Continuing Tales

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 12 of 27

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Hermione had begun to lose track of days, and as she awoke she forced her mind to reacquaint itself with a semblance of normality. Lucius was still sleeping beside her on his front, his arms drawn up onto the pillows. In sleep, he regained the innocence of childhood. For those moments, she could forget all he had been. It made it easier to accept the path she now found herself treading.

She leaned down and lightly kissed his shoulder, then raised herself from the bed. He groaned, vaguely aware in the dull fog of awakening that she had got up. Hermione crossed to the window and opened the curtains a little. White light flooded the room. He groaned ever louder. She frowned an admonishing smile in his direction but redrew the curtains a little to shield him from the glare of the morning light.

Poking her head through the curtains, she gazed out over the lawns. There was a heavy frost. It was a cold, crisp day, and the grounds sparkled with the sheer glassy icing which covered them.

It was too beautiful.

Ignoring his protestations, she drew the curtains fully back to allow the day to enter their bedroom.

Lucius moaned and rolled onto his back, flinging his arm over his eyes to shield them.

"You should still be here in my bed. What are you doing?" He tried to muster a disapproving tone, but knew he was failing.

"It's called light. Not something you're used to."

"Now now," he chided, a slight smirk gracing his features.

She was filled with a sudden rush of delight and jumped over onto the bed, leaning over him. "Come on, you. Enough lounging in bed! Up!"

Lucius reached down and flung the bedclothes off him, revealing his cock rigid and erect. "Will that do?"

Hermione collapsed with laughter, her head falling across his stomach. Lucius propped himself up and grabbed her, tossing her down the bed and leaning in to smother her with kisses. Hermione's mood quickly changed from exultant mirth to urgent need.

She arched her body up into him, moaning with unconcealed desire, "Please ... please, Lucius ..."

His need was as great as hers, and he quickly moved between her legs and pushed up into her warm dampness. Not taking their eyes from each other, their bodies locked together, they soon brought each other the first pleasure of the day.

"Shall we go down for some breakfast?" Lucius asked softly afterwards.

A sudden thought occurred to her. There was a significant member of the household who had no idea of what had transpired between them.

She tensed. "Do you think we should?"

"Yes." He was unequivocal and surprised by her uncertainty.

"But ... Grimble."

Lucius pouted. "The circumstances will certainly provide him with something to occupy his stagnant mind."

"He'll hate it."

"Most likely."

"Doesn't that worry you?"

"He's my house-elf. Why should it?"

Hermione exhaled a sigh. Her lover's manner should have come as no surprise to her, but her own sense of ethics didn't permit her to ignore it. Still, she did her best to reconcile her mind to it. Grimble was a salaried employee. In any household, it would not be his position to question the behaviour of his employer.

"Alright. Come on then," she smirked at him. "I'm starving!"

With that, she leapt from the bed and flung on only a robe. Lucius followed her, dressing with rather more languid leisure than her.

They descended to the kitchen, talking and laughing animatedly. The house-elf was standing there, the usual sneer of disdain on his face. She moved away from Lucius and pulled her robe tightly shut. But almost immediately, strong arms encircled her and pulled her around for a burning kiss. She couldn't help but return it.

When they parted, she glanced over at Grimble with a look of apologetic resignation. He looked as if he had just sat on a mandrake.

"Morning, Grimble," she said as normally and gently as she could. He didn't move, simply continued staring across at the two of them, his face twisted with repulsed disbelief.

"Grimble - bacon, eggs, sausages - everything - Miss Granger and I have built up quite an appetite."

Hermione wanted the ground to open up and swallow her. She glared at Lucius, who raised his eyebrows to her in mock querying ignorance.

Still, the house-elf didn't move. "Grimble! Food - now!" His master was clearly irritated.

At last, the diminutive creature shook himself from his stupor and moved reluctantly to the stove. Hermione heard the expected mutterings under his breath. She strained to hear the words. "Disgrace", "Disgust" and "Against the laws of nature" seemed to feature among the words and phrases pouring from his mouth. His attitude at last helped to kick in her own annoyance with him, and she settled down at the table. He really was a disagreeable little fellow.

When her food arrived, Hermione found herself studying it intently, wondering briefly if it had been poisoned. She glanced at Lucius, who seemed to read her mind and smiled reassuringly at her. With less relish than her hunger dictated, she placed the first mouthful between her lips. She survived.

The atmosphere was lifted when Grimble had tidied up and shuffled in his usual sagging way out of the room.

Hermione let out a huge sigh. "Thank God he's gone. Bloody hell!"

Lucius smiled at her reaction. "Don't let it worry you."

"I suppose I shouldn't. Anyway, he goes with the house. Fits into the general atmosphere."

Lucius didn't respond. Hermione was aware she had voiced a criticism of his house again. But instead of retreating from it, she used the opportunity to say what she thought.

"Why don't you take down some of the boards on the windows?"

He didn't say anything.

She took another mouthful of food. Seconds ticked away.

"Very well."

Hermione's head shot up, astonished. She wasn't entirely sure the words had come from him. He was staring at her steadily, and his mouth formed into a warm smirk as he read the amazement on her face. She didn't speak but beamed at him in return.

They finished their breakfast in contented peace, occasionally reaching across, touching, caressing a palm or wrist.

Afterwards, as they made their way upstairs, Lucius paused on the landing, and raising his wand above him, the boards which had covered the vast window at the top of the staircase descended, then vanished completely. Hermione was blinded by the light which poured relentlessly in, unleashed at last to enter a place it had been so desperate to explore for so long.

She turned and looked down into the vast space below her. She hardly recognised the house. She had not realised how beautiful, how elegant it was. Ornate carvings and rich colours revealed themselves. She gasped in awe and delight.

"Hm," Lucius declared, clearly satisfied with his actions. Hermione looked at him. He displayed no remorse, no hesitation whatsoever.

She came across and kissed him. "Good."

He smiled in concurrence against her lips. "Good."

She stared into him warmly. "What do you want to do today?"

He shrugged; he hadn't considered it. "As long as I am with you, I have no wish to do anything in particular. Well ... there are one or two things ..."

She giggled and kissed him again. "We can't spend our whole lives in bed!" He pouted but glanced out of the window. "I suppose a walk would be in order."

"Good idea. Come on then, togs on!" She laughed and ran ahead of him to get dressed. Lucius watched her gazelle-like undulations as she pranced ahead of him up the corridor. After committing the sight to his memory, he followed her.

It was a freezing day. They stood about to go out, wrapped in the thickest winter clothing. Hermione reached up and adjusted his scarf around his neck, nestling it into the dip below his Adam's apple. "There. All set."

"What did I do to deserve you?"

She looked at him. Her mind couldn't find an answer at that moment. Not that it bothered her. She had no doubt that this was right. She replied with a kiss. He was content enough.

They set out, the chill biting air healing and cleansing as it swept like a shaft of ice into their lungs. Hermione linked her arm into his, and he reached a gloved hand over to hold it there. She leaned into him as her feet carried her in unison with his over the hard shining ground.

They walked through his extensive estate. Lucius occasionally stopped, pointing out a particular feature, a tree which had been brought back from some exotic location - the only one of its kind in the country. He became increasingly animated as they went. She had never seen him so energised, so effusive. She couldn't help planting kisses over him, which he would return passionately, delighting in her sweet breath floating up to him in soft moist clouds.

They walked deep into the heart of his estate. Hermione wondered how far it extended. They passed lakes, woods, various vegetable allotments - there were carefully landscaped spaces, others which had been left to grow deliberately wild. All fitted well, despite the need for some intense maintenance. Lucius kept assuring it would be done at the first sign of spring.

At length they came to a forest predominantly consisting of pine trees. The trees rose up, their dark green lustre sensual and vivid against the frozen chrome of the sky. Lucius paused and turned to look down at her.

"Go on then," he insisted. She frowned in confusion. He continued. "Which one do you want?"

Realisation dawned. He wanted her to choose a Christmas tree.

She turned her face to him, glowing with ruddy happiness in the frosty air, and beamed.

Lucius smiled back. Once again, he knew he was happy. He hadn't stopped to question his actions. Now he knew there was no need. He did not care who judged him. They didn't care for him; why should he care for them?

Hermione cared.

She was smiling up at him now, her face so open and accepting. Never in his memory had anyone been like that with him. It reminded him of something. He frowned to remember what - he couldn't.

Hermione reached up, her eyes wet with tears. "Lucius ..." Her mouth was open to continue, but the words formed in her mind, not on her lips.

I think I am in love with you.

She reached up and kissed him tenderly.

They couldn't part for some time, all cold vanishing from around them as they kissed, a closed, tender kiss of complete acceptance.

His mouth eventually moved to her ear. "I want to be inside you."

She laughed. "Not here! You know what the cold does to ... certain parts of the anatomy. I want you as large and magnificent as ever!"

He raised a cynical, disappointed eyebrow. Hermione knew that with their combined magic they could easily create a warmth of sorts, but she thought it wise to play a little hard to get at least. She couldn't indulge his every whim, after all. Keep 'em keen, she smirked to herself. He could at least wait until they were inside. Besides, they had a tree to choose.

She tore herself away from him. His hand fell limply as she slipped from his grasp. Hermione laughed and ran among the trees, assessing each one with over-zealous pickiness.

"Too wide."

"Too thin."

"Too pale."

"Too tall."

"Too sparse."

"Too dense."

She finally stopped, gazing up at a tree looming above her. It must have been about 13 feet tall. She approached it and placed her hand on the trunk. Then, suddenly serious, she turned to him with a sincere smile. "This one."

He approached. "Very well." He looked up at the tree; its dark green branches seeming to reach out to them. He too placed his hand on the trunk. His eyes closed briefly. After a deep sigh, he turned back to her. "I agree. We'll take this one but I'll ensure we' be able to replant it later. It shan't die."

Hermione smiled, surprised by his unexpected empathy with nature. She hugged him tight. "How are we going to get it back to the house? It'll be virtually impossible."

He smirked and produced his wand. "Oh ye of little faith."

With a flick, the mighty tree tore itself slowly from the ground, roots still intact, and rose into the air. Hermione watched the sight before her with incredulity. It must be taking all Lucius' strength to achieve.

The enormous tree rose through the air, moving onto its side. Lucius guided it with his wand. His face looked strained, but apart from that he remained the same smooth operator.

"Come," he strode ahead, quickly moving back to the house. Hermione hurried after. They mustn't take too long over it. They had come at least two miles.

By the time they reached the house, it was clear Lucius was tiring but he didn't stop until he had guided the vast pine into the hallway of his home. It came to rest, planting itself in a huge pot already in place. The tree filled the space of the hallway perfectly, rising up beside the staircase and transforming the once gloomy space with a fertile and verdant majesty.

Hermione stepped back, her mouth open in delight as she stared up at it. "There! What did I say? Perfect!"

"You are right. But it is only now I would dare to admit it."

She spun to him with a broad grin. He was slumped against the wall, his head drooping. The effort required to transport the tree back had clearly exhausted him more than she realised. She crossed to him swiftly.

"You must go and rest. Can I bring you something?"

"Only you."

"You can't think about sex now! You need to sleep!"

He frowned. "That's twice you have denied me. I'm beginning to think you don't want me anymore."

She grinned, leaning into him, running her hand up the inside of his thigh and resting it gently around the heavy fullness she felt between his legs. The object she cupped so gently immediately stirred under her touch. "If you go and have a rest, I promise I'll come up in a while and prove to you that that is so very, very much ... not the case." She reached up to his ear and breathed gently into it before letting her tongue flit out and quest briefly into the tender space.

He moaned softly but she could tell his energy had been sapped profoundly.

"Go on. Sleep. I have plenty to keep me occupied." She turned to the tree. "I don't suppose you have any decorations do you?"

He looked back at her with cynical disdain. "No."

"Thought as much. Scrooge." She grinned teasingly. He smirked back before finally ascending the staircase.

Hermione took several steps back, slightly overwhelmed by the magnificence of the enormous tree before her. As much as she loved taking the time to decorate trees the Muggle way, this one would definitely require considerable magic. She didn't suppose Grimble would be too keen on the idea of helping.

She took a deep breath and withdrew her wand.

"Illuminari candelarii!"

The tree shuddered and shimmered, and then hundreds of white candles placed themselves on the branches, lit and glowing. Already the tree seemed to relish its first decoration. Its branches visibly shone in the candlelight.

Hermione flicked her wand again. "Decorationi assortimenta!" A large box appeared next to her. She opened it, smiling as she saw its contents. It was full of tinsel, baubles, hanging stars, and strings of shining balls and beads.

Hermione had not felt so at peace for some time. She was filled with the same sense of well-being and security that she had had during Christmases at home as a child. How strange that she should recapture those emotions here of all places. It further convinced her that what she had done was right.

There was just one thing to complete the atmosphere. Hermione hadn't been to church for as long as she could remember, but some things made Christmas. With a wave of her wand, the air was filled with the sound of a choir singing Christmas carols. She began to sing along. "The angel Gabriel from heaven came ... his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame ..."

Angel ...

She smiled to herself and began hanging a strand of tinsel on the tree. She continued decorating by hand for nearly an hour, but when, in that time, she had still only managed about one tenth, she resorted to magic.

With a sigh of resignation and exhaustion, she raised her wand and incanted, "Embellitioni completo!"

At once, the tree shimmered and sparkled as tinsel and baubles shone from every branch. With another flick of her wand, a thousand tiny lights, some with miniscule wings to give them the appearance of birds, flickered up into the branches, where they moved in and out, creating another dimension to the already magnificent tree.

Hermione stood back and looked at her work with delight and satisfaction. It was beautiful.

Just then she heard footsteps descending the staircase. She glanced up. Lucius moved down swiftly, clearly refreshed. Her heart skipped a beat.

She smiled apprehensively. He gave nothing away and came and stood next to her impassively. Hermione tensed.

Lucius sniffed in and drew himself up.

"What a clever, clever little witch you are."

"Do you like it?" She was still nervous.

He turned and looked down. At length, the corners of his mouth moved, and his face broke into a broad and natural smile.

"I like it very, very much indeed. It is magnificent ... radiant ... like you."

He was smiling so warmly she thought she would burst. Why was his acceptance, his approval so important to her? She had always thought herself impervious to things like that. With him, she found herself craving his appreciation. Was that right? For now, it didn't matter.

Lucius looked back to the tree. "There's something missing. On the top." It was true. She hadn't yet placed anything on the pinnacle of the tree.

Lucius took her hands and held them gently. Reaching up to his own head, he clasped a single strand of his hair. Tugging hard, he pulled it from his scalp. Hermione winced. It shone like silver itself in the glow of the candles. Lucius placed it gently in her palms and brought her hands up between them, encircling his own about them. He closed his eyes and muttered words Hermione could not hear.

Then, opening them again, he gently pushed her hands up to her, so they were before her mouth.

"Blow," he whispered.

Hermione opened her mouth and gently blew her breath over the hair so carefully contained in her palms.

Her hands tingled and were forced open by some great force within. She gasped with astonished delight. Floating in her palms was a star. It looked as if it had been plucked from the heavens themselves. It was three-dimensional and contained six or seven points. It glowed and shimmered with golden beams and seemed to revolve upon itself, its points moving in random circles around the centre. It was translucent but contained within were a myriad of tiny sparkling points of golden light. It was the most captivatingly beautiful object Hermione had ever seen.

"There," Lucius stated with subtle satisfaction. "It contains a little of both of us."

Reaching over, he gently cupped the star and whispered, "Ascendare arbore." It rose into the air, higher and higher, until it came to rest on the very top of the tree. Once there, it seemed to glow ever more ardently, imparting the entire hallway with its golden luminescence.

Hermione encircled her arms about Lucius and held him tightly to her.

"Where did that come from?" she muttered against his chest.

He was confused. "You saw. I took my hair and ..."

"No. I mean ... how did you ... you ... think of it, decide upon it ... you of all people?"

"Do not underestimate me, Miss Granger." He was smirking. "And now ... I think we have some unfinished business." His head descended to hers. She met it with more tender need than ever before. Hermione felt her legs swept out from under her. He had picked her up and in strong, long strides carried her swiftly and effortlessly up to the bedroom.

There was no time for a slow and mutual removal of clothing, they both knew it. With a word from Lucius, their clothes fell away instantly. He guided her to the bed, parted her legs and pushed fully inside. His brows furrowed as her tight hot pleasure engulfed him. He felt as if he had waited weeks, not hours.

Hermione gasped. Each time she forgot his size. Each time, his life force filling her reminded her of her own soul, her own existence. She gripped his back and pulled him ever harder against her. If she could make him melt into her, she would.

His hands came up to hold her head, ensuring her eyes were fixed into his the whole time.

Hermione arched up against him, causing them both to moan as a sudden flash of pleasure gripped them.

"I have to move," he groaned. He'd held back as long as possible, enjoying the contentment of their union as much as the friction of thrusting within her. But now he needed his release.

Hermione nodded, her body in as much need of pleasure as his. "Yes ... please, my darling ... I want to feel you."

Their connection was so profound that they dared not look away from each other. It wasn't long before Hermione found her muscles gripped with the same tense pleasure holding her soul. Lucius continued his thrusts within her, stroking along her clit each time.

"More ... more ... so close ..."

After a final push she came, her eyes at last forced through ecstasy to leave his, rolling back in her head as pleasure ripped through her. Lucius delighted in the feel and sight of her orgasm as much as he knew he would relish his.

He forced her eyes back to his. "Stay, stay, stay ..." She was not sure if he intended her to hear him, but she took it nonetheless.

He came almost immediately and with a juddering intake of breath he released heavy bursts of seed deep within her, his pleasure as intense and gripping as ever before.

At length he fell heavily onto her. She held him closer still.

"I'm here. I'm right here. I'm always here."

Lucius closed his eyes. Once again, he understood happiness.

And they fell asleep.

Down in the noble immensity of the hall of Malfoy Manor, the star on the top of the tree shone brightly.

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 12 of 27

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