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: the usual suspects (bunnyhops and CoquetteKitten).
Hermione woke the next morning feeling refreshed. She lay in her cot quietly while the sun came up and thought about her dreams from the previous night. Were they in fact just dreams, or had she really communicated with the covenant? Tentatively she reached out in her mind to find it. The faintest of flickers in the corner of her mind confirmed her suspicions, and she sat up excitedly.
A movement beside her caused her to jump. It was Lucius. He sat beside the bed in an armchair that looked so suspiciously like the one in the Headmaster’s office alcove, Hermione knew at once he’d Transfigured it himself. He looked as though he’d been there all night, judging by the stubble on his face and his less-than-put-together appearance. Her wizard had shed his robes and waistcoat at some point, and his shirt was unbuttoned at the neck and untucked from his trousers. He sat sprawled in his chair, long-boned and aristocratic, and his long, pale hair was unbound, framing his handsome face. She drank in this different look greedily. Yum.
Lucius was drinking tea, the fragrance of which wafted through the air to the young witch’s nose. He held out his arms in a welcoming gesture, and she scrambled out of bed and onto his lap, holding out her hands in supplication. He raised an elegant eyebrow but handed her the cup, which she promptly drained.
“Hmmmmm. Thank you.” She set the empty teacup beside him and snuggled into her nook, reaching up to rub her fingers and then her lips over the fascinating scratch of his cheeks and throat. “What are you doing here, you silly wizard? You look as if you spent the night in this chair.”
“Indeed, I did. More tea?” The moment she’d curled in his lap, Lucius had wrapped her in his arms and held her close. Now he leaned his cheek on the top of her head, and she felt his stubble prick against her scalp through her hair.
She closed her eyes in contentment, continuing to stroke his rough jaw. “No, thank you. I thought Madam Pomfrey told you to leave.”
“That old dragon lost her flame years ago. She’ll tuck her tail between her legs and run if I say ‘boo’.”
“You shouldn’t make a habit of terrifying people.”
“I’ve made a fortune with that skill, and if it helps me get my way, I don’t see the problem.” Conversation with him would never be dull – he was as clever and provocative in his speech as he was in his mannerisms.
“Lucius, why are you still here? You should have gone home and slept in your bed.”
“I lost a witch once, in a cot much like this. I wouldn’t have slept, had I left you,” he said in a quiet but emotionless voice.
Hermione stroked his chest gently. “I only fainted.”
“Let us talk about something entirely different. What on earth has happened to you, my prize? Your hair is awry, your makeup smeared, and you’re wearing the most hideous pair of pajamas I have ever seen.”
His abrupt attempt to change the conversation from the subject of Narcissa tugged at the young witch’s heart, but she teased back, “You’re not blind to all my shortcomings? I’m wounded, Lucius!”
He tightened his arms around her for a moment. Hermione felt his protection and love wash over her in a very physical sense. She ventured, “Someday will you tell me about . . .”
“Let us not dwell in the past. Now,” he continued in a much different tone, “my lovely bespoken one is sitting on my lap, and I intend to spend my time wisely.” Lucius’ words and then his mouth interrupted her train of thought, which she promptly forgot. He tasted like tea, and she was so distracted by this that she almost missed the sensation of his hand slipping under her pajama shirt to rub against the bare skin of her back. It caused a shiver of pleasure to run through her. I think my entire body is one big erogenous zone with this man. “What about our chaperone?”
“In her office with the door open. Now hush and let me kiss you.” His lips touched hers lovingly at first, worshipping her mouth with the softest of presses and brushes. Eventually the kiss turned playful as he nipped at her full lips and sucked her bottom one into his mouth. His hand was splayed across her back under her pajama top, warm skin on warm skin, and Hermione gave a little moan of pure pleasure against her wizard’s mouth. Lucius responded by deepening the kiss and pulling her against his chest. His hand moved up her back, caressing between her shoulder blades before slipping to her side. She felt her body respond almost instantaneously to his touch. Want and need stirred deep in her abdomen and pulsed outward until her entire body seemed to throb.
Lucius wasn’t hesitant by any means. Hermione was sure it was because he felt her steady heartbeat, pressed as she was between his hand and chest. He was kissing her hungrily now, and his thumb moved along her side, sketching her ribs before pushing upward to rub against the lower curve of her breast, as he had over her shirt during the match yesterday. Mmmmmm. More.
Her own hands, which had been combing through his hair, slid to his chest, and she mapped out his shape much as she’d done to Draco the day before. Lucius was broad, solid, and well-muscled. Hermione’s fingers ran from his collarbones down his sternum and then over his pectorals, learning the masculine curves of his upper body. She slipped her hand beneath his shirt where it was unbuttoned and laid it against his warm skin. More. She scrabbled with the next button, wanting access to more of him and encouraged by the deep groan he gave into her mouth. That sound seemed to be connected to the apex of her legs, and she squirmed against his thigh as that now-familiar, pleasantly torturous coil wound yet tighter.
Suddenly, the heavy door to the infirmary at the far end of the room creaked its opening sound, and Lucius reluctantly pulled his mouth from hers. They both turned their heads to look in that direction. He made one more slow, teasing sweep with his thumb against her breast as the Headmaster, Aberforth, Draco, and Harry made their way through the door, and then he slid his hand down to her waist.
“Saved by the chaperone, my love. Why don’t you go trouble Draco as you did me, so that I may collect myself?” His voice was rough, his eyes were wild, and his fingers burned wherever they touched her skin. She pressed one last kiss to his chin and slipped from her perch on his thigh.
Hermione and Draco tangled in each other’s arms briefly while she greeted the others. When they disengaged, he looked her over with a tender smirk. I’ll bet I look positively frightful. She blushed. “I’m just going to wash my face,” she explained to the group over her shoulder as she fled to the infirmary washroom.
She’d completely forgotten her rumpled appearance while basking in Lucius’ confidence. How does he do that? He makes me feel as though I could conquer the world. I love that about him. She felt a contented nudge from the covenant within. One look in the mirror confirmed her suspicions, but even more noteworthy were her distinctly kiss-swollen lips and the flush of her cheeks. She scrubbed her face of all sleep and makeup. There was nothing to be done for the awful pajamas, but at least a toothbrush had been set out for her, and so in less than five minutes a somewhat presentable Hermione was heading back to the area near her cot.
Professor Dumbledore had Summoned chairs for those present. Hermione gratefully sank into the one between Lucius and Harry, ignoring both her wizards’ annoyed looks at her choice of seating. They’re as bad as two toddlers who need cuddle toys. Besides, I might explode with frustration if they do anything to tease me right now. She did, however, reach out to her older wizard and clasp his hand with hers.
It was Aberforth Dumbledore who began the meeting. “I understand there is an issue with the Malfoy covenant and your bride-to-be.”
Draco answered, “In the past few days, each time she’s near a certain wizard she’s fainted and at times appeared drunk and disoriented.”
“Who is this wizard, and what is his connection to Miss Granger?”
“Ronald Weasley. His brothers cast a war-stake for her, but he did not.”
Aberforth looked to his brother, who added, “I did not give the Weasley stake precedence because it was not unanimous. Mr. Weasley holds no claim to pursue this witch, other than what would seem to be his own stubborn ignorance.”
“We believe her symptoms are inflicted by our covenant, and seek a solution that does not involve risk of her safety. It has never acted in such a way, according to the Malfoy histories.”
Hermione was intently seeking out the presence within her. When she felt it flutter against her consciousness, she reached out to it gently. When she spoke, her face was set in concentration and her eyes were closed. “No, Lucius – that doesn’t sound quite right. I don’t think it’s not an ‘infliction’, so to speak. Wait a minute while I . . .” She trailed off in thought.
“How could you possibly know?” Aberforth’s question was blunt, but his tone was curious.
She replied, eyes still shut, “I’ve felt it several times over the past week. Each time I wanted to tell Ron about my betrothal, a little voice, or more like a feeling, told me to wait – that it wasn’t time. I just assumed it was my subconscious. Last night, though, I’m sure I communicated with it.”
“You spoke with it?” Aberforth asked.
“In a way. I thought of something and then felt an emotional response to it. For instance, the idea of Lucius and Draco caused positive feelings – love, warmth, a feeling of safety. I wondered at first if those were my own feelings, but somehow just knew they weren’t.
“I tried again, wondering if the emotions belonged to the covenant, and I knew that was it, because I immediately felt a happiness that wasn’t exactly coming from me. Then I thought about confronting Ron Weasley, and the covenant panicked. In fact, whenever I think about what I’d like to do or say to him, that’s what happens. It’s not trying to give me direction – it’s just feeling.”
Aberforth looked to Lucius and Draco for corroboration. “Does this sound like your own interactions with the family covenant?”
“I have received guidance and, at times, a sense of precognition, but I have never tried communicating with it,” Lucius replied as he looked speculatively at Hermione.
Draco agreed. “The same is true for me. I know without a doubt the covenant runs in my blood and works to further my success, but I’ve never felt it other than as Lucius described. I sense no feelings I could attribute to anyone other than myself.”
“But it’s there! I can feel it even now, and I’m certain that if I could just reason with it somehow, it would understand what it is I want to do.”
“And what, exactly, is that?” asked the Headmaster.
“Well, what I’d really like to do is hex his-” here she stopped herself short, blushing as she remembered her audience, “What I mean to say is, I’d like to tell him exactly what I think of him. I’d like to be the one to rip off those blinders of utter stupidity he’s been wearing for so long. I need the chance to be honest with him. We were friends for so long . . .” Hermione’s voice grew quieter and quieter as she spoke until, at the end, she was barely audible.
“Absolutely not. You will stay away from him. The covenant has decreed it,” growled Lucius. His hand had gradually tightened around hers while she spoke, and now his grasp was almost uncomfortable. Hermione opened her eyes and looked at Draco, who had a conflicted look on his face.
“Aberforth, what do you have to offer?” his brother asked.
Aberforth Dumbledore smiled apologetically at Hermione. “I’m afraid I have nothing to add, except to note that Miss Granger seems to have a strong affinity for the magic of her new family. The three of you should discuss her desire to confront the wizard in question. If you can find a solution that is acceptable to all, perhaps the covenant will be more amenable. If you cannot, then the only thing is to avoid this wizard.”
“I beg your pardon, sir, but that hardly seems like a solution,” argued Hermione. “Surely your studies have given some you insight into this problem.”
“If my studies have taught me one thing, it is that the covenants are as individual as they are mysterious. The Malfoy magic is obviously of advanced sentience, and therefore capable of having thought and opinion. There is a good chance that by reaching consensus within your family, the covenant can be swayed. Until then, do not underestimate its power. I will look over my journals and contact you if something comes to light.” He shrugged, obviously no wiser in the end than they were. “Albus, I will see myself out.”
Hermione tried to keep her face clear of annoyed frustration as she thanked the old wizard for his time and watched him leave. Well, he was absolutely no help whatsoever. I want to talk to Ron! And (she focused her thoughts on the presence within her) don’t even think about panicking right now! The Headmaster sat silently with his head down, as if he was in deep thought.
Harry, who’d been quiet for the duration of the short meeting, spoke up. “What exactly upsets you about the idea of ‘Mione confronting Ron?”
Lucius replied tensely, “She will stay away from him because I have said so.”
Hermione felt a small flare of irritation towards her elder wizard. “She is right here and can think for herself!”
“Lucius, I don’t want Hermione to be near him any more than you, but I recognize that I don’t have a valid reason. If we’re to be united in this stand, please help me understand your argument,” Draco countered.
Lucius looked murderously at the Headmaster. “Albus, you know my defense in this. Tell me it isn’t justified.”
Professor Dumbledore was still sitting with his head down. He looked up and said nothing, but his expression was one of sympathy for Lucius.
Hermione was instantly curious. “What do you mean by that, Lucius?”
He dropped the hand he’d been holding and stood abruptly. “I must go. Until tonight.” He took the hand she lifted in protest, raised it to his mouth, and kissed it with a distinct absence of emotion. Lucius paused only long enough to gather his waistcoat and robes, and then he was gone. The infirmary door banged shut behind him, silencing the sound of his retreating footsteps.
It was her first glimpse of her wizard’s temper. Draco did call him volatile. She turned to the Headmaster. “Sir, what was all that about?”
“It is not my place to say, but I know Lucius well enough to be sure he will tell you in his own time.” With those cryptic words, the professor excused himself from the meeting and left the room. He seemed to be in a hurry, and Hermione wondered if he was trying to catch up with Lucius.
She moved to the wingback chair, which was still warm and smelled faintly of her wizard. I want Lucius. “Draco?”
He looked as confused as she felt. “I have no idea what’s going on, but the Headmaster is right – Lucius will tell us when he’s ready. He’s obviously upset and needs time to sort something out.”
Harry finally suggested finding something to keep them busy for the day. “You’ll see him tonight, ‘Mione. And I’m sure he’ll want to talk with you as well, Draco. In the meantime, let’s take another picnic to that spot by the lake. I’ll get the girls to work on it while you get ready for the day.” He ducked down to look Hermione in the eye, “By the time you go to sleep tonight, it’ll all be fine. I’m sure of it.”
Leaving the infirmary proved to be a lengthy process. Harry left for Gryffindor tower immediately in hopes of finding Ginny, who would be able to help getting clothes for Hermione. She’d adamantly refused to walk through the castle in either the hideous pajamas or the beautiful white dress, and begged for Harry’s help. “It’ll only start rumors if I’m seen going to my room the morning after a party in a dress like that, and these pajamas shouldn’t be legal. Please help me?”
Harry kindly agreed. Draco went to alert Madam Pomfrey that Harry was leaving, and the matron came out at once to give them the hairy eyeball. “There will be no funny business while I’m responsible for the two of you. Mr. Potter, you will not dally on your errand. Mr. Malfoy, you will not even sit on Miss Granger’s cot. Any seating will be on chairs only. Oh, and,” she added with narrowed eyes, “four feet on the floor at all times.”
The silver lining of this somewhat humiliating speech was that it temporarily cleared the air of previous troubles. Harry left with a good-natured roll of his eyes, Draco tried not to smirk, and Hermione blushingly dragged her wizard back to the relatively private far corner of the infirmary to talk.
It was Madam Pomfrey’s small Potions storeroom, but it had no door and so technically it was part of the infirmary. It was also the perfect space in which to steal a few moments together without being in breach of their rules.
Her desire to talk was tempered with curiosity as she watched Draco look speculatively around the tiny area, and then at her with a similar look in his eye. “What is it?”
“Have you ever noticed,” he began as he wrapped his hands around her middle and lifted her off her feet, “How much shorter you are than I am? It’s nice to stand straight and look you in the eye every once in a while.”
The matron’s last barked order went out the window as he swung Hermione up onto the counter and gently pushed her legs apart to stand between them. It was waist-high for Draco, and she curled her legs around his hips to pull him closer. I can’t seem to get close enough to him, no matter how I try. Despite her perch, he was still taller than she was, and when she raised her eyes to his level, she found him looking back intently.
“Could you please not stare at me? I’m self-conscious enough in these hateful pajamas as it is, and the rat’s nest on top of my head is only making it worse.”
Draco leaned to put his head on her shoulder, speaking into the sensitive skin of her neck. “You look adorable. You’re all soft skin and bed-head, and you smell so good. I just want to be close to you right now.”
“It must be from the bubble bath I took before the party – I used scented oil in it.” She rubbed her bare feet against the soft wool of his trousers and ran her fingers through his pale hair. All this sensory input, and we haven’t even kissed.
Draco groaned in her ear. “You, in a tub of bubbles. I’m going to think about that later.”
“You know what else you can think about later? I’m going to sleep in your jersey tonight. It’s already tucked under my pillow, waiting for me,” she whispered, her devious smile hidden in his hair.
“Hermione, I promise you this is not what I had in mind when we came back here,” he groaned.
She waited for him to pull away, pleasantly surprised when he trailed his lips along her jaw instead, pressing wet, open-mouthed kisses down her neck to the collar of the pajamas.
He tugged at the top button. “I know you don’t like these, and if it’s any consolation, I’d gladly remove them.”
Her mind was fogging over with desire as she used both her arms and legs to try and pull him flush against her. Draco’s mouth found hers just as his hands grabbed hold of her backside, and a moment later she gasped as that increasingly familiar bulge in his pants rubbed against her core in the most pleasurable of ways. Once, twice he rocked slowly against her and pushed his tongue inside her mouth in the same rhythm. I’m going to die of delayed gratification. Hermione whimpered into his mouth just as she heard the sound of Madam Pomfrey’s shoes come click-clacking toward them.
Draco must have heard it, too, because he pulled away from her quickly with a tortured sound of frustration and pulled her off the counter. When the matron came round the corner, they were standing close together holding hands and Draco had his back to her.
“You two are much too far from my office. I can’t supervise what I can’t see. Come on, back you go.” Luckily Madam Pomfrey seemed distracted. She didn’t even look at them, but turned on her heel and directed them to follow her. Otherwise she would have had quite the show: Hermione’s eyes were bright, her cheeks were flushed, and she was panting lightly. Draco was in a worse state – there was a family-sized tent pitched in his trousers.
The Healer stopped beside Hermione’s cot, pointing at two chairs. “You may sit here, side by side in separate chairs.”
“The Headmaster doesn’t have that rule, Madam Pomfrey,” protested Draco in a rough-voiced, less than courteous tone.
“That old fart probably isn’t aware of what mischief can be made in one chair by two members of the opposite sex. Besides, he left me in charge for now, and so you will follow my rules. Separate chairs.”
They looked at each other in disbelief. Draco collapsed in the wingback chair, and Hermione flopped onto her cot. Her body was throbbing with need, and her mood was quickly turning sour. Her wizard looked positively ill and was unusually uncollected in his speech patterns. “Hermione, I’m so sorry- I mean, I shouldn’t have- What I mean to say is—“
She had no sympathy whatsoever for him and interrupted crossly, “Oh, it’s alright for you – you can go off and take care of things later, can’t you! But me, I can’t do any such thing! I’m going to die long before Friday . . .”
She trailed off in a whimper, draping a hand over her eyes dejectedly. There was a rustling sound, and then Draco was holding her other hand. She looked to see him kneeling by her cot and looking at her with heated eyes.
“I don’t think you understand that rule. You don’t have to w-”
The infirmary door burst open just then to admit Harry and Ginny.