Continuing Tales

Leverage: A Christmas Tale

A Harry Potter Story
by Fragilereality

Part 2 of 4

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According to the Anglo-Saxons, a man had to kiss any young girl who, without realising it, found herself accidentally under a sprig of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling.

~From the White Goddess~

It was after eleven on Christmas Eve when Hermione put down her quill and began to pack up her briefcase. Admittedly, she'd been killing time for the previous four hours. What irony that on the one day she has nowhere to go she had actually finished on time. She didn't want to go home. There, she'd admitted it to herself. She didn't want to go back to her empty flat on Christmas Eve.

It was the first time she had ever faced such a prospect and the decision not to go to the Burrow was hers and hers alone. Arthur, Molly and Ron himself had all made it clear that she was still welcome. But it was Lavenders first Christmas with the Weasleys and her first as Ron's fiancé. It didn't seem fair to inflict herself on the other girl for the whole of Christmas. As wonderful as the Weasleys had been to her since she had Obliviated her parents they were Ron's family, not hers.

They have all been so terribly, stomach churningly mature about it. Only Ginny saw fit to indulge in a display of temper to rival that of her toddler son when she heard Hermione wasn't coming for Christmas.

"But who will drink wine with me and roll their eyes and say 'boys' now?" She had demanded. "I can't stand Lavender. She's an insipid cow."

"She's really not that bad." Hermione hadn't quite been able to believe she was defending her old arch rival, but it was true. Lavender really wasn't that bad and she made Ron happy in a way Hermione knew she never would have.

"I don't want you to be on your own." Ginny had tried a new tack.

"I won't be on my own I'll have Crooks." Although Crookshanks had become increasingly flatulent in his old age and she wasn't sure if his company wasn't more of a curse than a blessing.

"He's a cat, Hermione. You need real human company."

"He's half Kneazle," she had countered, as if this made all the difference. "I'll be fine, Gin. I promise. It's just another day and you and Harry and James can bring me left overs on Boxing Day and tell me about the fight Percy got into with George and we'll drink too much wine then instead."

"Okay." Ginny had looked tearful, but mollified by Hermione's words. "I do love you, you know. I wish you were going to be my sister instead of Lav Lav."

"But then I'd have had to marry Won Won," Hermione had pointed out. Ginny had grudgingly conceded the point and they had hugged and promised to see each other on Boxing Day.

Now, Hermione rather regretted her magnanimity, but at least she was fully caught up with work and had the whole of January planned out already. She couldn't wait to pin down her boss and start bouncing around ideas. She paused at her desk and fingered a quill wondering if she ought to draft him a brief memo.

"Pull yourself together, Granger," she muttered under her breath. The quill really was lovely, she thought as she placed it and its companions back in her desk drawer safe from her pilfering office mates. She'd never had a self inking one before and it really was very useful, although she wished the ink were not quite such a lurid shade of green. She had tried very hard and had mainly been successful in her attempts not to think about the giver of the quill over the past few days. Yes, kissing Lucius Malfoy had been something of an epoch in her life, but since she was unlikely ever to do it again it was probably an experience best forgotten.

She locked up her office and made her way down the corridor toward the lifts. As she walked she considered the contents of her cupboards and tried without much success to formulate a recipe for a delicious festive snack comprised of Ovaltine and slightly yellowed Brie.

She was taken completely by surprise by a hooking sensation in her belly and gave a cry of horror as she was brought to an abrupt halt. For a full five minutes her brain refused to acknowledge the reality of her predicament as she struggled futilely against the enchantment holding her in , she gave up and looked above her head. Nestling amidst the pipes was an innocuous looking sprig of mistletoe.

"Shit," she muttered. Since Lucius had been caught she has been hyper vigilant and had annihilated the several sprigs that had lined her corridor with a well placed Reducto. Somebody must have seen fit to do a spot of redecorating whilst she had been cloistered in her office actually getting on with work. She reached for her wand fully intending to attempt to blast the sprig out of existence only to have a sick feeling of dread settle in her stomach. She remembered placing her wand on her desk as she had picked up her coat and briefcase. With equal clarity she remembered leaving it there as she exited the office.

"Shit," she said again.

Now she couldn't even send a patronus to Harry in order to beg him to take pity on her. She sighed heavily.

"Think, Hermione," she ordered herself. "There must be a way out of this."

If there was a way out it did not present itself immediately. As far as Hermione could see she was stuck here until the offices reopened on the 27th of December. Her solitary Christmas with her flatulent cat seemed positively euphoric now.

She was startled by the sound of a door closing at the far end of the hallway. She turned to see a familiar figure moving down the corridor away from her. Lucius Malfoy had just emerged from one of the reading rooms. He was dressed in his winter cloak and his hair fanned out slightly behind him as he strode down the corridor. Hermione froze. Here was her salvation. All she had to do was call his name. Except she didn't want to. Because Lucius was the last man in the world she wanted to kiss. Precisely because he had somehow become the only man in the world she wanted to kiss.

If only she had her wand. Then she could ask Harry to come and help her, or Argus Filch, or the unpleasant man with the hairy wart who worked in the canteen and tried to look down her blouse when he thought she wasn't looking (she was always looking).

"What sort of a witch are you anyway?" she quietly chastised herself. "You forgot your wand now you have to deal with the consequences."

Malfoy was getting further away. Pretty soon he'd be gone.

"Mr Malfoy." Well she hadn't known that was coming out of her mouth.

He stopped with his back still turned to her and Hermione watched with bated breath as he hesitated for a split second. He was deciding whether to ignore her or not she thought - arrogant prig.

"Miss Granger." He turned around and walked back up the corridor toward her. "Well, well, Well, you seem to have got yourself into a spot of bother." His eyes flicked to the mistletoe and an unpleasant smile played around his lips.

"Some idiot planted this outside my office." Hermione glared around as if she might spot the miscreant making off down the corridor.

"Really," Lucius' voice dripped scorn. "Perhaps you have a secret admirer willing to go to any length in order to steal a Christmas kiss." His eyes swept the length of her body. "Or perhaps not."

Hermione scowled, but forced herself to bite back the stinging retort which hovered on the tip of her tongue. She could not afford to piss Malfoy off she reminded herself. She folded her arms and tilted her head to one side hoping he would pick up on her unspoken request.

"Yes?" His head tilt mirrored hers. "Was there something?"

She sighed. "I need you to help me, please."

"Help you? I'm not sure I understand."

Oh he understood alright. The malicious twinkle in his grey eyes made him even more attractive. How irritating.

She sighed again.

"I need you to kiss me."

"Kiss you?" He feigned confusion. "But what was it you said?" He tapped his fingers against his lips. "You'd sooner kiss a basilisk. Should I try and fetch one?"

"Don't be ridiculous," she snapped.

"I wasn't aware I was being ridiculous." He ostentatiously adjusted his cuffs. He was even more smartly dressed than usual, she noticed. "Surely you don't need the likes of me to kiss you. I imagine your knight in shining armour will be here at any moment, why haven't you called for help?"

"I left my wand in my office," Hermione muttered.

"You what?" Lucius exaggeratedly cupped his ear.

"I left my wand in my office," she shouted.

"Now, now, my dear. No need to shout." A sculpted brow rose to meet his blond hairline. "How unfortunate for you to make such an oversight. I can imagine you may not encounter anyone else until after Christmas…but surely your loyal friends will come to look for you eventually?"

Hermione narrowed her eyes at him. Anyone would think he was a legilimens he was so irritatingly good at pushing her buttons.

"They're not expecting me until Boxing Day," she answered tightly. "Which is why I need your help, Mr Malfoy. I did help you out of a similar predicament, didn't I?"

"You did," Lucius agreed. He furrowed his brow. "Although I do recall you were not entirely willing...Indeed, I believe you tried to gain rather a lot of leverage." He stroked his chin thoughtfully. "So tell me, Miss Granger, what can you offer me?"

"I shouldn't have to offer you anything, it's just common decency."

"Really? Common decency, is it?" Lucius' voice had taken on a terrifyingly caressing timbre. "But what was it you said I lacked...the most basic of moral compass' wasn't it?" He tutted in an apologetic manner and spread his hands in faux regret. "It appears I'm all out of decency, common or otherwise."

"Fine," Hermione snapped. "What do you want?"

"No, no, no," he wagged an admonishing finger. "That is not at all how this works. Where would the fun in that be? You offer something and then I enjoy rejecting it." He folded his arms. "Proceed."

"You're enjoying this, aren't you?"


Hermione couldn't help but wonder what a man like Lucius was doing still in the ministry at almost midnight on Christmas Eve taunting a low level employee. Surely he should be out enjoying some sort of glittering ball… She dragged her mind away from Lucius and his social life or lack of it and considered her assets. What on earth did you offer the man who had everything? Start small she thought.

"My half Kneazle has got his girlfriend pregnant," she ventured. "By the end of February I should be able to offer you a three-quarter Kneazle." For a split second she was almost certain that a smile had flitted its way across his face, but it was gone so quickly she could only guess she'd imagined it.

"It's going to take more than a mongrel cat to entice me under the mistletoe, Miss Granger."

She had feared as much although she was very much looking forward to meeting. Crooks' progeny.

Hmm, so not companionship. Power then?

"I notice you reapplied for the Hogwarts board of governors. I would be willing to support your application. She'd been thinking of resigning anyway."

"My application has already been accepted," he said dismissively. His grey eyes were intent. It was clear he did want something, but what?

"I'll fetch you tea every morning for a week…at your desk," she added when the eyebrow shot up again.

"That is tempting." His fingers tapped his lips again. "But no."

"Urgh!" Hermione couldn't contain the guttural sound. "What then? If you're not going to do it then just tell me. Stop teasing."

"Like you teased me?" he asked mildly.

"That was different."

"In what way?" He took another step toward her. He was very close now. Another step and she suspected he would be caught too. She refused to look up at the mistletoe.

"Because our circumstances are completely different." She pursed her lips in order to add some gravitas to what she knew was a rather shaky argument.

"I don't follow," Lucius said in a voice which indicated he very much did follow, but he was going to make her spell it out. Fine then, she would spell it out.

"I'm me," she said, gesturing toward herself. "I'm a nice person, a kind person. I deserve to be helped out of a tight spot."

"I see." Lucius' voice had an edge to it. "So Hermione Granger, war hero and all round golden girl, deserves help, but Lucius Malfoy, ex-Death Eater, should be left to rot, is that what you're saying?"

"Hardly left to rot," Hermione pointed out. "Just left to cool his heels in the corridor for a bit, that's all."

Lucius' eyes went flat.

"Well in that case you won't mind being left in this corridor. Good evening, Miss Granger." He gave a curt nod and turned on his heel.

Shit! He was really going to leave.

"No! Wait, Mr Malfoy, wait, please."

Hermione pulled herself to the limit of the enchantment as she tried to follow him.

"I didn't leave you, did I? Not under the mistletoe or to rot in Azkaban. Please don't leave me here." She felt her lip begin to wobble. "It's Christmas."

Lucius stopped and stood with his back to her.

"Why?" he eventually asked.

"Why what?"

"Why, after everything that happened. After all you endured, did you testify on my behalf?"

"Oh." Hermione shrugged although he still wasn't looking at her. "I didn't testify on your behalf. I simply told the truth."

"And what truth was that?"

"That when you had us in your custody you were without a wand and in no state to help or hinder us from leaving and that during the Battle of Hogwarts you were far too preoccupied with the whereabouts of your son to even consider fighting. You kept yourself out of prison, Mr Malfoy, just."

He turned slowly and stared at her for a long time. She stared back as boldly as possible although the burning scrutiny of those pavement grey eyes was hard to endure.

"My ex-wife is holding a New Year's Eve party. I want you to come with me."

Hermione was gobsmacked. She continued to stare open mouthed at him.

"Yes or no, Miss Granger. I really don't have all night."

"Why?" she eventually asked.

"Why what?" He echoed her earlier question.

"Why do you want me to come?"

He rolled his eyes and answered with biting sarcasm, "Because I've been secretly in love with you for months and none of my attempts to garner your attention have been successful! The why is none of your business. Yes or no?"

Hermione thought for a minute. Maybe it was an elaborate plot to kidnap and murder her, but he didn't seem particularly murderous these days. He was more businesslike and professional. She would make sure her friends knew where she was, and it would provide an interesting insight into the upper echelons of pureblood society.

Lucius was tapping his foot impatiently against the carpeted floor.

"It was a simple invitation, Miss Granger; hardly a marriage proposal. I can't imagine why it requires such deliberation."

"I'll come." Did she imagine the blaze of triumph that briefly bloomed in his eyes?

"Excellent." He stepped forward and, clearly unwilling to give her any opportunity to renege, wrapped her in his arms. He bent her back far enough that her vertebrae creaked and then his lips were on hers and oh sweet Merlin it was happening again.

Fanfares of trumpets went off in her ears. Hundreds of ladies in bloomers danced the Cancan and huge breakers pounded down on the white sands of a deserted beach as his mouth pressed against hers. He was a lot more thorough on this occasion. Despite his assertion that he had somewhere else to be he kissed her as if they had all the time in the world. His lips were sinfully soft as they caressed every inch of her mouth. One hand speared into the hair at the nape of her neck in order to position her at just the right angle and her hips were dragged up against his. The evening chill had crept into the corridor once more, but Lucius was searingly hot against her and Hermione couldn't help but grind herself closer against him.

Almost without thinking she parted her lips and then made a sound of surprise deep in her throat as his tongue swept into her mouth. That had definitely not happened last time. Nor had his teeth fastened around her lower lip or his large hand splayed so confidently against her backside. And she couldn't do anything but kiss him back because kissing him was like the first glass of champagne at a wedding or the first bite of a baguette warm out the oven spread thickly with salted butter. It was delicious and indulgent and not entirely good for her and Hermione just wanted more. Somewhere far off in the distance she heard a clock begin to strike. On the twelfth stroke Lucius gently released her his fingers lingering in her hair for a moment.

Hermione stared up at him panting slightly. Then she dropped her lids over her eyes because she had absolutely no idea what to do or say and the entire encounter had become too intimate for her to deal with.

"Merry Christmas, Miss Granger." The warmth of his words took some of the sting out of his withdrawal as he released her. "I shall see you on New Year's Eve." He pressed his lips to hers once more in a brief hard kiss and then stepped out from under the mistletoe and turned as if to leave. He paused for a second then turned back. "I may be interested in one of the bastard kittens. Owl me if there's a white one." He turned on his heel and strode off down the corridor before she had a chance to respond.

Leverage: A Christmas Tale

A Harry Potter Story
by Fragilereality

Part 2 of 4

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