Continuing Tales

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 22 of 27

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Over the next few days, Lucius ensured Hermione wanted for nothing. Her strength increased rapidly and she was keen to be up and about. At first, Lucius was reluctant, but he acknowledged that his hesitation stemmed more from his own trauma than from hers. He needed time to absorb all that had happened. Indeed, it seemed as if it was he who now bore most of the suffering of the curse. Hermione could remember only snippets of rage and desire. Lucius remembered every detail of the hell he had endured while she had slipped away from him, and the hell he had been cast into while trying to expel the curse.

But every glimpse of her face, every smile she bestowed healed his wounds, pushed his memories to ever-deeper corners of his mind.

Soon, Hermione was able to get up and test out her healing body. Her appetite had recovered and she ate sensibly, starting to fill out the gaunt skeleton she had shrunken into. She and Lucius would walk in the grounds, only for a few minutes to start with, but building up the time and distance with remarkable swiftness. Lucius was amazed, if not in awe, at her strength and determination to recover.

It was now only a few days before Christmas. In their little world at the Manor, shielded from the frantic chaos of the outside world, it had become easy to forget that another life even existed. And so it was with some surprise that they were greeted by a firm knock on the front door one morning.

Hermione started; she was so unused to anyone apart from Lucius, aside from the occasional intervention by Grimble, who seemed to accept her completely since her recovery.

"Wait there," Lucius advised, motioning her to stay seated.

He walked to his front door before Grimble could reach it.

Standing outside was Harry Potter. Lucius knew relief was evident on his face and suspected he was revealing more than a little gladness at the sight of the smiling bespectacled man.

"Lucius, how are you? Sorry not to owl in advance. I've been incredibly busy but had about an hour to spare. I thought I'd pop over to see how you both are."

"Very well, Harry, very well. It's good to see you. Hermione will be delighted. Come in." He opened the door wide and smiled as Harry stepped into his house. The younger wizard couldn't stop a slight smirk of incredulity tickling his visage at the unprecedented situation: Lucius Malfoy welcoming him into his house with open arms and bonhomie.

"Grimble will take your coat. Would you like a drink?"

"Tea if it's going, thanks." Harry was removing the thick coat which protected him against the bite of December. He fixed Lucius with a determined gaze. "How is she?"

Lucius sighed, causing Harry to flinch. Was something still amiss?

"She is ... Hermione: remarkable, all but recovered. When you consider what she went through - how weak her body was - it is extraordinary. She's a stronger person than I could ever hope to be."

"It's rude to talk about someone behind their back."

They spun around. Hermione was standing behind them in the hallway, tall and straight, a broad, thrilled smile on her face at the sight of her old friend. Harry beamed and rushed over to her, "'Mione." Clasping her into him with a thrilled laugh, he held her tight.

"Oh, Harry, it's so wonderful to see you. How are you?"

He laughed. "God, I'm alright. How are you, more to the point? You look fantastic."

She laughed again. "I feel fantastic - all the better for having you here. Can you stay for a bit?"

"Not long, I'm afraid. I've got to be back in an hour."

Lucius was behind them, ushering them through into the sitting room. Grimble arrived with a tray of tea and cake soon after.

"I couldn't not see you though - I won't be able to come at Christmas - Molly's already got a full schedule of games and activities planned for us all."

"Christmas! God, I'd forgotten. What day is it today?" Hermione was aghast. She had bought no presents, written no cards, seen nobody. Guilt and responsibility threatened to crush her happiness.

"It's the twenty second."

"The twenty second? You're joking! What am I going to do? I've done nothing." She stood suddenly as if she was about to rush off shopping immediately. Lucius rose to hold her back, soothing her.

"Don't 's nothing with which to concern yourself. Just send messages saying you've been snowed under with work. Or if you prefer ... we can go shopping together to a Muggle town."

She smiled with relief. "Can we do that? I'd like that."

"Of course." He kissed the top of her forehead.

Harry felt as if he was intruding on a deeply private moment. He poured himself some tea before continuing."What are your plans over Christmas?"

Hermione laughed and sat down again. "Well, err, as you can imagine, I hadn't really thought much about it. I just want to ... stay here." She glanced up at Lucius, tall and proud before her. He smiled gently, for her eyes only.

"I thought you might," Harry continued, "but I have to mention it, you know what Molly's like ... there is an invitation to The Burrow should you want it."

"I think I'll decline this year," she smirked before her smile faded with sudden concern. "What have you told them?"

"Nothing. They know you've been working at the Manor and that it's a very long and difficult job. Your absence and silence have been interpreted simply as your usual meticulous and diligent approach to getting a job done properly, no more. I said I'd visited you and that Lucius had come to the Ministry to ask my advice on particular items. A few heads were raised that day you came striding into my office." He glanced across at the blond man with a wry smile. Lucius' eyebrows rose in remembrance. He had been so desperate that day. "Ginny has been asking after you ... I think she'd like to hear from you ... and Ron ..."

"How is he?"

"Good, actually. New woman. Since September, I think. They seem to work together."

Hermione smiled. "That's nice. I'm pleased for him. I'll be in touch. They don't know about ... me and Lucius, do they?"

"Of course not! Bloody hell, Mione! I'll leave that to you! But, y'know, people are more open-minded than we sometimes think. You two should start getting out, being seen around. It'll do you both good."

Hermione and Lucius glanced at each other. Could they imagine a future outside the Manor?

"I'm afraid I've also come with a message for you from Kingsley. He says he appreciates the enormity of your task but needs to present the results of your work to the Wizengamot in January. He was a little concerned that you hadn't been to the Ministry for so long, but I assured him that I'd seen you and that things were progressing well."

Hermione laughed with sudden despair. She hadn't thought about the library for days, weeks ... she had no idea how long it had been. "The library! I must admit, it's been a while. But I'd nearly finished." Her face blanched as she realised what she had actually discovered. "What am I going to tell Kingsley? If I report the book he may arrest Lucius and send him back to Azkaban."

Lucius' face drained suddenly of all vitality. Hermione reached over to clasp his hand.

"Where's the book now?" Harry asked.

Lucius glanced over to a cabinet. Harry stood quickly and opened it. Inside was the thick, leather-bound volume responsible for their torment and misery: The Book of Desire.

"You must destroy it now. If it doesn't exist, there's nothing to report to Kingsley - is there?"

"I was going to ..." Lucius' voice almost stuttered.

Harry bent down and lifted it out. Immediately, the man felt magic pulse up his arm, strong and tempting. A gasp was pulled into him. Walking slowly, he brought the book over and placed it on a small table. Hermione flinched, tightening her grip on Lucius. The sight of the book disgusted him. He withdrew his wand immediately.

"Wait!" Harry's hand shot up. "We mustn't do anything suddenly. We must make sure we use the correct spell, otherwise it may not work." He was staring down at the book; a sudden shift had taken hold of him and his face now contained a look of wonder. His hands ran over the cover, his fingers caressing the patterns adorning it. "So beautiful ..." The others watched in stunned silence, almost immobilised by the object before them, as Harry lifted the heavy cover and looked upon the images within.

Harry's eyes became aligh; a smile of supreme satisfaction captured his lips. He turned the pages reverently. "Such an exquisite thing ... so human, full of such desire ..."

His head moved to Hermione. A burning surge swept through him. He had felt it before, upstairs in her bedroom. Once again he saw her naked before him, her limbs reaching for him. His groin stirred. Why had he not noticed her beauty before? His hand rested on an image of a couple: the woman on her hands and knees while her lover entered her from behind, his eyes gazing on the sight of his erection ploughing into her. Harry's reached towards the woman beside him. "Hermione ..."

His fingers were on her hand. Unwittingly, unable to comprehend it or stop, Hermione allowed her fingers to be entwined in his. And then he pulled her, back towards the book, towards the page. Harry's eyes were sparking, ablaze with a longing Hermione had never seen before. It was at once terrifying and captivating.


With a sudden force which made them both jump, the book flew out from Harry's grasp and landed on the floor a short distance from him. Hermione darted her head round. Lucius was standing, his wand held outstretched before him, his breathing heavy.

Hermione rushed over to Lucius who enclosed her tightly in his arms.

Harry's mouth was dry, his heart pounding. He glanced around the room as if not entirely aware what he was doing there. "What the hell was that all about? What happened to me?"

"The book must be destroyed immediately." Lucius strode over to it as it lay defiantly on the floor before them and picked it up. "Come." He marched from the room, leaving them to follow him. He led them out of the house and onto a small patch of lawn below the terrace. Hermione kept pace. Harry stumbled, still thrown by the dark magic which had so suddenly and potently tempted him.

Lucius stood above the book, staring down at it, his face twisted with revulsion. Hermione crept up, holding his arms gently. "It's been in your family for so long."

"Yes, and it nearly destroyed what is left of it."

"Draco may want it. As long as you explain that it must only be used by purebloods ..."

"No. You saw what happened just then in no time at all. If it can work on Potter, it can work on anyone." His breathing was deep, his limbs coiled, desperate to destroy the thing once and for all.

Hermione glanced down, her face heavy with remorse. "Such pleasure ..."

He spun to her, his eyes ablaze. "No, no ... you don't remember ... you didn't see what it did to you ... what it did to me, to him ... pleasure!? I have never, never been in such a dark, desolate and agonising place as the one to which this thing sent me. The things I saw, the things I saw you do, the people you ..." There were tears in his eyes as his hand came up to stroke along her face. "Hermione ... my Hermione ... say it ..."

Her face grew wet as her eyes shed her own despair: despair, longing and love combined in a raw, concentrated desperation. "Yours ... yours, my darling ..."

"Lucius, Hermione ... we do this together."

They turned. Harry stood behind them, tall and determined at last.

With a final look at her lover, Hermione withdrew her wand too and held it firmly in her grasp, pointing to the book.

The three of them brought their wands down, and with a look of mutual acknowledgement, shouted the spell simultaneously.

"Obliteratio obscurum!"

Red flames shot out of their wands and impacted on the book. Immediately a hole burned through the centre, but then the object seemed to resist, and through the sound of the fire propelling itself from the three wands, there seemed to come a terrible screaming, as if the air itself was splitting in two. The power required from the three increased and they doubled their efforts, their faces straining against the agony.

And then, at last, the book succumbed, and the parchment and leather were consumed irrevocably by the pitiless flames. All that remained was a blackened, smoking hole in the ground.

For a time, the three of them could only stand limply as their bodies recovered from the physical and mental exertion.

Lucius suddenly turned to Hermione, gripping her with caring strength. "Are you alright?"

She nodded. "Yes. That was hard, but now it's over ... I feel better than ever." She turned to Harry. "Are you OK?"

"Yes." He did not look at them, but hung his head, clearly shamed. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be silly. It was perhaps best that that happened - a reminder of what we all went through - and what could have been again."

"Let's go back inside. It's finished. We will think no more on it." Lucius guided Hermione gently inside. She didn't need his support, but his firm presence stirred in her a warm desire she had forgotten about. Not the desperate lust so quickly roused in Harry through the book, but a tender longing for physical love and companionship. She and Lucius had not made love since her recovery - it hadn't seemed necessary or right. Now that the book was gone, for the first time she allowed her mind and body to turn towards her erotic need once again. She clung ever tighter to her lover and felt his strong fingers clasped under her ribs. Lucius was as aware as she of the reinforced connection. As he felt the rise of her breath under his fingertips, the energy contained in them transmitted into him, infusing in him the memory of pure longing she had ignited on first entering his house.

"I have to get back," sighed Harry when they had returned inside. "Again, I'm sorry that I caused so much turmoil. That wasn't quite my intention!"

"Think no more of it, Harry. It had to be done. Your experience made us get on with it." Lucius spoke with clear honesty.

Harry leaned in to kiss Hermione on the cheek. "Happy Christmas, Hermione. I hope it's a good one."

"It will be."

Harry shook hands with the blond man standing beside her. "Lucius."

"Goodbye, Harry. Thank you for coming over."

Hermione looked at them both. She could hardly believe what she was hearing. They sounded more like golfing partners than wizards who ten years previously would have happily crucioed each other to within an inch of their lives.

After watching Harry disappearing into the gathering gloom of evening, they shut the door and retreated inside.

"Thank Merlin that's over," sighed Lucius, slumping into the sofa. "I wasn't sure when I was going to get it done."

"Lucius ..."


"What happened to Harry just then ... and what you said to me outside ... is that what it was like? Is that what I went through ... what you went through?"

At first he didn't reply, but sat with his head resting on the back of the sofa, eyes closed.

"Far worse."

Hermione's head fell. "I'm sorry."

His eyes darted open and he looked at her with a searing certainty. "You don't have to be sorry. You never have to be sorry. Ever. Remember that. For all your power as a witch, for all we could be together with our magic ... you know none of it matters. I have always clung onto it, searched for it in vain. And now you, who encapsulate magical excellence more than anyone, have shown me once again who I truly am, who we all are. You have revealed to me the remarkable brilliance of simply being human. Life is too precious to forget it."

She nestled against him. His hand came up and stroked her hair, slowly, calming and soothing away the remnants of any lingering shadows. They remained like that for some time, until the only light in the room came from the few candles which had nearly burnt themselves out.

"Do you remember that time you fell asleep in here?" he said.


"So warm, so trusting. I wanted to touch you. I wanted to touch you so much."

"I woke up startled. I didn't know what was going on."

"That shamed me. At that moment I was to you ... who I had been before. I realised the terror I had evoked. I had disturbed your perfect peace. It made me wretched."

The silence calmed and soothed the air around them further.

"You can touch me now."

Hermione turned her head to look up at him. Gazing upon her, his words were fulfilled. He saw in her all he had hoped he might have been in life. All his aspirations, his longing for glory and power, all meant nothing and yet everything: suddenly and profoundly here in his arms, pure and simple. Pure ... she was the purest thing he could imagine.

Without being aware consciously of doing it, his head descended to hers and he kissed her.

Eventually, her arms slipped up around his shoulders to encircle his neck, ensuring he didn't leave. Together they stood, still kissing, and walked blindly out of the room, their mutual desire for each other enabling them not to stumble. Lucius' body felt heavy, dense, but not guided by the tormented lust of before; the ache in his lower abdomen was insistent but tolerant, expectant but patient. His hands began to rid her of her clothing, and hers of his. As they moved up the stairs, they left a trail of shirts, belts, shoes in their wake.

By the time they reached the bedroom they were both completely naked.

And then once inside the room, Lucius stood her in the middle of the room. Hermione's skin was burning for his touch, but gone was the time when she had berated him for any hesitation, insisting on him pleasing her hard and fast. She waited as the man circled her, a look of adoring gratitude on his face.

Lucius gazed upon her. Her body had filled out again, the rises and falls of her curves just as he remembered from those first times. She was his once more. He opened his mouth to speak but found for the first time in his long life that he was at a loss for words.

Instead, he moved into her, cupping her face tenderly, and kissed her once again.

And there she was, her silken limbs encircling him, drawing him deep towards her.

Where did she end and he begin? It didn't matter.

Together they moved to the bed. He knew he was large and hard; he could feel himself leaking against her smooth skin. She rubbed against the head and drew a gasping sigh from him. It had been so long, so long ... and the last times he had been within her were a deceit, a sham, not worthy of being counted in the catalogue of their joining.

And now she lay before him, her eyes seeking him out, the heat from her body rising to meet him, drawing her scent with it, that scent which had followed him relentlessly since she had first arrived. It poured into him, inhabiting him. He would inhabit her.

Locking eyes with her, he pushed inside, just a little, almost surprised to find her body so acquiescent to him. Hermione moaned: a small sigh of acceptance and adoration. She moved down, drawing him further into her. At once he pushed deeper, squeezing into her slick tight heat, heat that had been denied him, that he relied on to warm the coldness which had threatened to freeze his soul.

Not taking his eyes from hers, he pushed fully up into her and, once there, began to move, so slowly as to be almost imperceptible at first, rejoicing in being back where he belonged.

"That's it, that's it, my darling, my darling ..." Her words came out in a long sigh of bliss, coupled with the rising moan of her pleasure; she was unaware almost of saying them, but to Lucius it signified the build towards his perfect happiness: his pleasure and hers.

He couldn't restrain himself much longer and reached between her legs, desperate to witness her succumbing to all he could give.

At the merest touch of his fingers on her clit, Hermione froze, her breath caught in her throat. It was all it took. She gripped his shoulders and stared unblinking into his eyes, her mouth open in astonishment.

Lucius thrust fully along her, swift and deep, and with his push came his ecstasy. His seed exploded out just as she shattered upon him, and her body gripped him in the spasms of rapture. The wrenching cry of pure pleasure which rose from her encircled him, pulling him yet deeper into her, binding him to her. Lucius could only join it with a heaving groan of his own as he felt himself emptying within her.

Their bodies quietened and slackened, damp and luxuriant.

And they slept.

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 22 of 27

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