Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter world. I make no money here.

Lucius stood at the window of his study, a glass of cognac in hand, watching the gathering of young people wandering about his patio and gardens below. This was not the 'official' engagement party, per se; that would come in another couple of weeks. This was a gathering of Draco and Padma's friends to celebrate in a more casual setting.

Draco had joined him for a drink and tried to coax him into joining the party. But Lucius stubbornly planned to remain out of sight and let the younger crowd enjoy themselves.

Watching the group of friends and acquaintances gathering below, Draco couldn't help but reflect on the past. "You know, Father, if someone had told me when old snake-face commandeered the Manor for himself, that a mere six years later there would be such a mixed group of wizards and witches here… Well… frankly, I would have laughed and called them a nutter."

Lucius surveyed the growing crowd: purebloods, half-bloods, Muggle-borns, witches and wizards from all houses; and they all mingled freely below on his patio. "Laughed? Hell, Draco, this was an utterly inconceivable concept back then. I do hope wherever that bloody bastard, Voldemort, is now that he's twirling in his grave.

"So much has changed in the past six years, Draco. You know, the only reason I am not ensconced in Azkaban right now is primarily due to the fact that your mother helped Harry Potter that awful night in the forest. It's ironic, as her actions were not so much an intentional turning to the light, as it was simply a mother's frantic, desperate need to get word of her son's safety."

"Well, it also didn't hurt any of us to have Harry Potter himself testifying that you hadn't fought at the Battle of Hogwarts, that you didn't even have a wand then," replied Draco, with a grim smile. "And then Ollivander stated that not one of us had raised a wand against any of the captives Voldemort housed here. And when Luna Lovegood told how you had given her and Ollivander decent food, blankets and medicine even over the protests of other Death Eaters, that was another point in your favor. Hermione Granger's testimony that it was Greyback and Aunt Bella who had threatened and tortured her and not any one of us; combined with Severus telling how we'd been virtual prisoners in our own home under the Dark Lord's occupation both were deciding factors in the Wizengamot's decision to exonerate us. Our entire family is lucky that none of us ended up in Azkaban, and that we did not lose more than we could afford to pay in reparations."

"In retrospect, Draco, I'm sorry now that I ever got involved with the whole bloody mess. It sounded like such a good plan in my youth, you know? Power to the pure-bloods, complete separation from Muggles, elimination of Muggle-borns from our world. I didn't realize at the time, that the daft megalomaniac actually meant 'elimination' as in killing them; I thought it just meant not letting them into our world."

Lucius refreshed his drink, offering Draco some. "The problem with joining Dark Lords and Death Eaters, Father," quipped Draco, "is once you're in, there's no way out, even if you change your mind. That choice wasn't an option. They don't tell you that until after the fact."

"Isn't that the truth? I was actually grateful when Voldemort disappeared the first time, on that Halloween night. But the reprieve was, unfortunately, temporary. When that slobbering lackey, Pettigrew, brought him back to life there was little choice but to return to kissing the Dark Lord's feet and simply hope we could somehow survive it all."

"We did survive, Father. It's different now, but we'll manage, you'll see," encouraged Draco.

Well, he was right, survive it they had. But not intact, after all was said and done. Their family was scattered. Cissa had left once the trials were over. She said she just wanted a fresh start. She'd settled for the Tuscan estates, all of her jewels, clothes and personal belongings, a considerable portion of his Gringotts account and half the house-elves. She'd moved on.

It had hurt. He couldn't lie. It had. They'd never been a love match, but he'd been fond of her and she of him. But somehow when it was all over they both just felt empty and not up to trying to rebuild their lives together; so when she'd asked for a divorce he'd agreed.

Draco, poor boy, hadn't known how to react. Even though he'd been eighteen and technically an adult, he hadn't wanted to take sides between his parents. So he'd spent the first few years wandering back and forth between Italy and England. But then eventually he'd moved out into a place of his own and had begun to make his own way in the world.

One of Lucius' greatest regrets, aside from how his choices had affected his family, was the loss of respect for the Malfoy name. He still had his fortunes and his estates, well minus the Tuscan one, of course. But the Malfoy name which had once carried considerable clout in the Wizarding world was not looked upon too highly anymore. He had no power, no influence in the Ministry. He wasn't even sought out in society. He was more of a pariah among his former colleagues and associates.

For that reason, hed become something of a recluse. He seldom went out anymore, spending most of his time at the Manor, mostly in his library. Occasionally Severus would stop in for a brandy and a game of wizard chess and stay for dinner.

Draco was around a bit more regularly; now that he'd gotten engaged, Lucius had that benefit, of seeing a lot more of his son. He did enjoy that at least, and he honestly liked his future daughter-in-law. The Patils were a respectable family, from a long line of Indian wizards dating back for centuries. Not that bloodlines mattered anymore, Draco and his fiancée were of the new generation. They cared very little about blood purity. The war had changed all that and maybe, as much as he hated to admit it, it might be for the best.

"Father," asked Draco, breaking into Lucius' thoughts, "are you sure I can't convince you to join the party?"

"I really think not, Draco. You go, enjoy your lovely bride-to-be and your guests. I think I shall do some reading, or perhaps I'll Floo Severus and see if he's up for a game of wizard chess."

"Well, I'd better get back down to the party then, before Padma comes looking for me. I see Parvati and my dear future brother-in-law have arrived," Draco said with a slight frown.

Lucius couldn't help but chuckle to himself over his son's situation. Padma's twin sister Parvati was married to Draco's childhood nemesis Ronald Weasley. The Weasel, as Draco had liked to call him in their youth, was now going to be his brother by marriage; oh the irony of it all. In addition to that, the bride's best friend was none other than Harry Potter's other friend, the Muggleborn Granger girl, whom Draco had tormented all through their school days. Lucius shook his head as he took a sip of his cognac. Fate was certainly a fickle bitch at times. But at least life was never boring.

Several hours later Lucius was relaxing, half sprawled out on a sofa, one arm propped behind his head, reading a new mystery novel he'd just had delivered from Flourish and Blotts. He heard a murmur of voices from below; he was tucked away in the upper level of the library where he kept hisprivate collection. Curious, he strolled over to where the railing overlooked the main part of the library. Taking care to stay out of sight, he cautiously looked down to the main floor where the door stood ajar. To say he was shocked by what he witnessed would have been an understatement.

There in the doorway stood Draco with his arms around the Granger girl and she, in turn, had her arms wrapped around his son in a death grip. Lucius had been sure that Draco's engagement was a love match and to see him now like this was disconcerting, to say the least. He was even more surprised and more than a bit relieved, a minute later when Padma appeared and embraced the girl, as well. Granger turned from Draco and leaned into the other girl holding onto her like a drowning man holds onto a life-preserver. Words were spoken so softly he couldn't make out what was being said, but she was obviously upset. After several minutes of this, with Draco awkwardly patting the girl's shoulder or back, or stroking her hair in an attempt at comfort, she finally pulled away and took the hankie that Padma had conjured for her. She sat down in a nearby leather chair, wiping her eyes, then she leaned back looking up at the pair.

"I'm sorry, to do this to you guys today," said Granger. "I thought I could handle it, I honestly didn't think it would bother me that much."

"Oh, sweetie," replied Padma. "Draco and I both understand, don't we?" She looked at Draco pointedly, obviously in some silent way bidding his support.

"Of course we do, Hermione. Who wouldn't be upset in your position? I know it still bothers me and it must be so much worse for you. Perhaps you should stay here in the library for a while, rather than go back out to the party? We can make your excuses to everyone else; we'll just say you weren't feeling well, or had a headache or something and went to rest a bit."

"You guys really wouldn't mind?"

"No, it's fine," replied Padma. "You needn't even come back out to the party at all, stay away the rest of the night if you want, we'll make your excuses. Would you rather to go up to one of the guest rooms or stay here in the library for now?"

"Oh, here is fine."

Draco chuckled. "I told you she'd never pass up the chance to have the famous Malfoy library all to herself." He leaned in and brushed a kiss across her cheek. "That's my favorite little Gryffindor swot."

She smiled up at her friends. "I've been called worse, Malfoy. In fact, seems like I recall this annoying Slytherin boy back at school who used to call me horrible names and pick on me all the time… Oh, wait, that was you!"

"Ha ha, very funny, Hermione. Seriously, you can stay in here as long as you like. I'll ward the doors so no one will bother you. If you need anything just call one of the house-elves… err… just don't offer them clothes or anything. Okay?" he added, as a worried afterthought.

"Okay, I promise not to try to free all of Lucius' elves," she stated with a small grin. "Thanks, both of you. You're the best friends a girl could have."

Lucius continued to observe the girl, well, young woman, actually. He still had a hard time thinking of Draco and his friends as adults, but obviously they were. It had been six years since the war; his son was twenty-four. He knew that Granger was a bit older than Draco, although they'd been in the same class at Hogwarts, which made her nearly twenty-five. He recalled the first time she'd ever caught his attention. It had been in Diagon Alley, buying books for school. Had it been Draco's second year or his third? She'd been a bushy haired, skinny, little thing, standing with her confused-looking Muggle parents. They'd all seemed so out-of-place.

Sitting in the chair, she threw her head back with a deep sigh and sat there, eyes closed, obviously deep in thought. She looked nothing at all like that little girl now. He'd noticed her a few times over the past year or so. Once in Hogsmeade at the the Three Broomsticks when he'd been having a rare lunch out with Severus, she'd met Padma and the Lovegood girl for drinks and had stopped by their table with Padma to say hello. Then again, last year at the annual Ministry Ball. She'd been wearing a daring, deep red, Muggle-style gown that had shown a tempting amount of definitely adult cleavage and had plunged so low in the back he was sure it must have been kept on her body by pure magic alone. Oh yes, indeed, Miss Granger was certainly no little girl anymore.

He studied her now more closely than he'd ever been able to before. She was certainly not a conventional beauty, and yet, there was something about her that intrigued him. The wild, bushy hair of her youth was still thick and curly, but seemed a bit more controlled now. A medium brown with golden highlights shot through, it was partially pulled back from her face and secured with clips while the rest fell over her shoulders and back in a mass of loose curls. Her complexion was lovely with just a smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose, and a light blush of pink staining her cheeks. Her lips were plump, full and pouty, a dark pink without benefit of lipstick and to his mind they appeared utterly kissable. His gaze wandered down from her face to her body; she was no longer the spindly, scrawny little-girl he recalled from her youth. She was hardly what one would term voluptuous, but still, she had curves in all the right places. And he'd noticed before that she carried herself with a grace and poise of one much older than her actual years, as if she'd already lived a lifetime, and perhaps she had.

Staying in the shadows, he continued to watch her as she sighed again and opened her eyes, really looking around for the first time. Her eyes grew wide and she looked much like Draco had as a child on Christmas morning when he first spotted all his gifts. Her eyes flew around the room, taking in all of the Malfoy collection. She shot to her feet and twirled around, taking in all the rows of lovely books of all shapes and sizes.

"Holy fuck!" she exclaimed. "Oh my god!" She kept repeating this mantra under her breath as she wandered around the room, going from shelf to shelf, row to row, taking it all in. It amused and pleased Lucius to see someone as enamored of his library as he was. She didn't seem to know where to start, as if she were overwhelmed by the choices at hand, like the proverbial child in a sweet shop. She stroked her fingers over spines and read titles. She removed a book and opened it to peruse the table of contents, only to put it back and move on when something else caught her eye.

He knew instantly when she'd noticed a section containing some of the older volumes, collector's items, really. She practically floated over and began reading the titles here, her index finger tapping from one volume to the next. Until it stopped at a particularly rare volume of ancient potions. Lucius knew that she had specialized in potions after the war, and shared a love of that field with both his son and his best friend. She and Draco had both apprenticed in Tuscany with a world renowned Potions Master, Antonio Borgia.

She opened the book reverently and ran her fingers over the gold embossed title page. "That bastard," she practically growled. "How could he not tell me he had access to this book? I might have to kill him." She closed the cover carefully and clutched the book to her chest, shuddering with pure joy. She looked practically orgasmic.

He stepped forward and leaned against the railing. "All of the really good books are up here," he called down to her.

She shrieked and very nearly dropped the book as she spun around, slamming up against the bookcase. It somehow didn't surprise him to see that her wand had appeared in her hand, seemingly from nowhere, and was pointed straight at his heart. She gasped, immediately lowering her wand and carefully setting the book down before she clasped a hand to her chest and took in a deep breath, releasing it slowly before she scolded him.

"Mr. Malfoy! I had no idea you were up there. You shouldn't scare people like that. I could have hurt you or even worse I might have damaged your book!"

At that twisted sentiment he burst out laughing.

Hermione looked puzzled for a moment then appeared to realize what she had said. "Oh, fuck me," she muttered under her breath, but not low enough that he didn't hear it. "I didn't mean it like that. Of course it would have been worse if I'd hurt you—but still, it would have also been a crime to damage this book. It's a first edition, a collector's item."

"It's quite all right, Miss Granger. I fully understand a bibliophile's desire to protect such a book from harm," he said with a grin.

She smiled back before replacing the book in its spot on the shelf. "I didn't realize you were here, sir, I had no intentions of disturbing you. I'll leave you to your privacy." She turned to go, but he called to her, stopping her departure.

"I meant what I said, Miss Granger. All of the really good books are up here, in my private collection. Would you care to join me and take a look?"

She turned to look up and, gnawing nervously on her lower lip, she looked sorely tempted. "Seriously? You'd let me come up there?"

"Of course." He laughed a bit. "You're welcome to come up. Go around there to the left of my desk and at the very end of the book case there is a door which leads to the spiral staircase to this level. I'll lower my personal wards. Please join me."

"Thank you, Mr. Malfoy." She proceeded to follow his directions and soon was in what Draco and Severus teasingly called his inner sanctum. "Oh, this is lovely," she commented, looking around the room. The walls were covered with shelves just like the library below. But this room was smaller and more intimate. There was a reading table and chairs as well as several comfy chairs scattered about and a long beige sofa in front of the fireplace.

Hermione wandered over to the window and could see a view below of the patio and gardens where the party was still going on. "What a beautiful view," she said, looking out toward the rose gardens.

"Yes, it is," he replied. She turned to see him looking directly at her and blushed prettily. "Would you join me in a glass of cognac, Miss Granger, or could I get you something else, wine perhaps?"

"Cognac? I'd love a glass, Mr. Malfoy."

He poured them both a snifter and handed hers to her. "If you are going to share my best cognac with me, I must insist you call me Lucius, please."

"Very well, then I suppose it's only right that you should call me Hermione," she responded with a small smile. Cupping her glass in her hand, she proceeded to wander around the room, perusing the books.

He was pleased to see that she didn't simply gulp it down like some of Draco's uncouth friends had been known to do. Instead she warmed the glass for several minutes in her hand, then lifted it to delicately sniff the liqueur. She then brought the glass down and gently swirled the cognac around before lifting it to her lips. She sipped a bit; letting it slide across her palate. "Ummm… this is wonderful. So smooth," she complimented.

"You seem to appreciate a good cognac when you taste one, Hermione," he commented, rather surprised.

"My parents, well, my father especially, fancies himself an authority on good cognac. I'm sure compared to you, however, he is a mere amateur. We often used to vacation in France and he was always trying different brands."

"Hmmm… a man after my own heart."

Hermione smiled again, looking a little doubtful. "I never thought I'd see the day that Lucius Malfoy spoke kindly of a Muggle."

"Well, times change and I've learned if a man is to survive in this new world of ours he must change with them."

Hermione didn't comment but merely eyed him appraisingly before wandering away to look at more of his books. He wondered if she were trying to determine whether he was sincere or simply trying to blow smoke up her skirt. He sipped his drink and continued to observe her surreptitiously as she walked around the room. Finally she came and sat down on the sofa with him, but at the far end, placing her now empty glass on the table.

"You have quite an impressive collection, Mr… err… Lucius. I'm envious."

"Thank you, Hermione. Please feel free to avail yourself of my library whenever you'd like."

She looked incredulous. "Honestly? Why would you allow me access to your books?"

He half turned on the couch to face her, laying his arm on the back of it. "You are Padma's friend. I would like her to feel comfortable in this home. Therefore, her friends should feel welcome here as well." He hesitated briefly but then continued, "Now, may I ask you a question, Hermione?"

She smirked a bit. "Of course you may ask, but depending on the question, I may choose not to answer."

"Fair enough. When you came in here today, you were upset. That much was obvious. I did not mean to eavesdrop or spy upon you, but I couldn't help but notice your distress, although I couldn't hear everything that was said. Why were you so upset?"

She looked a bit uncomfortable. She fiddled around with the hem of her dress, rubbing the silky material between her fingers, before she finally realized what she was doing and smoothed it out flat. "Yes, you're right, I was upset. I had asked Draco to let me see the drawing room where… where I was when Bellatrix questioned me."

He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose before replying. "Let us call a spade a spade, my dear. You weren't merely 'questioned' here. You were tortured, on the floor of my drawing room. To say I'm sorry it ever happened is an inadequate gesture on my part, I fear. And I have no excuse except to say that those were very dark days, and I was trying to keep my family—my wife, my son, myself—alive by whatever means possible. At that point in time you were nothing to me, no one I cared about, a stranger. As I hear myself say those words it sounds so callous, so pathetic, even to me. It was no excuse; I feel like a coward now to admit that I allowed a young girl to be tortured in my own home. I stood by and did nothing. I don't know how you can even stand to sit here and speak to me."

Hermione looked up into his eyes and, reaching out, she laid her hand over his. "Perhaps I choose to believe you were sincere earlier when you talked about changing with the times." Grasping his hand in hers, she pushed up the sleeve of his jumper, exposing the Dark Mark, faded but still there on his forearm. He struggled a bit, trying to pull his arm back, but she held on firmly.

"I understand now, why you couldn't help me that day. I understand that you needed to protect your own. You bore this Mark and if you wanted to keep your life and protect your family, you had to walk a fine line. There were others who didn't and they died." She traced her fingers over the Mark, gently; it was almost a caress. "You are a survivor, Lucius. I understand why you wouldn't want to flaunt this, there are many others who might find it distasteful, but to me it is the mark of a survivor."

She continued to trace the design on his skin, sending tremors through his body. "I asked Draco to show me the drawing room for much the same reason you mentioned earlier. My friend, Padma, is dear to me and she is marrying into this family. While they have a place of their own now, I know the time will come, in the very near future, when they will probably move in here; it is Draco's birthright, after all. I want to be able to come here to visit them and their children some day without the fear and memories of the past haunting me. Quite honestly, I didn't really think it would affect me as much as it did. I'm afraid I lost it. Even though the room is completely different now, as soon as I entered it, the memories all came rushing back at me. That was why Padma and Draco brought me here to your library and told me they would make my excuses at the party."

Lucius reached across with his right hand and tilted her face up to gaze into her eyes. "Hermione, I am sorry for what happened to you here six years ago. I wish I could change the past." He wasn't sure what possessed him in that moment, but he followed the urge and, leaning in, he cupped her cheek and drew her in close to kiss those, oh-so-kissable lips. Gently at first, then Lucius deepened the kiss as he felt her lean into him, pressing against him. Her hand left his Mark and came up to clasp his face in return, the fingers of her other hand slid through his hair. Before he even knew how it happened they were entwined in each other's arms, lips and tongues tangled. By the time they separated both were breathing hard.

Lucius sat back and gazed at the woman next to him as she returned his look. "My apologies, my dear, I should not have presumed."

Hermione's smile faded. "Are you sorry that you kissed me, Lucius?"

"Well, no, actually, I'm not sorry at all. If you want to know the truth, I have been noticing you a lot recently. At the Three Broomsticks, in Diagon Alley, at the Ministry ball."

Her smile returned. "Good, because I'm not sorry I kissed you back. And I'd noticed you noticing me, or at least I thought so… hoped so."

He slid closer to her end of the couch, and traced a finger over her knee. "I was quite sure you wouldn't be interested in me, which is why I didn't approach you. You're so much younger; I thought you would think me a foolish old man."

"You? An old man? Hardly likely. Never foolish, either. Besides, I've personally found that older men make much better lovers than boys," she replied, toying with his hair, twisting a strand around her finger. "They're much more knowledgeable and considerate, more giving than boys… young men, rather… who only seem to care about themselves." Her hand reached up and she traced his bottom lip with the pad of her thumb. "Are you a considerate lover, Lucius?"

He could hardly believe what he was hearing. Had Hermione Granger really just asked him what kind of lover he was? "I do believe I can be most considerate, Hermione," he practically purred. "Would you care for a demonstration?"

She surged toward him, causing him to lean back against his side of the couch. She crawled forward and straddled his hips. She kissed him lightly before softly sucking on the tender skin just below his ear. Hermione replied in a sultry whisper, "Why yes… Yes, I think that I would like that very much."

He was surprised and yet pleased with her aggressiveness. Her lips on his neck sent shivers down his spine and he slid his hands behind her to release the zip down the back of her dress. She shimmied her shoulders a bit and the entire front of her bodice fell forward. She slid her arms out of the sleeves revealing her breasts, clad in pale pink satin and lace and practically in his face. He dropped teasing little kisses over the top edge of her bra and along her collar bone while his fingers traced over her breasts. He cupped them, feeling the weight in his palms and sliding his hands over them, squeezing lightly, then harder, testing. His fingertips teased over her nipples and he could feel the exact instant when they hardened into tight little peaks beneath the material. Hermione made a noise halfway between a gasp and a moan as he pinched them before he slid his hands up to wrap around her neck and tangle in her hair, pulling her down for another searing kiss.

"Mmmm… Lucius," she moaned finally, breaking the kiss and pulling back. "Clothes… too many clothes." She was tugging madly at the hem of his cashmere jumper, stretching it horribly while trying to wrench it up and off, over his head.

She already had it halfway off, so he let her have her way. He laughed at her eagerness and said, "Hermione, you have a wand, you could just spell them off."

"Some things are just more fun to do the normal way," she replied, as she reached down to unbuckle his belt and unfasten his trousers. She pushed herself up and as she stood her dress fell the rest of the way off and she stepped out of it. Her knickers matched the bra, pale pink satin. "Here, lift your hips," she said as she slid his trousers and boxers off in one fell swoop. Lucius had been in his stockinged feet so there were no shoes to bother with, and she peeled his socks off his feet and threw them on the growing pile of clothes on the floor.

"Come here, witch," he said, sitting up on the couch and pulling her toward him, between his knees. He reached behind her to undo the clasp on her bra and, sliding his fingers beneath the straps, he pulled it off, baring her breasts to his gaze. Leaning forward, he slipped her knickers down and steadied her as she stepped out of them. Then he simply took his time and stared at her for several minutes, his eyes roaming over her body, her breasts, up to her face to look into her eyes. She must have begun to get uncomfortable under his scrutiny because after a bit she blushed and tried to cover herself with her hands. He grabbed them and held them saying, "Hermione, don't. Don't try to hide yourself from me. Sweetheart, you're beautiful."

"You don't have to tell me lies, Lucius," she responded with what sounded like a trace of bitterness in her voice. "It's not necessary; I want you. I want this. It's a sure thing, I promise. You needn't lie to me."

He pulled her forward to straddle his lap again, placing her hands on his shoulders. He wrapped his arms around her back, his hands over her shoulders, leaning her back a bit as he supported her, so he could see her eyes. "I'm not lying to you. I think you have a gorgeous body. I enjoy kissing you, touching you, and I enjoy looking at you, as well. You are beautiful. Why would you think I'm lying to you?"

She traced her fingers over the puckered skin that ran diagonally across her torso. "I have scars," she said bluntly.

He realized then that she had been fine when they were rushing into passion. But when he'd taken the time to slow things down to look at her body and savor it, that was when she'd become self conscious. She'd thought he was staring at her scars when in reality he'd barely noticed them; he truly had been marveling at the sight of her beautiful young body. Obviously someone in her past must have made an issue of them.

"Oh, sweetheart, I wasn't looking at the scars; I didn't even notice them. I was looking at you, thinking how lucky I was for you to be offering yourself to me. And you are beautiful.

"Besides, everyone has scars of some kind; sometimes they're on the inside and can't be easily seen. But some people, like you and me, ours are on the outside." He held up his left forearm. "A very wise woman told me just recently it merely shows that we are survivors."

"Oh, Lucius," she cried with a little sob in her voice. She fell upon him, wrapping him in her arms and kissing him deeply. He didn't hesitate to kiss her back, greedily running his hands over her skin, pulling her to him and sliding down to lie on the sofa. He grabbed his wand and effortlessly expanded the sofa to easily accommodate them no matter how much they ended up rolling about.

To test it out he did just that, he rolled over, pinning her beneath him. He could feel his cock, hot and hard and sliding between her thighs, teasing her entrance. He smiled down into her face. It was too soon for that; he wanted to draw this out, make it last, show her just how considerate he was.

"I think," he said, as he secured both her wrists in one of his hands and held them above her head, pinned down to the arm of the sofa. "That you need," he continued as he kissed his way from her neck down to her taut little nipples, nipping and suckling all along, "to come for me." He laved her breast and nipple, sucking rather hard then flicking his tongue over it. "… at least twice before I will even consider fucking you." His fingers roamed down to slide between the delicate flesh of her folds, to find her very wet, he penetrated her with one finger followed quickly by a second. Slowly pumping in and out as his thumb teased around her tender nub of flesh, at the same time he continued worrying at her breasts. Sweet Merlin, she was magnificent, everything he'd imagined she would be: young and eager and uninhibited beneath him.

Hermione moaned deep in her throat at his statement and her body arched against him, undulating her hips, attempting rub against his hand and fingers. "Please, Lucius. I want to feel you… inside me. Please."

He chuckled as he continued his torment, taking his time and drawing it out. "No. Not yet, sweet," he finally replied to her pleas. "Two. You must give me two of your orgasms first. Then I promise you will feel me deep inside. Because intend to fuck you until you scream my name. Come for me, sweet, come for me."

And she did.

Hermione awoke before the break of dawn, a pale gray light creeping through the windows, washing the room in shadowy shapes. Disoriented at first, she tried to remember where she was. She wasn't at home in her flat, and the body she was snuggled up against was no one familiar. Glancing down she saw a strand of long platinum blond hair draped over her shoulder and across her breast. Lucius! It all came back in a rush.

He'd kissed her, and then she'd propositioned him and he had actually taken her up on it. God! It had been delicious. This! This was why she preferred older men as lovers. They actually knew what they were doing, knew how to please a woman. And if she told them, "I like this or I don't like that or do that some more or don't do that" they actually listened to her. Whereas, boys… err… men her own age, their egos were so fragile. Most times they didn't actually know what she wanted, but they got all offended when she told them. She'd been called bossy by more than one boy… man, when she'd tried to explain her desires to him. But the older men she'd been with had been confident and experienced and more than willing to experiment and try new things together.

Lucius had been spectacular, just as she'd imagined. And he'd understood that when she'd said she wanted a considerate lover, that didn't necessarily mean someone who would treat her like a china doll who might shatter if he used her too roughly. She'd wanted a man who would see to her needs, to make sure she was satisfied. And, oh sweet Salazar, Lucius had certainly done that.

He'd demanded that she come not once but two times before he would even begin to fuck her. He'd used his hands and fingers to bring her to her first peak, with his sexy voice telling her the things he wanted to do to her. It had driven her over the edge; she'd begged him to take her then, literally begged him. But he'd refused until she gave him her second orgasm. He'd used his mouth, his lips and tongue on her neck, her breasts, by the time he'd slid down to settle between her thighs she'd been a helpless, quivering mass. It took him only a minute to bring her off again. Then he'd complained it was over too fast so he'd made her come with his mouth again before he fucked her. Finally! He'd taken her hard, thrusting over and over until she'd screamed his name just as he'd said she would.

They'd fallen asleep in a tangle of limbs, exhausted. She rarely ever allowed herself to fall asleep with a man and she never let one sleep at her flat. She always sent them home. But she'd felt safe and protected and had slept peacefully in Lucius' arms. Now she recalled that he'd awaken her again during the night and made slow gentle love to her; that was good, too. It wasn't that she was opposed to gentleness, but she liked her wild passion in addition to it.

She should get up, she knew, before he woke up. It could get awkward. Carefully she lifted his arm up and slid out from under it as she sat up on the edge of the sofa. She sat for a minute getting her bearings, before leaning down to pick up her clothes. Her bra, her dress—where were her knickers? Her eyes scanned the floor, she picked up Lucius' things one by one and gently shook them out. Still no knickers.

"Looking for these?" A voice behind her startled her. Twisting around, she saw Lucius, his head propped up on one hand, her pink satin knickers twirling on the fingertips of his other hand. "Trying to sneak away in the dead of night, were you?"

"It's not the dead of night, it's very nearly dawn. And I was hardly sneaking away, I was merely planning on leaving," she replied, clutching her dress to her chest.

"Without even saying goodbye? You disappoint me, sweetheart."

Hermione tore her gaze away from Lucius, looking down as she worried at her bottom lip. "I was afraid it might be awkward. I thought it best if I just slipped out while you were still asleep."


"Well, yes. This was just a one off. I thought you'd be glad for me to just go away quietly without making a fuss."

"Is that all it was to you then? A one off?"

"Well, you are Lucius Malfoy. I assumed you weren't looking for a relationship, especially not with me, a Muggleborn."

"I see." As unbelievable as it seemed, he appeared hurt by her words. "So all that talk about believing I had changed. That's all it was, just talk. You didn't really believe it at all."

"No, Lucius, wait." She quickly stopped him from turning away from her by laying her hand on his shoulder. "I did believe you, I mean I do. But I just thought… well, I thought…"

"What was it you thought exactly, Hermione. Explain it to me." He sounded sarcastic, angry even.

"Do you really want to know the truth?" she asked, getting a little angry herself.

He nodded sharply.

"Okay then here it is. I thought that you wanted me for the night. A one-night-stand. But that's all I ever expected it be. And frankly, I wanted you badly enough that I was quite willing to settle for only that. I didn't believe you'd want me to stay or be an embarrassment, so I was just going to leave quietly because that is what I assumed you would want."

His hand slipped over to clasp hers as he slid closer to her. "But what if that's not what I want? What if I've decided I want time to get to know you better? Time to spend together, besides in bed, I mean. What if I said I don't want it to be a one-time-deal?"

She squeezed his hand back. "Really?" she asked.

"Yes, really. I'm not talking about rushing into anything, but I'd really like to spend some time with you. We seem to have a lot of similar interests, and I think we're obviously compatible in other ways as well." He traced a finger up and down her arm, sending shivers through her body.

She was gnawing her lip again. "I… I think maybe I'd like that. I guess it's negotiable."


"Yes, I'd have to have certain conditions understood up front."


"Well, yes, let me be honest, Lucius. I basically have one major requirement, but for me it's a deal breaker."

"And that requirement is…?"

"If we're going to see each other, it has to be in the open from the very beginning. I won't sneak around and hide behind closed doors. I won't be your dirty little secret, to be kept on the side. I did that once before in my life and it was disastrous for me; it very nearly destroyed me. I swore then that I would never be part of anything like that again. So if you think it's going to work like that, that you will just pop into my flat whenever you feel the urge, or that you'll have me slipping into the Manor in the dead of night, then it's out of the question for me."

Lucius reached out to tilt her head up with a finger under her chin. "I have no problem being out in the open. Of course, I don't go out much anymore, so I'm rarely seen in public, but I'd be willing to make an effort for you. Your friends will more than likely be appalled that you are going out with me."

"I don't care what they think. They either accept my choices or they don't. But they're my choices to make not theirs."

"What happened to you before, sweetheart?" he asked gently, sliding his hand up and down her arm to stroke her comfortingly.

She sighed. "I was seeing a man; he was quite a bit older than me. We eventually became lovers. But he said we shouldn't let anyone know about us. It would cause a scandal, he said. They wouldn't understand, he said. They wouldn't approve, he said. So for over a year I'd sneak around, meet him in places where no one knew us, or slip into his rooms in the dead of night. I had to hide our relationship, lie even to my closest friends about where I'd been, who I'd been with. It drove me near mad."

"Why? Was he married?"

"No!" she gasped. "I guess considering the circumstances it does sound that way. But no, he wasn't married. He did hold a position of respect and influence in the community, though. I think he felt that by dating me, a woman so much younger than himself, that his peers might look down on him or think he was taking advantage of the situation. Anyway, I finally gave him an ultimatum, either be with me openly or end it."

"He ended it," stated Lucius bluntly.

Hermione nodded, wiping tears from the corners of her eyes with the backs of her hands. "I actually thought I was falling in love with him by that point. I thought we might be able to make a go of it. But he said he was too old for me, too old to change, too old to settle down."

"Oh, sweet. Come here." Lucius gathered her in. They were both still naked and he held her close and spread the blanket over her. "That man, whoever he was, he was a complete and utter fool. But I'm extremely happy that he was, because now you're here with me. And I am more than willing for us to get to know each other openly. Stay with me now, Hermione. Spend the rest of the weekend here at the Manor. I'm sure that Padma has already had the house-elves prepare a room for you." She nodded against his shoulder, nuzzling his neck as his hands began to roam down her back. They made slow, sweet love one more time before lapsing back into a deep and exhausted sleep.

Lucius held Hermione as she slept, thinking about what she had revealed earlier. He had a suspicion who her mystery lover had been, not that it mattered to him. But he believed it had most likely been the Italian Potions Master, Antonio Borgia, whom she had apprenticed with. Borgia was quite a bit older than Hermione, but younger than Lucius by five or six years, if he wasn't mistaken. He was unmarried and held a position of respect in the community in which he taught. It was hard to believe the Italian would worry that much about appearances, as it wasn't unheard of for Masters to become involved with their apprentices. Yet, it seemed to Lucius he recalled that there had been rumors of the man being involved in a scandal with a student a few years back, so that might have been why he'd tried to keep their tryst a secret.

Well, more the fool him. Lucius had been secretly lusting after Hermione for months, yet he had believed that she would never be interested in him. After last night he was sure he wanted her. And once he'd set his mind to it, Lucius Malfoy generally got what he wanted. He would do everything in his power to win her over.

They slept soundly for a couple more hours. Lucius had darkened the blinds so the sun wouldn't wake Hermione. She finally did awaken, however, looking up at him with a satisfied smile. He smiled back.

"How long have you been awake?" she asked, with a yawn.

"Oh, about an hour, I suppose. I was just enjoying watching you sleep. You snore… Did you know?"

"Ohhh… I do not!"

"Yes, and you drool a bit, too," he teased her with a smirk.

She smacked his shoulder in revenge. "Stop! If I'm such a drooling, snoring mess, why would you even want to be with me?"

His finger traced over her cheek to her chin and over her lips. She nipped at it, making him jump in surprise as she laughed at him. "I never said you were a mess; you're adorable."

"Lucius," she scolded. "I told you before, don't lie to me. I am not 'adorable'."

"Hermione," he scolded right back. "Once again, I am not lying to you. And if I say that you are then you are."

She rolled her eyes and sat up on the edge of the bed. "Okay, but as much fun as this has been, I don't suppose we can stay up here all day. People are going to wonder what happened to me. And if you still want me to spend the weekend I should Floo home to my flat and pack a few things."

He was relieved that she hadn't changed her mind. "You go ahead and get dressed. There's a loo through that door where you can freshen up, then we'll have to go down to the main floor of the library for you to Floo out. The fireplace up here is only available for Floo calls but not travel."

While Hermione got dressed, Lucius headed downstairs. Just as Lucius was coming down the spiral staircase and through the doorway into the library, he felt a pulse of magic echo through the room.

Lucius swore. "What the hell? Someone is trying to breach the wards I put up last night." Striding over to the door he dropped the wards and yanked the door open, demanding, "What is the meaning of this!"

On the other side of the door stood a shocked Draco and an extremely annoyed looking Severus Snape.

"Father," gasped Draco. "I'm sorry to disturb you; I didn't know you were in there. I let Hermione Granger come in here last night. When I realized this morning that she hadn't slept in her guest room, I assumed she'd decided to go home. But Padma checked the flat and she isn't there. When I couldn't get into the library, I thought that she might have triggered something, either through one of the Dark Arts texts or some spells that I wasn't aware of. So when I couldn't lower the wards, I got worried and called Severus to help me."

"Draco, you twit," drawled Snape, following Lucius as he walked back towards his desk. "You dragged me over here at this ungodly hour to break Lucius' wards on his own library when it's clear to me that he was entertaining someone and wanted to ensure his privacy. Miss Granger is probably somewhere else, perhaps Grimmauld Place or the Burrow; did you even think to check in either of those places?"

Lucius glanced over his shoulder to see that Hermione was standing in the doorway by the spiral staircase, out of sight from Draco's and Severus' view. For all her talk of having things out in the open she looked nervous standing there chewing on her thumbnail. He figured perhaps she wasn't really sure if he'd meant it when he'd said he would acknowledge being with her. He gave her an encouraging smile and beckoned her forward. She smiled back, dropping her thumb and squaring her shoulders.

"Severus is half right, Draco. I did have company and did want to ensure our privacy. But he is wrong to assume that Miss Granger went elsewhere. You may as well come out, my dear," he said as Hermione stepped through the doorway and walked around the desk to stand next to Lucius. He wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her in close to him. "Draco may be a twit as Severus has pointed out, but he was worried about you, sweet."

Both Draco and Severus looked stunned.

"I'm sorry that you were worried, Draco," apologized Hermione.

Draco looked about ready to faint. "Hermione?" he squeaked.

"After you left me here last night, I discovered your father was in his private study. He invited me up to see his collection of rare books, we started talking and well… we discovered that we actually have quite a lot in common. One thing led to another and…"

"Hermione?" Draco squeaked again. He seemed stuck in some kind of time warp, repeating her name and looking lost.

"Oh Draco, my goodness, snap out of it," commanded Hermione, getting irritated.

"But you and Father…. Father and you…?"

"He's your father, Draco. Not mine. And yes, Lucius and me, so there. It's not that unbelievable, for Circe's sake."

If Draco had looked shocked, Severus had paled and looked skeptically at the two. Without warning he drew his wand and cast a revealing spell at Hermione.

Hermione recognized it immediately and was incensed by his action. "How dare you!" she cried.

Lucius actually looked hurt by his friend's reaction.

"What… what's going on?" asked Draco.

"Severus has just cast a spell to reveal any Dark Magic or an Unforgivable on me. It seems he believes that your father would have to cast an Imperius on me, to get me to spend the night with him. Well, so sorry to disappoint, Severus. But I am here totally of my own free will. In fact, if you must know the truth, it was I who came on to Lucius, not the other way around."

At both of the Malfoys' looks of betrayal, Snape had enough conscience to look a bit embarrassed. "Lucius, I must apologize for my hasty reaction."

Ignoring him, Hermione laid her hand lightly on Lucius' arm, kissed his cheek and spoke quietly. "I am going home to get a few things. I'll be back shortly." She turned to Draco and requested, "Draco, your father has invited me to stay for the weekend, could you or Padma make sure the house-elves still have my room ready?"

As she crossed the room to enter the Floo, Severus grabbed her arm. "Miss Granger, wait."

She froze and stared down at his hand. "Remove. Your. Hand. Professor," she ordered coldly.

"Please, I need to speak to you… Hermione."

She slowly raised her face and looked at him with narrowed eyes. "I don't wish to hear anything you might have to say, Severus. You, of all people, have no right to make judgments about anything I do, or how I choose to live my life. Now, take your hand off me or I will hex you, I swear."

He removed his hand and; grabbing a pinch of Floo powder, she stormed into the Floo and was gone in a flash.

There was complete silence in the room for a full minute before Lucius barked in laughter.

"Well, bugger me!" he exclaimed. "It was you. You were the one. I thought for sure it must have been Antonio Borgia, but it wasn't. Was it, Severus?"

Snape looked indignant and ready to hex something at the slightest provocation.

"Severus was what one? What's going on? I don't understand," complained Draco.

Lucius looked at Draco and figured 'what the hell, Hermione wanted them to be in the open, so be it.'

Glancing from Severus back to Draco, Lucius explained. "When I admitted to Hermione that I wanted more than just last night, that I wanted the chance for us to see each other and get to know each other better, she had only one requirement: that we be open about it. Well, honestly, I have no problem with that; hell, I'm ecstatic to know that she wants to acknowledge me. The reason for this request of hers is that, apparently, she had an affair with an older man. One who refused to let anyone know about them being together. She spent over a year in this affair, hiding behind closed doors, telling no one. I didn't ask who, but I figured it must be Borgia."

"Borgia!" exclaimed Draco. "Father, Tonio is as gay as they come. I can assure you, Hermione never, ever had an affair with him."

"I realize that now, Draco. Yet she did have a yearlong affair that was kept a complete and total secret, and not even their closest friends were aware of it. Were they, Severus? I know had no clue, no clue at all. And I'm sure Draco and Padma, Potter, Weasley, not one of them knew either. What I don't understand is why? Why hide it, why make her feel like it was something dirty or foul? Like she was—let me see, how did she describe it? Ah yes—like she was some dirty little secret. Like she wasn't good enough for you, at least not good enough to be publicly acknowledged. What could you have been thinking, Severus? She could have been the best thing that ever happened to you. I truly don't understand."

Severus sank to a chair. "No, Lucius, you don't understand, it wasn't like that at all. I was trying to protect her."

"Protect her? How? By humiliating her, hurting her, driving her away from you? Because if that was your plan, it worked and quite lucky for me, my friend. Because I can promise you, I won't make the same mistake."

"Lucius, you old fool, what are you thinking?" demanded Severus. "I kept our affair a secret because she would have been ostracized for being with me—a much older man, an ex-Death Eater, the murderer of Albus Dumbledore. Just as she will be if she is associated with you.

"It was several years ago. I felt that it could damage her reputation to be connected to me. Even though

I was teaching again, my position in our world was still rather precarious at that time. And I knew eventually she would want to be with someone more like herself—someone younger, someone with a future; I probably held on longer than I should have."

Draco accused, "Severus, you're an idiot. You drove her away, and you were in love with her. "

"No, of course I wasn't. Don't be absurd."

"Oh for fuck's sake, we can both see it for what it was. It's as plain as the nose on your face and that would be hard to miss, Severus," stated Lucius bluntly. "Well, I'm sorry, but it appears your loss is to be my gain as I will not make the same mistakes you did."

Snape looked at him doubtfully. "Surely you can't intend to continue on with this."

"Why not? Because I'm too old for her? Well, my father was twenty-six years older than my mother, and they were quite happy together. Because I'm a former Death Eater? The key word there is former. Because of my former beliefs regarding her bloodlines, once again, key word former, make note of it. Because her friends won't like me? Guess what? If she doesn't care, neither do I. Besides, she and Draco used to be at odds, but they're quite good friends now; if her friends can accept him, they may eventually accept me."

"Dear Lord, you sound as if you are already planning your happily-ever-afters," sneered Severus.

"No, I'm not. Not yet. But at least I'm open to the idea. That's your problem, Severus. You assume that you don't deserve to be happy and you push every chance at happiness away from you with both hands. Well, damn it, I'm not pushing her away. Maybe something will come of it, maybe not. But I'm willing to try, damn it… at least I'm willing to try."

Severus looked at his oldest friend and scoffed, "You are a fool, Lucius."

"Better a fool than a coward, my friend. One who's afraid to go after what he really wants."

Severus fingered his wand as if he wanted to use it, but in the end he stalked out of the library and out of the Manor.

It was the night of the biggest social event of the year for the British Wizarding world. The wedding ball at Malfoy Manor, held in honor of the happy couple: Draco and Padma. Hermione was a member of the wedding party along with Padma's twin, Parvati and Luna Lovegood. Draco's groomsmen were Blaise Zabini, Greg Goyle and surprising to many, Ron Weasley. Parvati and Blaise, as partners were paired to dance together for the first dance by the bridal party. That left Greg and Luna and Hermione and Ron paired up as well. After the first dance they each took their turns dancing with either Draco or Padma, then the couple danced with their parents. While Lucius was dancing with Padma and Mrs. Patil danced with Draco, Hermione sat down to rest her feet, sip champagne and survey the crowded ballroom.

Hermione had spent quite a bit of time at the Manor with Lucius over the past few months and thus far had not found anything to scare her off. The compatibility that had seemed evident in their first encounter had strengthened, if anything. They never seemed to run out of things to talk about, if talking was on the agenda. And their physical relationship had continued to bloom. At first Hermione had feared that the highs of that first night had been due mainly to the thrill of the forbidden. He was Lucius Malfoy, after all. Or maybe just because it was the first time together, which always brought an element of excitement to the encounter. But if anything, it had only gotten better each time they came together.

She hadn't seen or spoken to Severus since that day in the library, but she knew that Lucius considered him one of his oldest and dearest friends. Lucius had explained Severus' explanation that he'd only been trying to protect her reputation, but she hadn't bought it then and she wasn't buying it now. She wasn't sure at this point how she was going to go about dealing with Severus. She couldn't very well ask Lucius to avoid his friend forever; she would never expect that of him. That would be like him asking her to not see Harry; it was something she would never have agreed to. Still, she was unsure of how to deal with the issue. She still didn't feel comfortable and yet she knew that she couldn't avoid him forever.

Hermione was so deep in thought she hadn't heard anyone approach her until she heard his unmistakable voice. "I'd like a word, Hermione."

Speak of the devil, she thought as she turned to face him. "Good evening, Severus."

"What the hell do you think you're doing with Lucius?" he sneered.

"Doing? We're getting to know each other. We're enjoying each other's company. We're fucking each other's brains out. What is it, exactly, you expect me to say, Severus?"

He paused, then demanded, "Are you trying to hurt me? He's one of the few friends I have. Will you turn him against me?"

She could see the uncertainty in his eyes, so totally un-Snape like. She could hear the hurt in his voice. He truly believed that he might lose one of the only friends he still had, because of her. With a sigh she replied, "No and no, Severus. I am not trying to hurt you by being with Lucius; I'm honestly attracted to him. Dear Merlin, who wouldn't be? But surprisingly enough, neither do I have any desire to hurt you, not anymore. Nor do I want to turn Lucius against you, I swear. Oh, I'll admit that at one time I thought of little other than making you hurt as much as you'd hurt me when you ended it. But years have passed and so has my pain."

"When I ended it? But you're the one who walked away."

"Only after you refused to openly acknowledge us, Severus. I was willing to stay with you forever, but not hiding in dark corners, not sneaking around and pretending in public that we were nothing more than former student and teacher, just mere acquaintances. I know you told Lucius you did it to protect my reputation, but as far as I'm concerned, Severus, that is pure thestral crap and you know it. But I'm not getting into that debate here. It's all in the past and I want to forget it. You probably did me a favor; you forced me grow up. It was a rude awakening, but in the long run I am actually grateful for it."

I don't suppose there's any chance that things could be different now. That maybe we could… try again?"

She shook her head with a sad little smile. "No, I can guarantee that is one thing that is never going to happen." Hermione laid her hand on his sleeve. "Besides, it's not really me you want, Severus. It's the idea that you might have missed out on the chance at a happy future. You deserve happiness. You, more than anyone I've ever known in my entire life, deserve that chance. Don't dwell on past mistakes, Severus. Go out and make a future for yourself."

Hermione continued, "With the history between us, I don't know if it can ever happen, but I know what a good friend you have been to Lucius, and I hope that someday we might be able to have that, too. I think I'd like to be your friend, as well, if you'd let me."

Severus stared down at her hand on his arm for a long minute before he replied. Looking up into her eyes he said, "I think I'd like that, too."

"Good, we'll have to work on that."

"He's still much too old for you though," he teased.

"Oh well, in a hundred years I'll be a hundred and twenty-five and he'll be a hundred and fifty and no one will really care at all, will they?"

"I suppose not," he replied. He leaned down and lightly kissed her cheek. "I think you'll be good for him."

"Thank you, Severus," she said. As he turned away she had a thought. "Oh, Severus, wait. Why don't you ask Luna to dance?"

"Luna? Luna Lovegood?" he asked, incredulously.

Hermione smiled. "There's much more to Luna than most people bother to see. Look beneath the surface, Severus. You might be surprised at what you'll discover."

He seemed to consider for a moment then with a small flash of what could almost be called a smile he nodded. As Severus swept away she turned to survey the ballroom, sipping her champagne.

The parents' dance had ended and she started a moment later when someone whispered in her ear, "A Sickle for your thoughts, sweet."

"Lucius." She turned with a smile.

"I saw Severus come over and speak to you; are you all right?"

Hermione looked into his eyes with a smile and lovingly stroked his cheek. "Yes, everything is all right, or it will be, at any rate. I let Severus know that I don't intend to come between you as friends. He was quite worried about that. And we've agreed that both of us could use another friend as well, so we've decided to work on that. Oh, and he says that I might be good for you." She turned back toward the ballroom and noted many eyes on them. More than a few glares were hostile.

He wrapped his hands around her waist from behind, and pulled her back against his chest as he bent to brush a kiss to her cheek. "Are you sure about this then, love?"

She pulled away a bit. "Are you having second thoughts?" she asked, in disappointment.

"Not at all, my dear. Except I have been told that I'm a selfish clod not to think of what being associated with me, a former Death Eater, could do to your reputation."

"Hmmph!" she exclaimed. "Did that come from Severus?"

"Actually it was mentioned to me just a few moments ago by none other than Harry Potter, himself."

"Harry?" Her eyes scanned the room to see her friend standing with Ginny, Ron and Parvati; he was looking at her with a warning look. Her eyes narrowed as she stared at him. Then she turned purposely in Lucius' arms and pulled him down for a slow, thorough kiss. She looked back at Harry defiantly. He just shook his head slightly and turned away in response to something Ron had said to him.

"Do you think that was wise, love? You have certainly gained the attention of the whole room."

"I'm not ashamed to be seen with you or to have people know that we're together. Are you?"

"No of course I'm not, not at all. You know that."

"Will you dance with me then, Lucius?"

"I thought you'd never ask, sweet," he replied with that trademark Malfoy smirk. Taking her hand, he proudly led her out to the dance floor, the two of them together, for all the world to see.