Chapter Fifty: Wednesday 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: Brightki and CoquetteKitten.

 

The library spanned the entire height of the tall house, and it was topped by an immense dome of glass. Floors upon floors of bookshelves, accessible by several spiral staircases along its outer edges, beckoned to her invitingly, and the books themselves had already begun whispering her name. Hermione squirmed out of Draco’s arms, staggering as she spun slowly to take it all in. The enormity of the room was overwhelming.

 

“I want to live here,” she said faintly.

 

Lucius chuckled. “You do, pet.” He continued walking toward the seating area in the middle of the room, where a tea tray had been set on a low table.

 

The rest of the group followed him. Hermione felt the need to clarify her previous statement, adding, “No, I mean I want to live here – eat, sleep, everything. I never want to leave.”

 

Fleur made a disapproving sound. “We are not sleeping in here. Ugh.”

 

Hermione glared at her. “I thought we’d already established that you’re not the boss of me. This is a large room – go find your own part of it, you crabby witch.”

 

Draco intervened. “We can spend the rest of the day in here if you like.”

 

Fleur huffed, obviously displeased with the conversation. “Where is the coffee?” She flounced a few steps toward where Lucius was alternately pouring several cups of tea and watching Hermione with an indulgent smile on his handsome face.

 

The curly-haired witch ignored the chaperone’s histrionics, replying to Draco instead. “Good answer.” She moved away toward the closest shelves of books and parchments. “I’ll just be . . .”

 

“Don’t you want your tea, pet?” Lucius’ voice carried across the wide space to her retreating form.

 

She glanced back at him over her shoulder apologetically. “I need to touch books more than anything else at the moment.” Hermione was relieved to see the understanding twinkle in his pale blue eyes.

 

“I’ll show her around,” she heard Draco say, and a moment later he was at her side. “Come on, all the Arithmancy is shelved on this floor. I’ve been looking forward to showing it to you for a long time.” He guided her along several long aisles, his hand on the small of her back, to a large section of bookcases surrounding another, somewhat smaller, seating area. Draco swept his hand around in a dramatic motion. “Here you go – the Malfoy Arithmancy collection.”

 

There were hundreds of large, heavy-looking tomes on the shelves, and hundreds more rolls of vellum stored neatly in cubbyholes above her head. To her right was an entire bookcase that seemed to be dedicated to Arithmancy periodicals. The sound of Draco’s voice fell away as Hermione began scanning titles. Everything was clean and tidy, and she soon realized the entire place was organized by a very complex system. She turned to her younger wizard, who was following her closely. “Who takes care of this place? It’s so organized and . . . Oh, wait – is that . . .” she trailed off, distracted by yet another wonder.

 

Draco reached around her to straighten a large tome that sat marginally out of place. He answered, “It falls under Bowly’s jurisdiction. I’m sure he’s here somewhere . . . Bowly!”

 

At the Summons, a rather tall, serious-looking house elf Apparated at the wizard’s side and bowed deferentially. “Bowly serves the young Master with pleasure.” In contrast to Trinket’s caffeinated deportment, this male elf was quite subdued. Like the housekeeper, he was clothed rather more than other elves Hermione had seen in the past.

 

“I would like to introduce you to the Lady Hermione, Bowly. She is a fellow bibliophile.” Draco had placed a hand around Hermione’s waist in a gesture that struck her as both proud and possessive. He’s proud to introduce me as his future wife. The thought split in two directions – that Draco truly loved the part of her that had driven most people to distraction over the years, and that this house elf held the same status as Trinket did in terms of her wizards’ respect.

 

Bowly bowed deeply to her. “Bowly serves the Lady with pride.” He looked between the two humans as if seeking the reason for his Summons. Meanwhile, Hermione and Draco had become lost in each other’s gaze, and their bodies had turned toward each other until they were wrapped in each other’s arms. They were startled by the sound of the elf clearing his throat. “If there is nothing else, young Master . . .”

 

Draco gave an embarrassed smile but didn’t relinquish his hold on her. “Nothing else for now, Bowly. Thank you.” She didn’t even hear the familiar crack of the house elf Disapparating, because Draco had leaned down and was kissing her. His mouth brushed against hers reverently, and he held her in his arms as though she were exceedingly fragile. Eventually they both needed to breathe, and he pulled away the tiniest bit. Against the corner of her mouth he whispered, “I can’t believe you’re finally here. Hermione! You’re here.” His fingers ghosted along her spine.

 

The young witch looked up at him. His expression was one of ecstatic disbelief, and her heart was instantly overflowing with tenderness. She drew his mouth down to hers for another sweet kiss. “Oh, my Draco — I’m here.” Against his lips she repeated in a whisper, “I’m right here.”

 

Draco kissed her again, backing her into the nearest bookcase and setting her on a shelf of convenient height in the process. The feel of the books and the next shelf above pressing into her back sent a spike of desire shooting through her body, and she spread her legs to wrap them around his waist. All-powerful Circe, I want to have sex with Draco in the library. Her wizard seemed to be having similar thoughts, because the clutch of his hands on her backside was no longer gentle. He can be turned on in less than ten seconds. I wonder if that’s typical for a male of his age, or if he really is superior in every single way. She was jarred from her thoughts by the feel of his lips moving along her jaw to her ear.

 

“I’m going to seduce you in here,” he breathed, hands moving to slide along her thighs.

 

The pleasant throb of want, which Lucius had stirred up in the rose garden, began pulsing in her gut. Hermione kissed his jaw, nibbling it with her lips and teeth in a teasing manner. “I thought that’s what you were doing right now.” She slid her hands through his soft hair and tugged lightly.

 

Draco wrapped his large hand around her upper legs and dragged her to the very edge of the shelf. Then he was pressing his hips to hers until she could feel his erection pinned between their bodies. Her grip on his hair tightened in anticipation as her body remembered the way they’d moved against each other the day before in the school courtyard, and she willed him to do the same now. Even through the multiple layers of their clothing, the pressure of his hard flesh against her mound was going to drive her mad. Don’t tease. “I mean that I’m going to have you here, in the Arithmancy section, Hermione. On that couch.” He moved his mouth along her neck to her shoulder, where he pushed the strap of her sundress to the side and ran his lips on the skin there. “I’ve been dreaming of it for years.”

 

“Oh, Draco . . .” An image, brought to life by his words, sprang to her mind of the two of them lying in a passionate embrace on said couch, surrounded by texts and treatises on her favorite subject. She gasped, pulling him as close to her as humanly possible. “Yes, please.” And start moving.

 

He sighed into the base of her neck. “We need to stop.” His voice had that deep, rough quality that always accompanied his arousal. “I can feel Lucius giving me the evil eye from here. We’d better go join him for the tea he ordered.”

 

Hermione gave a faint moue of protest, but allowed him to step away from her. That’s exactly what I did to Lucius earlier. I’m an awful, awful fiancée! She slid off the shelf, turning to make sure the books were put back to rights, and then smoother her hair and dress without further complaint. She inwardly grimaced as she remembered her knickerless state, feeling decidedly damp at the apex of her legs. A trip to the loo would nice right about now. I have GOT to stop giving away my undergarments. Draco was standing slightly hunched, with his hands shoved deeply into the pockets of his outer robes, and he gave her a lopsided smirk. “I need to think about off-putting things for a minute or two — perhaps we could take the long route?”

 

The young witch nodded in chagrin and clasped her hands around one of his. “Sounds like an excellent idea.” She tried to think of something other than the throbbing ache between her legs. “Tell me what else is shelved on the ground floor.”

 

Their walk took them around the perimeter of the room, and although the pace was somewhat leisurely Hermione felt rushed. She catalogued five other sections along the outer walls much like the one for Arithmancy, and each one had its own reading area. Draco offered to give her a thorough tour later that afternoon, although he pouted when she made him promise that it would be devoid of such distractions as his clever hands and beautiful mouth.

 

When they had circled back to their starting point in the Arithmancy section she finally allowed him to drag her toward the center of the library, where Lucius lounged in the corner of a comfortable-looking leather couch. He sat with his long legs crossed, cup balanced on one knee as he read the Daily Prophet. Far across the seating area, on a facing couch, Fleur slumped dramatically as she sipped her coffee with closed eyes. The elder Malfoy looked over the top of his paper as Hermione approached. “How do you find the Malfoy library, my prize?”

 

She sank onto the couch next to him, curling his outstretched arm around her shoulder and pulling Draco down beside her. Her eyes were once again drawn to the unimaginable wealth of reading and research material surrounding her. And this is only the ground floor of it. “It makes me feel rather faint, but in the best of possible ways. How do you manage to leave it, ever?”

 

“It helps to remind yourself it will be waiting for your return.” The younger wizard had stretched out along the long couch, laying his head on her thigh, and now she ran her fingers through his soft, platinum locks. Draco smiled up at her blissfully. “When I was younger, I made forts out of these couch cushions and Lucius would crawl inside to read to me.”

 

Lucius kissed the top of her head and stroked his hand down her arm. When he reached her elbow, he gave Draco a light jab in the shoulder. “Yes, you began coming here on your own as soon as you could navigate the house. If I hadn’t forced you to spend part of every day outside, you would have been the palest, sickliest of bookworms.”

 

Their banter continued on for a while, and eventually Hermione tuned out the actual words in pursuit of her own thoughts. They were once again filled with images and snippets of the fairy tales her mother had told her long ago. I’m the princess in this story. She nestled down against Lucius’ shoulder, feeling the solid weight of Draco’s head on her thigh. Her fingers were tracing the beautiful lines of his face. These are the princes, handsome and virtuous. The young witch looked up at the elder Malfoy, who was in turn watching her with a soft light in his eyes. They fought a war in pursuit of my hand, guided by an ancient magic. Her gaze was pulled back to the overwhelming treasure surrounding them. And this is my castle. It was better than any story she’d ever read, and it was all true.

 

The quiet clink of porcelain released her from her reverie. Lucius had set down his cup and paper and was raising his free hand to her chin, holding it gently while he bent to kiss her briefly. His hand dropped to her shoulder, thumb rubbing against her collarbone, as he broke the kiss. She was about to protest when he said, “It’s nearly eight o’clock. Now would be a good time to talk about tonight.”

 

Draco remained where he was and closed his eyes when Hermione began running her fingers through his hair once again. He spoke in a lazy voice. “I vote to hold the ritual as soon as you get home. What time do you anticipate finishing in Paris?”

 

Hermione glanced at Lucius again and saw that he was gazing at her intently. “I will do everything I can to be home well before dinner. Do you have any questions, pet?”

 

She smirked, raising one eyebrow in mock disbelief. “You’re kidding, right? I don’t even know where to begin. Just . . . start somewhere. I’ll interrupt where necessary.”

 

Lucius smiled in return. “You’ll pick the rune this afternoon with Draco, and tonight Fleur will escort you to the place of the ceremony.”

 

“Where is that?”

 

“Here in the library.” He leaned down to press a kiss to her temple. “There is a place on the third floor, in the ancient Runes section, that has been prepared. It seemed fitting, and the lighting will be particularly good.”

 

Hermione leaned into his touch. “What needed to be done to it? When did you do it?”

 

Lucius’ hand moved to play with her curls. “The floor has been marked much as it was for our binding ceremony, and I have set the traditional wards and charms in place already. Mademoiselle Delacour’s position is delineated as well. I did all that this past weekend.”

 

“What do you mean, ‘delineated’?”

 

He seemed to be considering his words. “Great latitude is given during this ceremony, and, to a certain extent, afterward. Our chaperone can do little to stop anything except the grossest breach of our courtship rules. In fact, she will be unable to see or hear much of the ceremony. Do you understand what this means, my lovely one?”

 

I think I do. She looked up at him, biting her lip to contain at least part of her self-conscious yet delighted smile. “We’re going to have lots of fun tonight?” As soon as the light comment had left her mouth, it occurred to her that this was the first time she’d had such a conversation in the presence of both her wizards, and a hot blush burned across her face at the thought. A glance at Draco, still closed-eyed on her lap, showed that he was deeply flushed, too. Hermione peeked up at Lucius out of the corner of her eye. He was grinning at her in amusement, and as usual his confidence put her at ease. For Circe’s sake – I’m marrying them the day after tomorrow. How can I still be embarrassed? The young witch resumed her ministrations to Draco’s pale hair and queried, “Well, are we?”

 

“Indeed,” chuckled Lucius. He continued, “And because of this, the wards and charms I set will help us follow the rules.”

 

Merciful Merlin – you mean to say that the consequence of breaking one is going to be a lot bigger than a shock!” Hermione finally comprehended his vague wording.

 

It was Draco’s turn to laugh, and he treated the young witch to a soft, husky one that threatened to turn her to a pile of goo. “I for one will be on my very best behavior tonight. We can go see the spot later, if you like.”

 

So I’ll pick the rune, and Fleur won’t be watching. So far, nothing to worry about, other than the fact that all three of us . . . she couldn’t finish that thought even in the privacy of her mind at the moment without turning a vibrant shade of vermillion. “What else should I know?”

 

Just then Trinket Apparated beside them. Even her Apparations are energetic-sounding. “The guests have arrived, Lady and Masters! Trinket has seated them in the Morning Room, and breakfast is waiting to be served!” She bobbed an ecstatic curtsy, smiling in excitement.

 

Just like that, her semi-private moment with her wizards was done, and Hermione flopped back against the couch in protest. Fleur came over immediately and hovered nearby, her pre-caffeine funk replaced by her usual bossiness. “You have visitors waiting – it’s rude to make them wait, Hermione!”

 

Hermione growled halfheartedly. “I’m not five, Fleur! And I happen to know that they’ll be just fine on their own for a few minutes.”

 

Draco sighed and raised himself gracefully from Hermione’s lap. Lucius chuckled and helped her to her feet. “If you don’t mind, we’ll walk with you.”

 

Fleur intercepted Draco’s attempt to hold Hermione’s hand by nearly dragging the curly-haired witch away from him. “Oh, no – you two have spent enough time together this morning. I’ve been more than generous.”

 

The young witch narrowed her eyes in a warning look, but just then her stomach rumbled loudly. She was very much tempted to stomp her foot and yell, but managed to refrain from such childish behavior at the last second.   Instead she ground out between gritted teeth, “As much as I’m loath to pander to your demands, you troll, I’m ravenous. Let’s go.”

 

Fleur looked at her with a brief flash of humor. “When I have had more coffee, Hermione, I will find that amusing.”

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