Summary: Six years after the Second Wizarding War Hermione Granger and Lucius Malfoy meet under extraordinary circumstances and pave the ground for a patron-protégée-relationship of profound consequences. Fighting for power and control, justice and vengeance, they end up blurring the thin line between fatal self-destructiveness and divine symbiosis. It's called politics.

Rating: M for adult content, subjects, and explicit language. Don't expect mere smut (although it gets very steamy). I sometimes use specific terms, thus, annotations and translations are provided if the characters don't elaborate.

Nerd-Alert: The story has plenty of intellectual, political, cultural, and socio-cultural references. Happy hunting!

A/N: Vielen Dank, my beta readers Lady Arthuria and Madame Cyanure! I do not own the HP-characters, they belong to J.K. Rowling.

I do appreciate constructive feedback. So please, do not hesitate to review.


"Worldly fame is but a breath of wind that blows now this way, and now that, and changes name as it changes direction." – Dante Alighieri


Beneath Skin & Bane

1 Prologue

He pushed the button for the fourth level impatiently, over and over again until he practically slammed his fist into it. The workers turned their heads and stared at him quizzically.

"It's not going to go any faster if you hit the elevator, Weasley," an old wizard commented drily and the redhead just grunted in response.

The golden grilles slid open, people flooded out, memos flew in, and the lift set in motion once more. Finally, the lift voice announced: "Level Four, Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, incorporating Beast, Being, and Spirit Divisions, Goblin Liaison Office, and the Pest Advisory Bureau."

The man stormed out, rushing through the corridor – right, left, left again – and tore a door open at the far end of the hall, causing the witch sitting at the desk to cry out in shock.

"Merlin, you nearly scared me out of my skin! Ever heard of knocking?"

Ron slammed the door behind him and yelled "Field work in the Auror Department, Hermione? FIELD WORK? What's gotten into you?"

It would be a blatant understatement to describe that Ron was not overly pleased about Hermione Granger's transfer from the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures to Magical Law Enforcement. The last time that she had seen him in such a state was when the Chudley Cannons landed at the bottom of the League, last year. No wonder Hermione was taken aback by his sudden outburst—but she quickly regained her composure.

"Ron, calm down, pl-"

"Are you crazy!" He flushed bright red and slammed his fist down her desk, causing her to flinch back in her chair.

All colour drained from Hermione's face as she glared at Ron – livid and, quite frankly, disgusted by his behaviour. However, she tried to answer in a civil manner. "No, Ron, I am not, but I will be if I don't transfer. You remember how much I grumbled about doing useless work? I really got fed up with pushing papers around and desperately need a new challenge. I want to go out and see the world and this new post enables me to do so!"

"See the world!" He aped her. "Why do you think the International Confederation of Wizards convened an international taskforce to reinforce the International Statute of Secrecy? For fun? It's not a bloody weekend trip to Hogsmeade! Basilisks, the fight at the Department of Mysteries, Horcruxes, ill-tempered dragons, cat hair in Polyjuice Potions, mad Bellatrix, Fluffy, the Battle of Hogwarts! By Merlin's sagging balls, what did you think all of that was? I cannot believe that after all we've been through, you're willing to put yourself in danger again!"

She huffed and retorted with a voice growing louder and shriller with every sentence—"Oh, come on! You're completely exaggerating! I'm just working for a Muggle auction house. What's so wrong about detecting and confiscating magical artefacts in illegal possession of Muggles? Your father even recommended me for this post! Besides, someone has to do the job and I cannot think of anyone more suitable than me!"

"You know very well that he sees everything Muggle-related through rose-coloured glasses! But that's not the point," Ron countered, equally petulant, "You're abandoning us for the sake of your career!"

"Ron, could you please stop being so dramatic? I appreciate your concerns and that you care about me, but you forget that I'm not a helpless witch. I really want to use my abilities for a greater cause and I don't see that happening if I stay here," she said, trying to sound placatory.

"What did you just say? A greater cause? Do you actually listen to yourself? Fame clearly goes to your head!" Ron scoffed, dead serious about what he said.

He had gone too far. Hermione rose from her chair and replied in a dangerously calm voice, her eyes narrowed to slits, "Says you who shags every bit of pussy within a ten mile radius because they recognize you as a war hero. At least I'm trying to do something meaningful."

Ron's jaw dropped and he stumbled back, sounding mortally offended. "I'm really disappointed, Hermione," he said and darted out, slamming the door with enough force to make a picture fall off the wall, breaking the glass.

Hermione stared at the closed door and added quietly: "As am I."

Much to her annoyance, Ron never managed to shake off his overprotective behaviour towards his former girlfriend. They broke up during her final year at Hogwarts while he was on the hunt for Death Eaters with the other Aurors. As much they had shared with each other, there was always an insurmountable distance between them fortified by many reasons – such as his self-indulgence in his, she had to admit, well-deserved, fame and its associated perks or his lack of ambition – but none of it mattered if the only thing she needed to feel for him in order to overcome those obstacles was not there; Love. Not the type of love friends or siblings shared but the kind of love lovers shared.

Hermione repaired the frame with a quick swoosh of her wand and returned it to its former place. Not satisfied with the result, she stood up and straightened the frame where Harry, Ron and herself waved at her, laughing and smiling. The picture had been taken during Harry and Ginny's engagement party.

Hermione slumped back into her chair. Needing to calm down, she shifted her attention towards the Daily Prophet lying on the desk. "Oh!" she exclaimed as she read the article in the gossip column that caught her interest.

THE MALFOYS HEAD FOR DIVORCE COURT

In the decade of glamour, they were the most glamorous, in the decade of greed, they were the greediest, and during the time of war, they were the most deceitful, but pride goes before the fall. Rumours of the seismic marital rift had whipped round the social circuit for months but were only endorsed until recently when an official file for divorce was handed in last week.

After the ultimate fall of You-Know-Who by Harry Potter, the former Death Eater family retreated from the social parquet to wait for their trial to come. Whilst the unmarried and sole heir, Draco Malfoy, came to terms with the Wizengamot's court decision and returned to Hogwarts for his NEWTs, Narcissa (née Black) and Lucius Malfoy's marriage took its fatal downhill.

According to a witness, the couple was seen arguing in the Ministry when Lucius Malfoy filed for appeal of his sentence of seven years witchcraft and wizardry prohibition and wand-ban. "Lucius Malfoy moved out and left the Manor to his wife," reported an insider. Apparently, the head of the ancient pure-blood family now resides in one of his estates. "No one has seen him in months." Unknown are also Draco Malfoy's current whereabouts but according to a former peer who wants to remain anonymous, he intended to study abroad. Neither Draco nor the couple were available for any comment.

Hermione's attention shifted to the moving photograph, showing the family in court during their trial after the war. Mrs Malfoy looked slightly dishevelled but tried to maintain her indifferent mask while Draco managed to adopt a void expression. However, Mister Malfoy, evidently inflamed with rage, shouted something at the Wizengamot, which the picture could not render.

"Serves him right," she murmured smugly and remembered her first encounter with the Dark wizard. It was at Flourish & Blotts and ended in a fistfight between him and Ron's father. The memory of his ruthless glare sent shivers through her body and her thoughts drifted to Draco. Since he was so close to his parents, it must have been quite a blow for him. She decided to write him after work. And since Hermione still owed him a bottle of Firewhisky for a lost bet, she could send the letter along with it.

Enough. Hermione took a deep breath. There was work to do.