Continuing Tales

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 13 of 27

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Days passed. Hermione and Lucius ate together, talked together, and slept together.

More boards came down, more shutters were opened. Light flooded into Malfoy Manor. The star on top of the Christmas tree shone brightly.

Hermione had surreptitiously begun to clean the house. She did not seek permission for this, neither did she announce her intentions. She used charms on the whole, working when no one was around. The house would benefit from a thorough Muggle spring cleaning at some point, but it felt good to make a start. If Lucius or Grimble noticed, they didn't comment, but neither did they complain. That in itself was a relief to Hermione.

Her desire to address the matter of the house's neglect struck her as odd. It was perfectly habitable as it was, to say the least. But she felt a strong inclination to do something. Her feelings, she knew, arose from an almost possessive instinct. She dared not mention it to Lucius, but she felt a sense of belonging. For the first time since she had been at Hogwarts, Hermione felt at home.

She felt so at home that her other life had slipped far from her consciousness.

The two of them moved easily from hour to hour, day to day, entirely content with each other's minds and bodies. They would eat in the large kitchen, which was more alive and vibrant than ever before. One lunchtime they sat together enjoying more of Grimble's consistently excellent food.

The house-elf shuffled miserably across to Lucius, seemingly intent on spoiling the atmosphere between them. "I saw a mouse in the vegetable pantry this morning, Master."

Lucius sighed. "Wretched creatures. Very well, Grimble, I'll see what charms I can find to rid the place of them."

"Doesn't always work, Master. Vermin can be immune to magic."

Lucius rolled his eyes with frustrated displeasure. "Well ... set a trap or something ... get a cat."

Hermione stopped in mid-chew. "Oh my God."

"What is it?" Lucius looked up with concern at the clear alarm in her voice.


He merely stared at her, not understanding.

"My cat."


Hermione stood with fierce panic, wringing her hands through her hair. "Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, she'll be dead, she's dead, I know."

Grimble smirked a leering sneer at her anxiety before shuffling out.

"I doubt that very much. She is a cat. She will look after herself. You yourself said she often stole food from other houses." Lucius' calm and rational tones lessened the alarm, but Hermione's feelings immediately shifted to guilt.

"She'll hate me."


She glared at him. "Thanks for the reassurance."

He shrugged dispassionately but found her fierce loyalty to her pet strangely reassuring.

"I have to go. And ... oh shit, Lucius. I haven't done any work in the library for days. This is hopeless. I've got to come back - Shacklebolt is expecting a report."

His eyes hardened somewhat. He appreciated her concern for those things dear to her but felt suddenly robbed of the intimacy and care she had displayed for him. It made him reel.

Lucius spoke abruptly. "Of course you've got to come back, but not for that imbecile."

"He's not an imbecile."

Lucius raised his eyebrows in disagreement. Hermione rushed to the door.

As her presence was pulled from him he could stand no more. He followed her swiftly, slamming the door in her face before she could get out. "Slow down, slow down. Talk to me. What are you doing?"

"I'm going to feed my cat."

"And then?"

"I'm coming back here."

"For what?"

"I have to work."


She looked at him with a frown. Her sense of responsibility had for a moment eradicated any other thought. He admired it but could not let her go without the reassurance of her focus on what they had. His need surprised him, but he persisted in it. He held her gaze in the crystal grey of his eyes. Hermione relaxed and breathed out.

"And for you. For you, my darling."

Lucius felt that deep glow returning with rapid and staggering potency. He smiled and bent to kiss her. She returned it, gently at first, but could not prevent her tongue slipping inside to taste his reassuring warmth.

He moved to her ear, running his tongue lightly along it. "When you come back, you will stay. You said you would stay. You remember."

"Yes. But ..."

"But what?"

"I sometimes need my independence. I like it." She whispered it barely audibly between sighs as he nibbled her earlobe.

"You can return to your home whenever you wish, as long as ..."


"You come back to me."

"Of course." How could she not?

His lips were on her neck now. She held him there.

"But what about ...?"

"Hmm ...?"

"My cat."

"I will be more than happy to have your pussy staying here."

She could not suppress the giggle rippling from her. "Won't you mind?"


"She's a very clean cat."

"I'm sure she is."

Lips exploring neck.

"You can stroke her if you like."

"Thank you."

Hand reaching down, searching.

"She'd like that."


"I have to go now."

"Goodbye then."


"Are you still here?"

"Could you take your hand away from there?"

"Is it absolutely necessary?"

"I think so."


"I have to travel over a hundred miles."

With a determined grunting sigh, he pulled back, extracting his fingers from their favourite place.

"Go quickly. Don't be long."

She smiled deeply. "I won't, don't worry."

With that she walked out. Lucius was left alone in the kitchen.

"I do worry," he said softly to the silence.

Hermione called loudly for Ermintrude as soon as she entered her flat. Luckily there was a cat flap in a window over the fire exit, enabling the Maine Coon to come and go as she pleased.

There was not a sound. Hermione's heart quickened with panic. Her cat normally had an instinctive sense of when her mistress returned and would come in within a minute and rub around her legs appreciatively. Guilt swamped the witch. She went through all the rooms calling, searching Ermintrude's favourite sleeping spots. Nothing.

With a growing sense of dread, Hermione at length returned to the kitchen. There, sitting, a look of disdainful grievance on her face, was her cat. After fixing her mistress with a stare which could have curdled milk, she simply turned her elegant head to look across at the stock of cat food.

Hermione exhaled audibly with relief. "Oh, Ermintrude! I am so sorry, my sweetheart. Come here." She bent down and picked up the cat, smothering it with affection. The animal squawked disapprovingly. Hermione rubbed her tummy. It felt round and full. She had clearly not been starving.

"Well, Ermintrude, you're coming with me. We're going to stay somewhere else for some time. You'll love it. Lots to explore. Many places to hide. I'm sorry I've been away so long, my love. It won't happen again. I've been a bit ... distracted."

Ermintrude's look of insolent disapproval had not improved, but Hermione put her down and went to pack a suitcase with some more clothes, not that she'd had much need for clothes over the last few days. She packed haphazardly, not wanting to stay longer than necessary. Already she was missing him.

When she was ready, she left a note under a neighbour's door asking her to keep an eye on things and saying that she would not be living at the flat for some time but would be popping back regularly to check on it.

With that she picked up her suitcase, tucked Ermintrude firmly under her arm, and disapparated to the Manor.

The cat was distinctly unimpressed by apparition, and Hermione had to keep a tight hold on her once she arrived. She bared her claws and dug them into her mistress's arm, trying to get away.

"It's alright. It's alright, sweetie. We're here now."

Luckily, Lucius opened the door quickly and she carried the animal inside, clutching her tight to her chest. Hermione was in such a rush to get inside that she didn't see the look of melting joy spread over her lover's face at her return.

Ermintrude let out a disgruntled 'miaow', drawing both their attentions down to her.

Hermione held her cat close, eyeing Lucius as he moved his gaze down to the large furry creature occupying a place he thought he had reserved for himself.

"Lucius ... this is Ermintrude. Ermintrude ... Lucius."

The two sleek creatures eyed each other suspiciously. Then, in a swift but smooth motion, Lucius took the animal carefully from Hermione's grasp and held it aloft. Hermione expected the cat to snarl and bite and struggle to break free. She did not. Instead she hung quite placidly in the wizard's grip and turned her large eyes to look upon him.

"Hello, cat." Lucius' words were appraising.

After a moment's evaluation wizard and feline accepted each other. Lucius held Ermintrude against him, his graceful fingers moving elegantly through her long fur. A loud purr rose audibly from the animal.

Hermione smiled in amazement. "She likes you."

Lucius smirked across at her. "Of course. I know how to stroke a pussy."

Hermione shot him a withering look. "Arrogant bastard," she mumbled, walking from them to the kitchen to get a drink.

Lucius followed and placed Ermintrude down on the slate floor. The cat soon began to sniff her way around her new home. She seemed, to Hermione's delight, more than content.

Hermione had a long drink of water. As she stood at the sink, long arms came around her waist and encircled her, warm lips quested quickly down to her neck. Her eyes closed and she allowed him his reacquaintance.

"I missed you," he murmured, his warm breath ghosting over her neck.

"Me too."

It was the truth, although in reality she had been gone only an hour or so. Hermione sighed, glad to have achieved her first aim of the day.

"Well, that's part one of my mission accomplished. Now for part two."

"Which is?"

"Your library."

"I'd forgotten about that."

"So had I for a bit. But I mustn't. It has to be done."

Lucius glanced at the clock. "It's nearly three o'clock already. Don't work longer than two hours."

She grinned. "Alright. Just for you."

He returned her smile. "Grimble has some lobster for dinner."

"Bit extravagant, isn't it?"

"Is it?" He looked bewildered. The thought of culinary excess had clearly never occurred to him.

She lowered her head with a faint smile. "Never mind. I'm off then. Ermintrude - be good."

Her cat looked up at her as if to say, "Haven't you gone yet?"

With a smile at them both Hermione went upstairs to the library.

Lucius stared after her. She was back in his house. And she would stay. He flicked his hand, and more boards vanished from the high windows in the kitchen.

The shutters had been thrown back on all the windows in the library too. At first, Hermione was not sure she liked the bright new atmosphere. She had grown used to it as it was, had made it hers. Still, as she glanced at the many shelves and volumes lining them, her heart swelled yet again. With a deep sigh of contentment, she settled down at the desk and opened the last volume she had been working on.

She managed to get a lot done in a short time, so enthused was she by her work. She had found a lover, she was living in a glorious home, her cat was safely with her. The fact that the lover was Lucius Malfoy and the home was Malfoy Manor was conveniently suppressed.

Life, at the moment, was wonderful.

As usual, she found nothing provocative amongst the books she perused. As five o'clock approached she heeded Lucius' words and decided to finish for the day. She began sending books back to their locations magically, floating them up to the high shelves. But she somehow missed the rigour of mounting the ladder, and placing a book with satisfying manual precision into the right slot. She held a volume in her hand which belonged on a high shelf she had finished with a while ago. Pulling the ladder along, she started up it carefully. Scanning the shelves, she found the gap and replaced the book in it. She was just about to descend again when her eyes fell on another volume, immediately recognisable.

The Book of Desire.

Hermione's belly jolted. How could she have forgotten? After her relationship with Lucius started, the book had been pushed to the back of her mind. Her hand reached across. Why not?

Carefully, she pulled it off the shelf. Again, a tingle of magic seemed to travel along her arm as she did so. Hermione descended the ladder and placed the book almost reverently on the table. Her hand ran idly, sensuously, over the intricate lettering on the thick front cover, but she did not open it. A distant clock struck five. The real thing was waiting for her downstairs. The book could wait. She lifted it carefully and placed it in a drawer in the desk.

Hermione turned and left the room, closing the door behind her.

Lucius was indeed waiting for her in the sitting room. As soon as she walked in, he placed a glass of wine in her hand and motioned for her to sit down. The chairs which usually stood beside the fire had been replaced by a large sofa. He joined her on it, placing his arm around her and pulling her in tight. She closed her eyes and nestled into him. She really was at home, she knew it. Ermintrude jumped up and began to settle onto her lap. But before she became comfortable, the cat padded across to Lucius and curled up instead on his lap.

"Oh." Hermione couldn't help but feel slighted.

Lucius smirked at her, stroking Ermintrude leisurely.

Hermione turned and drank from her wine. Both man and beast seemed happy. She supposed she should be too. With a roll of her eyes at the fickleness of feline affection she took another drink and settled against Lucius.

"Did you get much done?" he drawled softly.

She sighed and stretched back. "Yes, more than I'd anticipated. I love it up there. It's all going well. I might not be finished, but I'll be able to present something to Kingsley soon."

Lucius reached up and stroked her hair silently.

"Would you like to go out tomorrow evening?"

She hesitated.

"Well, I could, I suppose, but ... I like being here with you."

"Don't be foolish. I will come with you."

She turned to him in amazement. "Really?"

He smiled. "Really."

Her face broke into the broadest grin. "But where?"

"Do you like Shakespeare? We could go to Stratford, to the theatre."

She didn't immediately speak. She could recall a conversation where she'd suggested just that. He hadn't taken it well at the time.

Now Lucius turned, expecting an answer. "I presume you do like Shakespeare?" His voice was mockingly terse.

"I ... yes ... of course, but ... there are only Muggle theatres in Stratford."


"I ... but ..." She was stammering pathetically, confused.

"I think venturing out in public in our own world would be potentially disagreeable, don't you? A little anonymity is advisable."

She grinned and flung her arms around him. "I would love that."

"Very well. Twelfth Night, tomorrow evening. I bought the tickets today."

"Lucius, I ..."

At that moment Grimble shuffled in. Ermintrude hissed at him. Grimble hissed back.

"Dinner is ready."

"Thank you, Grimble. Stay there, cat." Lucius spoke with more affection than he intended, replacing Ermintrude in a cosy spot on the sofa as he stood.

Hermione remembered what was for supper. "Lobster ..."

"A trifle excessive perhaps, but occasionally ..."

She smirked and allowed herself to be pulled into the kitchen.

As they ate, Lucius spoke fluidly about his work with the Ministry before the war; he had occasionally been employed as a consultant. He avoided mention of Voldemort's influence, not through deliberate deceit, Hermione sensed, but because it pained him to talk about it. There was no need to press him.

As they went to bed that night Ermintrude remained curled up on the sofa and opened an eye to them as they left.

"Does she usually sleep on your bed?"

"No. I'd allow her if she wanted, but she prefers her own space. She's often out at night anyway."

"There's a window open in the kitchen. She can get in and out through there. I've set a homing charm on the area so that she knows where to return."

"Thank you. Look at her." She smiled down at the large ball of fur. "She's quite disgustingly happy there. She'll be fine. Come on."

It was her turn to lead him upstairs. His attitude to her animal, the prospect of going to the theatre, her rediscovery of the Book of Desire, all combined to raise her passionate need quickly again. As soon as they were inside, she turned to him and began removing his clothes urgently. He didn't stop her. She found him hard and as desperate as she, and she lay back on the bed, her body open and ready for him. It took only a moment for him to enter her.

Their lovemaking was tender and giving, both so aware of the other's needs. Once again, Hermione was surprised at his selflessness.

So was Lucius. He couldn't recall the last time he had focused so much on another person's needs, physical or emotional. How strange that a Muggle-born should bring about this feeling of sheer contentment. At a moment in his life when he should be questioning more than ever, he had no desire to do so, no need to. Things simply felt right. And as the woman under him released her pleasure with a soft moan of ecstasy, he knew they were.

The next evening after another fruitful day's work Hermione prepared to go out. She realised that her heart was racing with excitement. How many times had she been to the theatre before? The visits were innumerable. But the prospect of going with Lucius and not having to be concerned with gossip and spying eyes was beyond words.

She dressed simply but elegantly, wearing tight black trousers and a dusty pink top, fitted but feminine with a sequin detail around the neck. She finished it with heels. Hermione allowed herself a little more make-up than usual and practically threw herself down the stairs to her waiting lover.

Lucius cast his eyes over her as she rushed towards him. He said nothing but she saw his lips jig in appreciation. He helped her on with her coat and bent to kiss her softly on the lips.

He had dispensed with his robes but still looked every inch the noble pureblood. He wore a white shirt under a black three piece suit through which ran a thin white pinstripe. His hair was tied back, and after an elegant glance at his fob watch, the gold chain of which was draped gracefully from the waistcoat pocket, he offered his arm to her.

"Shall we?"

She smiled and took his arm. He led her from the house and then apparated them both to a quiet spot near the river Avon. Lucius held her tight as she swayed from the apparition.

"All right?" he queried with genuine concern.

She nodded but did not let go of his arms.

He encircled one tight around her and they walked gently along the river path towards the theatre. Couples, dog walkers, all manner of people passed them by. Nobody gave them a second glance, apart from the occasional envious or contented acknowledgement of their clear happiness.

After a pre-theatre drink at the bar they took their seats. Hermione was gripped by the production but every now and then turned to steal a surreptitious glance at Lucius to gauge his reaction. He seemed enthralled. Sitting back, she held his hand tight. He closed his fingers around hers and kept his hand there for the remainder of the play.

Afterwards, they strolled back to the secluded spot at which they'd arrived. It was a cold night and Hermione nestled against him to keep warm.

"Thank you. That was wonderful."

"Indeed. For once, an enlightened Muggle."

"I presume you refer to Mr Shakespeare?" she said with mock formality.

"I do. Having said that, I cannot believe he was a Muggle. A man of such intellectual powers must have been a wizard."

She smiled at his return to presumptuous prejudice but did not deny it him. "There's nothing to suggest that. He was just very ... human."

"Is being merely human enough?"

"Sometimes, yes." Hermione paused and looked up at him. "I enjoy your company for your human qualities, Lucius, not your magical ones. And I hope you could say the same for me."

"Hm." She took his murmur as agreement. Her heart swelled. They continued in silence for some time, walking slowly, not wishing to break the simple pleasure of the moment. After some time, Lucius said plainly, "We must do this again soon."

She tightened her grip on his arm. "Lucius?"


"I can't remember the last time I was this happy."

Lucius stopped and turned to her, looking down at her open face, flushed in the chill air, her soft breath escaping in innocent life-affirming clouds. At that moment, she was the purest thing he had ever beheld. He held her chin tenderly and bent to kiss the dark full lips.

"Neither can I."

Hermione turned and continued to walk. If she hadn't, she would have started weeping.

They went up to bed swiftly after returning home and eventually allowed sleep to carry them away from the awareness of each other's presence.

The next day, Hermione rose early to return to the library. She was newly invigorated and inspired to work. Lucius remained asleep, his naked form half in, half out of the covers. Hermione exhaled in wonder at the sight. She was tempted to cross to him and run her hand over the smooth elegance of his physical form and wake him; her body was so attuned to their joining. But she cared too much to disturb his rest. She smiled softly and planted the lightest of kisses on his shoulder before leaving the room silently.

She settled at her desk and the hours ticked away. It was soon eleven. Hermione stretched, her limbs aching after being bent over the books all morning. As she straightened herself, her eyes fell on the drawer in the desk. She remembered what she'd placed in it the other day.

Her skin prickled. Reaching down, she pulled open the drawer.

There were creaks along the corridor. She could hear muted conversation between master and house-elf. Lucius was awake. Heavy footsteps approached the library. She heard the door handle turning. Closing her eyes, her mind pictured his long body lying languidly on the covers as she had left him earlier.

Hermione smiled to herself. She took the heavy volume from the drawer and placed it before her.

Pulling back the heavy covers, she opened the Book of Desire.

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 13 of 27

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