Continuing Tales

The Catfish

A Harry Potter Story
by Miss Dasti

Part 7 of 25

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When the green flames died down, Hermione was allowed a single glance around the room—driftwood furniture, sea tones, gray light beyond the windows—and then complete sensory overload, because Lucius Malfoy was kissing her.

She gasped. Her arms were out at her sides, fingers splayed bizarrely, like she'd touched an electric wire—and she may as well have: a shock of pure, wild energy ricocheted through every nerve ending in her body, rendering her as stiff and useless as a corpse seized in rigor mortis.

It wasn't like being kissed by anyone else. Later, Hermione would compare it to every other kiss she'd had in her life, and marvel at the impact that pure terror had on lust. Malfoy didn't headbutt her, like McLaggin. Nor was this a slobbery Krum snog. And thank God he didn't shove his tongue down her throat and try to explore her esophagus, like Ron too often had. No, this was a whole other league of liplock entirely.

Through the white noise in her brain, she thought of a scientist preparing a glass slide for viewing under a microscope: the way Lucius kissed was methodical, programmed to remove space, remove doubt. He slid his lips up against hers deliberately, determinedly, invading her entirely, inhaling as he did so, and the slide of his breath was nearly as erotic as the hot touch of his lips. He was firm and smooth and he yielded just-so and he tasted sinful, he tasted like Amortentia smelled. He moved in closer—he was everywhere, the heat of him was surrounding her—she registered that his lips were moving, parting hers, his sharp tongue flicking out and dipping for half a second into her mouth, stroking the sensitive inner flesh of her lower lip before sliding away, depriving her. One large hand was buried in her hair, holding her steady; his other was god knew where, she couldn't feel it, or perhaps he'd shoved it through her navel and was currently tying her up in knots from the inside out—

The hand in her hair dove suddenly to her flank, because he no longer needed to hold her head. No, she was doing a marvelous job of keeping their lips from drifting apart. Somehow, those were her hands on him, they'd moved without her knowing, one clinging to the nape of his neck, the other buried knuckle-deep in that delicious hair, Merlin it was like touching music—he was so close, so fucking close she was running a fever, she was clearly unwell and needed to lie down, her head was swimming, she no longer had control of Narcissa's rogue body—

And then he was gone. All of it, the passion, the feel of him: he was taking her pleasure and walking away with it across the room. In the absence of the wall of his body Hermione staggered and nearly fell. It took her a second to right herself; there was so much heat in her face that she knew she must be tomato-red. She could still taste him: spearmint and tea. An ache had sprung up inside her that hadn't been there during the Floo. Hadn't been there for a long time, in fact. It was acute.

"It's been some time since we've been here," he was saying, breezy as the seaside view beyond the room's arched windows. Hermione stared at him. He hadn't escaped their tryst entirely unscathed: a delicate, oh-so-smug smile was playing at his lips, which were perhaps a shade darker than before, and there was a blackness to his eyes that sent another round of shivers racing over Hermione's—Narcissa's—skin.

What had she been telling herself? That he was old? Right. He was old. Dirty old man. Oh, yes, and he was evil. He'd done some terrible things. Now, how to get him to do that thing with his tongue again…

"Do you remember? It was spring last time. And cold, Christ! We stayed indoors all week." She noted he was still clutching his cane. Ah, so that was why she'd only felt one hand on her… interesting, really, that he hadn't dropped it to snog her…

His guard was still up.

But Hermione felt oddly centered now, like his touch had burnt away her nerves. "No," she heard herself say; her voice sounded distant. "I don't remember that."

He turned to her, and eyebrow raised. "Oh?"

"No," she said, firmly. She gathered her skirts and stepped neatly after him, and then past him, over to the window, seating herself on the padded bench; the view was lovely, if terribly high. She could see why the place had been named Shorecliff.

He was watching her. She couldn't muster up any fear. Her synapses had been overfired and no longer worked. "No, I suppose you wouldn't remember," he said quietly, and oh yes, he was moving close again: she could hear the lithe footfalls on the hardwood. She pretended not to feel any sort of visceral reaction. "It was so long ago, after all."

She glanced at him, then back out the window. Silent. She knew anything she dared say could backfire; perhaps keeping quiet was her best route now.

Evidently so.

He leaned his cane against the wall and slid up behind her on the bench, his arm draping around her, the flat of his palm on her abdomen, the wide plane of his front tucked up against her back. He rested his chin on her shoulder and peered out at the view with her—the view she was no longer really seeing.

She tried so hard not to tremble, not to move at all.

She could feel him smile, tracing along the edge of Narcissa's lovely profile with those glinting eyes. "You should tell me about yourself," he murmured, low and throaty. God, his voice. It should be illegal. It was hazardous.

Hermione swallowed. "What do you mean?"

His smile morphed into a grin, and for a wild second as she saw the gleam of teeth in her peripherals she thought he might bite her. "You said you were a new woman," he purred. "Why don't you fill me in?"

"Why don't you fill me in?" she ground out; she could feel his throat on her bare shoulder, the weight of his jaw, his breath on her, the velveteen skin-on-skin. The contact was burning her alive. Bits and pieces of her mind kept insisting, in a fragmented chorus, that it was fear she was experiencing, and panic, and sometimes fear and panic manifested in strange ways, and she was just so, so terrified and sweet Merlin she needed to leave, now, to save her own sorry hide (which was still very present and mortal under the enchantment of the Polyjuice). The larger, more pragmatic part of her acknowledged that she was so ridiculously turned on she might've been a teenager again, like her hormones were out-of-control, and this explanation had far more weight to it, because a fearful person did not fervently wish that their object of terror would lean just a little closer…

She felt his lips press briefly to her ear. "Whatever are you talking about?"

"Tell me what you've been up to," she said. That was casual, right? That sounded casual. Not at all prying or accusatory or too high-pitched.

His quiet laughter sent a jolt right down to the pit of her stomach. "Business, as usual." His fingers pressed on her ribcage, slipping along the ridges of her corseted dress, up and down. "But I know how that bores you."

Hermione steeled herself. "Actually, with Draco now working at the apothecary, and my always having to visit him there, I've found myself becoming more interested."

He tilted his head; she knew he was looking at her, his eyebrows raised. "Oh really?" His voice dripped with disdainful surprise. "I was of the opinion that women generally detested the discussion of corporate matters."

Hermione felt a sudden pang of annoyance. "Well, it's true," she said, and before she could stop herself: "Just because I'm a woman does not mean I cannot be interested in business. There are plenty of women involved in business."

A dead silence met her words. He stopped petting her; he stopped moving altogether. Now that was terror—that flood of mind-warping adrenaline had a distinctive feel she couldn't confuse with anything else. She immediately wanted to shrink away from him, but with his arm locked around her like that, she knew she wouldn't get more than a few inches.

Then his hand started again—up and down, sensually. "I suppose," he said, a playful lilt to his voice (she allowed herself to breathe), "but I meant I would like to focus on other topics, perhaps more interesting ones that may further our… understanding of one another." He leaned in closer and started nuzzling at her neck, breathing in her scent; she felt a sudden, sharp nip of teeth at the same time as a sudden flick of fingertips across the peak of her breast, and she jumped a little, gasping. A rush of heat settled between her legs, and she couldn't deny it: she was so wet she knew her knickers would be ruined. If she'd been blushing before, it was nothing compared to now. Lucius chuckled.

"M—Lucius," she said, and felt immediately ashamed at just how breathy Narcissa's voice sounded. God, she was not supposed to be allowing this, let alone enjoying it! She pushed his hand away, tried to shrug out of his embrace. He let her go without a fuss, watching like a hawk as she settled on the other end of the window seat, but his smile was cruel, and his dark eyes told her just how unfinished he was with her. It made her blood run cold.

Then he said the very last thing she was expecting. "Let's talk politics. Where do you stand on Shacklebolt's reinstatement?"

She gawped at him for nearly five seconds before catching her own unladylike expression and smoothing it away. "You assume the discussion of business will bore me, and you think a better alternative is politics?"

"Very well," he said, unfazed, "Quidditch. Which team are you supporting?"

Now he's just fucking with me. "Lucius, really."

He looked at her slyly. "I rather thought you liked Quidditch."

Hermione raced through her memories and brought up the Quidditch World Cup, during which she distinctly remembered Narcissa Malfoy looking revolted, sitting just behind them in the top box. "You know very well I do not, Lucius."

They regarded each other; Hermione got the distinct impression he was still testing her, feeling her out. It made her heart jump like a frightened rabbit, but not in the same sort of frenzied way as before. No, she knew if she just kept her head on her shoulders, he'd have no reason to suspect. She could make it through this unharmed.

"You did not attend the Piotrowski concert last month, did you?" he asked.

Hermione perked up. Clements Piotrowski was a rather famous wizard composer, one Hermione was all too familiar with, if her vinyl collection had anything to say about it. He was the genus behind some of the most beautiful pieces she'd ever heard, and she made time to see him at least once a year. "Oh, yes," she said at once, "I adore him. Did you attend?"

His smile deepened. "I'm afraid I did not," he said. "I haven't been able to for some time. His concerts are always rather—intimate—and unfortunately I do not blend as well in the crowd as I used to." He glanced askance at her. "Such a small guests list… I'm surprised you didn't attract unsavory attention, being out in public again… after the War."

He was zeroing in again; she straightened under his gaze. "No one paid me any mind." She waved it away. "It was worth it."

"With whom did you attend?"

Hermione didn't immediately understand the question. "No one."

Lucius hummed, leaning back, casting his eyes out to sea again. "I imagine it was rather lonesome. I find it difficult to picture, you out on your own. Do you always attend concerts alone now, Narcissa?" His chin ticked up, and a touch of indolent disdain colored his voice. "I rather thought you'd… seek company for such outings."

Hermione felt a twinge of something; perhaps it was defensiveness, she really couldn't place it, but it compelled her to speak. "Well… not for Piotrowski. His music is enough."

"I quite agree." Lucius stood, and before Hermione could so much as blink he'd wandered over to the door. He paused at the jamb. "Lunch is in fifteen. I thought perhaps we'd take it on the porch or in the garden. You'll be staying in the master bedroom—you recall the master bedroom?" He levelled a truly wicked look on her. "I certainly do. I'll just go settle in, and allow you the same courtesy. Fifteen minutes." And then he was gone.

The master bedroom of Shorecliff wasn't nearly as large or opulent as the one in Malfoy Manor. Then again, Hermione had time to examine this one, and the one at the manor was nothing but a fleeting memory. Perhaps she'd oversold it.

When she was certain she was alone, Hermione took a swig of Polyjuice (hopefully the damn stuff didn't actually contain alcohol, what would that say about Narcissa?), and, assured of her anonymity, she dropped her bag on the ottoman at the foot of the large bed and gazed around. It was like sitting in a brown-and-teal tangle of driftwood. Really odd place for a honeymoon. It seemed more like the sort of place you'd go for a fishing trip. But then, Narcissa had surprised her so far, perhaps the woman had a particular liking for these sorts of things. Somehow, she doubted Lucius did.

She glanced up at the ornately carved headboard, the covered canopy, and blushed furiously when she realized that Draco may have very well been conceived here. Oh god was that a thought she didn't want to pursue. She darted into the washroom and splashed water on Narcissa's face, trying to wash away all the evil images. In the process she caught a glimpse of her stranger's reflection in the mirror—large, unbelievably blue eyes fringed in long Bambi lashes, ageless skin, golden hair. she looked like an airbrushed model, and Hermione couldn't even say it was all glamor charms: Polyjuice didn't transfer those. Narcissa was just naturally flawless.

It wouldn't do. In the private of the bathroom, Hermione admitted that she was going about this for unjustifiable reasons. It was wrong. Perhaps she could apparate. Her wand was up her sleeve, she could try apparating back into the bedroom, just to test it out. But when Hermione spun on the spot and attempted to will herself into nothing, all she achieved was a bumbling pirouette that had her tangled in the shower curtain, slipping on a bar of soap and crashing into the tub like a drunk teenager at a house party.

Oh. Oh, shit. She winced. Well, so much for that. She was stuck here. And—oh shit, was that the door? Hermione had just registered the knock before Francis, accompanied by an even tinier house-elf, came trotting in. The both of them stopped abruptly when they noticed her crumpled in the tub.

"Madam!" Francis gasped, hurrying over and helping her out (he was surprisingly strong for his size). The littler elf stood back a bit, looking at a loss for what to do. Like Francis', this elf was wearing a silk pillowcase embroidered with the Malfoy crest, only this one was done in teal and brown, to match the house. When eventually the elf spoke, the voice was undoubtedly feminine, but not nearly as squeaky as she ought to have been. "Is the Madam faint? Shall we draw a bath?"

"Oh, no, thank you," Hermione said, and she couldn't help but smile. Did every elf react to an adverse situation by drawing a bath? Their first-aid skills were seriously lacking.

"Mrs. Malfoy, the master has requested that Harriot and I lead you to the gazebo, since he assumed you'd look for him on the veranda," Francis was saying. He was still watching her with the utmost concern, as if frightened she might collapse again. "Are you quite sure you're all right, Madam?"

"I'm fine," Hermione said firmly. "Why did he send the both of you?"

They hesitated. "The master was—he thought perhaps you'd want me to fix your hair," said Harriot, looking extremely nervous.

Hermione burst out laughing. "Oh did he?" She rolled her eyes, and looked at herself in the mirror. Narcissa's hair was indeed mussed from their—from that—thing that happened. But to actually send a house-elf to fix it?

Shallow, misogynic bastard.

Hermione didn't feel nearly as nervous around the house-elves as she had around Lucius; after accepting Harriot's offer and settling herself at the vanity, she turned her attention on Francis.

"Remind me—I forget—who prescribed you those glasses?"

For a moment Francis went a bit cross-eyed as he focused on his spectacles. "Oh, these? It was the master who gave me these." He looked suddenly quite subdued.

Hermione raised her eyebrows. Hmm, intrigue. "Lucius, you mean? He gave you those?"

Francis settled himself on an ottoman and fiddled with the edge of his pillowcase. "The master sent me with a note and the proper funds to an optometrist in Diagon. When the doctor owled them a week later, he gave them to me. This was shortly after the Ministry passed the Elven Liberation Act."

A rather dark note had crept into the elf's voice, but Hermione was not deterred. "But that means you're a free elf, doesn't it? Don't glasses count as clothes?" She looked at his pillowcase. "Why are you still dressed as a slave? You're welcome to wear whatever you want now!"

Hermione could tell Francis was itching to leave, to avoid the confrontational situation, but—having worked with elves so often before—she knew what to do. "Please tell me, Franics. It's important to communicate."

Eventually Francis caved. "When that awful house-elf liberation group passed the law requiring the freeing of elves, the master asked which article I wanted. I was ashamed—I had always been a good elf, I'd always put my duty first, but the master is very mindful of the law, and—well—I had always had difficulty seeing, and since it was mandatory"—he half-glanced at Harriot, who, now that Hermione noticed, was wearing a little pair of ballet flats—"I opted for these. But I didn't want to leave Mr. Malfoy, or the manor."

"Nor I," said Harriot in a low voice. "That awful SEX group can make us take clothes, but it still cannot tell us where to work."

Hermione frowned at her. "So you both oppose the Elven Liberation Act?"

They swallowed visibly and exchanged a frightened look; Hermione immediately backed off. "Never mind, it's unimportant," she said, trying to appear aloof again. But she really couldn't help herself. "You two sound different than other elves. You speak differently."

"The master wanted change after the Act," Harriot said quietly, starting to comb through the golden hair. "He wanted to be sure us elves followed the Act to the tee; there were horrid people checking on us, you see. Fergus was the first to adopt the human methods of speech and to take a free name"—she sighed—"but luckily the master was pleased, he said it made us more personable too, so the rest of us followed."


The elves gave her an odd look. Harriot answered, though she sounded very bewildered. "The master's personal elf. Fergus manages the upkeep of all of the properties and he directs all of the Malfoy elves. If the master needs his elves to work in synchronization on a large project, it's Fergus he collaborates with. He's been in the family for generations."

Feeling she was treading on dangerous ground—since Francis was looking at her with some concern, as if maybe she'd suffered brain damage—Hermione decided to shut her face. In absolutely no time at all, her hair was done to perfection, and she was being led back through the house to the garden.

It wasn't quite as sumptuous as the one surrounding the manor, since not so many plants would grow in sand, but whoever the gardener was (and Hermione had a suspicion it was Harriot) they were a genius. The elves led her along a stone path to a spot dangerously close to the cliff, where a gazebo stood facing the shoreline; they bowed away at the steps, and after a deep breath, Hermione threw herself again into the lion's den.

Lucius had shucked his outer robes and undone the topmost button on his shirt; he'd also given free rein to his hair, which eddied around his face like threaded platinum. He stood when she arrived, holding out her chair—why did he have to be such a gentleman, the bastard?—and without his robes Hermione could see the outline of his body, the impressive length of his strong legs, the hard span of his shoulders… She immediately looked away, focusing on seating herself. He pushed her chair in and sat himself across from her. Damn those eyes to hell.

They were silent for a time, eating. Hermione was momentarily thwarted by all the fucking cutlery, it was supposed to be lunch for Christ's sake, she normally ate it with her hands—then Lucius spoke. "I apologize for earlier. I should not have spoken down to you."

Hermione's hands stuttered and she nearly injured herself with the crab fork. She cleared her throat. "That's all right. I mean—I forgive you."

"I should be able to speak freely with you about whatever topic you desire. I understand Draco's work at the apothecary has piqued your interest; I imagine he hasn't been talking it up, but it's not my place to decide what you may or may not take interest in." He took a bite from his scone and chewed thoughtfully. "As you know, my work has always been a complicated affair. You met my associate earlier—"

"Yes, who was he?"

Lucius smiled. "I don't know his name. He goes by Ink."

Hermione scribbled furiously at her mental notes. "And what is it you do?"

"I am a distributor."


Lucius chuckled. "Drugs, Narcissa. Illegal potions, substances and items. Dragon eggs and Doxie Dust seem to be all the rage now, but difficult-to-come-by potions have always been our best sellers."

Hermione's heart paused, considered, then kept beating. She'd always known he was an evil bastard: here was more proof. Not something she could use in court, but at least it was confirmed that Belby was onto something.

Why, then, did she feel her stomach plummeting like that?

"I see."

He tilted his head at her. "You look upset."

"Well, I didn't expect my husband to still be involved in the same sort of activities that destroyed our family." The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them. Hermione wanted to slap herself; for a second the idea of being in Narcissa's position was so real that Hermione actually felt a pang of hurt, as if it were actually her own husband running around conducting criminal enterprises behind her back. She blushed scarlet.

Lucius merely raised an eyebrow. "I didn't destroy my family."

Oh god, more uncharted territory. She needed to be nonchalant. Hermione did a good job of rolling her eyes. "I tire of the logistics."

Malfoy threw back his head and laughed, then—a deep, candid laugh, so unexpected that Hermione jumped a little. He really was magnificent when he laughed… "You may not be so quick to judge if you had ever attended a board meeting." He smirked. "Would you like to? There's one next week. You would be allowed to attend as my guest."

Hermione all but salivated. "Oh, yes."

He stood. "Very well, that matter is settled. Come—the wind's picking up. Let's go inside." He looked at her slyly as he helped her from her chair, then suddenly yanked her in, drawing her fully against his body and pressing his lips again to hers. This time was no less dizzying than the first, only now she became aware of something foreign against her abdomen. Merlin, was that—? Was he—?

But Lucius drew back before she could lose her head; twining his fingers with hers, he led her determinedly back through the garden. "The elves have been positively frothing to draw a bath… Join me."

The Catfish

A Harry Potter Story
by Miss Dasti

Part 7 of 25

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