Continuing Tales

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 26 of 27

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Eventually, Hermione and Lucius wandered back to the house. It was hard to walk as they were holding each other so tightly that their balance was impeded. Several times, Hermione tripped over his feet and Lucius had to pull her back.

There was much giggling from Hermione and chuckling from Lucius. It was such a rare sound from him that she had to keep reminding herself it was in fact coming from Lucius.

Hermione could not take her eyes off her ring. Her hand was almost permanently extended before her, and she kept twisting a little so that the ruby and diamonds would catch the light and glimmer tantalisingly in her eyes.

"Do you like it?"

"Like it!? Like is hardly the word."

"It has been in the family many years on my mother's side. It dates from around 1860."

Hermione stopped and looked up at him. "It's so beautiful. I don't feel worthy."

Lucius' face twinged. Her statement and the logic behind it were so warped to him that he didn't quite comprehend her meaning.


"This is an heirloom. It's overwhelming that you would give it to me."

Still he frowned. Surely she was not referring to her Muggle-born status jarring with the artefacts of the Manor? His beliefs, beliefs he had still clung to only a few months ago, seemed so distant, so archaic and removed from how he now lived with this woman that he could no longer contemplate it. His head shook in bewilderment.

"I told you. The past must live in the future. But despite that, there is no worthier recipient of this ring. None at all. You are the only one who could bear it. You are perfect and I love you."

He spoke so factually that it took Hermione some time to fully process his words.

Her eyes were dampening rapidly again and she kissed him quickly to hide her emotion. Pulling him close, she whispered against his ear, "I love you too."

Gradually, slowly, they made it back to the house. It had begun to grow dark and since they had eaten a lot at lunchtime they needed no supper. They spent the evening in the sitting room, reading, talking, listening, Hermione's gaze never far from the dark crimson sparkle on her finger.

When she wasn't staring at her ring, Hermione was staring at her lover, unable to remove the smile from her face.

He caught her gaze and smiled gently. "Yes?"

"I like looking at you."

"That is rather fortunate seeing as we have just committed to spending the rest of our lives together."

Hermione laughed again and pressed herself against him on the sofa. "It may take a while to sink in, Lucius."

"What?" He hardly looked up from his book.

"You know what! Marrying you!"

He smiled. "I'll give you as much time as you wish."

"How do you mean?"

"Well. There's no rush to set a date, I suppose, or even discuss technicalities. You know I want you. I will give you time to decide how you wish things to be done."

Hermione looked at him in wonder. "Remind me when it was exactly that you became perfect?"

He looked into the deep brown of her eyes, his gaze reaching deep into her. "You mustn't say that. You know better than anyone of my imperfections, better perhaps than me. I love you because you're with me despite them."

His sudden seriousness took her aback. "It was only a figure of speech, Lucius. But ... I have to say, if you had told me a year ago that I would be sitting the following Christmas newly engaged to a former Death Eater who had stood by and watched while I was tortured ..." Her hand came up unknowingly to press against her eyes.

Lucius' features tensed and his eyes moved away from her. "Like I said ... imperfections."

She quickly moved to ease his concern. "It was a long time ago, Lucius. As you can tell, I've clearly moved on."

He still frowned with insecurity, but he looked back at her evenly.

"What did you expect when you first arrived?"

"I didn't know what to expect. I certainly didn't expect a warm welcome. And I didn't get one."

She felt him smirk. "I know ... that damned house-elf."

"Ahem, Mr Malfoy! You couldn't stand the thought of a Muggle-born descending to scrutinise and invade your privacy."

"I confess, I'm hardly likely even now to open the Manor to all and sundry." She cocked an eyebrow cynically. "But in your case, as I think I have shown, I'm willing to make an exception." His mouth moved towards hers and captured her lips in a kiss of pure acceptance. "I have so much to say to you, so much, my love ..." He was by now at her neck. Hermione arched up, inviting him into her warmth.

"Don't talk now ... don't talk ..."

As he shifted to carry her once more up to bed, she thought she could hear a whisper of breath, absorbed against her heartbeat: "I'm sorry."

They made love before sleeping, tender and gentle, entirely focussed on the other's pleasure. Each time Hermione released her ecstasy to him in soft waves of abandon, the memories of her violent craving and need under the curse were pushed further into the dim corners of Lucius' mind.

During the course of Boxing Day, Hermione retreated for a while to the library where she finalised and prepared her findings for Shackebolt. She intended to return to the Ministry the following day to deliver her report.

As she prepared to leave, Hermione paused in the hallway, a sudden realisation taking hold of her. She fingered her ring nervously as Lucius came up to bid her goodbye.

"You won't be too long, will you?"

"No. I'm just going to hand this to the Minister." She smiled tentatively up at him.

"What's the matter?"

"Well ... you know."

"Do I?"

Hermione sighed at his male insensitivity. She didnt see the smirk dance briefly across his mouth.

"Do you think ..." She was gripping her ring again. "Do you think I should take this off?" She fully expected him to answer with a yes.

"You may do as you wish."

She glanced at him. "But, if people see ..."

"I'm aware of that."

"But, don't you ...?"

"Hermione, your hesitation seems to be stemming more from your own fears and insecurities than mine. I have made my decision. I am happy with it. It took many years for me to banish the doubt brought about by the expectation and judgement of others. I shall certainly not let it affect me in this matter."

Hermione dropped her head, shamed at his words. "Well, I don't think I'll tell people outright just now, but if they see, I'll ..."

"You'll what?"

She swallowed. His conviction was remarkable and shamed her. She was a Gryffindor. Her spirit at last rose to the fore. "I'll tell them the truth."

With a smile, he kissed her.

"Bye bye, Lucius."

He held her hand long after she had moved away from him, his fingers reaching for her. "Hurry back."

"I will."

When she had left, he detected the house's sigh in unison with his own exhalation.


The sight of Hermione Granger in the Ministry of Magic turned heads more than usual. Even when she had regularly graced the gleaming corridors people had stared, but now she could feel hundreds of eyes boring into her, hear whisperings and mutterings as she swept past. They knew she'd been absent for many months. And they knew where she'd been.

Hermione considered their glances. She hadn't yet recovered its ripe health from before, but was there more? Was her devotion to a pureblood Death Eater apparent in her eyes? Was her sense of belonging in a place where she had previously been tortured etched into her smile? Was her happiness visible to them all? Her love obvious?

Perhaps. But she would dictate the pace of her revelation.

She carried her robes over her left arm, shielding her ring finger from view.

Hermione had owled ahead, notifying Shacklebolt of her arrival.

He crossed to her as soon as she entered his office, enclosing her in his broad arms. "Hello at last! How's my favourite little bookworm? Good Christmas?"

"Yes. You?"

"Noisy. Crowded. Good? I'm not sure I could call it that, but it certainly happened." He chuckled warmly and sat, indicating for her to follow him. "So ... your great task is complete at last?"

"Yes. At last." Hermione smiled, clutching her right hand over her left.

"And ... anything significant to report?"


"You seem very certain of that."

"I am. I went through the library with a fine tooth comb. Everything is perfectly in order. Malfoy Manor is free from dark forces – I can attest to that."

Shacklebolt smiled intently across at her. There was a momentary silence which she broke by reaching into her bag and handing over the thick document of her report.

"You'll find everything you need in there. As I've said, there was nothing malevolent detected in any of the volumes, but I have detailed all texts which bore any reference to the Dark Arts. I hope you will find it thorough."

Shacklebolt smirked as he leafed through the pages. "Thorough? You seem to have practically rewritten the library itself, Hermione!"

She allowed herself a smile. "There's a summary in the back should you want something more concise to present to the Wizengamot."

"I think that will come in very handy." Shacklebolt continued to glance through the document. "And Malfoy?"

Hermione immediately felt the flush in her cheeks. "What about him?"

"Did he treat you well? I don't imagine you saw much of him. From what I've heard he stays carefully tucked away these days."

She didn't answer. Her mind burned; should she say?

It was not nerves that prevented her from telling the Minister for Magic of the true nature of her relationship with Lucius Malfoy, but conviction. Now was not the time. She didn't want to reveal a matter of such joy in an office in the place of her employment. Shacklebolt was a man, focussed on work and routine; she doubted he would even notice her sparkling finger or make the connection if he did.

"He treated me very well and has started getting out more. You'd be pleased with his progress. I saw nothing in his manner to indicate any threat or danger from his previously held convictions."

"Previously held convictions?"


"Well, I suppose you should know. If he treated you, a muggle-born, with fairness and equanimity, then I suppose ..."

"He treated me perfectly."

For the first time Shacklebolt looked at her with something other than polite attention. He smiled curiously for some time before dropping his head and nodding. "Good. Pleased to hear it."

"Is there anything else you wish to know, Minister?"

"No, I think you've provided a remarkably thorough examination of the inside of Malfoy's library."

Hermione blushed again, not entirely sure why.

She stood, keen to get out of the increasingly stale atmosphere of Shacklebolt's office. "Thank you for seeing me so quickly, Minister. I'll be returning to work here at the Ministry in the New Year."

"We look forward to seeing you, my dear. The place hasn't been the same without your incisive mind. I've missed the reassurance of being able to call upon your intellect. Still, enjoy the New Year first. I hope we'll see you at the Ministry Ball?"

Hermione froze. She'd forgotten entirely about the New Year Ball.

"Oh, I ... yes, yes, of course." She reeled and spoke without thinking; Shacklebolt's reminder had thrown her completely.

"Wonderful. I look forward to seeing you and your partner there. Until Friday then!"

She found herself walking down the corridor instinctively, her feet bearing her to the nearest fire-place.


A ball. Lucius wouldn't want to go, surely?

But it would be so good, so wonderful to go as a couple, to dance, to laugh, to be together. She wanted to go.

The floo took her swiftly away and she landed quickly in the large dormant fireplace of the dining room of the Manor. It was the first time she'd flooed there. It was the first time she had needed to. She glanced around as if almost afraid to be there, particularly with the invitation she concealed in her mind.

With a deep breath she made her way to the sitting room. Lucius sat by the fire reading. He stood as soon as she entered the room.

"Don't get up."

"My darling, you know better than to deny me the opportunity to rise in your presence."

She laughed and soon found herself in his arms. She breathed him in and held him. "It's good to be back."

"Hm. How was it?"

"Fine. He was very happy."

"Did you tell him?"

"About us?"



"Was that deliberate or accidental?"

"A bit of both I suppose. There was no obvious opportunity, but I could've made one had I wanted."

"Did you tell anyone?"


He drew back a little and glanced down at her. "Hermione."

She looked up, feeling her cheeks warm. "Yes?"

"I see no need to delay telling people our situation. I don't want to pressure you in any way; you're entitled to tell people in your own time, but don't think any procrastination is due to my feelings on the matter."

"I don't. I just ... didn't want to say anything then and there ... in the Ministry – it's not the most ... personal of places. There's something next week ..." Her head dropped again. As much as he seemed keen to reveal their relationship, she wasn't sure exposing their liaison in front of hundreds of distinguished guests was quite what he had in mind.

"Go on."

"The Ministry New Year Ball. It's an annual celebration. Always rather fun, I guess. It's been good in the past. We could ..." She didn't feel able to continue.

Lucius didn't speak.

She swallowed nervously. To go from virtual self-exile in the Manor to presenting himself as the lover of one of his enemies was clearly going to be a step too far. She hoped she hadn't angered him too much.

"I think the Savile Row dress robes will work."

Hermione shot her head up. He was looking over her shoulder, his mouth slightly pursed, as if contemplating what to wear. She laughed aloud. "Are you serious?"

"What? Not suitable? Too much? Come and see my wardrobe, choose which you ..."

"No, no! I don't mean that ... I mean ..." Her voice trailed off into laughter again. Lucius' mouth curled up into a smirk. "I thought you'd hate the idea."

"I've just told you that I'd prefer not to delay. You clearly wish to go. We'll go. We'll go ... and begin our life."

Tears were welling up yet again. She laughed and clasped herself against his chest. "Do you think we could possibly have a conversation in the next few days which doesn't result in me blubbing?"

He chuckled softly and kissed the top of her head. "I'll do my best."

As Lucius led her through to the dining room for supper, he spoke with tones of smooth honey, "It isn't just my clothes we must worry about. I am greatly looking forward to the dress you will pour your exquisite body into." She laughed the last of her tears away as he held the door open and ushered her in, drawling down as she passed, "Make sure it's tight."

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 26 of 27

<< Previous     Home     Next >>