Chapter Thirty-Six: Monday Night

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

 

Wrapped in a palpable Containment charm, Hermione was lifted gently by Lucius and carried across the castle to the infirmary. The moment his arms closed around her, her body relaxed and curled into him as much as it could. The charm prevented her from direct tactile feedback, but she could still sense his familiar, comforting shape and hear his low, comforting voice in her ear.

 

“Stay awake, pet — or do you need me to wake you up? Hmmm?” His usually silken voice sounded rough and exhausted.

 

She managed to raise one eyelid slightly. “I’m so tired.”

 

Lucius swatted her bottom, and through the heavy cloth of his robes and the Containment charm, the sensation was muted. “No nap for you. Don’t make me wake you up forcefully, pet — you won’t like my methods.”

 

“I don’t think I’d mind if you spanked me.” She could hear noises around them, and she forced her eyes open. Lucius was navigating through a stream of traffic emanating from the great hall. Dinner must be over just now.  Her stomach growled.  “I didn’t get dinner, Lucius.”

 

“Stay awake and I’ll feed you whatever you like in the infirmary,” he murmured close to her temple.

 

The noise and commotion around them roused her from drowsiness for a few minutes.  “Ron has a wizarding venereal disease?”

 

Lucius shook his head and glanced around.  “Not here.”

 

She paid him no heed.  “At least, I think that’s what you said to Madam Pomfrey.  If I barely came into contact with him today and have to be quarantined, there’s a whole bunch of infected witches here at Hogwarts. Lisa Turpin, for one. And Ursula Penkridge. Oh, and the Patil twins — and those are just from this past week.  And he and Pansy have been cozy, too. Ugh.”

 

Lucius shushed her, and she quieted against his shoulder. At that moment, the Headmaster’s amplified voice filled the castle, directing all students back to the great hall until further notice.   Now they were walking against the flow of students, and their pace slowed considerably for a time.

 

“We don’t have a chaperone,” she commented as the crowd thinned. “You’re breaking the rules now.”

 

He narrowed his eyes in warning, but said, “In this instance, your safety and that of the other students takes preeminence.”

 

Eventually they reached their destination, and Lucius strode through the infirmary to the large bath at the end of the room. He set her gently on the edge of the tub and turned to the tap, testing the water until it was to his liking and then adding the contents of three large bottles. Satisfied, he raised a hand to her face and brushed it against the Containment charm. “Can you manage to bathe yourself, my love?”

 

Hermione made a noise that was very much like a whine. “No.”

 

Lucius sighed. “You’re not making this easy, pet. Very well.” Keeping his eyes on her face, he divested her of the oversized robes and helped her into the tub, where she sank like a small stone. The Containment charm dropped at a word from him, and the strongly medicated water began eating way harshly at any residue or impurity on her skin.

 

“I’m so hungry I might die, Lucius,” she warned, and then huffed when he smiled indulgently.

 

He summoned a Malfoy house elf, who was ridiculously eager to bring some dinner for ‘the Lady’. Within minutes, Hermione was inhaling bite-sized morsels of bread, fruit, and meat as fast as she could while Lucius scrubbed her from head to toe with an overly abrasive pumice stone. In fact, the water itself was abrasive, and when she complained bitterly, her wizard had the gall to laugh.

 

Hermione was completely devoid of fight. She’d been stripped of pride and power in the past hour or so, and now she was reduced to a pout and quivering lower lip. Lucius teased, “You wanted to talk with the Weasley boy, pet, and you wanted me to help you bathe. Now you must suffer the consequences.”

 

“But the consequences hurt! Oh, Lucius!” Her eyes welled up with tears yet again. “I’m so, so sorry to have disobeyed the courtship rules. I’ve been so stubborn, and prideful, and blind to the obvious! How can you ever forgive me?”

 

Lucius gave her a tired smirk. “Alas, my bespoken one is a Gryffindor. It won’t be the last time she vexes me with her maroon and gold faults.”

 

“Thank you for scrubbing me. I don’t think I could have managed myself.” Her head lolled against the edge of the tub and she was once again fighting sleep, despite the sting of the water and scrape of the pumice.

 

“Please, Hermione – do not remind me of what it is I’m doing right now. In my mind, I am mucking out the Thestral stables at the Manor.”

 

“Have you done that before?”

 

“Many times; it was one of the lesser punishments Abraxas gave me as a child.”

 

“Tell me about when you were a young boy.”

 

Lucius furrowed his brow, looking at a point over her shoulder as he roughly scraped the pumice against her inner thigh. She flinched but didn’t complain. It’s my own fault he’s doing this, and I’m sure he’s only scrubbing so hard because he’s imagining a filthy stable. He began, “I have always had a fondness for Thestrals . . .”

 

By the time he was finished, Hermione was quite sure no skin remained on her body and that Lucius had been a fascinating child. Finally he rose to his feet and left the large washroom, instructing her to rinse well and wrap in a towel. “I’ll find you a pair of pyjamas.”

 

He was back just as she was sitting down in a pathetic, shivering huddle on the edge of the tub. “Put these on and come out when you’re ready.” His eyes never strayed from hers, not even when he dried her hair with a practiced Drying charm.  His respect for her person and desire to wait to see her body sent a sharp stab of emotion through her chest cavity. Even my internal organs love him.  

 

She exited the washroom in the familiar, ugly pyjamas to find that the infirmary had been modified while she was busy. Lucius led her towards a far corner where privacy screens had been set up around a cot. Directing her to enter the space, he lifted a hand and began to raise Containment wards around her, sealing her into the little makeshift room.  He ordered kindly, “Sleep.”

 

“Must you leave, Lucius?” She sank down onto the cot and pulled the blankets up to her chin.

 

“I must scrub myself in that same horrid concoction, burn my clothes and don a pair of those awful pajamas, and then I’ll be in the isolation bay beside you. I give you my word that all will be told in the morning.”

 

“I’m sorry you have to do it yourself,” she murmured drowsily.  “When we’re married, I’ll wash you – and I won’t use a pumice stone.”

 

Lucius gave a throaty chuckle. It was the happiest noise she’d heard in hours. “I’ll hold you to that, pet.”

 

Hermione’s brain was much too tired to perform its usual bedtime routine of analyzing the events of the day. Her eyelids fell shut almost immediately, her breath evened out, and she fell into a deep sleep filled with strange dreams of weddings, Portkeys, and pustule-ridden dogs.

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