This collection of fics was originally posted on my lj as part of my Pick a Fic: Round II, in which posters could pick a plot bunny and prompt for me to write. The response was… more than I expected. None of these one-shots is connected to the previous in any way (except for Regarding Hair as a short follow-up to Love & War), and I experimented with different styles and tones throughout. I don't think it worked out too well, but... I don't think it particularly bothers me anymore either.
Love and War
Standard Disclaimer Applies
Author's Plea: Originally as part of Pick a Fic: Round II on my lj for the prompts picked by Inell:
Bunny #24 A vacation spot. A week of rest and relaxation. And someone who tried to kill you two suites over. with Prompt 032. Sunset
There is a short follow-up to this, …Regarding Hair, that will be posted shortly. As always, enjoy if you can.
Hermione was rightfully angry at her boss for forcing her to take a week off work right up to the moment she stepped into her reserved room at Hotel Magnifique. The palatial columns and brilliantly sophisticated linens were just ostentatious enough to make her feel spoiled but not enough to feel uncomfortable. The light of the glorious sunset set everything ablaze with colour and life.
The minute she stepped inside the adjoining bathroom, she forgot all about work --and the existence of a world outside this suite-- entirely.
It was… well she didn't suppose one could call it splendid without sounding insulting. For all her advanced vocabulary, she didn't particularly think any one word did the room justice. The shining porcelain that was warm to the touch… the fluffy towels that always remained dry… the fragrant soaps and lotions that promised o so many wonderful things… the blessedly silent mirror…
It truly took her breath away, which was a rare occurrence indeed. Once she was able to drag herself out of the bathroom several luxurious hours later for the longest and best night of sleep she'd experienced in quite some time, she was feeling quite forgiving towards her boss for forcing her to go on holiday and handing over this reservation.
Quite forgiving indeed.
Perhaps the only thing greater than the bathroom was, in Hermione's humble opinion, the book borrowing system she discovered when she finally woke in the morning. She had become so caught up at work during the last few months that she had neglected to stay up to date in the latest magical innovations. That the Hotel offered a complete current library that was accessible by simply designating which book one wished to peruse was simply ingenious. Altogether, Hermione thought she could gladly live out the rest of her days as such.
A more than agreeable day was spent reading and enjoying the pleasant weather from her balcony. It was not until sunset that evening, as she enjoyed a light dinner, that Hermione found anything at all that was disagreeable about Hotel Magnifique, though it was less a fault of the Hotel itself than its patronage. The balconies for each suite covered the seaward side of the Hotel, and, in an attempt to promote communication between patrons, there was very little distance between each. The suite next to hers was currently occupied by a quiet couple. The Petris were perhaps a bit snooty but had greeted her courteously from their own balcony that morning.
The suite next to them was occupied by someone Hermione had no desire to ever see again.
"Violet, put the wretched thing down and join me."
"I am certain my son would dispose of you without hesitation if he witnessed you frolicking with a common house elf. Now, you will join me at the table like a civilized child."
Hermione couldn't help but stare at the girl of no more than five that obediently sat next to Lucius Malfoy two balconies over. The child was absolutely stunning, especially in the brilliant light of sunset, and sure to be a complete beauty once she was grown. However, considering the parents were Draco Malfoy and Gabrielle Delacour, the girl's attitude towards others would doubtless be atrocious.
From the child, Hermione's eyes perused the form of Lucius Malfoy. The old anger and fear clouded her senses for a moment before she forced herself to remember that this man had been 'rehabilitated' after the war and seen fit to reintroduce society. Of course, his return had certainly had nothing to do with the sudden increase in funds available to the Ministry. Without even realizing it, her jaw tightened and eyes narrowed as she viewed him enjoying the breeze from the sea.
"Grandpapa, the lady likes you."
Though she had lost herself in unpleasant memories and much more pleasant alternate possibilities, Hermione instantly came back to the present and found her gaze locked with that of Mr. Malfoy.
"Do not say such foolish things, Violet. Return inside and prepare for your father's return. I will be in shortly."
The child retreated inside without question which made Hermione almost grin. After all, she expected the child of a Malfoy to be spoiled beyond repair by now. The older Malfoy remained on the balcony and stared at her with hard eyes before he smirked.
"I hardly expected to find a person of your standing at such an establishment," he said with poorly concealed derision.
She frowned and pointedly ignored him. Her inaction seemed to only amuse him as he barked one brittle laugh before withdrawing. Determined not to let him ruin her vacation, she remained long after, sipping wine and enjoying the approaching night.
The next day was blessedly Malfoy free until she decided to read on the balcony after her bath. Her robe stuck to her a skin a bit much and her wet hair was taking longer to dry without the usual barrage of spells, but she found the breeze against her clean skin very calming and soon fell into a light slumber.
When she woke a short hour later, it was to the feeling of someone watching her. A quick look around showed her nothing until she glanced to the line of balconies on her right. Adorned in robes that were in contrast to the soft colours of the Hotel, he was leaning against the rail of the balcony staring at her without the least bit of contrition. Even from the distance, she could still discern an unscrupulous expression on his face.
"I hardly expected to find a person of your failings spending your time as such," she said with a raised brow. "Are you quite finished?"
"Not entirely." He paused to smirk maliciously. "You are ill advised if you believe yourself safe, girl. I could have killed you with a simple word as you slept so soundly."
"As you have attempted and failed to kill me before with more conviction, I will simply have to find you incapable of doing so. If you were going to, you would have done it before now."
"Perhaps I wish to see you suffer first."
"Well then, you have succeeded as speaking to you is very much torture."
"You are at liberty to leave."
"And let you ruin my holiday? Hardly."
She readjusted herself on the chaise and attempted to ignore him. However, she hardly trusted him with her back turned in normal circumstances, let alone now after such a telling exchange. All was silent and only the pierce of his stare was felt for several long moments before he stepped away from the railing and instead rested in his own chaise.
His unwanted presence was an uncomfortable itch between her shoulder blades, and yet she refused to leave. She even went as far as to have her dinner there, being sure to face the Enemy in quiet mockery.
He merely watched her with a certain smirk as he ate his own meal, so perhaps it didn't work quite as well as she'd hoped.
By sunset, she was ready to give in to defeat, if only to keep him from staring at her so unreservedly. Still, it was her vacation, and she refused to give it up without a fight.
"I understand that I am very amusing to watch, but could you perhaps see it fit to find another to study?"
"I do not believe at all that you understand why you are so very amusing to watch."
As soon as the thought occurred to her, her wand was in hand and pointed defiantly at him.
"What have you done to me? What spell?"
"Considering my current company, I believe I have every reason not to trust you."
"The sentiment is shared. However, on this occasion, I have done nothing to you. Put your wand away, Mudblood, before you do something entirely probable."
Her hand tightened briefly on the wand before she slowly lowered it. She had dropped her guard for a second before he was armed and whispering the proper words. Without further warning, she was stiff as a board and angry as all hell.
"Now, Miss Granger, perhaps spending some time to yourself will grant you some modicum of respect for your betters. Do not tempt me again."
And from the corner of her eye, she could see that he was gone even as his threat lingered in the quickly chilling air surrounding her. And, as the sun finally sunk beneath the horizon, Hermione swore that her first action upon breaking the petrification spell would be to plot Lucius Malfoy's imminent demise.
It took until near sunrise before the spell finally wore off enough for her to drag herself back into her suite and pass out on her bed. Even the delicate bed clothes and luxurious mattress could not stop the dreams that besieged her. Fortunately, these half-remembered and more then a bit odd dreams provided inspiration for her treatment of the Enemy.
The finer points were crafted using the Hotel's stationary. By early afternoon, the plan was complete, and by sunset, she was ready to put it into play. Everything she had needed was quickly made available by the generous Hotel staff and through a few owls to a select few acquaintances. Her former Potions professor seemed exceedingly quick to respond with the requested substances, though she thought perhaps his well disguised vendetta against all Malfoys explained a lot.
More so, she lucked out when she just happened to summon the house elf that had apparently been playing, quite happily, with Lucius' granddaughter. Snippy was happy to do anything to help Hermione, especially when she mentioned that they would really be helping little Violet Malfoy. That might or might not be true, but it was still possible, however remotely, that Violet Malfoy would be happy with her New and Improved Grandfather.
Altogether, when she took her dinner on her balcony, it was more than a bit difficult to keep the smirk off her face, especially once Lucius greeted her from his own balcony, lifting his wine glass in silent mockery. She managed to keep her features moderately still until he finally drained the last remnants from his glass and set about mocking her.
"I hardly expected to be disgraced with your company after our… disagreement last night."
"You hardly expect anything, Mr. Malfoy. Perhaps that is a fault in my favour."
They spoke no more that night, though the yell of outrage that she was privileged to hear the next morning more than made up for that. However, she didn't actually see the results of her plan until sunset when she took her customary dinner on the balcony. When she felt his presence to her right and turned to face him, she was more than a bit happily surprised.
He really had no shame, or, rather, he had decided to forgo shame in favour of pretending his lack of lustrous locks did not bother him. His head was surprisingly shiny in the last rays of sunlight, and the sight was something that she was sure would be etched in her memory forever. Even her wildest imaginings didn't do justice to what Lucius Malfoy actually looked like without hair.
"Miss Granger," he said softly, venomously without bothering to look in her direction. "You are playing a dangerous game."
"No, Mr. Malfoy. You will find that I am not playing at all."
It wasn't until sunset two days later that he seemed to take her seriously. By that time, the situation had quickly progressed into a new war. The Petris, unable to take the continued, and quite active, dislike had taken their leave. The lesser Hotel staff had chosen their sides: those wishing retribution against injustices served Hermione, while those wishing payment served Lucius. Neither side trusted the other, and Hermione had even heard of squabbles in the break room.
However, the most tension remained on the balcony. No spells were directly cast at one another, but commentary and parting shots were not uncommon.
There had been, of course, a point, shortly after her own hair had been butchered and dyed an atrocious green colour, that Hermione had questioned her continued perusal of the balcony when it was certain to bring her nothing but irritation. At the time, she had justified her actions by saying that she would not let someone as odious as Lucius Malfoy disturb her pleasant vacation. That he already had disturbed her vacation was hardly at issue. It was the thought that counted.
As she prepared for another evening of repartee, she received a short tap on her door and admitted a squib butler carrying a full tray "compliments of the Hotel". Her careful and thorough spell-check detected no undue magical signature on the scrumptious feast, and so she allowed herself to enjoy it. She was well into her third pastry when another, more hurried tap of her door, interrupted.
This time the man was not recognizable as a staff member from either side of their war. She was immediately on alert.
"Miss Granger, please pardon my interruption. I am Monsieur Albec, the owner of this establishment. I have just come to thank you for your patronage, and see if you have enjoyed your stay."
"Yes, Monsieur. I have much enjoyed the Hotel. I have received nothing but the best service, and do intend to keep it in mind for my next vacation."
"Wonderful! I am glad to hear it. I will leave you to your meal then. If you have any need of further services before your departure tomorrow, please send word. I will be happy to assist you."
"Yes, Miss Granger. Do you wish to extend your reservation beyond the seven nights originally requested?"
"Um… No, that will not be necessary. I was simply surprised. Time passed so quickly. Too quickly. I was not expecting it."
"That is understandable. Enjoy your evening, Miss Granger. "
Once the door was shut and warded behind her visitor, Hermione quietly returned to her balcony and solemnly stared at the sinking sun. It was hard to believe this would be her last night in such comfort. It was harder to believe that despite her company, she had quite enjoyed her stay.
"If only you had the decency to enjoy the view from inside your suite. Your poor colouring is ruining it for others."
She turned slowly to gaze at the man in question, only to come to the sudden realization that perhaps she had enjoyed her stay in part because of her company. The 'war' between them had provided much needed creative stimulation that she frequently found lacking at work. It was… refreshing.
"You have but tonight to be so assaulted by my presence. Tomorrow, you may enjoy the view without me."
Even from the distance, she could discern the widening of his eyes. It surprised her a bit how easily he could be read. For a Slytherin, he was a bit sloppy with some of his expressions. She dared not dwell on the thought that perhaps she was just becoming well read on his expressions.
"Well… I suppose I can make due with a sullied view for one more night. It hardly matters now."
She heard beneath the words and took the comment as it was intended: acceptance of her right to remain as she was. It made her grin slightly.
They sat on their respective balconies for quite some time, content to enjoy the quiet and the encroaching darkness. It was not until the sun had faded far from view and but a few clouds retained colour that she dared to break the silence.
"And what shall you do without our disagreements to keep you company?" she asked without daring to look at him.
"Enjoy my time here in peace, no doubt." He paused, and it was just long enough to make her glance his way. "I can only hope the next occupant of that suite is as ill behaved."
"I wish you luck, then." She turned away again and settled into watching the stars take over the free portions of the sky.
"Good evening, Miss Granger," he said softly. When she turned to acknowledge him, he was already gone into his suite. With a smile, she did the same.
She had only been returned to work for several hours, and already she was exhausted and missing the Hotel. Of course, it had been an early morning to start, what with checking out and dropping her luggage at her flat before dressing for the office. She had been far too busy to partake in breakfast and was far too overwhelmed to enjoy lunch. By the end of the day, she was far too exhausted to prepare dinner.
Resigned to getting take-out, she was thus surprised when she was met at the Apparition point in the lobby of her office by an unexpected visitor.
"Mr. Malfoy. Good evening."
"To you as well." He paused and she could only wait with curiosity. "Those robes are simply hideous. Surely even one such as yourself knows they are unflattering."
"They are my favourite set."
He sneered, but there was little malice in it.
"I should have expected as much. However, I am prepared to… ignore your attire if you would care to join me for dinner. The staff has changed shifts, and those who favour you now serve me. I would prefer to know if the meal is edible before enjoying."
"I see. I suppose I could be tempted despite the lacking company."
"Could you be tempted?"
"Can you at least vouch for the quality of the wine?"
"From my own stores."
"Very well. If you would, Mr. Malfoy?"
The sunset was just as beautiful from his balcony as it had been from hers. The meal, after it was replaced by a shamed group of Hotel staff, was just as excellent. Even the company, as insulting as he could be, was enjoyable.
Dinner was followed by dinner the next night. A week of dinners was followed by a weekend brunch when he returned to his Manor. The weekend brunch was followed by quite enjoyable activity in his study and bedroom.
When questioned a year later as she prepared for her wedding in her former suite as to why she chose Lucius Malfoy it was only fitting that she tell the truth.
"It'll be much easier to accost him if I share his bed. Besides, he has a suite on call at this Hotel. Altogether, it makes for an excellent arrangement. Oh, and I'm foolish enough to love him. There is always that."
And nobody rightly had a response to that. They could only watch as Hermione became Madam Malfoy and enjoyed the rest of her sunsets at Lucius' side.