Continuing Tales

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 9 of 27

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Hermione shut the door as she left. Without a glance back, she rushed up the stairs and along the corridors to her room. Once inside, she ensured the door was firmly closed and scrambled into bed, trying not to think too hard on what had just happened. If she did, she would be ascribing more significance to it than it warranted, surely.

It was simply a gesture of solidarity.

No more.

His body was far more toned for someone of his age than she had anticipated ...

She had, in any case, managed to banish the torment of the nightmare. She could sleep peacefully now.

His back muscles, strong and lithe, flexing under her fingers as she gripped onto him ...

She had a lot to do tomorrow. She had nearly finished a bookcase; she would complete it by lunch.

His arms, holding her so close, bringing her more reassurance, more comfort, than she could remember any other man in her past ever bringing to her ...

Hermione sighed in deep frustration.

The more she fought it, the more she knew it would consume her.

He was inside her head and there he would remain.

She was so tired. Her body desperately wanted to sleep. She gave in and allowed her mind the indulgence it so craved. And so, borne on the image of Lucius Malfoy holding her, enclosing her in his arms, sleep at last captured her. But it no longer needed to be imagined. It had happened; it was no longer a figment of her mind but a real memory, a balm. But the memory was altered. As the slip into subconsciousness rocked her back and forth, the clothes of the people in her mind fell from them and they continued to embrace, ever more ardently, ever more passionately, their naked limbs entwining, needing as much togetherness as possible.

Hermione was at last asleep.

But still the images did not leave her. As she slept, her mind and body remained focused on the man whom she had clung onto earlier.

She was on a bed and around her were strewn images taken from the Book of Desire, all of them moving, all of them the embodiment of erotic bliss. A tall figure approached. She arched up towards the broad blond man standing before her, her need evident on her face, her skin chilled with anticipatory goose bumps. And still he stood, not moving. Hermione couldn't bear any more.

A cry rose from her, piercing the consciousness of her dream.

And then, at last, the man lowered himself to her.

Hermione, as dreamers often are, was unaware of the details of the coupling, but her body and her subconscious mind knew it was right, knew it was good. So good. So complete.

She clung to him, held him tight as he moved within her, stroking his hair, gripping his back.

For the second time that night, Hermione was ripped from sleep into consciousness by the events of a dream.

But this time was different.

As she focused back into her very real surroundings, she felt the last waves of a very real orgasm washing through her. After a moment to process what had happened, she sank back into the bed in relaxed, sated bliss. Sleep came again, now a dreamless sleep of contentment.

When she woke up the next day, Hermione could still recall the dream. 

She was sick of questioning herself. Whatever was happening here felt right. She didn't intend to throw herself at the man. What had happened between them last night had been borne out of a need for companionship. At the time there had been nothing remotely sexual about it.

But Hermione was far too astute to deny the subsequent erotic need which would not lie still within her. She thought back to the image of herself in her dream, as if she could observe herself from afar.

She had been so desperate. Hermione had known it, even when asleep. Her body had shuddered with longing and need.

Was this her?

She could recall no man who had drawn such feelings from her in the past, certainly not Ron. She knew she was a sexual being, knew that her body had needs which equalled her intellectual needs, but she hardly recognised herself as the woman writhing on the bed. But she accepted that it was her.

And now?

Would he be expecting her at breakfast?

Part of her was filled with dread at the prospect. What if he had taken offence after last night? What if he had misunderstood?

Despite her misgivings, she couldn't wait to see him again. Showering and dressing quickly, Hermione went down to the kitchen. He was there. Her insides somersaulted with delight and fulfilled anticipation.

As soon as she entered Lucius stood. She stopped and smiled at him, gauging his reaction.

He was certainly not angry. If anything he seemed rather humbled. His face was passive to the point of being anxious and he held himself awkwardly. It was Hermione whose voice cut through the thick atmosphere.

"Good morning." She chose not to address him by name. She was not sure how anymore.

"Good morning."

No 'Miss Granger'. That, at least, was something.

"I hope you slept well after ... the storm had abated," he continued.

"I did. Very well." She flushed and averted her eyes. Immediately, the image from her dream filled her head. She couldn't look at him. He was too beautiful.

"Won't you sit down? Grimble will cook bacon, eggs, whatever you desire."

I desire you.

"Thank you. Poached eggs on toast would be rather wonderful." She took a seat.

Lucius Malfoy smiled at her language - it had a certain charm to it - and sat, offering her some tea before pouring himself another cup. With a flick of his hand, Grimble appeared immediately and poached eggs were ordered. After the necessary glare at Hermione, the elf set about his task.

Lucius had relaxed fully and the haughty mask which normally graced his face was back in place. Hermione didn't mind either way.

"What time did you eventually go to bed?" She knew it was a personal question and wondered how he would react. He answered immediately and calmly.

"Shortly after you left."

"Did you sleep well?"

Pause. He was buttering his toast, eyes lowered. "Predominantly."

"I should imagine I'll finish the third bookcase today. That's probably about thirty percent of the total now."

"Still a long way to go."

"Yes. I can't see myself finishing before the spring." Silence. "Do you mind?"

"You will stay as long as is necessary. I am aware of that."

"That's not what I asked."

He replaced the butter knife meticulously on the plate, rubbing the tips of his fingers in his napkin. "We seem to be quite content in each other's company, do we not?" Cool grey eyes looked into hers, and his eyebrows were raised swiftly to punctuate his enquiry.

She smiled. "Quite content."

Just then, Grimble placed a plate of poached eggs on toast before her. Despite it being virtually tossed at her, it looked perfect.

"Thank you, Grimble."

The elf immediately turned his back on her and inquired of his master, "Will that be all, sir, as I have other duties to attend to. I will return and clear away after you have finished."

"Yes, Grimble, you may go."

The elf shuffled off disconsolately, clearly not relishing the prospect of his other tasks any more than the thought of cleaning up after the Muggle-born.

Hermione could not suppress her titter. Lucius looked at her, the corner of his mouth twitching in reaction. "What is it?"

"I'm sorry, but, against my better nature, he does make me laugh. I mean, I spent a large part of my time and energies championing the rights of house-elves, and I should feel pity for the poor soul, but from what I've seen of your expectations of him, they are hardly overly demanding, and he is free and salaried. He lives and works in a beautiful house and gets paid for providing for the rather humble needs of one person. I don't really know why he is so bloody miserable!" She laughed into her tea. Lucius allowed the smile on his face to deepen as her face flushed further and her eyes danced.

"Your presence disturbs him."

"Yes, I worked that one out. But, you seem to be tolerating me." She blushed again but continued. "Surely, if you can, he can?"

"Don't you understand? He is jealous."

Hermione looked at him, her face showing clear surprise.

"He feels ownership over me. He has had only me and my needs to cater for for the longest time, and now you have come in, and he finds my attention is diverted away from him and his duties." She listened carefully. It made sense. "And now in particular, he fears, senses, that my needs are shifting away from simply requiring wine and books at particular times and that you instead will provide for those other needs. You are a threat to his purpose and identity."

He looked at her for a moment. She stared back. And then suddenly, he seemed to realise what he had said. His face tensed and he averted his eyes swiftly.

You will provide for those other needs. His words remained between them.

Hermione could scarcely breathe. A shiver of excitement was coursing through her, endlessly, from the tingling of her scalp down to her toes. She drank a large gulp of tea. It caught her throat. The atmosphere was fit to burst.

"I see. For a moment there I thought you meant you had a gay house-elf!" She threw him as casual a smile as she could muster.

He smirked and allowed a sniff of a laugh to escape him. She too let her laughter rise. The tension was diffused.

Lucius cocked his eyebrows to consider her statement. "Do you remember Kreacher?"

Hermione laughed aloud. "Of course! What a joy he was!" She rolled her eyes sarcastically. "Are you suggesting Kreacher was gay?"

He pouted in teasing thought. "Well, I had my suspicions ..."

Hermione could hardly eat she was laughing so much. "Oh don't! I am suddenly picturing Kreacher getting up to all sorts!" She rested her elbows on the table and pressed her fingers into her shut eyes. "There are some things, like your parents having sex, which you simply don't want to think about!"

She had just said 'having sex' in front of Lucius Malfoy.

Hermione knew her face was scarlet. She swallowed hard and stared at her food, concentrating forcibly to eat it. Clearing her throat, she inadvertently put a huge mouthful in her mouth.

She couldn't look at him. There was no way she was going to be able to chew and swallow in anything approaching a ladylike fashion. Shit. She held her hand in front of her mouth and tried desperately to appear normal.

Was he looking at her? She glanced up. He was. Double shit. She formed her bulging mouth into a grin and looked away again.

Lucius Malfoy smiled to himself. Even demonstrating some very coarse table manners, she was utterly delightful. Her embarrassment merely reinforced his perception of her.

At length Hermione recovered, cleared the mouthful and ate normally. She was enjoying herself. But soon she finished and there was little reason to justify her remaining in the kitchen.

"Well, I'd better get on. Have you any plans for the day?"

Her question, and the domestic arrangements of sitting at breakfast in the kitchen, suddenly made them seem like a normal married couple. She couldn't look at him, but was pleased when he gave his answer as calmly as she had asked it.

"I thought I would go for a walk. There is a heavy frost; the estate looks beautiful at these times."

"I'm sure it does. How long will you be?"

"A few hours. Three or four perhaps."

She so wanted to go with him but her conscientious approach would not allow her to be away from her work for so long, even if she could make up for it another time.

Lucius sensed her contemplation. "Do you wish to join me?"

She looked up, opening her mouth to answer.

Why not say yes? Four hours outside, walking with him in the grounds of one of the most beautiful estates in England.

Immediately another image sprang to mind.

The two of them, walking together on hard frosty ground on the brow of a hill overlooking a gentle valley dotted with oak and horse-chestnut trees, their hands closely entwined.

"I ..." She almost smiled in acceptance before dropping her gaze rapidly. "No. Thank you. I must carry on with my work. I can't afford the time."

He did not respond immediately and, glancing up, she thought she could see a little of the light fade from his eyes.

"As you wish. Well, there is no point in delaying. Goodbye, Miss Granger."

He stood and bowed quite formally to her before walking purposefully towards the door. Hermione felt her joy drain from her as he left. As seemed to be the case so much recently, her mind immediately threw her decision back at her. There would have been no harm in a walk, would there?

"Miss Granger."

She looked up in surprise. He was standing in the doorway, having not yet left. "For my sake, you need not worry about completing your work quickly. As far as I am concerned ... I grant you all the time in the world."

He turned and walked out.

Hermione wondered if she may faint.

Had he simply meant there was time for her to remain working due to the Manor being unused?


His words meant something else entirely. It was some time before she found the physical and emotional strength to push herself out of the chair and go up to the library. The house was completely silent. He'd probably already gone out.

Hermione buried herself in her work in a desperate attempt to focus her mind. She succeeded to a certain extent.

Why did the man have to be so nice? Why did he have to force her to alter her perception of him so fundamentally? It was hard enough fighting an attraction to a committed bigot and bitter enemy, but to battle against an attraction to someone so well-mannered and increasingly charming.

What had she done to deserve this?

As he strode across his land, the frozen ground cracking in brittle resistance under his feet, Lucius Malfoy asked himself the same question.

Why did the woman have to be so damned - interesting?

Why, time and time again, did he find himself being so pleasant to her, seeking out her company?

The answer was obvious, but the reasons for it were still a great mystery.

His beliefs had not changed, he knew that. She was still a Mudblood. He still considered her far inferior to him and not worthy of conversation or interaction.

But that was not quite how things had played out.

He liked her.

He liked her inquiring mind, her great magical skill, her confidence, her tolerance of him, her passion for knowledge, her laughter ...

He imagined a situation where he had to pick her out from a group of witches.

If she was still unknown to him, he would be able to identify her as the misfit, the Muggle-born, would he not?

He knew he would not. In fact, if he was entirely honest with himself, he suspected he would choose her as the purest witch of all, such was her magical radiance.

And then there was the matter of her beauty.

He could pretend no longer.

He desired her.

There had been too many nights now - too many where he had lain in his bed, thinking of one thing only, his body primed, his limbs aching.

That damned book hadn't helped. And yet standing there with her, holding her hand, the image springing to life ... He closed his eyes and smiled.

And she had held him. And he had held her.

So right. So good.

It had been so long. Too bloody long.

He had suppressed his natural instincts for an age. In his earlier life they had dictated his behaviour, so important had the sexual act been to him, but in recent years he had virtually dismissed it from his mind. Until now.

And now, this Mudblood was drawing it out, through a look or a simple touch. Such need, such longing.

He stopped on the brow of a hill and looked out, his breathing deep and heavy, not entirely through exertion.

Why had she arrived? Why did it have to be her? Why not send some balding Ministry pencil-pusher with a pince-nez and halitosis?

Why was she the only one who had bothered - she, who had the least incentive to do so?

He did not deserve her.

Lucius Malfoy frowned at the revelation, digging the tip of his cane into the hard ground. Fool! She was a Mudblood. She did not need to be deserved.

Yet he couldn't stand the thought of her going. Neither did he think he could bear to know she was in his home and not be able to touch her, hold her ... have her.

What was it? What was this hold she had over him?

The answer was ludicrously simple.

She made him happy.

He had not been happy for as long as he could remember. He furrowed his brows in an attempt to recall the last time. He could not.

He hadn't thought he wanted to be happy, so unfamiliar was he with the emotion. He had shunned any attempt to be happy, and people had helped by removing any opportunities.

And now?

Should he take her? Force himself on her? Perhaps force would not be necessary. He could sense her attraction to him.

He was used to women finding him attractive, although he had never expected it from this woman. It had not happened at first, he knew that. He liked that. She had grown to desire him. Not like the others - all the desperate flirting at parties, the fumbling and groping as soon as his wife's back was turned. The women had repulsed him, even the good-looking ones. Here, for once, was someone who had clearly not meant for this to happen.

No. He could not abuse her trust, her openness and integrity.

He was too fond of her for that.

Even Mudbloods hurt.

He did not want to hurt her.

Lucius Malfoy tapped his cane hard on the frozen ground. He didn't understand these emotions, this change inside. Before, he would have reacted violently to them, trying to find a way to purge them from his being.

What a waste of emotional energy. Things which are not understood are not necessarily wrong, are they?

It was the sort of thing she would say.

He turned and started back to the Manor.

Time would tell.

And, after all, he had given them all the time in the world.

At five o'clock, Hermione left the library to head home. Lucius awaited her in the hall. She smiled meekly at him, still shaken by her cascading feelings.

"You may stay the night if you wish," he said.

"Thank you. I'd better go home. I have to ..."

"Feed the cat."

She smiled as he finished her sentence for her. "Yes."

She saw his mouth twitch into a smile. There was a moment's silence. "Well, if you are ever in need, or find yourself unable to return home, such as last night - there will always be a room - or twenty - to accommodate you."

She laughed. "Thank you. You're very kind."

Had she really just called Lucius Malfoy 'very kind'?

"I'll be off then."


"See you tomorrow."


She reached for the door handle. So did he. They found their fingers entwined on it.

For a moment they could only stare.

Warmth, strength.


Then, with a self-conscious laugh, Hermione pulled the door open, took her hand away, and stepped outside.


"Goodbye, Miss Granger."

A Great Task of Solitude

A Harry Potter Story
by Laurielove

Part 9 of 27

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