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: bunnyhops and CoquetteKitten.


The two girls spent the late afternoon and early evening in a way similar to what they’d done the day before, with the exception that Hermione was more conversational. They soaked in bubbles, rubbed scented oil into their skin, and all the while she talked with her friend about Lucius and Draco, their apparent efforts to slowly kill her with sexual frustration, and the courtship rules that governed their current behavior. Either her haze of desire was contagious or her descriptions of her most recent experiences were especially vivid, because Ginny listened with flushed cheeks and uneven breath.


She was also unusually tongue-tied. “Circe on a . . . ‘Mione! You’re saying . . . Draco said . . . I mean, I knew you’d eventually get to . . . whew!” Ginny fanned herself rapidly with her hand. “Far, far better than a romance novel!”


“We’re getting married in six days, Ginny – it’s a fairly natural progression! I just wish we’d progressed a little bit farther today. I feel like I’m going to die if someone doesn’t relieve all this tension inside me!” She moaned miserably in self-pity. “And why do you find this so exciting? It’s not like you haven’t done all this and more with Harry.”


“Yes, but your wizards are clearly talkers. That’s a very good thing. Harry’s excellent at what he does, but he’s strictly a man of action. There’s something unbelievably hot about being told what’s going to happen. No wonder you’re such a mess all the time now!” She added, “I predict Lucius is going to be a very happy wizard tonight.”


Hermione wondered if that would be true, given the state her wizard had been in when he’d left earlier, but she kept her thoughts to herself as Ginny began rummaging through her drawer of underthings. “Now for Draco’s naughty knickers . . . Hey, where’d you get these?“


She was holding up a handful of brightly colored knickers in varying Muggle styles. Ginny rifled through the small pile and looked up at Hermione questioningly.


“My mum gave them to me as a sort of joke present two birthdays ago.” Hermione smiled and blushed at the memory. “She said a young woman needed decent knickers . . .”


“Did she know how you felt about Ron at the time?”


“Oh, I think she knew I was daydreaming about someone, but I never actually told her who it was. Now I’m glad – makes it easier to pretend it never happened. And as far as these go, “ here she gestured to the underthings Ginny had laid out on her bed, “I’d almost forgot I had them . . . never had a reason to wear them.”


“Well, I can think of two off the top of my head. Now pick out a pair to send to Draco, and then another to wear tonight. No, not those – let’s see . . . these. Just,” here she cut off any argument from Hermione, “trust me.”


Hermione penned a quick note to Draco, and used it to wrap a tiny pair of bright blue knickers. It simply said, ‘what I won’t be wearing tonight.’ Ginny promised to send the package off later.


The little white dress was finally donned and Hermione made her way down to meet Harry in the commons. A steady stream of students was coming and going in preparation for dinner, and she looked around for her ‘brother’. Instead she saw Ron. He stood far across the common room by the stairs to the boys’ dorms looking equally surprised, until he took in her outfit. Then his expression turned nasty.


“What, off to another meeting with the Ferret family?” He raised his voice so it carried easily across the room. Several faces turned toward her in curiosity, but she noticed many more looked at Ron with varying degrees of contempt.


She rolled her eyes and, inwardly staring down the nervous presence of the covenant, said in a strong voice, “As soon as I’m able, I’m going to have a good, long talk with you. You’d better start brushing up on defense charms, Mr. Weasley.”


He looked furious, but stayed on the far side of the room. “Because of you I can’t even move freely around this place! You’re making a huge mistake and ruining everything! It’s not too late – you can still fix this, ‘Mione!”


She was relieved when Harry came hurrying down the stairs just then. His hair was damp and even across the wide space she could see mouth-shaped bruises along one side of his neck, but overall, he actually looked quite put together. He glared at his old friend and brushed past him brusquely. “You’re supposed to leave when she’s here.”


“Or what? You’ll tell the Headmaster?” Ron’s face was an unattractive shade of red. Draco flushes a much handsomer shade. The random thought made her smile happily to herself. “It’s not funny, ‘Mione!”


Hermione looked at him sharply, but held her tongue. Oh, just you wait, Mr. Weasley. You’re not going to know what hit you. She turned toward Harry and drew her robes on over her dress. “Ready?”


The walk across the castle was just what was needed after the run-in with her former crush, and they joined the flow of students headed toward the great hall for dinner. The cool air and brisk pace settled their nerves, and as if by silent agreement neither mentioned the run-in. Harry took the opportunity instead to tease her. “So, you must have something on your face because everyone is staring at you again. It couldn’t possibly be that dress you’re trying to hide under your robes.”


She punched him affectionately in the shoulder, making sure it was just hard enough to hurt a bit. “Shut up, Harry. Perhaps it’s not me they’re looking at – from those bruises on your neck, it looks as though you’ve recently snogged a hippogriff.”


Harry punched her back, albeit much more gently. “Yes, Hermione. All these randy teenage boys don’t notice the sexy witch walking among them because of the hickey-marked wizard at her side. Are we sure you’re the smart one?”


He dropped her off at Professor Dumbledore’s office, promising to pay close attention to his Galleon. The two agreed that Lucius’ mood would determine the length of the visit more so than usual. The room seemed empty when she entered, and she walked quietly to the Headmaster’s desk. There was a blue rose laid on it, Hermione noticed happily. She heard a rustle in the alcove, and turned to see her wizard already sitting in his armchair.


She approached quietly to find Lucius staring out the window with a look of melancholy on his handsome face. The young witch called his name hesitantly. “Lucius?”


He didn’t seem to hear her, so she stepped to the side of the chair and reached out to stroke his head tenderly. “Lucius?”


He sighed and closed his red-rimmed eyes. “Good evening, pet.”


Hermione sat on his nearest thigh and leaned to press her lips to his. “I’ve been thinking about you.” She allowed him to draw her completely onto his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Please talk to me, Lucius.”


She felt him nod against her head. “I apologize for my discourtesy this morning.”


“That’s not what I meant. What upset you then, and why is it still bothering you? Please, please tell me.” Instinctively, she pulled the leather band from his hair and ran her fingers through the thick, pale locks. He sighed again and leaned into her touch.


“I don’t want you to be around the Weasley boy. I don’t want you to talk to him; I don’t want you to be in the same room as him; I don’t even want you to be in the same castle as him.” His voice was rough, as though he’d strained it. Has he been yelling recently?


She continued to comb his hair with her fingers and kissed his mouth again. “That sounds a bit unreasonable.”


“Will you obey me in this? Will you do this for me?”


Hermione warred within her self briefly. She wasn’t his child, nor was she a servant, and the idea of obeying him unquestioningly felt slightly demeaning at first thought. And yet he had asked so humbly, it had almost sounded like begging. Surely Lucius Malfoy would only do such a thing for a good reason. She realized she trusted him implicitly, if only because of the way he held her so gently in his arms. He loves me and wants to take care of me. “If you will tell me why, and truly talk to me, I will find a way to somehow honor the need behind that demand.”


His body tensed even more under her and he began with obvious reticence, “If I tell you, I would like your word that you will keep my confidence and let me tell Draco in my own time.”


“Agreed.” She kissed his chin and curled into her nook, inhaling the inherent scent of his skin.


He began slowly, “Narcissa Black and I grew up together, and I detested her from the very beginning. She was very beautiful, very shallow, and very cold. Abraxas desired her at an almost inappropriate age, and when it came time to cast stakes, he claimed right of choice.   I pleaded with him to search for another bespoke witch. The two were . . . very much alike.” Lucius was quiet for a time and Hermione simply waited, playing with his hair and lightly scratching her fingernails over his scalp.


Some minutes later, he began again. “She was not pure by the time she accepted our stake, and she wouldn’t say who had taken her first, only that she had given her heart to one who did not return her love. Abraxas cared little for that; he saw only her great beauty and the advantage of having a wife who brought no inconvenient emotion into his life.


“Our courtship was one of tolerance; there was no illusion of love. We were wed, Abraxas took her to his chambers, and I did not see her for some weeks, by my own choice. Eventually, though, it became all too obvious that the only way I might ever know the pleasure of a woman’s company was with this snakelike creature – my wife. And it was indeed pleasurable. I became smitten with the idea of her in my bed, and soon bowed to her every whim in order to curry her sexual favor.”


His voice off, and Hermione fought against the jealousy welling up in her. She was his wife, and he was lonely. Plus she’s very dead and it doesn’t sound as though he misses her. She took a deep breath. “Go on, Lucius.”


“This was how I was introduced to the Dark Lord, whom she followed alongside her lunatic sister. The first time she introduced us, I saw her change in his presence – almost bloom – and knew he was her unrequited love. Narcissa was only faithful to the house of Malfoy because of her lover’s rejection, and I felt as though the greater part of me died with that knowledge.


“That same night I questioned the covenant’s recognition of her as bespoke, and a strong sense of precognition washed over me; I almost felt the shape of a babe in my arms and heard its quiet cry. I knew without doubt that she was with child, and this little one was her raison d’être.”


He continued, “Of course, Voldemort used her to his advantage, and in the end Abraxas joined the DeathEaters out of pride. I did the same, but for a different reason; I . . . I found I could not be separated from this unborn Malfoy child. My stomach roiled against the dark deeds in which we were supposed to delight, though, and I became a spy for Albus soon after joining.”


“What of Abraxas?” She whispered quietly.


“He was killed in a duel. He realized he’d been played for a fool, and foolishly challenged the Dark Lord to a wand match.”


“And Narcissa?”


“She left the Death Eater ranks for the safety of the unborn child against Voldemort’s wishes. Draco was barely a month old when she returned to his side, and he decried her as a deserter and tortured her viciously as an example to the rest of his followers. She died a slow death at St. Mungo’s, in a cot like the one you were laid in last night.”


They were both silent for some time, although Hermione showered Lucius with warm, gentle touches all the while. Finally, he said tiredly, “I can hear your brain whirring. What is it you want to know?”


She looked at her wizard, taking in his slightly disheveled appearance for the first time. He hadn’t yet shaved, and the stubble had grown into more than this morning’s scratchy shadow. His eyes were red-rimmed. His shirt and outer robes were as immaculate as always, but he had forgone a waistcoat and tie for the first time she could remember. She thought of how rough his voice sounded again. Red eyes and sore throat – he’s been crying. Good Merlin, my love has been upset this whole day with no one to comfort him. Then all the clues added up, and she suddenly understood.


Hermione hugged him fiercely and kissed him with all the tenderness in her heart. “My Lucius, I haven’t given any part of myself to anyone else but you and Draco! And certainly not my heart. I won’t do that, ever. I was meant for you.”


Lucius’ eyes were closed. He said, “I have waited years for you, and then years more for you to be ready, only to have a similar situation present itself.”


“Your fears are based on faulty logic. For one thing, Ron’s not exactly Dark Lord material,” she countered with a smirk. I will drag him out of this mooky mood by any means necessary.


A ghost of a smile crossed his face. “No, he isn’t.”


Hermione grasped his chin and held his gaze, the same way he did when he wanted her absolute attention. “Furthermore, your wife-to-be is a Gryffindor, and you know what that means.”


“She’s brash and blindly trusting?” There was a small twinkle in his eye, but his mouth was still set in a frown.


“That wasn’t where I was going with that . . .” She kissed him again and felt him smile beneath her lips.


“Perhaps you were going to say that she’s foolhardy and pigheaded?”


She laughed in spite of the insult. “She’s sitting on your lap and trying to lighten your mood, you troll.”


“Then she must be truly bespoken, because that is exactly what I need at this moment.”


Hermione hid in her nook between Lucius’ jaw and shoulder and said quietly, “She’s fallen in love with you.” And, when she somehow sensed that his mood was still dangerously near maudlin, added, “And she’s wearing ruffled knickers under the dress you gave her.”


Lucius laughed out loud. “You are a minx.”


The cloud that had hung over their heads finally dissolved, and she smiled happily. “I understand why you don’t want me to be around Ron, and I respect your feelings. I’d like to find a way to make you happy that doesn’t involved me being locked in a tower for the next week.”


“You really don’t harbor romantic feelings for the wizard, do you?” He didn’t state it like a question at all, and she was relieved. His hand dropped to her knee, fingers sliding under the short hem of her dress to rub small circles on the underside of her thigh. Somehow that spot was connected to her insides, and she felt that coiling, winding feeling begin deep within her abdomen.


“None at all.”


“What would you say to him, if you had the chance to speak?” He had leaned her back over his arm and was speaking against her collarbones.


Hermione shivered pleasurably against the tickle of his unshaven face. She was having difficulty thinking at the moment, but managed, “I’d tell him what an idiot he’s been, and that I don’t have any idea what I was thinking all those years.”


He moved his attention to the deep neckline of the pretty white dress, speaking into the shallow valley between her breasts. “What else?”


Lucius’ fingers were slowly traveling up her thigh, tracing patterns in her skin and tickling her in the most delightful way. “Mmmmm. That it wouldn’t have mattered if he’d cast a stake along with his brothers, because I still would have chosen you and Draco.”


The back of his hand brushed against one of her nipples and she gave a quiet gasp. It could have been accidental, but she doubted anything Lucius did was unplanned. He kissed her again, and her body eagerly responded, arching into his hand when it brushed against her again. She was having difficulty remembering how to breathe, and desire was beginning to spread through her veins. Please touch me. Lucius pulled away to watch her heaving chest and brought his hand to cup her breast, rubbing his thumb across its tightened peak. “So responsive to my touch. I wonder – is this far enough for tonight, my lovely?”


Hermione looked at her wizard through heavy-lidded eyes. The constant push-pull of his thumb on her sensitized nipple was the same action he’d taken against her lip several times in the past few days. Was this what he was thinking of at the time? That coil was in her gut was winding tighter and tighter, and she squirmed in pleasant agony.


He seemed to take her noise and movement as an answer, and murmured, “Perhaps a bit more.”


He dropped his head to follow the curve of her breast, and when he spoke again his mouth moved against her nipple. “Continue, pet.”


The fabric of the dress was thin, and she could feel the shape of every syllable he spoke on her now-hardened nub. “Ooooh. I . . . um . . . I’d tell him that his hands were sweaty, and-” Here Lucius raised his head to look at her with one brow raised inquisitively, and Hermione quickly said with a faint blush, “Don’t stop! I’d tell him that he never made me feel the way you do just by looking at me– like that, oh please, just like that!”


Lucius was running his tongue across her nipple over the dress. Hermione wove her hand through his hair to hold him in place even as he pulled slightly away. He raised his head slightly, looking with dark eyes at the front of her dress. She looked down to see what pleased him – the white fabric was wet and transparent, and her rosy, erect peak was clearly visible. He ducked his head and blew a cool stream of air over it, and Hermione mewled at the sweet torture. Her body was now throbbing with want, and all she could think about was the pressure that had begun building between her legs.


He straightened up to kiss her mouth, swiping his tongue across her lip just as his hand began moving up her leg again under her dress. She opened her mouth to him, giving a little moan at the feel of his tongue sliding against the tip of her own. His hand brushed along her hip, trailing along the edge of her knickers.


“Ruffles, indeed. I wonder. Do they go all the way ‘round?” He pulled away from her mouth to murmur this against her lips. His long fingers followed the ruffled edge over her hip, across the curve of her bottom, and down between her legs. When did my skin become so sensitive? She was trembling with pure pleasure now and having difficulty remembering to breath. She gasped his name.


Lucius chuckled and turned his attentions to her throat. His voice took on a dark, dangerous tone. “Such a lovely one you are, making these delightful noises and responding so quickly to my attentions.” His beautiful eyes were as dark as his voice when he raised his head to look at her.


“Please, please don’t tease, Lucius.”


He wrapped his hand around her thigh and lifted it easily away from the other, bending her knee and propping her foot on the arm of the chair. She watched him breathlessly, still laid back over his other arm and held in place by his hand woven into her hair. Now he was kissing her neck again, and his fingers were tracking along the ruffled edge of her knickers near her seam. Back and forth, back and forth his fingertips softly pushed and pulled along the soft flesh. Unngh. Please.


“Does that please you, my prize?” His voice was a whisper, and she barely heard it over the pounding of her heart.


“Yyyyeeesss.” If something doesn’t happen tonight, I really am going to spontaneously combust.


His fingers finally moved to the crotch of her kickers, rubbing in long strokes and then pressing gently against the opening of her channel. “Such a wet girl,” he groaned into her mouth just as he pushed his tongue between her lips. His fingers moved in a torturous rhythm over the fabric of her knickers, until Hermione was writhing in his lap. If this is what it feels like with all my clothes on, I can’t imagine what it will be like without them.


Abruptly, Lucius removed his hand and sat her up in his lap. She looked at him in confusion, and he said in that same, dark voice, “We should not have gone so far tonight, but it would be cruel of me to tease you so without providing relief. Do you know what it is you want, pet? Be specific.”


She opened her mouth to beg like she never had in her life, when suddenly the door to the office flew open and Minerva McGonagall came bursting in.


Hermione’s entire body reacted in incredulous shock. Her movement drew the attention of the interloper toward the alcove and its inhabitants. “You have got to be kidding me!” She turned to her wizard, glaring at him as she quietly hissed, “I will not be left in this state, Lucius!”


“I’m terribly sorry, Lucius, but I require Albus.” The professor looked surprised to see them and then immediately apologetic.


He looked almost amused as he considered the situation. Then he turned his head back toward the door and said in a tone that brooked no argument, “We are in the middle of something, Minerva, and require a few more minutes. If you please.”


Minerva McGonagall, bless her gutter-dwelling mind, seemed to comprehend the situation. She raised her eyebrows and said, “OH. Of course, Lucius. I’ll wait outside. Just . . . do let me know when you’ve . . . finished.”


“And Minerva?” He called out as she was swinging the door shut. “See that the door is closed completely.” The professor had the grace to look guilty, and then drew the door shut until the latch caught loudly.


Lucius guided Hermione off his lap to stand between his legs, holding her at arms’ length for a short while. She felt her wizard’s eyes burn over her exposed skin. Suddenly the white dress seemed very short and revealing, and she crossed her arms over her chest awkwardly. Merciful Circe, he’s just been . . . and now I’m self-conscious?! Lucius pulled her hands away. “I’m not done looking yet, my prize. I didn’t get a chance to admire you earlier.”


When he had finished his thorough perusal, he drew her again into his lap. He gathered the frothy fabric in his hands and helped arrange her skirt, running his hands lightly up her legs and sides. I need him to touch me somewhere, anywhere.


Lucius seemed bent on torturing her with teasing touches and words. So slowly that at first she didn’t notice, he returned her to her former position leaned back over his arm, until she lay looking up at him once again. Hermione found herself wrapping her arms around his neck and shoulder in an attempt to keep him close, and pressing kisses to whatever part of him was closest to her mouth at the time.


His free hand ran up her leg under her dress hem, watching as the fabric was pushed up to her hip. Hermione shivered and felt herself break out into goose bumps. Finally, he leaned in and spoke against her lips, “Are you cold, my love?”


He continued tickling her skin as he kissed her, assailing her senses with the contrast of the rough wetness of his tongue in her mouth and the warm touch of his fingers up and down her thigh. She felt the last shred of her former self-consciousness slip away, and made a sound of pleasure deep in her throat. Lucius responded by moving his mouth to the edge of her jaw, and then lower along her neck to nibble at her collarbones. Hermione was sure she’d go mad as she realized he had begun his original seduction all over again. I’m going to kill him, but only after he gives me what I . . . ooooooh.


His fingers traced the décolletage of her dress. She blushed when he sat her up in his lap and watched his fingers slowly rub her nipples back into tight peaks. “Such a pretty dress, pet, although I would sooner take it off you than leave it on.”


Was she dreaming? Never would Hermione have thought such simple actions could produce such all-consuming sensations. Lucius was kissing her again, only now he changed position so that now he could torture both of her peaks by spreading the fingers of one hand between them. She pushed against his thumb and middle finger, wanting more, at the same time that she continued to wriggle on his lap. He pulled away from her mouth to watch her with burning eyes. There was a heavy thrumming between her legs now, and she whispered almost desperately, “Lucius, please.”


He trailed his fingers down to the pushed-up hem of her dress and pulled it up to her stomach, baring the innocent white ruffled knickers completely for the first time. Her wizard groaned, lightly tracing the waistband and then running his fingers up and down her seam as he had before their interruption. Lucius couldn’t seem to take his eyes off the motion of his hand. He seemed to have difficulty swallowing, and his jaw muscles clenched for a moment before he nodded as if to himself. “Tell me what you want, and I’ll gladly give it to you.”


She sighed, eyes closed and blushing but aware that she would most certainly die unless she did what he said. She pushed into the actions of hand and whispered, “I am in agony, Lucius. Please help me find relief from it.”


He groaned and kissed her quickly but deeply and then slid her off his lap. She stood slowly, confused for a moment until he stood as well and forcefully backed her into the windowed wall of the alcove. He looked wild, and Hermione realized this was the side of himself that Lucius had been holding back. Lucius unchained.


He lifted her up and sat her on the sill, and then pushed her knees apart to stand between them. She was nearly equal to his height in this position, and he didn’t have to lean down quite so far when he kissed her hungrily. His fingers rubbed her nipples until they tightened again, and she squirmed and clamped her legs around his waist, trying to bring him closer.


He spoke in her ear darkly as his hands acted out his words. “What a lovely thing you are, wrapped around me and begging for release. How would you like to be touched? Do you want soft caresses? Hmm?”


She whimpered, and he continued, “Or perhaps my love prefers a different sort of touch?” Lucius’s fingers tightened around her stiff peaks, plucking and twisting them through her dress.


The coil was winding even tighter within her and she just knew that if Lucius would only let her pull him against her, she could relieve the throbbing in her sex. Hermione squeezed her eyes shut and groaned more loudly, “Nnnngh, please!”


His voice was still in her ear. “Do you like that, my sweet? I can think of other things you’d like.”


Lucius dropped a hand to her hip and drew it down her thigh. She protested the sudden neglect of one nipple with a strangled sound and almost immediately felt a different sensation. This one was more powerful, and warmer, and even wet, and when she opened her eyes she realized he was suckling her through her dress. Her hand came up of its own accord to hold him there by the back of his head.


His free hand was under the skirt of her dress again, moving in slow, broad strokes up and down her thigh. It finally reached the apex of her legs and brushed up and down the wet crotch of her knickers. She tried to push up against his hand. Lucius released his mouth from her breast and stood up to lean his forehead against hers. His voice was deep and rough as he said,   “No more teasing.”


He pushed Hermione’s head back against the windowpane and slid a hand under her backside, tipping her hips upward. The other he slid back under her dress and pressed against her mound, with the heel of his palm over her aching clitoris and his fingers pressing into her cleft. Lucius murmured, “Now move against my hand.”


He returned his mouth to one of her fabric-clad nipples, and Hermione realized that the bolder her movements against his palm, the better it felt. The better it felt, though, the more she needed, and soon she was insensate to everything but her need for the coil within her to spring free. She felt herself break out in a light sweat just as she felt a change in the tension within. Tighter, tighter it wound, until she knew instinctively that her orgasm was impending. She heard Lucius’ voice, slightly muffled, and focused on his words. “Come for me, Hermione.”


At that moment she opened her eyes to watch Lucius and saw his mouth still latched to her breast over her dress, which was soaked and transparent from his attentions. The sight of her wizard performing such an intimate act on her body caused her hips to buck against his hand once more and then she came apart, quite literally in his hands. Her whisper was agonized as hitherto unused muscles within her spasmed in relief. “Oh. Oh. Oh, Lucius. Lucius.”


He slipped his hand out from underneath her to wrap it around her, but left the other between them, pressed to the wet fabric covering her sex. Hermione slowly returned to awareness, and Lucius scooped her up and carried her back to their chair. He sat down with her and held her, running his hand over her hair. She had just enough energy to find her nook between his jaw and shoulder, and her eyes closed in contentment. “Was that what everyone’s always talking about. Hmmmmmmm, thank you very much.”


“Never thank me for that, my love. It’s my pleasure.” His voice was still rough and deeper than normal, and Hermione raised her head to look at him. He was still wild-eyed, but she could see that he was working on raising his façade of calm.


I know he was aroused by everything we just did. She asked uncertainly, “Do you . . . I mean, aren’t you . . . Shall-”


He interrupted her firmly, looking somewhat regretful. “No. I did this to myself. Will you forgive me?”


Hermione was surprised by the question. “Of course, if you’ll tell me what it was you did wrong.”


Her wizard closed his eyes and pulled her head back down to his shoulder. He began tracing patterns on her back, and she curled both arms around his neck. “I focused on my own selfish desires, instead of thinking about what would be appropriate so shortly after our first kiss. I let go of my self-control.”


“Lucius, I’m not going to forgive you for wanting to touch me those ways. I liked what we just did.” She stroked the back of his neck lightly and added shyly, “I’ve never felt anything like that before.”


Hermione felt that same rush of confidence that always seemed to come when she was with Lucius. She sat up and teased, “I believe you promised to teach me all kinds of wicked things, and eventually corrupt me. Have you changed your mind, sir?”


Her wizard smiled finally, and she kissed him several times on the corner of his mouth. He seemed to accept her argument, because he replied, “We should really work on your aim, pet.”


She bit her lip to keep from smiling too broadly until he added, “And that is all we will work on for some time.”


Lucius performed a few silently cast spells and set her to rights as best he could before admitting Minerva back into the office. She found herself in a euphoric, boneless state and sank gratefully into the chair her wizard offered her. The professor made her way to the open door of the Headmaster’s private chambers immediately.


Lucius knelt at her side and spoke in a still-rough voice. “You look ready for bed, my love. Perhaps you should summon Mr. Potter.”


She tipped forward contentedly against his broad shoulder. “Mmmmmmm.”


Minerva returned with Professor Dumbledore at her side. “ . . . And since I cannot find Horace anywhere, and have problems in my own house, this lands squarely in your jurisdiction, Albus. Hermione, I’m headed back to the tower – I’ll escort you back. Come on, I haven’t much time.”


The young witch sighed, wondering how she would possibly be able to walk all that way. She let her head loll on Lucius’ shoulder. “Can’t you carry me?”


He chuckled. “I will walk with you, and that will have to suffice.”


They stood, and he led her to the Headmaster’s desk and the rose she’d noticed earlier. “I believe you asked for this.”


Hermione smiled in delight and reached for it. “Thank you for remembering. The last one you gave me is fad- Ouch!” As she took it from her wizard, her finger was pierced by one of its razor-like thorns. A small drop of blood was already beaded on her skin. “These have ferocious thorns, you know.”


Lucius brought her finger to his mouth and gently sucked the blood from it. “Such a delicate, rare flower must have some means to defend itself from predators,” he murmured as he looked at her tenderly.


He’s talking about me. Her heart felt as though it would burst, it was so full of happiness. Still, she needed to set the record straight. “Believe me, Lucius, your rose can take care of itself.”


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