A/N This is such a bad idea. Two days before NaNoWriMo when I'm supposed to be writing an original story and I decide I have to release this ridiculous tale into the world.
This little two shot is really quite silly. I've been wanting to write Lucius as a sexually inexperienced prude for some time, but I seem to have taken things one step further. The second half will hopefully be up within the next few days...real life permitting.
A/N 2 - Massive thanks to Vitelia who sent me a list of corrections for this chapter. Comma splices are the devil's work. If you are a Sevmione fan then you must immediately read her story Past Imperfect. In fact, read it even if you aren't because you will be by the time it's finished.
It's not love exactly. Well, not romantic love anyway. What she has with Draco is warm, uncomplicated, safe.
Hermione raises her fingers to her face almost afraid to touch her own skin. The beautiful woman staring back at her is as unfamiliar to her as her surroundings. Hermione Granger is a busy Ministry worker with bushy hair and a penchant for comfortable shoes. It appears that Hermione Malfoy will be a more glamorous creature entirely if the battalion of stylists, shoppers, hair and makeup artists who have manipulated her into her wedding gown have anything to say.
She tugs a little at the jewel-encrusted bodice which sits entirely too low for her comfort. Of course, it doesn't move. Her gown is so exquisitely tailored and thoroughly engineered it's going to require a dedicated fire and rescue crew to get her out of it. Or one dedicated husband. She shudders a little at the thought. She likes Draco and they have an understanding. Still, she's not looking forward to her wedding night.
She adjusts a curl that doesn't need adjusting and glances toward the window. Down on the lawn, the guests are assembling. Amongst them her friends some more bemused than others at her choice of spouse.
Not Harry, he gets it. He spends enough time at the Ministry to see what is happening. The Marriage Incentive Programme was only the beginning. Hermione doesn't blame the Ministry. What were they supposed to do? Faced with a population decimated by civil war they had to do something to increase the birth rate. Incentivising marriage seemed like an innocuous step. If things had stopped there Hermione wouldn't be in her current pickle. She didn't need government assistance in buying her first home or a tax-free payment plan for a top of the range broom. But things haven't stopped there. Societal prejudice has grown until being unmarried is strictly frowned upon and even considered unpatriotic in some corners. At work, Hermione has hit a glass ceiling. After years of missed promotions and having her work overlooked she knows she is no longer being judged on her abilities but on the lack of a ring on her finger.
Harry understands all this and accepts her decision to marry Malfoy with a philosophical shrug. Marriage and fatherhood have softened him. Ron, not so much.
"But I would have married you, Hermione!" His plaintive wail no longer has the power to tug on her heartstrings. Things with Ron are...complicated.
Hermione doesn't want a complicated marriage. She doesn't need someone at home with dinner waiting in the oven and plans to spend the evening snuggling on the sofa. Whilst Ron might still hold a candle for her Hermione's own flame was extinguished a long time ago. She will not risk hurting Ron by offering him this sterile arrangement.
And Draco? They both know she is doing him a favour. The Malfoy name is still mud in many circles. Draco doesn't care about a job in the Ministry. He has no need to jump through hoops in order to climb the political ladder. His eventual position as head of Malfoy industries is assured, but he cares very much about what people think of him and as the husband of Hermione Granger he will be elevated from almost war criminal to not quite war hero.
Hermione continues to stare at herself in the mirror of the vanity unit. It is hours before Harry arrives to walk her down the aisle. Why on earth did the wedding planner insist on her being ready so ridiculously early? Her eyes are growing heavy; she barely slept the previous night and is now beginning to suffer the consequences. She rests her cheek against the heel of her hand and stares into space.
She is jolted out of her reverie by a knock on the door. She assumes it will be Narcissa come to fuss over some tiny insignificant detail. The pureblood witch is fully behind Hermione and Draco's union. She has found being banned from several of the shops on Diagon Ally most inconvenient and she hopes that in championing Hermione she will improve her societal standing once more.
To Hermione's surprise, it is not Narcissa, but Lucius who enters the room. Draco's father has not been so easily won over as his mother. Hermione knows he has never spoken openly against their union. Draco reports that his father is grudgingly in favour of the marriage, but also that when Draco first broke the news of their engagement Lucius let forth a display of involuntary magic so powerful it smashed an entire tea set and a Sevres vase. Following that revelation, Hermione has done her best to avoid the Malfoy scion, a feat which has not proven difficult as he seems equally keen to avoid her. All of this begs the question what exactly is he doing standing in the doorway of her suite clutching a bottle of champagne and two glasses?
"Mr. Malfoy." She springs to her feet unwilling to give him the slightest of advantages although standing does little to rectify the disparity in their heights.
"Miss Granger." He enters the room, the door behind him closing with a soft click. "Considering the nature of our future associations might I call you Hermione?" He's polite. Very polite. Hermione doesn't like it.
"Of course, and perhaps I should call you Father?" She can't help but rile him. He winces.
"Lucius will suffice."
He places the bottle and glasses down on the vanity unit and turns to regard Hermione. She is surprised by his expression; he looks almost tentative.
"What can I do for you, Mr. Malf - Lucius?"
To her surprise he runs a hand across his face and turns away, presenting her with his profile as he uncorks the champagne. It is a curiously celebratory sound given the sombre atmosphere he has brought with him.
"You'd better drink this." He presents her with a glass of perfectly chilled champagne. Hermione takes it carefully and regards the finely cut crystal for a moment before she takes a sip. It is delicious, crisp and dry. The bubbles explode on her tongue. She takes another sip savouring the delicacy. To her surprise, Lucius drinks his entire glass in a single swallow and bends slightly to refill the goblet. Hermione wonders how he manages such a feat without burping.
"Drink up," he tells her as he raises his own glass once more. Hermione takes another careful sip.
"I'm quite sensitive to alcohol." She doesn't know why she feels the need to explain. "If I drink too much I won't make it down the aisle." She narrows her eyes. "And if that's your plan, Lucius, you might as well leave now." She stamps her silk-clad foot and points toward the door. Lucius ignores her.
"Oh please, Hermione. Believe me when I say that I am at least resigned to this farce of a union. In fact, I can even see it has its benefits." He pauses to take another swallow of champagne.
"Then why are you here?" Hermione puts down her own glass. She's had quite enough of this bizarre interlude. She frowns. Is Lucius Malfoy blushing?
"I understand that my son has not informed you of all the customs associated with a Malfoy wedding."
"Do you?" Hermione bristles immediately. How dare he question her knowledge? She has spent weeks researching pureblood marriage rituals and has quizzed Draco on every aspect of the union. "I think you will find yourself to be sorely mistaken in that regard Mr...Lucius. I am fully aware of the necessary rituals. For example: the midnight cleansing, the need to refresh the blood wards surrounding the manor at the next full moon, and the swearing in of the house elves." She gives him a smug smile.
"Bravo." His slow hand clap is as insulting as his tone. "You have successfully memorised every pureblood marriage ritual in the book. What are you expecting, an extra NEWT?"
"No," Hermione sniffs. "I have twelve of them already. Why don't you just get to the point?"
"I would," he snaps, "If somebody would stop interrupting me."
Hermione lapses into mutinous silence and takes another sip of her champagne.
"Since my son has told you everything there is to know about our marriage customs I assume he has informed you of the Primae Nocttis ritual." Lucius takes the seat she had vacated on his arrival and crosses one elegant leg across the other. Hermione looks away. She finds Lucius a little challenging. Obviously, she dislikes him, but she is not immune to his appearance. Her eyes skitter wildly around the room looking for something safe upon which to rest. She fixes them on the corner of the bedpost whilst she desperately racks her brain. Eventually, she is forced to admit defeat.
"I don't believe I am familiar with that ritual," she admits.
"It is a particularly archaic practice which I believe is only observed by our family." He pauses to take another slug of champagne. "In his defence, my son was only made aware of the requirements after your betrothal documents had been signed. He assured me he would not have pressed his suit had he been aware of this particular ceremony."
Hermione is losing interest.
"Look, whatever we need to do, let's just get on with it, I'm sick to death with all the faffing around. Just anoint me with goats' blood, or whatever it is you need to do and bugger off."
"Hermione, I really think…"
"Honestly, Lucius I've had it up to here with all these rituals, I really don't want to know."
Lucius rises to his feet with his usual grace and begins to unfasten his robes. Hermione watches in silence as he places the heavy brocade across the bed. Next, he removes his cravat. Hermione has never seen him so casually dressed and she cannot help but admire the smooth column of his throat. However, she begins to grow anxious when he removes his cuff links and starts to unbutton his shirt.
"What are you doing?"
"Removing my shirt."
"Does this ritual need to be carried out naked?"
"Yes, if we're to complete it without my shirt being irrevocably creased."
Hermione is hit by a sudden and utterly horrid suspicion.
"Wait!" She throws up a hand hoping to forestall any further loss of clothing.
"I thought you wanted to just get on with it?"
He has undone more than half of the pearl buttons and an alluring sliver of the surprisingly muscular chest has appeared. Hermione valiantly refuses to look at it.
"I've changed my mind….I think I need to know what it actually entails."
Lucius pauses in his striptease his and gestures in the direction of her abandoned champagne flute.
"I strongly advise you to finish that."
"Just tell me what I have to do." Hermione's limited supply of patience has waned.
"Bugger Draco," Lucius mutters under his breath. Hermione crosses her arms and taps her foot.
Lucius sighs deeply and turns to contemplate the view from the window. "The ritual of Primae Noctis was introduced several centuries ago in order to preserve the purity of the Malfoy bloodline." He raises an eyebrow as Hermione emits a snort of disgust. "Since you are about to become a Malfoy, Miss Granger, perhaps you might consider reining in your distaste for us. As I was saying, for millennia purity has been valued above everything else. Some families embraced a matrilineal inheritance line in order to assure the continuation of the bloodline. This, however, has been impossible for my family."
"Because of inherent sexism in pureblood culture?"
"No." His jaw clenches as he grits his back teeth. "Because for hundreds of generations the Malfoys have produced a single male child."
"Oh." Hermione hadn't known that.
"Primae Noctis safeguards the bloodline on the assumption that the familial patriarch is a true descendant. It assumes that the bloodline further down could have been contaminated." He is staring at Hermione with an intense look as if he is trying to communicate something more.
Lucius sighs. He is clearly disappointed that Hermione is so slow on the uptake. "Primae Noctis serves both to ascertain that the proposed bride is intact and at the same time gives the known heir the opportunity to preserve the bloodline." This time he slugs directly from the champagne bottle, his eyes wild.
"Holy fuck!" Hermione's brain has processed his flowery speech and she has finally put two and two together. "You want to have sex with me!"
"Absolutely not." Lucius drains the bottle. "Believe me, Hermione, there is nothing I wish to do less than engage in sexual congress with you. However, needs must."
Hermione files his little jibe away to be used against him later. "Well I can assure you, Mr. Malfoy I am intact as you so delicately put it. Your private healer has already confirmed it. You're the head of the family, surely you can overrule this ridiculous ritual"
Lucius shakes his head a look of genuine misery on his handsome face. "Believe me, Hermione if I could undo this I would. I have no desire for Draco to suffer the same humiliation as I. To be cuckolded by his own father…" He tails off briefly before visibly steeling himself.
"What..?" Hermione picks up on his unspoken inference. "Narcissa...and your father?" It's hard to imagine Draco's diamond-hard mother having sex with anyone let alone engaging in ritualised intercourse with her fiancé's father.
"Of course I was subject to the ritual." Lucius runs a hand through his hair and then instantly smooths the tousled locks. "I believe my father was quite thrilled to get his hands on Narcissa. Please believe me, Hermione, when I assure you my intentions are in no way lascivious."
"Because I'm Muggle-born?" Hermione snaps. She is inexplicably offended by the fact that Lucius doesn't want to sleep with her.
"No!" He widens his eyes. "Because I find the idea of the sexual coercion of a woman half my age to be morally repugnant."
"Oh." Hermione taps her fingers against her lips and stares unseeingly at her future father in law. "What happens if we don't do it?"
"The wards of the Manor and our other properties will not accept you. Your children will be considered illegitimate and neither you nor they will be able to access the family vault at Gringotts…" He tails off uncomfortably.
"It's just a rumour." He fiddles with his still undone cuffs. "As far as I know no one has ever refused to observe Primae Noctis so who knows what the side effects are?
"But what do you think might happen?" Hermione presses.
"They say that any offspring will be born a Squib."
Hermione stares at him in silence. She doesn't really care about Draco's money and she has no desire to set foot in Malfoy Manor ever again. But she has promised Draco a child. And she had assumed that child would be magical. That it would go through life experiencing none of the hardship and prejudice she had borne. But a squib? She is under no illusions, in her eyes being a squib would be worse than being born a Muggle. She looks across at Lucius who is not quite able to meet her eyes.
"Fine, I'll do it."
A/N - Believe me it gets even more ridiculous...