Continuing Tales


A Harry Potter Story
by MizSphinx

Part 5 of 12

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Exhaling a heavy and dejected sigh, Hermione forced herself to smile as she looked up and said,

"Good afternoon, Mr Malfoy."

"Miss Granger, I may be mistaken but it seems as though you'd rather not have me in your shop," said Lucius in innocent tones.

Her fake smile widened some more. "Why would you think such a thing, Mr Malfoy? If I didn't wish you to be here, a sign saying so would have been placed on the door's front." Which I forgot to put up, you lucky bastard.

"And your heavy sigh upon hearing my greeting? Surely that's an indicator of your displeasure?"

"I did not sigh," she lied. "I…I was…err…holding my breath, so I exhaled…"


Then: "…And I was holding my breath because…because…I was in a breathing contest…"

More silence.

Then: "…With myself."

Oh, God. Why? Why do I do this to myself? Why do I hate myself so much?

Maybe she had a new kind of disease? A heretofore undiscovered pathogen floating around in her bloodstream, forcing her to say ridiculous things? But then, why did this trait only surface when in company of Lucius Malfoy? So, maybe she secretly reveled in her own humiliation but was somehow unaware of it? She did not know, but it wouldn't hurt to find out why she kept putting her foot in her mouth when around Lucius Malfoy.

"And how long did you last?" he asked, the left corner of his mouth quirked up in a small smile.

"Forty-two seconds," she replied smoothly. She'd already started this so she wasn't about to backtrack now.

He leant sideways against her desk, his elbow positioned on the edge. "And how were you keeping time? You're not sporting a timepiece on your wrist, nor do I see any on your desk."

She met his gaze boldly. "I counted in my head."

He smiled fully now. "Such a glib tongue. You might have convinced another had they not known any better."

She lifted her chin and replied in haughty tones, "Are you accusing me of lying, Mr Malfoy? You ought to be careful. I can throw you out of my shop."

"Of course, and no doubt you'll be happy to do so, hmm?"

And he leant away from her desk and moved on to the bookshelves.

But that was not the end of it, for as she set about tidying up to close shop, Lucius Malfoy approached her desk yet again. She'd completely forgotten about him since she'd spent most of her time at the front performing administrative duties.

Because it was Saturday and the weather wasn't particularly terrible, she hadn't received many visitors today. She didn't mind because she knew things would pick up once Monday rolled around. She'd considered staying open all the way to four o' clock, but she was hungry and longing to stretch her legs a bit. Thus, she had decided to close early.

His sudden reappearance startled her enough to make the box of Giavaro sweets fall from her hands. It fell on its side on her desk, the lid slid off, and a few of the sweets spilled out into view. After much hesitation and bottom-lip chewing, she had eventually succumbed to the urge and had sucked blissfully on two of the sweets. Even now as she gently rewrapped them with the green silk and placed them back in the box, she wanted to grab another and pop it into her mouth.

He did not speak right away. He looked on silently as she repackaged her gift. As she replaced the lid on the box, she realised that he might see the inscription Athena written on it, so she covered the word with her fingers.

He finally broke his silence: "A gift from your lover?"

She blushed. "R-really, Mr Malfoy, that's none of your business. But if you must know, though: no. H-he's – It was from a friend."

A part of her questioned why she felt inclined to clarify that it was not from a lover. So what if he'd got that impression? And why, for that matter, would he care whether or not it was from a lover, anyway?

"Indeed? Then, I daresay this he would not mind if I asked you to lunch?"

She raised her head slowly, her eyes widening with each second. "W-what? Are you…are you serious?"

He wasn't smiling. His handsome face was as straight and emotionless as an expert card dealer's. Merlin, he looked serious.

Her heart had begun to beat a little faster, her breathing following suit. This was surreal. No, this was impossible. Probably a warped, alternate universe that had somehow collided with the real version of her life. How else could one explain Lucius Malfoy – Lucius Malfoy – asking her, Hermione Granger, out to lunch? And because alternate universes were as sensitive as time, one alteration could mean a whole legion of awful and unexpected consequences.

"No," she said before he could respond. "Absolutely not."

He did not look hurt, only curious as he stepped closer.


She stood straighter. "Because you are Lucius Malfoy and I am Hermione Granger."

"Hardly an acceptable reason for rejecting my lunch invitation, Miss Granger."

She frowned. "Mr Malfoy, have you forgotten who I am?"

"How can I when you've so recently reminded me? You are Hermione Granger."

Exasperated, "Merlin, you are infuriating!"

"I will accept that as a compliment. Thank you."

"No, it is not a – " she began heatedly before pausing and taking a deep breath. In a calmer voice: "Mr Malfoy, I don't know if you fell and hit your head on a rock this morning, but let me make this clear: you may be a very attractive man, but under no circumstance will I ever – " she paused again when Lucius lifted his hand. "What? What is it?"

"I merely wanted to thank you, Miss Granger. I am flattered you consider me 'very attractive.' Carry on."

There was a very smug smile on his face.

As though blood vessels beneath her cheeks had been severed, there was an explosion of red on her face. Shocked, mortified and angry, she gritted her teeth and said only:


"Not until I've paid for my book, my dear."

Smug smile still intact, he placed twenty galleons on her desk – overpaying her hugely – and left her bookshop.


Thank you! What an amazing and thoughtful gift! Even more so for they are my favourite kind of sweets. Is your clairvoyance borne from your elfish heritage? Ha! I've been fighting a hard battle between gobbling them all or hoarding them like a miser hoards their gold. I think I've struck a balance of sorts between these two urges: eat at least one everyday. I tried to ignore it but I can't help commenting on the fact that this gift must have cost you quite a bit. I am extraordinarily flattered by your generosity, Legolas! Therefore, I've sent you a gift of my own. It's not as pricey as yours, but I'd like to believe it has great value all the same.




It was only after the owl was a mere dot in the sky did Hermione realise her mistake.

Love, Athena…?

Sweet Circe and all Her pretty pink dresses had she gone mad? Definitely.

How could she not have noticed what she'd written on that missive? What had been on her mind when she'd scribbled that particular line? Was it even something worth worrying over? Would he even notice it? Would he care?

And it dawned on her that she would like him to notice it, to care enough to reply with a similar sentiment. Did she love Legolas? No. But Merlin knew after three and a half months of sending letters back and forth, she was beginning to fancy the man. He was just so…perfect. Charming, humorous, intelligent, respectful and generous among many other fantastic qualities. And whenever she received a letter from him, a warm, excited feeling filled her belly and quickened her heartbeat.

Legolas. Who was he, and was he too good to be true? Did she know him in real life? Beyond impossible. She'd yet to meet a man who made her feel the way Legolas did.

Well, isn't this just fantastic? Smitten with a man I've never seen and hardly even know.

Though she disagreed with the latter. She did know a lot about Legolas! In the course of their friendship, she'd learnt more about him and had shared more about herself than she had with even her closest friends. She knew his likes, his dislikes, his favourites, his hobbies, his fears, his hopes. She'd learnt about bits and pieces of his childhood and his adulthood. She'd even learnt that he'd been married once.

The more she considered it, the less she felt embarrassed about her latest letter. Let him read into it as much as he wanted to. If he was interested in her, he'd give her a very clear indication. At least she hoped so.

Whilst pondering on whether fancying one's penfriend was an awfully sad state of affairs, the bookshop's wind chime tinkled its song. When Hermione looked up, she found Draco Malfoy coming towards her.

Immediately, she remembered her last encounter with Malfoy Senior three days ago, and even the Restaurant Incident too, and a fresh wave of humiliation accosted her. A horrifying thought came to her: what if Lucius Malfoy liked to go home and brag to his son about how Hermione Granger often transformed into the perfect klutz whenever in his presence? What if the two of them laughed it up, slapping their knees in hilarity while miming her falls, her tripping over air, and her stammering?

Oh the horror! The shame!

"Hello, Granger," greeted Draco quietly, watching her.

She met his gaze shyly. "Hello, Malfoy. How are you?"

"I'm good," he nodded. "You?"

"I'm good, too."


"Yes. Good."


"Do you – " she began.

"Can you – " he began as well.

"No, go ahead," she urged.

"No, that's alright. What were you going to say?" he insisted.

"Well, I was just going to ask whether you needed help finding a book. You?"

"Well, I was just going to ask whether you can help me find a book."

And they shared a light, nervous laugh with each other.

"Ok, obviously this is very strange for the both of us," she commented.

"Obviously," he agreed.

"What do you think we should do about this?"

"Your guess is as good as mine." He shrugged. "Have lunch together, maybe? Reminisce a bit over shrimp and wine until we're comfortable with each other?"

Another Malfoy asking her out to lunch? Were they both falling and knocking their heads on stones? Or maybe they had been hit with a Confundus charm? Somehow, they'd forgotten her heritage, the kind of blood that ran in her veins. They seemed to have stopped considering that she was the kind of person they ought not to associate with, let alone ask out to lunch.

Or maybe you're just being immature?

It had been on the tip of her tongue to tell Draco, "No, absolutely not," just like she'd done with his father, but that thought halted her. Was she being immature?

Yes. They're handing out olive branches and you're figuratively using a chainsaw to reject their offering. How could you say you've forgiven them? Why can't you just let bygones be bygones?

She looked at Draco. Despite his attempt at nonchalance, she could easily read the hope in his eyes, the fear of being rejected. He is not as skilled an actor as his father, she thought vaguely. I could easily tell him no. Let him feel only a margin of the hurt I endured under his vile tongue during Hogwarts. I could…but I won't.

"That sounds like a great idea," she finally said, smiling at him. "But I can't leave. I don't have an assistant. Would it be okay if you brought it here instead?"

For the second time in all her years knowing him, Draco smiled fully at her.

"Not a problem, Granger."

Since Hermione thought it not businesslike to eat in front of her customers, she and Draco decided to commence their Reconciliatory Lunch – or so she'd dubbed it – in her tiny storage room. Seated on cardboard boxes filled with books to support their weight, they talked at length about all manner of trivial things, and purposely evaded the heavier subjects like Hogwarts and the War.

Hermione was surprised she enjoyed Draco's company. She'd so often associated him with negative emotions that her laughing at his jokes or her growing interested in whatever he had to say felt unreal. What was even more astonishing was the irritation she felt when their conversation was interrupted so she could attend to her customers' needs.

They spoke for about two hours until Draco remembered he had one last class with the sixth year Gryffindor-Slytherin group for the day and had to leave.

"Well, that was unexpectedly fun," he said as they exited the storage room together.

Hermione grinned and was about to agree when a voice interjected,

"Undoubtedly. I've never seen you so at ease, Draco."

They froze simultaneously, both of them already aware of who had spoken. Turning to look ahead, they found Lucius watching them intently.

"Father," said Draco stiffly. "What a surprise to find you here today."

"I can say the same for you, Draco," replied Lucius. Then, his gaze sliding to meet Hermione's, "But perhaps not."

Had Hermione been watching him, she might have seen the sudden colouring of Draco's face. But her eyes were focussed solely on Lucius as she struggled to quell the sudden fluttering in her stomach. For some reason, she felt both excited and guilty by the fact that Lucius had seen her exiting her storage room with Draco. Had he impressions that she and Draco had been up to naughty things in the room? How did he feel about that prospect? His lovely Pureblood son having dalliances with a dirty little Mudblood?

His face was impassive; unreadable. She contemplated sidling closer to Draco to cement any assumptions he might be harbouring, and just when she'd made up her mind to do it, Draco edged away from her and towards his father.

"I-I've got to get back," he said in a tight voice. Quickly looking back at her: "Thanks for the…err…lunch, Granger. See you tonight, father." And he rounded the nearest bookshelf, out of sight. The tinkling of the wind chime seconds later suggested he'd left quite hastily.

Now, left in the more secluded section of her shop with only Lucius Malfoy, all of Hermione's excitement intensified, but a bit of fear began to edge its way in. As much as he tried to appear unperturbed, the darkening of his eyes suggested that he was not happy. Sense advised she ought to be very careful, for Lucius Malfoy was once a very dangerous man, and that men like him never stopped being dangerous even if they proclaimed differently to the gullible masses that believed them.

He won't hurt me.

Don't be so sure…

"D-do you need help, Mr Malfoy?" she asked, fighting to sound businesslike and failing mightily.

"Yes, Miss Granger," he answered, coming slowly towards her, "I need your assistance on a very important enquiry."


He was closer now. "Concerning why you'd swiftly reject my lunch offer but readily accept the one from my son."

"How do you know it wasn't me who did the offering?" she challenged, stepping backwards.

"You did not." He was in her personal space now, and still moving forwards. "Why?"

She moved all the way back until her body met wall. She pursed her mouth stubbornly. "Why not?" Then, succumbing to the urge to provoke him, "Is it because I am what I am?"

He was standing right in front of her, so close that when she looked up, she could see the fine hairs along his jawline, and feel the wispiness of his breathing on her forehead. So close that the merest movement from either one of them would ensure they touch.

Who knew that fear, excitement, and the scent of lemon and rosemary were such a heady mix? If her racing heart wasn't being so exuberant, she might have fainted away like a proper damsel in distress.

He leant his head down, far too close for Hermione's comfort. She leant her head back, away from his.

Softly, "And what are you?"

Sensible Voice told her to tell dear Mr Malfoy to kindly bugger the hell off and out of her bookshop, but she stood her ground.

Her jaw set, eyes determined. "A Muggleborn. A…" She licked her lips. "…A Mudblood. You don't like Mudbloods. You don't like me."

Lucius Malfoy's ensuing smile was so sly and devious, and so ridiculously sexy, she couldn't help but stare in transfixed admiration.

Very softly, very slowly, he replied, "If that were true, Miss Granger, would I do this…?"

And he leant his face further down, his intentions clear. Sweet dancing bare-arsed Merlin he was going to kiss her! And like the perfect numpty to have ever been born this side of earth, she did not move, she did not push him away in a cry of disgusted horror. Instead, she stood rigid in part shock, part anticipation for the moment when his lips would meet hers and…

"Hermione! Where the bloody hell are you? I've been waiting here an age, and now you've completely ruined my surprise!"


And with these words, her senses returned, and so did her motor skills as she scuttled out of Lucius Malfoy's reach and off to meet her friend.


A Harry Potter Story
by MizSphinx

Part 5 of 12

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