleons on Slytherin winning, and the same on Gryffindor catching the Snitch. Oh, and another twenty says that the winner will lead by 250 points.”

 

Lucius looked pleased that she’d joined the pool even as he teased, “Betting against Draco? Whatever will he say?”

 

“He’ll probably say I know what I’m doing.”

 

Half an hour later, the crowd roared as The Boy Who Lived rose above the match triumphantly holding up the Golden Snitch. Madame Hooch officially ended the match, and the players descended to the grassy field below. The ending score was Slytherin 450, Gryffindor 200, and Hermione had a small, satisfied smile on her lips. She felt Lucius’ fingers take her by the chin, turning her face towards him. He was looking at her speculatively, eyebrow raised. “That was quite a stroke of luck, pet.”

 

“There was no luck involved,” she said, with a look of mock-affront.

 

“You told me the variables were unpredictable, and predictions too complicated.”

 

She replied in a smug tone, “I never said the calculations would be too difficult, merely terribly difficult. I ran through them this morning before I got out of bed.”

 

He laughed a full, rich laugh and drew her into a tight hug. “Brilliant as well as beautiful, and wealthy now to boot.”

 

Hermione remembered the velvet bag in her hand. “Oh! This is yours.” She broke free of Lucius’ arms and tried to hand him the purse.

 

Lucius closed his hand around hers and pushed it to her side. “Keep it, and add your winnings to it as well.” When she began to protest, he added, “In less than a week it will belong to both of us. Until then, consider it your own.”

 

She thanked him with a kiss to his cheek. Lucius was right – regardless of the pull they felt toward each other, their relationship demanded public dignity. He seemed to understand her thoughts, because he slipped his arm under her borrowed robes once more and ran his hand over the thin silky fabric of the shirt covering her back. “I’m looking forward to having you all to myself very soon, pet.”

 

Hermione shivered. He’s going to have me. I’m going to be had. “Do you have to leave soon?”

 

“I have a meeting with the estate manager later today. I want to be sure everything is ready for your arrival.”

 

“Speaking of that, Molly’s making a list for you of what she wants for the reception and ceremony.”

 

“She is, is she? I was under the impression you didn’t want to be left out of planning,” he smirked.

 

“Yes, well, I’ve decided to delegate.” She snipped, and then relented, “I couldn’t care less about any of it, except . . .”

 

He raised his eyebrows and nodded expectantly, “Except?”

 

She stepped close to him again and gave in to the temptation of fiddling with his waistcoat buttons. “Except I would love to have your blue roses everywhere.”

 

“I would love to have your blue roses everywhere,” he repeated softly. He was looking at her so intently that Hermione wondered if he even knew he’d just echoed her words.

 

“Would it- I mean, is that even feasible?”

 

“As many as you could possibly want, my love.” He seemed to forget his self-imposed rules of décor and leaned down to kiss her mouth. It wasn’t lingering or passionate, but sweet and promise-filled. I’m his love, and he’s mine.

 

Bets were settled amongst the faculty and their guests, and Hermione left the tower two hundred Galleons richer. She descended the stairs with Minerva and Lucius, who walked so slowly that she could feel his reluctance to leave. At the castle entrance nearest the broom closet, the trio paused to wait for Draco, Harry, and Ginny.

 

The wind was just a soft breeze now at ground level, and Hermione gave Lucius back his robes. When he had put them on and fastened them, she slipped under the soft fabric and wrapped her arms around his middle. “I wish you weren’t leaving so soon.”

 

“It’s just as well – Draco told me of your plans to go to the village with your friends. Besides,” he spoke into her hair, “it will give you time to think about me.”

 

“Hmmmmmm, it will. Lucius?”

 

He looked down at her expectantly, and she continued, “Will you bring me a blue rose tomorrow night?”

 

His eyes twinkled his answer, and Hermione swooned a bit. “There’s Draco now. I need a word with him – wait here with Minerva.”

 

Lucius strode towards the broom closet, from which players were now emerging. He pulled Draco to him in a close hug and clapped him on the back, holding him by the shoulders as they spoke. Hermione had never seen the two interact casually, and was fascinated by the obvious closeness between them. They talked for a few minutes, congratulating some of the passing Slytherin players, and then walked to where she waited with the professor.

 

Lucius thanked Minerva for accompanying them and bid her good-bye. He nodded proudly to Draco, and drew Hermione a few steps away. “Enjoy your outing.”

 

She really didn’t want him to go. “Will you kiss me good-bye?”

 

“That’s a very silly question, pet.” Lucius turned them so that his back was to their audience. He leaned down to her level, putting one hand to the back of her head and the other against her lower back, and pushed firmly until she arched into him. Hermione grabbed fistfuls of his robes to support herself as he murmured against her lips, “Of course I’m going to kiss you.”

 

Lucius kissed her the way he had taught her earlier and she responded with delight, opening her mouth to his the moment he stroked his tongue against her lip. He was done far more quickly than she would have liked. For one brief moment, he pulled her flush against him and Hermione felt that same long, hard bulge against her abdomen. Instead of freezing this time, though, she looked up at him. Great Merlin, he’s huge. She bit her lip uncertainly, but held his gaze. Being with me has caused this, and he wants me to know it without being terrified. I’m definitely going to think about this later. A lot. Lucius’ eyes were dark as he released her and straightened to his full height. “Until tomorrow.”

 

He led her back to Draco, gave Minerva a shallow bow, and left. Hermione watched his retreating form until it disappeared in the shadows of the castle entrance. Who’d have thought that I’d learn to miss him so quickly? She shook off the brief moment of melancholy and turned to the others.

 

A group of freshly showered Gryffindors had gathered around Minerva in the meantime, and Harry and Ginny were with them. The Slytherin team stood to the side, nearest Draco and they acknowledged her with nods and smiles. It looked as though every player had decided to change into a clean uniform, sans gloves and greaves, and Hermione realized that included Draco. Mother of all magic, I can stare at him in those trousers and jersey all afternoon. Everyone was discussing the trip to Hogwarts, and arguing about how to get there.

 

“Let’s walk – it’s such a beautiful day,” suggested the Slytherin reserve Chaser.

 

“And waste all that time?” countered Ginny, “I say we fly. We can be there in ten minutes, and that’s flying slowly. Besides, anyone going from the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff teams would have left right after the match – they’ll beat us to the village by a long shot if we don’t hurry.”

 

Nearly everyone agreed. I don’t want to fly! Hermione had an uneasy feeling she was being included in her friends’ plans, and turned to Draco in a slight panic. He stood behind her with his hands on her shoulders, so she ended up in his arms. He bent down to whisper in her ear, “I want you to ride my Firebolt.”

 

He blushed but held her gaze, and Hermione fought through the threat of awkwardness by channeling Lucius. She gave a little snort of laughter and replied, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Draco.”

 

His eyes danced with humor as he tried again. “I want you to fly with me to the village. Harry told me you’d resist, but I’ll keep you safe.”

 

“I don’t know . . .”

 

“It’ll be fun.”

 

“Not necessarily, bec-”

 

He interrupted in a coaxing voice, “Hermione, you’ll be sitting on my lap, and I’ll have my arms wrapped around you the entire time. You can hide your face in my robes, if you like.”

 

That sounds like the way to fly . . . Draco seemed to think so, too, because he immediately leaned in to steal a kiss.

 

“Errrrrr, only if you promise to be safe.”

 

Draco smiled almost angelically as he said, “So, you’ll ride my Firebolt if I promise to take precautions?”

 

She laughed again. Does he even know when he says things like that? “Absolutely. But I will keep my eyes closed.”

 

“That doesn’t exactly flatter my ego.” He slipped off his Quidditch robes and held them out for her to put on. Hermione put her hands through the sleeves and raised her arms to tie her hair back. She watched him tie them up in the front, feeling how his hands lingered on the laces where they fell across her breasts. He certainly likes having his hands right there. I’m going to ride his Firebolt. She felt a frisson of desire run through her, and looked over his shoulder.

 

“Your eg- Draco, why is Pansy Parkinson looking at me like I killed her familiar?”

 

Hermione had just caught sight of the brunette Slytherin, who stood a small distance away and had a hateful look on her face.

 

She felt her wizard’s body tense. He rolled his eyes and said quietly, “Stay away from her. We’ll talk about it later,” he ducked to look Hermione directly in the eye, “understand?”

 

“Not really.”

 

“I mean it, Hermione.” Draco was looking at her sternly. “Stay away from Pansy Parkinson.”

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