Continuing Tales

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 19 of 27

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Lucius Malfoy had not been to the Ministry of Magic since his trial.

If he had thought about it, he would have remembered that he had in fact not been into wizarding London at all for over five years.

He didn't think about it.

Working automatically, unthinkingly, save for his goal, he apparated close to the Muggle telephone box and descended into the Ministry via the visitors' entrance. This would have been unthinkable for him in the past. Now, he was hardly aware he was doing it.

As soon as the tall blond man appeared in the gleaming dark corridors of the Ministry heads turned, whispers started. He was instantly recognisable, instantly remembered. Notorious.

The witches and wizards staring as he swept swiftly past noticed the change. He still held himself tall, commanding an intimidating presence, still possessing the noble good looks of a man younger than his age, but his hair was unkempt, his sharp grey eyes more sunken and set amidst deep shadows.

No one stopped him as he moved swiftly up the stairs and along corridors. And he hardly noticed their presence.

Lucius arrived quickly in the Auror Department. He just hoped the person he needed to see was there. He glanced around. Heads were raised as he entered. His eyes were scanning the doors for one name only.

"Excuse me, may I help you? If you wish to make an appointment -" Before the PA could reach him, he had found the door he was looking for, and without even knocking, opened it rapidly.

Harry Potter looked up in amazement to find Lucius Malfoy standing inside his office.

For a moment, Harry couldn't speak, too thunderstruck to be able to form a coherent thought.

The silence was broken by his PA rushing in apologetically. "I'm so sorry, Mr Potter, he just barged straight through before I could stop him. I'll call magical security immediately."

"No!" Harry called her back abruptly. "It's alright, Portia. I'll deal with this."

His PA looked at him with concern. He gave her a weak smile and motioned for her to leave. She didn't shut the door behind her but Harry did so quickly with a flick of his hand.

"Well, I must say, Malfoy, I wouldn't have predicted this."

Harry Potter couldn't process what on earth was going on but certainly did not feel threatened by Malfoy's presence. If anything, the blond wizard seemed unsure of himself, weak even.

Malfoy stood before him, uncertain indeed. His mind raged, despite knowing exactly why he was there.

He, Lucius Malfoy, pureblood wizard of ancient lineage, was about to ask for help from Harry Potter.

His body tensed; his mouth twitched.

Harry Potter sat looking at him, the familiar rumble of hatred stirring quickly. What the hell was this man doing here? He stared at Malfoy. The wizard seemed at odds. Had he found himself in the wrong place?

"Well, Malfoy. What do you want?" He couldn't help his voice sounding sharp and annoyed.

But then with sudden resolve, Malfoy drew himself up and looked Harry in the eye.

"Potter. There has been an incident."

Harry stared at him, waiting for further elucidation. None was forthcoming. What was the bloody man talking about?

"An incident? What? Run out of funds for the east wing extension, have you? Draco's tailor's absconded to Argentina? Not really my field of expertise, I'm afraid, Malfoy." Harry sneered, amused by his own sardonic venom.

Lucius Malfoy inhaled, his next words spat with sharp frustration. "This is no time for games, Potter."

Harry was taken aback by his lack of smooth vindictiveness. Malfoy still stood tense but remarkably determined in his room. He waited. There was no movement from the wizard. The silence between them grew too much for Harry; he suddenly felt oddly insecure.

"I suppose you should sit down, Malfoy."

Lucius pulled out a chair, almost surprised to find it there, and sank down into it with little show of the elegance he usually exhibited. It did not go unnoticed by Harry.

"Go on then."

The man opposite him spoke immediately, his words issuing out with determined fluidity, belying the tension in his body.

"Some months ago, a woman came to me to document my library. It was her task to catalogue any books relating to the Dark Arts that she found."

Harry suddenly remembered. It was Hermione who had been sent to Malfoy Manor. He had heard about it on the Ministry grapevine. He had seen her early on in the task, and she had seemed to be enjoying it and quite safe. He hadn't been in touch recently as she'd been busy with the job and he'd been away for several weeks in Russia on training. A flicker of concern and guilt ran through him. Why the hell hadn't contacted with her recently? But there had seemed no need. Hermione could take care of herself, and Malfoy had shown no inclination towards anything suspicious; he knew that from Ministry monitoring. He'd hoped that Hermione was simply enjoying the job.

Now he waited, a slight frown on his face. Malfoy seemed so unsettled. Harry's concern grew rapidly.

"The woman worked well. We, for want of better words ... got on. She was happy in her work. But then, she came across a book, a book I had not realised to be dark in any way, but which ..."

He stopped, his head hanging.

Harry was breathing hard. "What's happened, Malfoy? What's happened to Hermione?" His voice was determined and cold; a dreadful terror was creeping through him.

Malfoy's head rose up and he fixed his eyes into Harry's.

"I believe she has been cursed."

Harry's blood ran like ice through his veins. For a moment, he could do nothing. Malfoy reached into his pocket and withdrew his translation of the parchment from the library and handed it swiftly to Harry. Harry's eyes darted over it, and as they did all colour drained from his face.

"A soul-eating curse?"

"I fear so."

Harry's face distorted with rage. "For how long?"

Malfoy's head hung down again. "Weeks."

Harry stood, slamming his fist down on the table, breathing hard through his nose. "Why the hell didn't you come to me sooner?"

Malfoy did not answer. Harry looked down at the parchment again, confused, despairing.

"But, a soul-eating curse works through a non-pureblood and a pureblood. There has to have been a connection between the two of them. The curse feeds off the one to empower the other. The connection is normally very deep, profound, often physical ..." His head darted to Lucius and twisted in disbelief. He shook it rapidly. "You ... what did you do to her? Tell me! Tell me, you bastard!"

Harry had withdrawn his wand and was upon Malfoy instantly, grabbing his lapels and holding the tip of his wand a flicker away from his face. Lucius did nothing to stop him.

"We ... are in ... were in ... a relationship." He found it easier to confess than he had anticipated.

Harry simply stared, his mouth open in horror. His wand slackened in his hand, and he released his grasp on Lucius. His incredulity overrode the anger.

At length, he glanced back up at the blond man, wanting to believe he had somehow manipulated her into it, cast a love-spell on her perhaps. He knew in his heart he had not. He knew Hermione, knew how discontent she had been, desperate to seek a new dimension to her life. Finding it in the elegant and learned man opposite him now was not beyond belief. Still, despair and hopelessness bubbled within Harry. He interrogated Malfoy with cold resentment. "Did you deceive her? Charm her into it?" He almost wanted it to be true - anything for the reality of Hermione entering willingly into a relationship with Lucius Malfoy to be subjugated.

Malfoy shook his head. "No. We ... fell in love."

He could say it now. Say it unequivocally. It was the truth. The words sounded oddly factual in the still air between them.

Harry returned to his seat, and held his head in his hands. There was silence as the enormity of what had been revealed seeped in around them. But then time ticked with frustrating regularity upon them both, and Harry remembered the situation which had brought Malfoy to him. He lifted his head with a sharp inhalation of breath. "Tell me everything, from the beginning."

And so Lucius talked, openly and carefully, detailing with remarkable honesty his relationship with Hermione, the book, and the subsequent change which had taken place in her. He omitted details of their sexual relationship but told Harry of the needs and tendencies she now exhibited. Harry listened solemnly and intently. Somewhere deep down, he admired Malfoy's honesty.

"This book, Malfoy. Are you telling me you had no idea of the curse it contained?"

Malfoy shook his head. "No. How could I? It was always presented to me as a book of love, of the purest love and passion. That is how I felt for her. I believed I was sharing something of sheer beauty with her, something which would enhance our relationship, not destroy it ...destroy her. If I had known ..." His head fell. Harry could sense despair rising out of him. He believed him.

But still his anger was strong. "And you, Malfoy? How did this curse affect you? Just as it took two to come into effect, it will work through both of you, albeit only to further the impact on the curse bearer."

Lucius could not at first look at him, but there had to be transparency, complete honesty. For her. For Hermione.

"It made me feel everything I always wanted to be."

Harry stared at him silently as Lucius slowly continued.

"And at those times, I adored her for it more than I could fathom. When we were together, all the pain, all the torment vanished and I felt more alive, more ... invincible than ever before. She was fulfilling me. I could be who I was born to be. At last ... at last."

"So why stop that, Malfoy? Why give up the promise of glory?"

Lucius stared beyond him, his eyes fixed unseeingly on the picture on the wall of Harry's mother smiling warmly.

"Because I do not want that anymore."

"And what do you want?"


"I want Hermione back."

Harry swallowed hard before his voice broke the tenuous fragility between them. "What to do?"

Malfoy looked up and indicated the parchment. "You have read it. It is the only way."

Harry studied the parchment again. "Two people who love her. Willing to sacrifice themselves through love." He looked up at his former enemy. He knew the only two people it could be. Lucius spoke for him.

"You and I, Potter."

Harry set his face straight. "Hermione is my oldest and dearest friend. I love her, yes. I love her as much as my wife, in her own way. Am I willing to die for her?" He closed his eyes. "I was before. With the deepest regret that it has come to this ... I am now."

Lucius' eyes closed with relief. Harry kept talking. "And you, Malfoy? Are you willing to die for her? Do you love her so completely?"

There was a heavy silence.

"Yes. I love her. I would not be here if I did not."

The silence remained after he had spoken.

Then suddenly, urgently, Harry stood. "Well, come on then. There's not a moment to lose. I must go and get these ingredients from the Potions Store. Wait here. I think it's best if we keep this between ourselves for now, don't you?"

Lucius' shifted his eyes away, nodding once. Relief at Potter's discretion sank through him.

"I'll have to make up some reason for getting all this stuff. There are some pretty incendiary things on this list. Luckily ..." He glanced back at Malfoy with a rise of his eyebrows. "... I'm Chief Auror."

With that, Harry left the room. Lucius sat, still and silent, awaiting his return.

It was half an hour before Harry came back, but it seemed far longer. Lucius felt the minutes slipping away, every second piercing his heart, piercing Hermione's soul.

At last Harry returned, clasping a shoulder bag full of items.

"Bloody hell. Even I got some suspicious looks asking for these ingredients. Luckily we've been busy fighting a rise in vampires in Siberia recently. I told them I'd run out of supplies. Sometimes my past can be advantageous after all." He raised a rueful eyebrow, never happy trading on his fame.

"I'll tell my PA I'm finishing for the day. I'll also tell her you have suspicions of werewolves on your land and need my help and that we're leaving together from here. She's used to me disapparating from the office. I don't think we should be seen walking the corridors together."

Lucius stood up, still silent. The two men looked at each other for a moment, the determination to save Hermione apparent in both their eyes. An understanding passed between them which had never occurred before and was unlikely to be repeated.

Harry set his mouth straight and nodded. "Come on then. She needs us."

Lucius withdrew his wand quickly and held his arm straight. He glanced at Harry and nodded for him to take hold of it. With little hesitation, the younger wizard did so. With a resounding pop, the two of them vanished from the office amidst a swirl of light.

A moment later they were at the Manor, having reappeared just inside the gates.

Harry stared up at the Elizabethan building, the years seeming to vanish before him. The large house hardly contained happy memories for him.

"Didn't think I'd ever see this place again."

"Come along." Lucius was determined as he strode up the drive. Harry hurried after him.

Inside, Harry glanced around the hallway, still bright, still radiant from Hermione's care and vitality, even if the light was fading from her.

"Nice tree." He couldn't help his surprise sounding.


Harry smiled. "I can imagine. It's just like her. Beautiful star on top. Not very bright though. You could enchant it to -"

"Yes. Enough of that."

Harry stopped. Malfoy was right. He mustn't become distracted. Grimble appeared silently before them, looking up at Harry with a sneer of surprise.

"Grimble, will you take Mr Potter's coat, please?"

The elf's sneer deepened. "Harry Potter. The pleasure is all mine ... sir." Grimble bowed low, but Harry could detect the bitter distaste in his voice despite the careful words. He handed him his coat.

"Thank you." After Grimble had left with his coat, he turned to Lucius. "OK, Malfoy, I confess, I'm not certain how to approach this. We need her to remain as calm as possible. If she becomes too distressed, it'll be much harder to administer the potion. I doubt she'll take it willingly, so we may have to use certain spells to bring that about. But the fewer we can use, the more chance we have of the magic working in its purest form, and therefore, the more chance of success. She is sure to become agitated, but we might have to play along with it. She needs to at least accept that we are both there."

Lucius nodded.

"It's probably best that we make up most of the potion first, without any ... distractions. Do you agree?"


Lucius led him through the house, reaching the dining room. With a flick of his wand, the large table cleared and a small cauldron stove appeared on it.

"We must no delay," he hissed urgently.

"No." Harry dropped the heavy bag down on the table and quickly removed the ingredients. He lit the stove with willow wood and placed the silver cauldron on top. Harry and Lucius took turns to place the various objects into the pot, taking care to crush, tear and stir according to the specific instructions. Their blood was to be added last.

"OK." Harry took a deep breath. He glanced across at Lucius. For a moment, the two men seemed unsure, lacking resolve and confidence. Then with a sudden flourish of movement, Lucius removed his outer robes and ripped up the sleeve of his shirt, revealing his muscled forearm. He extended his hand, baring the pale flesh on the underside, his tendons stretching along it.

The blood was to be extracted at the same time, the one cutting the other's arm with their wands in unison.

"I hereby swear my love for the witch, Hermione Jean Granger. I avow to heal and cleanse her through my blood, my soul and my love. If it is to fail, I will forfeit my life." Lucius' voice sounded loud and clear in the stillness of the ancient room.

Harry swallowed hard and pulled up his own sleeve. He looked into Lucius' eyes and repeated the words he had just heard from the blond wizard.

"I hereby swear my love for the witch, Hermione Jean Granger. I avow to heal and cleanse her through my blood, my soul and my love. If it is to fail, I will forfeit my life."

The two men withdrew their wands and placed them on each other's wrists.

Lucius and Harry looked at each other, aware, for the first time ever, that respect existed between them. Lucius inhaled sharply and nodded to Harry. Then with careful precision, they drew their wands up each other's arms. Immediately, dark red lines appeared along their flesh, and deep blood poured from the wounds. Harry hissed with pain. Lucius' face registered a faint flicker of sensation. Mutually, they moved their arms over the cauldron and allowed the blood to drip heavily into the mixture.

Immediately, the potion bubbled and boiled with tempestuous power. Steam ascended relentlessly and arches of red liquid rose out of it, threatening to spill over but always managing somehow to remain contained within.

Harry flinched, a shadow passing across his face, his eyes closing. There was a surge within him. It reminded him ... If Lucius felt it too, he did not show it.

Harry glanced at him again, his face still determined, and together, over the potion, the two of them incanted the words.

"Amoria flammare com spiritus uniquios

Lavare corporea, lavare spirito

Lavare spiritus com amoria flammare

Lavare iniquitatem

Spiritus completo par amoria eternum."

As they spoke, the potion swelled and stirred ever more, until on the last word a flash of red light was ripped up out of it, and the air hung heavy for some time in a deep crimson glow. Harry's hands gripped the table, his breathing deep. Lucius took a step back to steady himself against the force suddenly gripping him.

Harry glanced at him, "Did you feel that?"


"What did it feel like to you?"

Lucius paused, his eyes glazing. "The past."

Harry looked away. "Yes." His lips pursed. "I don't like being reminded of the past."

"It will get worse. This is only the beginning."

"I know."

The glow in the room faded and the potion settled. It was complete, until the time when Hermione's blood would be mixed with it. Taking a silver bottle, Lucius scooped some out and poured it in, stoppering it carefully. He turned once again to Harry. The younger man had recovered his sense and stood tall.

"Right. Where is she?" queried Harry.

Lucius motioned out of the room. Harry started to move. "Potter!" Lucius' sharp tones halted him in his progress.

"I must warn you ... she is much changed ... unrecognisable almost, physically and emotionally. She may behave in a way you find distressing. She may say things designed to tear at the essence of your being."

"I am prepared, Malfoy. You forget, I've seen it all before."

"Not with her."

Harry paused, his gaze dropping to the floor. "You do realise that ... we are going to suffer through this too, don't you? It will make us feel things, see things, which we had hoped never to see again. We just had a taste of it."

"Yes." Lucius looked him straight in the eye. "I am ready."

"Very well." Harry nodded back.

Then Lucius moved past him, leading the way out of the room and into the hallway. "Come along."

With that, the two men ascended the stairs.

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 19 of 27

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