Chapter Seven

Drapery & Dinner

Lucius stood for a long moment, beside Draco, simply staring at the girl. The Malfoy men mirrored one another in how they stood, their brows lifted nearly high enough to touch their pale hair and their arms folded across their chests.

She was clad in a cream colored slip-dress, the top and straps accented by gems and little, artfully coiled bits of gold link. At her throat and wrists, only the simplest of her former adornments remained—a simple string of tiny gems that varied in color, and solid gold bangles.

As she stood there, fidgeting, he noted that the stitching along the side of the dress was a little sloppy, but not a terribly haphazard job. It told him, however, that this was something she'd done herself—his servants would never leave an imperfect seam.

Leaning slightly toward his son, Lucius asked, "Tell me again how this happened?"

"I informed her of the things which are hers. She took it to mean murder some drapery."

Hermione chewed on her lip as she watched the interaction. She'd considered only briefly that she might be punished for this. In truth, she was so relieved at not having to roam about the Manor naked for the next few days that she hadn't thought her owners might view this as an act of disobedience.

"Master Lucius, Master Draco?" She couldn't keep quiet any longer, she had to know if she as in trouble for this. "Have I upset you?"

Draco's brows, which had just settled down properly, shot up again, while Lucius pursed his lips in thought.

"Not precisely," the elder Malfoy finally said, his head shaking as he decided for honestly. "I am debating whether or not to consider this as misbehavior."

She clasped her hands in front of her and took a step forward, noting how their gazes dropped briefly to follow the lines of her body beneath the semi-transparent dress. It probably lacked the appeal of her almost-completely-transparent black one, but she hoped the image she presented was at least enticing enough to dull the edge of whatever displeasure they might feel at her actions.

"But Master Lucius," she said, her voice soft as she forced her gaze to meet his, her bottom lip pulling into a pout. "I was under no instruction not to cloth myself."

Draco couldn't help a chuckle—at her inventiveness and quick-wittedness, as well as her kittenish look. He felt oddly certain that actually might be just the proper tack to get herself out of trouble.

Lucius' mouth opened, as though he was about to speak. He closed it, shook his head and started over. "You miss the point, Pet. While that room is yours to do with as you please, the items which it contains are still rather expensive. I shall have to replace what you destroyed. That is the misbehavior to which I refer."

Dropping her gaze, Hermione chewed her lip as she thought. Barely a heartbeat passed before she snapped her head up, meeting his eyes, again. "I will pay for the replacement."

"What?" both men asked, their voices mingling.

Nodding, she looked to her arms as she slipped one bangle from both of her wrists—leaving only two behind on each—and stepped up to Master Lucius. Catching his hand in her free one, she placed the bracelets on his palm.

"These are solid gold," she explained as she returned her attention to him. "If you sell them, would that be enough to pay for new window dressing?"

Lucius forced a gulp down his throat, glancing from the girl to the metal circlets in his hand, and back. "Quite a bit more than enough, I should think."

Hermione smiled in spite of the fear still hovering around her heart, and stepped back. She had just made the very first monetary transaction of her life! That marked this as the third time just today that she'd been granted a freedom. Somehow, being owned by the Malfoys was proving more liberating than nearly anything she'd experienced before.

Snapping his fingers for one of the servants, he handed the bracelets off to the elf who appeared at his side—it occurred to Hermione that she only knew Dobby's name. She'd have to learn the others' names, as well.

"Dinner awaits," Lucius said, still puzzling over what had just happened. He supposed he could have punished her, anyway, but that would serve little purpose since she'd just paid recompense. No, he would save that for a truly impactful transgression.

Nodding, she turned toward the dining room, but waited for them to walk in ahead of her. They had yet to tell her the seating arrangement for formal meals.

Drifting into the room behind them, Hermione nearly stopped short as she noticed there were only two place settings. Yet, she arched a brow as she noted, there was a smaller, lonely-seeming plate—no accompanying utensils, no table napkin—just to the side of one of the place settings.

She watched as they each took a seat. Master Lucius' setting was the one with the side-plate. Swallowing hard, she could only nod when he sat in his chair and looked over at her, pointing toward his lap with his chin.

Hurrying over—after the near-trouble over the drapery, she didn't want to give him a chance to reconsider punishing her—she settled against him. But then, she stilled, her dainty hands on either side of the place setting. Her stomach rumbled at the sight, and close-up smell, of rare steak, asparagus and mashed potatoes with mushrooms.

Her mouth was watering, even after the surprisingly full breakfast and lunch Dobby had prepared her. And an afternoon tea paired with the most delicious biscuits she'd ever tasted. Perhaps all these freedoms had provided too much excitement for her and drained her energy faster than she'd realized.

Her own plate—what she assumed had to be her plate—was empty. She desperately hoped she didn't have to earn her dinner.

"Potatoes first, Pet," Lucius said in her ear.

She was surprised at the need to repress a pleasant shudder. Yes, his lips and breath had brushed against her skin, but this was dinner. Nodding, she turned just a bit in his lap and took the fork in hand. Scooping up some mushroom and potato, she lifted the food to his lips.

He accepted, his arms casually around her to rest loosely curled fists on the table as he engaged Draco in conversation. The younger Malfoy watched the display, hiding a smirk. He wondered if she realized that this was how all dinners would be, the only difference was that her seat would alternate.

She waited patiently for direction. Between words about Draco's visit with his maternal grandfather—a man named Cygnus Black, who sounded utterly loveless from the discussion—Lucius would indicate he was ready for the next forkful by giving a small nod toward the plate.

He saved the steak for last. Hermione thought perhaps he enjoyed the way she wiggled, ever so slightly, against him each time she cut a piece of meat to serve to him.

By the time Master Lucius' plate was cleaned, Draco was starting into his dessert. Hermione tried not to stare across the table, envying him the dish of vanilla custard.

Just as she feared her own meal forgotten by her masters, Lucius called over one of the servants. The creature took that lonely smaller plate and disappeared. Before she could ask what she'd done wrong, it poofed back into the room and set the now-filled plate atop his own and then vanished, once more.

The one glaring difference—aside from the diameter of her plate—was that the notably hearty servings of steak and asparagus were cut into bite-sized pieces. Furrowing her brow as she examined the meal, she tipped her head to one side. She'd not been given any utensils of her own. Was she expected to eat with her fingers?

But then Lucius reached around her, picking up one of the bits of steak in his fingers and bringing it to her lips. For a moment, she only looked at the offering.

Lucius moved his head to catch her gaze. The look of mild confusion in those wide, chestnut eyes was simply precious.

"Are you not hungry, Pet?" he asked, his tone feigning concern.

"I am, Master Lucius."

"Then . . . ." He gently touched the morsel of food to her lips in reminder. "By all means, eat."

Her stomach grumbled, but there was also a heated stirring stealing through her body. She also couldn't help the feeling that something so much more than a meal was happening for Master Lucius. Nodding, she let her eyes drift closed as she took the bit of steak from his fingers.

Lucius bit his bottom lip, holding in a sound of approval at the feel of her teeth and tongue brushing her fingertips.

"I think I'll excuse myself for the evening," Draco said with a grin and a wink. Setting his napkin and spoon in his half-empty dish, he stood from the table. "Good night, Father, Pet."

Hermione opened her eyes to watch her younger Master leave as she swallowed the remnants of what was likely the juiciest bit of steak she'd ever had. Suddenly, the found herself acutely aware of how she sat, practically snuggled against Master Lucius as he held up the next morsel for her to take.

She couldn't not notice the solidness of his form beneath hers, nor the way he held his hand. His forearm rested between her breasts—so that when he brought the food to her lips, the sleeve of his dinner jacket brushed one of her nipples through the smooth fabric of her new dress.

Hermione took the next bite, and the one after, and the one after, until the plate was empty. The entire meal, there was no noise, save for the sound of the breaths, her chewing, and the occasional rumble in the back of his throat. That last only happened when the juice from the steak would drip down his hand, and she traced the red droplets along his skin with the tip of her tongue.

Seeing she'd eaten the last bite before her, she met his gaze. There was a beautiful, hazy look in those grey eyes that made her breath catch in her throat.

As he snapped his fingers for the elf to remove the dinner plates and place a dish of vanilla custard before them, Lucius' attention drifted to her breasts. His gaze lingered on the hardened points of her nipples pressing against the creamy-white material.

He leaned in, his mouth capturing hers in kiss—his tongue darting between her lips to tease her own—as he hooked a finger beneath each dress strap and tugged them down.

When he broke the kiss, she dropped her gaze to see that he'd bared her breasts. Her breath came up short and her skin grew warm, but not so much as when she looked up to meet his eyes, again.

"Now," he said, giving her a slow once-over as he dipped his fingertip into the custard, "I believe we're more than ready for dessert, yes?"

Hermione felt every inch of her body tingle, felt that sweet little pulse between her thighs, as she nodded. "Yes, Master Lucius."