It had been two weeks since Narcissa Malfoy had passed on. Two weeks of tumultuous guilt and grief tangled with relief, and to escape it all Hermione had done what she always did. She'd thrown herself back into her work with the intent to both forget her failure and try to save someone else. Narcissa had called her in to her rooms before passing away, at a brief moment where both Malfoy men had been absent. To Hermione's chagrin, not only had the Malfoy matriarch thanked her she also told her she didn't hold her accountable for her current state. It had taken everything she had not to break down crying in front of the older woman.
Her last words to Hermione had been, "Please, make sure my family is ok". That evening, she had died with both men present. Hermione hadn't seen either since then, and truthfully had no idea how she would fulfill the witch's last wishes. Though, her desire to see them wasn't only due to Narcissa's request, as she actually missed her time spent with both of them – not that she'd ever admit that out loud. Draco had become an unusually enjoyable companion, and someone she felt completely comfortable with. Lucius, on the other hand, was someone whom she could spend hours discussing any manner of topics and while they didn't always agree they could always explore all sides in a civilized fashion to come to a reasonable understanding of each others opinion.
Bringing herself out of her thoughts and back into the present moment, Hermione sucked in a breath as the ball of liquid hovered in the air above her head. As she swiped her wand to the left and back to the right it mimicked her movements, and she bounced on her toes for a moment. It was working! The globule shimmered, flickering from ultramarine to midnight blue, and twisted around itself as it hung in the air.
"Miss Granger?" a voice filtered in from the other room in her lab, and she creased her brow a moment noting a small droplet coming loose from the side of the ball.
"Back here!" she shouted back, frowning as the liquid started to rotate quickly around itself. That...That was not supposed to happen. She pantomimed her wand in an imitation of throwing the ball across the room but didn't move from it's spot approximately a meter above her head. Instead, the edges began to bubble. Bugger.
"Miss Granger" came a voice from the door of her lab.
"Don't move!" she ordered, trying to figure out how to get the liquid to move away from herself and her research notes. She waved her wand frantically, noting that the movements only seemed to cause it to bubble more and turn more rapidly. This was not good. This was decidedly falling into the bad category.
She opened her mouth to give the order to dissolve, just as the glob glimmered a kelly green color and exploded. She threw her hands up to cover her face, only to feel herself yanked unceremoniously across the room. Sidelong? One moment she was at the back of the room, next she was at the door. As she processed her new location, she noted two things simultaneously. One, green goo was covering her research notes and now most of her bench and floor. Two, she was pressed tightly to a warm, firm, quite delicious smelling person. She swung her head up to look at her savior and gasped, "Lucius?"
The blonde quirked an eyebrow at her use of his first name, and she flushed unconsciously, a lopsided smile on her lips. "What in Merlin's name was that?" was his only response. Hermoine coughed, sheepishly, and it seemed to startle him into releasing her from his embrace.
"I am trying to develop a way to deliver medications and treatments to persons from a distance. Either those who can't be touched, or whom shouldn't" she explained, scrunching her face at the sudden pain she felt on her forearms. "That was a prototype. It was going great...until it wasn't"
"Hm. I assume explosion is not it's intended effect?" Hermione shook her head sharply, looking down at her limbs. Her eyes widened as she saw the boils starting to form on her wrists and hands.
"Bugger!" she exclaimed. Lucius looked down and sucked in a breath, grabbing her hand in his own.
"What the?" he muttered. She cried out in pain, pushing past him and back into the other room. Running across the lab, she headed directly for her sink and thrust her arms under the stream of water after turning it on.
"Bugger, bugger, bugger, SHITE!" she cursed, tears welling up in pain. She scrubbed her arms furiously, trying to get the residual potion off of them. Lucius followed her as she rushed back across the room for a small cabinet above her desk, fumbling with the contents inside. She grabbed a squat, opaque vial, and struggled for a moment with the lid before dropping it on her desk with a wail.
Lucius immediately grabbed it, and opened the top. Without hesitation he dipped his fingers inside, taking a large dab of the salve into his hand. He grabbed her right hand with his left, and began applying to the festering wounds. She whined at the contact, and he shushed her softly, gently massaging it into the skin. When he finished with the first arm, he grabbed the other, until both were covered and the skin fading from bright red to it's normal hue. Hermione's tears ebbed into sniffle as the pain began to subside.
"Thank you" she whispered. His face was full of consternation as he looked back at her.
"Are you alright?" It was the last question she expected from him, but she was perhaps even more surprised that she wasn't surprised by it.
"I have an unfortunate allergy to salamander tears. I first found out during my internship when someone dropped a vial on me. It is, however, a great stabilizing ingredient normally, so I had included it in this potion with hopes it would create a secure delivery system"
"I see" his tone held a hint of amusement. She huffed a little and rolled her eyes.
"I think it was the mushroom caps. Or maybe the nargle hair" she tapped a finger against her lips, eyes glazing over as she started considering what had gone wrong, "Maybe the spell to move it provided too much heat"
"Miss Granger", Lucius interrupted her.
"Hermione" she corrected him. Lucius's eyes widened, and he cocked his head at her, "I think we can safely move beyond surnames, don't you?"
He cleared his throat, before continuing, "Miss Granger...Would you perhaps like to join Draco and myself for dinner?"
Her eyes widened again, and she gave him a quizzical look, "Join you? For dinner?" she repeated, somewhat dumbly. It was at that moment she realized that he was still holding her hand, his thumb stroking the back of it unconsciously. Her fingers squeezed his reflexively, and he looked down, apparently just as unaware at his own actions.
"Ah, yes. Food" he replied, in a disjointed manner that she would realize over the years meant he was completely out of sorts. A small smile graced her lips.
"Actually, that sounds wonderful" she responded, squeezing his hand intentionally this time. He returned a controlled quirk of his lips, and stepped back, allowing her hand to drop.
"Wonderful" he rumbled, "Half past seven?" She nodded succinctly.
"I look forward to it"
Bright light suffused the bedroom, and worked its way under her lids as she fought off the impending morning. She dragged the comforter back over her head, unwilling to wake up and force herself to leave this incredible bed. She groaned petulantly, pulling the sheets against herself as she tried to delve in deeper. The mattress was, of course, exquisitely expensive but so completely worth it. And it didn't hurt that her constant bed companion was also extremely satisfying to snuggle with. It made mornings more of a terrible chore than a way to cheerfully greet the new day.
Speaking of companions, she heard a light chuckle from the foot of the bed and she groaned again. The bed dipped, and the blanket pulled back, exposing her face to the morning light.
"Good morning" he said softly, and she wiped her hand across her face.
"If you'd let it, it could be good afternoon" she responded, unwilling to open her eyes yet. There was another soft chuckle before the bed dipped and she could feel him settle over her.
"But that means a few hours less with you" he murmured as he leaned down and kissed her forehead. She couldn't help the grin that stole across her face, and she relented, turning her head to look up at Lucius's face. At her movement he leaned back, kneeling with his legs on either side of hers. She struggled a moment to turn over, and caught her breath as she took in his face for the first time that day.
It had been a year since the LeStrange brothers. A year since they had declared their love for each other, and she'd essentially moved in to the Manor that night. Not that she hadn't fought him when he'd finally talked to her, 4 months later, about giving up her own flat and calling it official. However, she'd given in to sense when he flooed back that evening with McCartney and the damned cat had actually spent the night curled up in the often taciturn man's lap as he read a book in his favorite chair.
Not that Lucius was particularly reserved with her. In fact, he was quite attentive, thoughtful and open. On the few occasions he chose not to elaborate or let her in she let him maintain his silence, until he would later either confess or continue on as if nothing had happened. Of course, they'd had their rows from time to time much like any couple. Such as when he'd invited over the Notts for dinner and had automatically had the elves set the table with the good china that Narcissa had chosen for them. The resulting argument had covered not only house elves and their rights, but what self-respecting home had gold lined china, and why would it be acceptable to display the very set that represented his previous marriage. It was concluded with the china being replaced, the elves remaining in paid employment, and a very rough shag on top of the dining room table wherein Lucius reminded her forcefully that she was not a replacement and the original he craved more than any other.
Having been through a war, and it's associated pain and loss, helped both develop perspective on what was important to them, and what they wanted. And to put a fine point on it, Hermione wanted Lucius and Lucius wanted Hermione. So, regardless of arguments, they always came back to the decision to keep loving each other. And it was the best thing that had ever happened to her.
Sunlight glinted off Lucius' platinum hair, which was loose around his face which was free of any shadows. The effect was the make him appear as if he had a halo, and she unconsciously reached for him. He smiled, a full, beautiful, unencumbered smile that encompassed his whole face and she returned it. Her heart panged, overfull with emotion and affection for the man before her.
"I love you" they said simultaneously, and she laughed a little as she cocked her head to the side. He moved then, and her eyes watched as he reached into his pocket, pulling something out.
"I was going to do this later" he confessed, mercurial eyes on hers again, "When we go out tonight. But, I don't want to wait" She sucked in air sharply, and she looked down at the small band in his fingertips. It was a thin platinum band, scrolled to look like ivy and leaves, and on the top was adorned a faint pink diamond, cut to look like a blooming flower. Her heart skipped a beat, "Hermione Jean Granger, would you do me the honor of becoming my partner? My wife?"
Tears pooled in the corners of her eyes and she nodded, before shoving the blankets down and reaching for him, pulling her down on top of him. He kissed her then, deeply, thoughtfully, thoroughly, and when they came up gasping he placed the ring on her left hand. He rolled off to the side, still on top of the covers and she rolled over to face him, cupping his cheek with the same hand. His expression was one of joy, and he turned his head to kiss her palm.
"I love you, Lucius" she said softly, and he leaned forward to press a kiss on her lips. She pulled back after a moment, and furrowed her brow before replying, "I have a gift for you, too" His brows raised as he stroked the side of her face, tucking a hair next to her ear.
"That's certainly not necessary" he drawled, placing a soft kiss on her nose and trying to catch her lips again. She pulled back, her face a little nervous.
"I know. But, I don't think I could pass this one by" she responded. Consternation crossed his features suddenly at her expression. She pulled her lip between her teeth, and then grasped his hand and placed it on her lower belly. He froze, understanding blooming across his face, and she chewed on her lip more forcefully as she waited for his response. They hadn't talked about this yet, but it wasn't exactly as if they had been careful for the past year either. Her eyes sought his, and held them as she watched the emotions process through them. To her surprise, she saw wetness gather at the corners and then he cried out wordlessly as he pulled her tightly to him, pressing kisses across her face.
"Truly?" he finally managed, looking down into her eyes. The earnestness of his hope and his fear, equal parts in his gaze, moved her. She nodded her head, smiled broadly.
"Yes, truly. I'm ah...about 10 weeks along" she replied. And then his lips were on hers, and he too was burrowed under the covers, and before she knew it they were both stripped of their clothes and she was begging him for more again. Because, what life was better than this?