Continuing Tales

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 20 of 27

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Lucius led the younger man along the corridor. Harry's footsteps grew heavier with each step. He had strength beyond reckoning, but was he prepared for this?

They reached the door. Lucius glanced back at Harry and paused. At that moment, Harry had never appreciated another person's humanity so much. He locked eyes with Lucius and nodded. Lucius opened the door.

The room was dark. Harry scanned it rapidly. At first, he thought there had been some mistake. Surely it was empty. There was no sign of life in here. But then, on the bed he spied a shape. He thought it was some sort of animal. He could make out thin, bony feet, limbs curled tightly into themselves, a mass of hair sprawling in thick tangles.

His breath was halted for a moment.

It was a woman. It was Hermione.

She lay, clad only in a short nightdress of some kind, gripping her limbs in tight to her.

The two men stood looking down in silence at the witch curled foetally on the vast bed - the witch they both adored more than anything.

Harry swallowed hard. In his life he had seen so much pain, seen life flayed bare before him, but this sight filled him with more wrenching agony than anything before.

Lucius at length moved a little further into the room.

"Hermione." He spoke with the gentle normality he had striven so hard to maintain.

She did not stir.

"There is someone here to see you."

"Hello, Hermione." Harry's voice struggled not to crack.

The woman on the bed heard something. It was a memory. A foggy dream from another time.

Her aching body turned, her dull eyes were forced open. Two men stood before her. One familiar, tall, white hair atop his form. The other shorter, dark, bespectacled.

Who was he?

The dark man approached her. Instinctively, she moved back.

"Hermione," the darker man repeated, gently. She frowned at him. "It's Harry."

Harry? The name sounded in the dim recesses of her mind.

"Harry Potter."

Harry Potter? Her fogged mind cleared a little, that sharp point of blinding light which had guided her recently flashing again. She knew Harry Potter. She knew him well. She remembered.

She pushed herself up, her body suddenly enervated, energy flowing back to her.

"Harry!" she exclaimed, her face fixed into a grin. "My friend!"

Harry smiled with delight and moved across to her. Her arms came around his neck and she pulled him in remarkably firmly to her. His hands came around her waist. He was shocked by the ribs poking through her thin frame. He tried to pull back to speak to her, but she held him there. He tried to pull back again. He could not. Her hold on him seemed ridiculously strong, especially for someone so thin, so ill.

But her embrace was not a friendly one, neither a familiar one; it was predatory, he could sense it. Her bony fingers dug into his back. He tried in vain to pull back once again, but her inhuman strength held him there.

Hermione was smiling, a broad grin, exposing only her upper teeth. She glanced across at Lucius and raised her eyebrows.

"Harry's here, Lucius. He's my friend. I've known him for a long time. Longer than you."

Lucius drew himself up and looked away. He knew what to expect. He had prepared himself.

At last she relaxed her grip on Harry but moved only a little back from him.

"Do you remember Lucius, Harry?" Harry simply pursed his lips in response. "He was a bad man. A very, very bad man." She pouted to exaggerate her claims. "But he's a great fuck."

She smiled at her old friend. Harry could not meet her eyes.

"Look at me, Harry. Did you hear what I said?" Her voice was deep and insistent.

"I heard you, Hermione."

"Do you see him, Harry? Isn't he beautiful? He is the most beautiful man I have ever seen. I never grow tired of fucking him. I live for his cock. He has the most perfect cock. But ... he doesn't want me anymore." She pouted again and sank back onto the bed.

"Hermione," Harry continued quietly, "you're ill. You've been cursed. Lucius has called me here to help you. To help rid you of the curse."

Hermione was ignoring his words. She sat up before him, her legs bent under her. In one smooth motion, her hands came up and pulled her top off quickly, exposing her naked breasts before him. Despite her weight loss, she was still beautiful.

Harry stepped back, averting his eyes quickly in embarrassment. Lucius lowered his gaze but waited. As much as it tormented him to witness this, he knew any sudden action on their part would put their hopes in peril.

"Harry. Look at me, look at me. You are my friend. I know you've thought about me, imagined me. Look, look." She spoke with such deliberate sensuality it staggered both men. Harry clenched his fists.

Hermione's eyes closed, and her hands came up to cup her breasts; her hands ran over the nipples.

"I want to be fucked, Harry. I need it. He's pathetic!" She turned to glare at Lucius, spitting her last words at him venomously. Lucius cringed but held his ground.

Hermione was now grinding herself along her curled up legs, her hands still gripping her breasts. She wriggled closer to Harry.

She reached over one hand to cup his face and stroke it. "Always so lovely, Harry. Let me see you, Harry. I want to see you." Her hand was sliding down his chest, pressing into his toned torso, shaped by years of Auror training. He could not ignore the stirrings in his groin. He swallowed hard.

"Hermione, stop. Put your clothes back on. This isn't you. We need to do something."

She grinned and bit her lip. "I know what we can do." Her hand was moving ever lower. She moved her mouth to his ear. His eyes closed to stem the rising tide of lust gripping him. But her words now came with heavy eroticism, dripping into his ear. "Do you remember that time when we were on the run, when it was just you and me in the tent? I wanted you then. I used to dream about you, imagine your cock, imagine you fucking me."

"No, you didn't."

"Oh, yes. Yes, I did. I watched you when you dressed, when you washed." Her hand moved ever lower. He was struggling to breathe but knew that any sudden intervention by either him or Lucius could jeopardise their efforts.

She reached his groin. He tried to force his mind to think of anything but sexual pleasure, but it was impossible. Despite the fact that he knew this was evil speaking, evil acting, he could not deny the effect. She rubbed along his ever-hardening penis.

Hermione moved round to fix him with a teasing smirk. "You see, Harry. I was right. You do want me. Of course you do. Now, perhaps if he won't fuck me, you will." Her hands started to release him. She turned to Lucius, dismissively. "You can watch."

It was too much. Lucius drew his wand quickly and suddenly but at the same time, Harry pulled back out of her grasp, tucking himself away swiftly.


Hermione shot away from Harry and landed with a thud across the bed.

Immediately, she was up again, a snarl twisting her beautiful face, rendering it unrecognisable.

"Jealous, Malfoy!?" Her voice was deep, as it had become of late when the curse rattled through her blood. "Well, if you can't handle it that's what you get, you pathetic limp maggot! Couldn't keep up with me, could you? So much for pureblood superiority! After all I tried to do to make me pure for you.

"Harry! Take me. You, of all people. I need you. The Chosen One. He has shamed his name, his family. Disgraced himself and his line. You must have me now."

She lay down on the bed, completely naked before them both, writhing, her limbs stretched through the covers, a deep animalistic groan sounding through her incessantly.

Lucius was taut. If he felt the pain, he didn't show it. This was not the woman he loved. She had been taken from him and he would get her back.

"Harry! Harry! Fuck me, fuck me now! I must have your body and your cock! Do it, do it!"

"No, Hermione. Listen to me. You must be still. We are going to have to work a counter curse on you - a potion and an incantation. It needs two of us, two people who care for you, who love you. But it will hurt, it won't be easy. You must lie still now."

She laughed, a manic laugh pulled from her with crazed hilarity. "Love!? Don't speak to me about love! He doesn't know what love is! And you!? No one ever showed you love! Fuck the both of you!"

She was now standing on the bed, her hair and eyes wild, her body rigid. She glared now at Harry, spitting as much venom at him as she had previously done at Lucius. "Fuck off, you pathetic little runt! I don't want some little half-blood prick in me anyway. Fuck off back to that Weasley slut and fuck her rancid little cunt instead. She's welcome to you, the fucking blood traitor!"

Harry's heart panged with agony, but he closed his eyes tight against her words. This was not her. He shot Lucius a look. They no longer had a choice.

Harry withdrew his wand.


Hermione rose swiftly into the air, her limbs flailing but unable to allow her to descend. Her eyes darted wildly in her head.

"You fuckers! You fucking bastards! Put me down! Down!"

She writhed, her naked body twisting and turning futilely against the spell which held her.

"Hermione." Lucius called her name calmly and softly.

She cried out with raging frustration, thrashing her limbs wildly about her.

"Hermione," he repeated in the same tones. "Calm. We must release the spell."

Another groan rose from the witch, but amidst her deep breathing, she finally allowed her limbs to settle, until at length, her body hung limply in the air, her chest rising and falling, her tangled hair dropping in a mass of brown curls down from her.

Lucius and Harry glanced at her and, with careful precision, Harry at last guided her down onto the bed with his wand.

As soon as she hit the soft coverings, Hermione's limbs enclosed around her and she shook with some great inner chill.

"What do you want with me, what do you want with me?" She repeated the words in a chant of desperation.

"We are going to help you. We are going to save you." Lucius voice contained as much desperation as hers, but only he heard it.

The woman before them was sobbing, shaking with empty wretchedness. For a time, the two men were frozen in agony.

"I don't deserve it. I don't deserve to live. I am worthless. I am not worthy of life, miserable wretched Mudblood whore that I am."

"No, no, Hermione. Listen to me. Listen. You must take this potion. It will cure you. It will help you." Harry spoke as calmly as he could as Lucius produced the silver bottle. Hermione glanced at it warily and with inhuman speed shot to cower at the head of the bed, her eyes darting from one to the other in terror.

"Don't come near me. You're going to kill me. I know it. You want to kill me. It's poison. Yes, yes, it is - poison." Her eyes widened and a sickening open-mouthed grin spread over her face. "Yes, that's right. That's what I deserve. Death is the only thing good enough for me. Now. Now."

Harry and Lucius could hardly bear to witness the destruction of her sanity, but still they had to persist.

"Hermione," Lucius spoke softly again. "We are not going to kill you. We are going to let you live, like you did before. You will be happy again. But first, we need to take some of your blood. You must let us do that."

She frowned in mad confusion at him. "My blood is impure, filthy. You don't want my blood. It will taint you. You must keep away from it, keep away from me."

"No, no, my darling." It was almost a sob. Harry glanced at him.

The two men moved slowly up the bed and sat on either side of her. She drew her naked legs up into her, looking from one to the other with fearful crazed anxiety.

Lucius reached out and took her hand. It was tiny and limp in his long fingers; it felt alien. Was this the hand of the same person who had so enthralled him all those weeks ago?

But with relief, he realised that she wasn't pulling it away. Instead, she seemed quite placid, as if she had given up completely. With aching acceptance, they knew that they could at least proceed this way.

With a glance at each other, they withdrew their wands. Hermione tensed immediately, hissing at them but not pulling back.

"It's alright, Hermione. It will sting but that is all. It is to help you. Remember, it is to help you."

Lucius tightened his grip on her hand and pulled her arm gently out to them. Then, before she altered again, they brought their wands together down to her wrist and drew them along the pale flesh.

A great cry of anguish rose from Hermione, and her blood flowed in inhumanly scarlet rivulets down her arm. Quickly, Lucius unstoppered the bottle and caught some of the blood within it.

Looking at Harry, the two of them once again incanted the spell.

'Amoria flammare com spiritus uniquios

Lavare corporea, lavare spirito

Lavare spiritus com amoria flammare

Lavare iniquitatem

Spiritus completo par amoria eternum.'

Again, the liquid rose from the bottle but did not spill. The crimson glow bloomed out of it, engulfing them in a haze of despair.

Harry fell back, a cry of horror pulled from him. Lucius inhaled deeply, his eyes widening as darkness captured his mind.

"You vile servants of destruction! Get away from me. I know you not. Your bodies are a deceit to yourselves and an insult to me!" Hermione's body was tense, gripped by malicious power once again. She stretched along the bed, her back arched up high. Her voice had sounded low and deep, but as she spoke again, it rose to a whine of despair. "Go fuck yourselves. If you won't fuck me, go and fuck yourselves!"

But then, as the crimson glow faded, so too did her bilious madness. She calmed once again, sinking into the bed and drawing her limbs around her, retreating into foetal ignorance.

"Hermione," Harry whispered softly. He came around and gently and carefully reached out to hold her. She didn't resist. He glanced at Lucius in relief. Manoeuvring her carefully, he drew her up, resting her against him. Her eyes were closed, her head hung down.

"Hermione." It was Lucius who spoke now. "You must drink this. You must drink all of it. And then all the pain will be over. And you will be free again."

Her eyes opened slowly and she looked at him. For the briefest moment he thought he saw a little of the light back in her eyes. With the jolt of faint hope, he brought the bottle to her lips.

At first, she opened a little without resistance. Lucius tipped the bottle, and saw some of the liquid pour into her mouth. He exhaled in delight.

Hermione did not spit it out, but her face creased with agonised horror, and as the potion dripped down her throat she opened her mouth wide and wailed, an inhuman wail of utter desolation.

It was then that it gripped the two men.

With sudden and devastating darkness, their minds clouded. Harry gripped onto Hermione, now needing her to support him from the spinning world.

Images swam through his head, images so familiar, yet so new, dark and dangerous; his parents, his mother's death, Voldemort's twisted face, Dumbledore tumbling from the Astronomy tower, and then more.

Hermione was lying on a bed, similar to the one they were now on, naked, her beautiful body arched towards him, her legs wide ... so open for him. He saw himself, naked also, lowering towards her, plunging into her. Her head fell back in ecstasy, in triumph. And he felt it, he felt the pleasure, felt the power. Unbelievable sensations flooded him as he thrust over and over unstoppably into his best friend. He didn't want to stop, he couldn't stop.

He turned his head. Off to the left there was someone in the shadows, smiling at him. That face, the narrow red eyes, the long nostrils ... Voldemort. But Harry did not mind. Yes. It was good that he was there. Good that he was seeing. Still, he plunged deep into Hermione, pounding her, her body jolting up the bed. The figure to his left moved towards Hermione. Voldemort came to stand at her head, looking down at her, his mouth slightly open in a vile lascivious grin. Long, pale fingers descended, and gripped her shoulders, holding her in place for Harry. Still he plunged ever more desperately into her, driven by a feeling of such triumph. Voldemort's face rose up to meet his eyes, and his mouth widened into a deeper grin as his fingers dug into Hermione's shoulders so hard he drew blood. But if it pained her she did not notice. Her head was thrown back in rapt exultation, and Harry felt her pleasure as he felt his own, surging through them both triumphantly. And then, as he looked, she turned her head to the right, and a man bent down to kiss her hungrily. A man with long blond hair, as naked as they were. Lucius Malfoy. He plundered her mouth then turned to look at Harry, a sickening grin on his face. But the sight did not put Harry off. Never had he felt so glorious. Still he ploughed along her. Lucius was by now sucking on her nipples hard.

Voldemort bent his head, lowered his thin lips towards her. She raised her head towards him, seeking him out. Long, white fingers reached over to her face, caressing it, stroking with vile silkiness. Opening her mouth, she flitted her tongue out hungrily to lick over the fingers extended to her. And then, his fingers were replaced with his mouth, his tongue, searching into her open lips.

With a cry of terror, Harry was pulled away from the vision. His eyes darted wildly about the room. There was no sign of Voldemort. The tall figure of Lucius sat on the bed, fully clothed. Harry glanced down. Hermione was still slumped in his arms, her face contorted with malice, but she was not fighting them. His eyes refocused, his breathing settled. But looking at Lucius it was clear he was going through a similar thing.

At that moment, in the black deprivation of Lucius' mind, he was back in Azkaban, chained, barren. But from his cell he was looking out into the darkness of his own house. Through the dim shadows of Malfoy Manor moved people, remnants of the past; Draco mocking him, his wife entwined with other men... with Lestrange, with ... Snape. He tried to rise, strike them, but could not move. And then he came, the Dark Lord, leaning over him, his narrow slits of eyes peering into his face. He reached out his hand to Lucius, and Lucius saw that his manacles had come away. He brought his hand up, holding it out to Voldemort. But the Dark Lord's hand remained a tantalising inch away. Every time Lucius reached out further for it, it was withdrawn a little more.

And then a figure appeared behind the Dark Lord; small feminine hands were drawn around his waist, sensually, erotically. A face followed, grinning across at Lucius. It was Hermione. The long fingers of Voldemort moved to her face, raising it up to look at him. She smiled at the sunken visage, a smile that she usually bestowed only on him. Lucius cried out in horror. Hermione merely turned to him and placed a finger on her lips to quieten him.

Lucius was witnessing them as if through a shadow, a reflection of his deepest fears and terrors. He tried time and again to reach out, but was always stopped by some invisible force. He could only look on in panicked disbelief as he saw the pale inhuman visage of the Dark Lord lowering to meet Hermione's mouth with his. She opened hungrily for him, allowing him to feast on her. His thin fingers came down and gripped a breast, finding the nipple and squeezing it hard between them. Hermione groaned, the sound passing through the fog of helplessness to Lucius' ears. He recognised it as the sound of her unbridled pleasure. He could not stop a despairing sob of his own colliding with it, but this time his sound seemed to be silenced on the thick air between them.

Voldemort was now pulling Hermione down with him to the ground, pushing her legs apart and placing himself between them.

Lucius rushed forward again. He got nowhere. The Dark Lord merely turned and fixed him with his rancid grin, which shifted quickly into a look of disgusted disdain.

And then Hermione's hands reached for the pale, smooth head, guiding it towards her core. Lucius tried to close his eyes against the sight. He could not. The woman before him was now writhing, pushing her hips up in desperate lustful need towards the grim figure before her. And, unable to stop it, Lucius watched as Voldemort's head lowered to her, his long tongue extending to her sex. With a long, slow sweep, he licked along her, causing her to arch in uncontrolled ecstasy. And there he stayed, sucking, feasting on her.

Lucius tried to connect with her, to get her to look at him. He could not. Her eyes were closed, her mouth open to draw in breaths of rapture. He recognised that look. He knew she was transported with pleasure. He could do nothing to prevent it.

And then on the other side of Voldemort another figure appeared. It was his son, his sneer directed straight at Lucius. The Dark Lord glanced up from his attentions to Hermione only to motion to Draco. The younger man was suddenly naked before them, his erect cock jutting out towards Hermione's mouth. Only then did she open her eyes and smirk languidly at Draco, who returned her smile. Draco brought his head down to her first, and they kissed with hot open passion, their tongues writhing together visibly before Lucius.

Draco pulled up, holding his swollen cock in one hand, guiding it to the mouth of the witch lying supine before him. Voldemort had by now pushed his fingers deep into her. Her pussy opened to him with welcoming pliancy. And now, Hermione's mouth opened just as readily. Her tongue came out, seeking out the engorged head of Draco's erection. With smooth precision, Lucius' son guided it between her lips, his head falling back in a laugh of triumph.

Lucius cried out with horror, a soundless, futile cry. Voldemort raised himself to look at him with disinterest before withdrawing his own long and rigid erection. Hermione moaned loud with expectation. With a final sneer at Lucius, mirrored in the face of Draco, Voldemort thrust hard and deep into Hermione.

Lucius' mouth opened once again to scream his despair; he fought against the force keeping him from them. He cried her name out, over and over, but no sound came. His body was cramped with despairing agony, but never had he been so weak and helpless. Draco was forcing himself in and out of her mouth brutally, Voldemort gripped her hips with painful sharpness, but still Hermione was completely in thrall to the pleasure holding her body. Her back was arched to welcome Voldemort's thrusts, her lips tightly clamped around Draco's throbbing cock.

And then, the two men turned to lock eyes with Lucius. The Dark Lord raised his hand to him, extending it, open-palmed, as if inviting him in. Lucius found himself at last able to move. He glanced at Draco. He too, was beckoning to his father.

But just as had taken one step, the Dark Lord's hand came up, stopping him, and Lucius found himself once again bound by invisible constraints. He railed against them with silent, pained frustration. The two faces of the men were still looking at him. Their mouths broke into sickening grins, and together, their heads fell back and they laughed, foul, putrid laughs which poisoned the air with malicious emptiness. But their laughs were then quietened as pleasure gripped them all. Draco pulled out at the last moment, his face twisting as he came, his semen falling heavily onto Hermione's face. Her eyes widened with the shock of rapture, her pleasure clearly propelling itself through her unstoppably. At that moment, Voldemort's head fell back, his mouth gaped, and his arms extended suddenly, wide with victory, as he exploded into her

A piercing cry rent the air. Lucius tore open his eyes and stared wildly around him. His heart was pounding so fiercely in his chest, he believed he must be near death. His eyes darted frantically round. The sight before him was gone. It was his own scream, finally restored, which had pulled him back to reality. Sweat poured from his forehead, his mind spun with torment. But as he finally stared hard into the familiar surroundings, the last remnant of reason he had told him to act.

Instinctively, urgently, his fingers trembling with despair, he brought the bottle back to Hermione's lips and poured more in. She took it, but once again the two men were engulfed in the warped visions of their darkest fears and terrors. Pain gripped them both, cramping their bodies in spasms. Lucius tried to draw the bottle up to Hermione's lips once more, but his arm was no longer obeying him. He did not have the reason or strength to act. Luckily, Harry was able to take it, and brought it up to her lips, pouring yet more into her. Hermione was moaning unstoppably, a sound of unearthly despair and loss. But still the potion entered her. There was by now little left.

Harry brought the bottle up for the last time. Just as it touched her lips, a flash of red agony shot through him, and his muscles were gripped in cramping spasms. His fingers clenched on the bottle but he could not move it.

Images from the final battle shot through his head. His friends lay dead around him - Tonks, Remus, Fred Weasley. A wand was pointing at them ... it was his own wand, held in his own hand. Harry saw his own face. He was laughing; laughing down at the corpses of those he had killed.

Harry cried out with a wrenching scream and felt the bottle about to fall from his hand.

But just as it nearly tumbled, fingers enclosed upon it once again. With the remaining remnant of his soul, Lucius grasped it and raised it to Hermione's lips. He tilted it, his hands shaking so hard he thought they had broken. The last drops poured into her mouth.

Flashes filled his head. He was battling with Voldemort, great angry flashes of light from their wands meeting in electric arcs of hatred. But then the Dark Lord fell, defeated at Lucius' hand. He stood suddenly, triumphant. The vision shifted quickly. Lucius was all at once raised up, high up somewhere, he was not sure where, Hogwarts perhaps. Down below were people, looking up at him, fearful, pointing. And then he felt hands upon him, holding him. He glanced to his side. Hermione's beautiful face smiled up at him. He smiled back and leant down to kiss her. She kissed him back more delicately, more tantalising than ever before. He felt the usual stirrings of his desire, even in this vision his pleasure was vivid and powerful. But then the pleasure morphed into sharp agonising pain. He glanced down, Hermione was smiling up at him, but in her hand she held her wand. It was pointing straight at his heart. As he watched, the wand changed into a sharp shard of metal and, still looking deep into his eyes with a smile, she plunged it into him.

All went suddenly and profoundly black.

Time passed, although he did not know it. Lucius was vaguely aware of something touching his skin. Was he alive? He was not sure. If he was alive, he was not sure he wanted to return to where he had just been. His limbs were heavy, his eyes shut fast. He could feel his own pulse throbbing loud in his head, pounding him back to awareness. A voice was calling. He was being shaken by someone.

"Malfoy! Malfoy! Wake up." The hands shook more vigorously. "Lucius!"

Slowly, he opened his eyes. His vision was blurred. There seemed to be a bespectacled man looking at him.

"Lucius - it's over. Wake up. I need you."

Lucius blinked unseeingly into the room. "She killed me."

Harry managed a small smile. "Not quite. Although you certainly gave a pretty good impression of it for a while. But I know what you mean. I didn't think I'd ever have to go through anything like that again. It's over now. We did it. We survived. But ... you need to help me."

Lucius suddenly remembered. Remembered what they had been doing and why. He sat up, rising from the bed with a start. "Where is she? Where is she? Is she alright?"

Harry held him as he swayed on his weakened legs. "She's over there. I can't tell exactly, but she seems to be ... over it. She's breathing at least."

Lucius shook him off, turning to look around the room. Harry allowed him his reaction.

There on the bed, lying still and quiet, was Hermione.

He stopped. She looked so pale, as if death was working through her. He sucked in a breath. But then he saw her hand move, and he crossed to her instantly. He waited for the surge of power, the adrenaline to course through him, for her to reach to him in sexual delirium once again. She did not. Instantly, he knew it was gone.

Gone were the visions, the torment. Once again, he saw before him only a woman he adored, a woman he had been prepared to die for.

But the overwhelming joy and relief which sank into his bones was soon dismissed. She was so weak she was barely alive.

His hand came out tentatively, hesitantly, and he pushed a damp tendril of hair off her face.

"Hermione." He had never said her name with such tenderness, with such love.

At first, he got no response, and a dreadful terror crept over him that he could sense her life ebbing away finally. But then, slowly, almost invisibly, her head moved a little, turning towards him.

"Hermione, my darling. I'm here."

Her head moved round completely, and with a desperate effort, she pulled her eyes open. Lucius' face broke into the most exultant smile.

"Lucius?" Her voice came, weak and cracked, but it was a voice he recognised, a voice he adored.

"Yes, yes, my darling ... I'm here, I'm here."

Her eyes, glazed and exhausted, held his, but deep within he could once again see the dance.

She smiled, a small smile: the most beautiful sight ever. "Hello."

He laughed with delight, tears forming hot in his eyes. "Hello."

Hermione frowned weakly. "What happened to me? I don't feel very well."

He laughed a little more, relief washing through him unstoppably. "No, I don't suppose you do. I've felt better myself. Don't worry now. It's all over, that's all you need to know. It's all over."

She smiled and raised a weary hand to cup his face. "I missed you."

"I missed you too. I missed you so, so much. I'm sorry, my darling, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

Her thumb stroked against the wet of his cheeks. "Why are you crying?"

He looked deep into her. "Because I love you."

For a time she just looked at him, tears welling in her own eyes. "I love you too."

He bent down, and with tender certainty, kissed her.

There was a faint cough behind them. Hermione's eyes moved to the source of it. "Harry!" Her friend crossed over as she held her hand out to him. "What are you doing here?"

"I ... uh ... had something to sort out with Lucius."

"Really?" She looked from one to the other in amazement.

"Yes. Harry has been ... most helpful."

"Did you two just call each other by your first names?" She couldn't hide the astonishment in her voice.

They laughed. "Yes, I think we did," Lucius grinned.

Hermione looked from one to the other, her mind slowly tying up the threads flying around it. "I suppose this means you know about me and Lucius?"

"Yes." Harry smiled softly.

There was a moment's silence, as if everybody was expecting someone else to say something. Nobody did. At last, Hermione inhaled deeply and opened her mouth to speak once again, but was stopped by a throbbing head. "God knows what's been going on here, but you'll have to tell me later."

"Indeed." Lucius kissed her again.

"I ... err ... I'd better get going now." Harry motioned to the door, but came over and kissed Hermione on the forehead first. "I'll come back and check on you in the next day or so. If that's alright?"

"Of course," Lucius confirmed.

She smiled up at Harry. "See you soon."

"OK. Rest. And ... uh ... Merry Christmas." Harry grinned broadly at his friend.

Lucius walked him to the door. Harry stopped and looked up at him. "Are you alright?"

"I am now."

"That was not something I want to do again in a hurry. For a moment, I thought I'd lost you. You were like death for almost an hour. I checked on Hermione and made her comfortable, but I admit, I was ... worried about you." He didn't raise his eyes to look at Lucius. Lucius let out a small grunt of acknowledgement.

"I believe I may have been in hell for a while." He spoke with his usual smooth dryness. Harry at last looked at him with sardonic acceptance.

"Yes. Me too." He set his features straight. "Right, I have to go now. You will look after her, won't you?"

"Of course I will. You have my word on it."

"I know. Perhaps one day soon we'll talk about ... all of this."

He turned to go.


Harry turned back. Lucius stepped into him and extended his hand. "Thank you, Harry."

Harry took his hand firmly and shook it. Then, with a nod, he turned and left.

Lucius closed the door gently and turned back to the woman in the bed. Hermione smiled weakly and held out a hand towards him. The glow within him was back so fiercely, he thought it would erupt into magic. Instead, he felt his eyes moistening yet again. Composing himself, he walked over and sat beside her, stroking her hair from her face carefully.

"Lucius. You look so worn out. What's been going on?"

He smiled ruefully. "Oh, this and that."

"I'm aware time has passed, but ... I can't remember ... I have tried ... my mind is so cloudy ... it's tormenting me, but ... I just haven't the energy to worry about it."

"No." He bent to kiss her forehead. "Don't worry about it. There's nothing to worry about. All is well."

"Will you stay here? I need to sleep, but ... I don't want to be alone. Stay, please."

"Of course." He never had any intention of doing otherwise. Removing his shoes, he raised himself onto the bed and lay beside her, resting on the pillows. Hermione nestled against him. He drew his arm around her and held her until he felt her breathing slowing. He glanced down. She was asleep, not the fitful tormented sleep which had plagued her in recent weeks, but a sleep of complete peace and exhausted contentment.

He smiled and kissed the top of her head before allowing sleep to claim him as it had her.

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 20 of 27

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