Continuing Tales

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 23 of 27

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Hermione awoke the next day to breakfast in bed, not served by Grimble but Lucius himself.

"You don't need to do this, you know. I'm perfectly capable of making my way downstairs."

"I know you are. See it as a pre-Christmas treat."

She smiled and took a sip of orange juice as he sat down next to her. "Where would you like to do your shopping?"

"Were you serious about that?"

"Of course."

Hermione laughed aloud. "You know, I'd love to go to Bath. I haven't been there for ages."

Lucius opened his mouth to retort. His memories of their recent trip to the city were still branded on his mind. But looking at her wide, innocent face, it was clear Hermione had no recollection of the visit. He frowned, unsure whether he could tolerate being back there. But drawing himself up, he resolved to face the demons head on and lay them to rest.

"Alright." He stroked her arm. "When do you want to leave?"

"Eleven? I'll write and owl some cards first. That way my guilt will at least be eased a little."

"You're far too conscientious."

"Well, we must try to be back by early afternoon. I must get back to the library. I'd nearly finished. It'll only be a few more days."

Lucius looked away, his face suddenly distant.

"What's the matter?"


"Tell me, Lucius."

After a short silence he spoke softly, "You've nearly finished your task."

"Yes. It's taken me bloody long enough!"

"And then ...?"

"Then, what?"

Realisation dawned on Hermione. He was worried she would leave him, go back to her apartment, to her old life. She reached over and took his head in her hands, turning it to face her.

"I'm not leaving you."

He smiled, finally able to meet her eyes. She continued, "Despite my best intentions, Mr Malfoy, I find myself rather liking it here."

Lucius kissed her gently. "I can't imagine the place without you anymore."

"Well, you don't have to. Ermintrude's happy here, and so am I."

"And your friends?"

She hesitated only briefly. "Harry's perfectly alright about it. Ron, well, I shouldn't think he'll be thrilled, but ... what business is it of his anyway ... and the others ... Harry's right ... people are more open-minded than we think. It's Draco I'm more worried about, to be honest."

"Hm." She could tell Lucius shared her concern, but he stood swiftly, shaking off his thoughts. "I'll leave you to get dressed and write your cards. We'll leave just before eleven."

Hermione smiled after him, then pushed the matter out of her mind by rising and getting on with her jobs. She wrote the necessary cards swiftly and arranged for Grimble to owl them during the day. By eleven she was downstairs ready to go.

"Everyone's getting Muggle presents from me this year. Do you think they'll mind?"

"Why should they? Muggle craftsmen can make fine items."

"God, Lucius, did you just really say that? Never in a million years did I think I'd hear you complimenting anything made by Muggle hands!"

"We live and learn, my dear," he crooned with a smirk. With that he offered her his arm and together they disapparated from the Manor.

On arriving in Bath, Lucius couldn't initially move. He stood, stock still, the memory of their previous visit flooding back. But glancing at the woman beside him, radiant in the crisp December sunlight, his mind was immediately eased and, holding her hand, he led her through the streets.

Hermione had never been one for dawdling when shopping. She had a purpose and she fulfilled it. Armed with a keen sense of what would work for her friends and family, she bought things decisively and swiftly. Lucius hung back, amused by her determination. She had finished before half past twelve and turned to him with a beaming smile. "Time for lunch!"

They ate in a smart bistro near the Abbey, chatting freely and warmly, reminiscing about Ministry officials familiar to them both. Lucius even offered up some commentary on the personalities of some of the Death Eaters during the war. At those points, Hermione listened silently, granting him his memories. She was pleased that he was willing to talk about a time she knew was so painful for him. If they were to have any sort of future together, she had to know and accept him for all he was, past and present.

When they returned to the Manor in the early afternoon, it didn't take long for Hermione to address the issue of her work.

With a sigh, she glanced up the stairs. "I'd better get on with this. It's been preying on my mind."

"Would you like some tea?"

"That'd be nice. I'll see you in a moment."

Lucius watched as she made her way up the stairs and disappeared around the corner to the library.

Hermione entered the room she had grown to love so much but had of late been so alien to her.

It was still and silent, as if awaiting her return. Dust danced in the shafts of sunlight falling through the windows. It was hard to believe it was only a few days since anyone had been in it; the library itself seemed shamed of what had happened within it, retreating back into its dark oak panelling. Hermione walked slowly towards the desk. It was not how she had left it; instead it was strewn with burnt out candles and parchments, remnants of Lucius' late night desperation as he sought a cure for her curse.

She ran her hands over the documents, noting the meticulous care with which he had searched. His fluid script ran across pages and pages of parchments, with arrows, amendments, notes and cross-references drawn with precision and detail.

With a sigh, Hermione carefully gathered it all up and placed it neatly on a free shelf, then, looking back out into the room, she reached for the volume that she had left off from and restarted her work.

Lucius brought tea quietly and quickly a short while later, but, not wishing to disturb her, he kissed her head gently and left her to her work.

It was after seven o'clock when she at last finished. Now that the end was in sight, she'd worked more quickly than she could previously remember and estimated that she would need only another day. She would be finished by Christmas.

She spent the evening magically wrapping her presents and after a light supper they went to bed, where they made love as peacefully and contentedly as the previous evening.

The star on top of the tree blazed more brightly than ever.

The next morning, Christmas Eve, dawned bright and cold. Hermione blinked against the intrusion of the light and turned over to feel for Lucius. He wasn't there. She was disappointed, but glancing at her clock realised that she'd slept late. It was after nine-thirty. Her energy suddenly restored, she threw on her silk dressing gown and ran down the stairs, humming Muggle carols she remembered from her early childhood.

She could hear voices from the sitting room and supposed Lucius was talking to Grimble.

Still humming the tune of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen', she walked happily into the room and came face to face with Draco Malfoy.

Hermione froze, her stomach plummeting from within her, aware that her face clearly showed shock. Her expression was reflected entirely in the face of the blond man before her.

"Granger." Draco could say no more, he was so startled at finding his old enemy standing in his father's sitting room.

"Draco. Hello." It was only then, when he moved, that Hermione became aware of Lucius standing behind his son. The older wizard took a step forward and opened his mouth to speak, but Draco cut him off before any words emerged.

"What the hell are you doing here?" His words were spoken fast: a tense bark.

"I ... I'm working here. I'm documenting the library for the Ministry."

Draco sneered with incredulity. "In your dressing gown?"

Hermione glanced down at her body, drawing the thin silk material around her.

Lucius moved to stand beside her, not touching but looking down at her. He turned and addressed his son.

"Draco, perhaps you should sit down."

Draco's head darted to his father and a look of panicked confusion captured his face. Hermione couldn't look at either of them.

"What's going on?" Draco's eyes flitted from one to the other.

"Sit down, Draco."

"No, Father ... tell me. Tell me now."

Hermione felt a warm caress on her fingers. Glancing down, she saw that Lucius had taken her hand in his.

"Hermione and I are in a relationship."

Draco let out an odd noise, halfway between a grunt and a laugh. Then there was silence. Hermione could hear only her blood pounding through her veins.

"I don't believe you."

"You will have to believe me."

The younger man was silent, his face reflecting his incredulity. He shook his head in disbelief. "That's not possible. It's not possible."

Draco's eyes shifted to the clasped fingers of his father and Hermione Granger. He was clearly in a state of blind shock at the revelation. "What ... I don't ... when did ... you had no one, Father, you wanted no one."


"You've just been stuck in this fucking house. Shutting yourself away."

"You hardly ever came to see me."

"Yeah, well ... what did you bloody expect? All you could relate to was ... all this ..." He gestured around him. " ... the dead past. I'd given up on you ... bloody given up on you."

Lucius let a faint smile cross his face before it faded fast. "Exactly."

"What ...?"

"She did not give up on me. She hasn't given up on me."

Draco stared hard at Hermione. "Granger. Is this true?" he asked in all seriousness, somehow expecting her to deny it all.

Hermione lifted her head and met his eyes. "Yes."

And then white anger expelled the disbelief. Draco's fists suddenly clenched; his face twisted in rage. He stepped into them. "You're after his money, you fucking whore. You're after his fucking money, bitch!"

"Draco." Lucius stepped immediately between them and grasped his son's arms, his breathing rapid and tight. "You will never, never speak to Hermione in that way."

For a moment she feared the two would strike each other. Draco's face was gaunt with anger, every fibre in his being straining against the truth. Lucius' nostrils flared, his eyes wide and bright with disdain. Then with fierce determination, Draco heaved his father off and took a step back, shaking his head unstoppably. His eyes were red and burning, almost as if tears were forming in them.

"Have you forgotten everything? Everything you taught me? I don't understand ... I don't understand ... she's a Mudblood, father ... a Mudblood ... what are you doing to us? What are you doing to us?"

"I'm saving us, Draco. Our family was a remnant of what it had been, brought about only by us. She has redeemed me, us ... and she has been through a lot lately ... as have I. It's time to move on, Draco. And I will do so with Hermione." Lucius' voice was remarkably straight and plain.

Draco sneered, still clearly in denial, searching for answers. "Why didn't you get out of this damn house? You could have found someone else ... out there ... not her ... this ... You don't want this ... do you?" He received no answer and shook his head desperately. "I can't relate to you anymore ... I can't deal with this."

Draco hung his head and for a time the only noise in the room was the sound of his ragged breathing. At length he stared up at Hermione. "And what've you got to say for yourself?"

Hermione looked at him steadily. "I love your father deeply, and I only ask his love in return."

Draco's face twisted again, but the malicious anger had changed back into aggrieved confusion. He stood futilely, staring incredulously at the site of his father and arch-enemy clasping hands before him. His head shook a little, his eyes narrowed, but his anger seemed to have dissipated.

And then, with a sniff of surrender, he held his hands out to the side. "What can I do? What can I fucking do? If you want to ... do this ... what can I fucking do to stop you, Father?"

"You can do nothing. And I ask neither your acceptance nor your understanding for now. But I will request your tolerance. Do not do anything to make life difficult for Hermione or you will regret it."

Draco glared at his father. Lucius held his stare, his eyes dark and piercing, his nostrils flared. Again, Draco flapped his hands to the side. It was clear he would not cross his father directly.

"I thought the house looked different."

His understatement brought a wry smile to Hermione's face, but she hid it behind her tumbling hair. His words signified the start of a tenuous acceptance, or at least an awareness that their relationship was real.

The three of them stood, silent and unmoving, adjusting to the new dynamic between them.

Once again, Draco looked up at his father and asked suddenly, "Are you happy?"


Draco's lips pursed. His body was still tense; he seemed unsure where to look. His right forefinger came up suddenly and pointed directly at Hermione. "You will take nothing. Nothing, do you hear me? None of this is yours, none of it. Do you hear me, Granger?" His finger jabbed his words with bitter sharpness into her.

"That's not why I'm here, Draco. Even you know me better than that."

He sneered again, but she saw the slight reddening on his pale cheekbones, belying his acknowledgement.

Draco stood tall but unable to look either Hermione or his father in the eye.

Then with a sudden awkward bend, he picked up a wrapped package lying on the sofa behind him. He held it out to his father. "This is for you, for Christmas." His words were mumbled almost inaudibly.

"Thank you, Draco. I've transferred the usual into your account, and ..." Lucius moved to a cabinet and took out another gift, crossing back and presenting it to his son. "For you and Astoria."

"Thanks." He took the present hurriedly and turned away as if to leave. "You know, Father. I was looking forward to coming over here today. I had some news for you, but this has kind of ... changed things ..."

Lucius took a step in. "What news?"

Draco shook his head. "Suppose I'll have to tell you now. The rest of the world seems to know. I'm surprised you don't, but then ... you don't get out much, do you?"

"Tell me."

"Astoria is ... we ... are having a baby."

Lucius' face visibly relaxed and a smile captured his mouth. "Draco, that's wonderful. I'm thrilled, thrilled for you both, for the whole family." He took a step into his son, as if about to embrace him, but Draco stepped further towards the door.

"Yeah, well ... she's due in June."

"Congratulations, Draco. I'm delighted for you and your wife. Has she been feeling alright?" Hermione volunteered, her own maternal instincts overriding the tension wrought earlier.

Draco's face twisted, preparing to snarl at her inquiry, but as he thought over her words he allowed himself to relax instead and eventually shrugged non-commitally. "Yeah, she's better now. Felt a bit dodgy early on, but she's fourteen weeks now, so it's easier."

"Do give her my best wishes," said Lucius.

Draco nodded slowly. "I will. Well ..." His hand was on the door handle. "I'll go now. I'll, um, see you in the New Year, Father."

"Goodbye, Draco. Have a good Christmas."

"Yeah ..." After mumbling the hollow word, he dropped his head and slipped from the room.

After his departure Lucius and Hermione stood together, not speaking, granting themselves the time to adjust.

"Well ... that went well."

Hermione glanced at the wizard beside her, her eyebrow raised in amazement at his words. Lucius looked back at her, almost shell-shocked.

And then a laugh spluttered out of her, uncontrollably, bringing with it the tension and fraught anxiety which had been stoppered in during Draco's time in the house.

"If that's your idea of 'going well' then ..." She sank onto the sofa, still laughing. Lucius moved to sit beside her.

"I'm glad it's done."


"Telling him. There's clearly some way to go, but ... it's a start. Believe me, he took it better than I'd anticipated. If you knew my son ..."

"Oh, we've had our moments."

Lucius glanced at her before exhaling a smirk. "I think I probably knew that."

"But, how about that - you're going to be a grandfather! That's really fantastic, Lucius, in anyone's books. Congratulations!" She leaned in to kiss him.

"A grandfather ... " Lucius was smiling slightly but she could tell he was contemplating the reality of his ageing.

She kissed him once again before turning away. "I have to get those presents to my friends. I'll just apparate, but I would like to spend some time with them. I suppose I should ... tell them."

Lucius glanced at her but said nothing. With a sight, Hermione continued. "Ginny hasn't seen me for ages."

"Or Weasley."

She looked at him in surprise. "Does that bother you?"


"That I will see Ron?

"Why should it?"

"Well, it shouldn't ... but the way you said that ..."

"I don't imagine this news will be particularly welcome to him."

"Well, he'll just have to ... get used to it."

"Is he likely to make trouble for you?"

"No ... no, I shouldn't think so." A terrible thought crossed her mind that he might.

"If he does, I shall ensure he regrets it."

She stared at him hard. "Lucius ..."


"Don't say things like that."

"I mean it."

"I don't want you to hurt Ron! Or Draco for that matter - you said the same to him earlier."

"I didn't say I would hurt Weasley. I simply said he would regret causing you any pain. The same goes for Draco."

"For God's sake, don't jump to conclusions! Ron may be perfectly fine about it."

He sneered. "I doubt that somehow."

"Lucius. It doesn't matter what he thinks. We haven't been together for over a decade."

"Yes, but ... I can imagine you can be hard to get out from under one's skin."

She smiled. "I never want to get out from under your skin."

"Quite right too."

Hermione stood. "I'd better go. I'll try to be back by nine, ten at the latest."

He rose to kiss her. "Take care. Just ... don't linger."

"No, I won't. That won't be good for anyone."

And with a final kiss she left the room.

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 23 of 27

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