Written for the lovely Silverotter1 in the Lucius/Hermione gift exchange 2010. Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns everything Harry Potter and the money to go with the empire. I am Darth Vader to her Emperor and bend the characters to my will, except, you know... without the Republic credits.
"She doesn't have a free slot for you today, I'm afraid."
Lucius Malfoy stared down his patrician nose at the half-breed before him. "Mister Lupin, you may have a cushy job while Miss Granger is in power, but mark my words: it is only temporary."
Remus arched a sandy eyebrow, rolling with the sudden change in topic. "You obviously don't know her very well, do you?"
"I do not need to know her well," the blond said snidely. "Women are all the same: grasping, desperate, emotional—traits that will ensure her tenure is brief."
"Is that so?"
"I've seen nothing in her administration to prove otherwise."
Crossing his arms, Remus leaned back to study Malfoy. "She's only been in the position for two years. You know, of course, that it takes a great deal of time to accomplish anything of merit in politics."
"A week is a long time in politics," Lucius returned with a smirk. "Perhaps we should give her such allowances of time to hang herself."
Lips thinned, Remus nearly growled. "She's trying to make our world a safer place! She always listens to both sides of every argument to keep things fair—"
Lucius snorted. "You know what happens to those who feint neither to the left nor the right in Quidditch, don't you, Lupin? They get hit by the bludger."
"Still just as pompous and arrogant as—"
"Remus? Could you file these documents under—" Hermione emerged from her inner chamber and stopped to stare at the two wizards in the midst of what looked to her to be a particularly heated exchange.
"Minister Granger," Lucius intoned with a slight nod of his head. "I was just procuring an appointment with your..." He gave Lupin a dubious look. "Aide."
"I prefer the term senior administrative assistant," she corrected in a crisp tone. "And I can honestly tell you I'm booked past the holidays and up through to April."
Hating the I-told-you-so smirk Lupin directed at him, the Slytherin tried a different tactic. "Surely you need to eat at some point, no?"
She frowned. "What does that have to do with anything?" Shrugging on her formal robe, she handed Remus the files. "Make sure those reach Harry by Tuesday." Without another word to either man, she left the outer office.
Lucius stared at the door as it clicked shut, mouth slightly agape. "I do believe I've just been dismissed."
"And you would be right in thinking so," Remus concurred. "She barely has enough time to sleep, let alone stand here and bandy about with someone who she knows hates her and her political views." He paused to slide the files into his leather satchel. "It's the only way she's been able to accomplish so much in so little time."
"Such as the law allowing sentient beings to obtain employment within the Ministry?" Lucius remarked with a knowing glint shining in his eyes. "How fortuitous for you."
Standing to tower over the blond, Remus clenched his teeth in an effort to retain some semblance of calm. "What. Do. You. Want, Malfoy?"
"Touchy," the other purred. "If I didn't know any better, I would think you had feelings for the chit."
"Not before I schedule an appointment."
"Why? So that you can torment her? I won't let you do it."
Rubbing his gloved thumb over the new snake-head atop his cane, Lucius leaned in close and whispered, "I am on the Hogwarts Board of Governors, an acting regent for Gringotts, and head of my own company. Each of these things entitles me to an audience with the Minister whenever I see fit." He brushed a speck of imaginary dust off his finely tailored robe. "Now, if you would, an appointment, please."
Regaining his composure, Remus blew out a pent up breath and sat back down to open the large tome before him. "When?" he snapped.
"Evening would be preferable—say around seven?"
"Why so late? She won't even be here then."
Stealing a sidelong glance inside Hermione's inner office, Lucius noticed the piles of parchment and general chaos of her work area. "Are you sure?" he queried with a grin.
Remus followed his gaze. He was lying to Malfoy about the hours Hermione kept. In fact, he had frequently found her asleep at her desk, her head awkwardly placed on several stacks of paper, and often caught her wearing the clothes she'd been wearing the previous day.
Glaring at Lucius, Remus pencilled him in for seven o'clock on Thursday evening. "She may kill us both for this little stunt, just so you know."
Lucius scoffed. "Not me, dear wolf. I'd be missed." Giving Remus a haughty smirk, he left.
"Good morning, Remus." Hermione accompanied the greeting with a cheery smile the next morning. "What do you have for me today?"
Was it wrong of him to live for those moments when she was near? Possibly. Did it keep him from indulging in her sweet affection? Never. His feelings for her would forever remain hidden, but that didn't stop him from being protective of her and her status within the community.
A significant proportion of the Wizarding society had frowned upon her choice of assistant, but she was adamant that he was the best person for the job, so she had pushed through legislation which allowed werewolves and other sentient beings to obtain Ministry-regulated positions. He couldn't have been more grateful.
"There's the Centaur summit at nine and a meeting with the Muggle group that represents Disney at three."
She groaned. "I swear those Disney movies get closer and closer to actual fact. I think they have a Muggle-born or half-blood working for them."
He chuckled. "Yes, Maleficent is just a female version of Voldemort, if you ask me."
"I agree." She flipped through several parchments, skimming through their contents before glancing back to her friend. "Did Lucius schedule an appointment?"
Giving her a weak smile, he nodded. "Thursday at seven o'clock."
She chewed on her bottom lip, pondering the pure-blood's motives. "What could he possibly want?"
"Hermione, most of the Wizarding world has tried for years to figure out what Lucius Malfoy wants at any given time, but to no avail. It could be anything—including you."
"Me?" She laughed self-deprecatingly. "I'm Muggle-born, Minister for Magic, and a thorn in his billion Galleon backside." She shook her head. "There's no way Malfoy could possibly be interested in me, except maybe for the power of my position."
Unable to help himself, Remus cupped Hermione's cheek and caressed it with his thumb. "Don't underestimate yourself, love." He pressed a kiss to her forehead and moved away, leaving her flustered.
Sipping his Matcha Japanese green tea, Lucius scanned the documents before him.
"Care to go to Rowlings tomorrow night?" Draco asked as he entered his father's private study.
"I'm wondering if we have in fact raised—to use Severus' words—a dunderhead, if you can't remember that I hate being disturbed while I'm—"
"Sorry," the younger Malfoy said a little sheepishly. "I wanted to catch you while I could."
Sighing heavily, Lucius pinched the bridge of his nose. "I'm sorry as well. Forgive me." He gave his son a small smile. "It's just the loss of your mother; it's... " He tapped his desktop for a moment to regain control of his emotions. "I don't necessarily want to be here alone for long periods of time anymore."
Draco came around the massive oak desk, leaned against it, and laid a hand on his father's shoulder. "I know. It's been hard without her."
Lucius covered Draco's hand with his own and squeezed. "She was a fine woman and an excellent mother. I miss her." And he did miss her, but now the manse held nothing but silence since his son married last year, and so he'd decided he needed to re-establish his social activities if he were to avoid becoming a recluse, like Severus had.
Draco knew his father grieved for Narcissa, yet he also knew Lucius would never show an ounce of emotion, regardless of the tempest swirling within him. It had been three years since Draco's mother had taken ill and died. Lucius blamed himself for not being able to save her, and Draco watched as his father grew more withdrawn over the years. Lucius' leaving to visit the Minister the day before had been the first time in months that the patriarch had left the mansion.
"Come with me to Rowlings," Draco pleaded. He wanted to see if their old gaming hall held any lure to draw Lucius out of his self-imposed funk.
"I can't." Letting go of his son's hand, he stood and straightened his waist coat. "I have an appointment with the Minister tomorrow."
"Precisely." Lucius winked at him. "It's the only time her guard dog won't be around."
Draco snorted. "It's surreal, you know, Granger being Minister and all."
"Yes, I know," Lucius responded in a very long-suffering way. "Her policies and procedures are causing me an endless amount of headaches at both Gringotts and Hogwarts. I doubt she'll be re-elected next term."
"Why? The people love her."
"Draco, politics is the art of obtaining votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich by promising to protect each group from the other. Miss Granger lacks the finesse to cater to both, though she promises to do so. There's a reason why there are so few female politicians: it's too much trouble putting make-up on two faces."
"No, true." He draped his winter robes over his arm. "That's why I'm meeting with her tomorrow night. I want to get an estimate of her future plans so that I may prepare accordingly."
"She worked really hard in that election, Father. Maybe she's earned her place."
Lucius looked at Draco as though his son had lost his mind. "Don't tell me you're soft on the chit as well?"
"As well? Is there someone else that fancies her?" He put his hands to his mouth as soon as the words left his lips, realising what he had said.
"That lapdog of hers. Lupin. It's disgustingly obvious," Lucius said with a sneer.
A knowing smirk spread across Draco's lips. "So that's why she wanted employment rights for half-breeds."
"Among other things." Having slid on his black leather gloves, Lucius grabbed his cane. "Do keep Winky out of the library. You know how she likes to indulge in the liquor when she thinks no one is watching."
"Where are you going?"
Lucius tapped his cane against his leg. "To make plans."
Poking his head around the door to Hermione's office, Remus asked for the fifth time, "Are you sure you'll be all right?"
"Yes, yes... I'll be fine." She made a shooing motion with her hand. Seeing that he still didn't move, she gave her friend and employee a gentle smile. "I'll have my wand with me at all times; I promise."
"He's slippery, Hermione. You know that." Remus leaned against the doorframe. "You might be the brightest witch of your age, but Lucius Malfoy was the brightest wizard of his. There's a reason Voldemort sought him out from the beginning."
Narrowing her eyes and arching her brow, she asked, "Are you suggesting I don't know how to take care of myself?"
"Of course not!" he scoffed.
"Then what exactly are you—"
"There's always an ulterior motive where he's concerned—one which you may not be aware of and, therefore, have no defence against."
Sensing he was well and truly worried for her, Hermione rose from where she sat amid piles and piles of parchment and went over to the fidgeting wizard. "What is it you fear, Remus?"
"Ah, Minister Granger," Lucius interrupted from the outer office doorway with a toothy grin. It instantly dropped when his attention turned to Remus. "Lupin." He almost growled the name.
They gave each other the once over before the blond tired of the werewolf's posturing. He turned to Hermione, his voice sickly sweet as he spoke. "I believe I have an appointment?"
"Hermione, I think I should stay and—"
Waving dismissively, she shook her head. "Remus, you need to go to Severus' and pick up this week's Wolfsbane potion. You know how he hates to be kept waiting."
He grimaced at her reminder as well as at the fact that he had been dismissed. "You're right, of course. Can't afford a slip up, can I?"
She gave him a soft smile. "Not after all the hard work you've done." Quickly turning to her briefcase, she rummaged through it until she pulled out a black, leather-bound tome, which she handed to him. "Would you mind giving this back to Severus when you see him? I borrowed it months ago and I'm surprised he hasn't come knocking on my door wanting it back."
"Neither a borrower nor a lender be," Lucius quoted.
Hermione's eyebrows rose in surprise. "You know Shakespeare?"
"Quite competent for a Muggle, I must say." Lucius gave Remus a pointed stare. "Give my regards to Severus, won't you, Mister Lupin? I do miss his company."
With that, he glided past Remus and into Hermione's office, and firmly shut the door behind him.
Remus gripped the book tightly to his chest and resisted the urge to break the wooden barrier down and throttle the self-important pure-blood. After several moments of glaring, he glanced at the clock and groaned. "Severus is going to kill me," he muttered to himself. He quickly Floo'd to the apothecary Snape owned and, as predicted, had his ears verbally boxed for being ten minutes late.
"That was rude," Hermione said with reproach. "He was just being protective."
"Over something he has no right to be," Lucius informed her as he removed his black gloves, one finger at a time.
"No right? Who are you to judge—"
"The wolf has feelings for you."
Her jaw almost hit the floor. "That's not true! You're imagining things." That was what she wanted to believe, but inside she knew the truth of his accusation. She had known for a while now and still didn't have the foggiest clue on how to dissuade the Order member. He was one of her dearest friends, but she had never thought of him on that level.
Finally divested of the leather, Lucius cocked his head and studied her. "You're a terrible liar. How ever did you manage to wind up in politics?"
"I didn't lie," she ground out through clenched teeth. "And for your information, I can lie with the best of them."
Her unintended double entendre perked his interest. "So, Minister Granger," he purred silkily, slowly making his way towards her. "You lie well, is that it?"
Frowning somewhat, she crossed her arms and held her ground. "If I have to."
Lucius tsk'd at her. "No, if you're going to lie, it should be done for desire and with passion, not because you need to. That just makes you seem cheap."
"What are you—" Her lips thinned when she finally understood his meaning. "You're as disgusting as Thestral dung. You know that?"
His devilish smirk was devastating. "I've been called far worse, my dear... and by my own family. You're not trying hard enough."
Too close. He was too close to her. Stepping back from his overpowering presence, she cleared her throat. "What was it you wished to discuss, Mister Malfoy?"
He pouted a little. "Such formalities, Miss Granger?"
"That's Minister Granger to you," she shot back.
He moved quickly to crowd her against her desk, then leaned in until they were nose to nose. "You and I have known each other a long time, Hermione." He gave a fleeting look to her plump lips and watched her nervous, pink tongue dart out to moisten them. "Too long to worry about such trivial things as titles." Since she hadn't backed away, he began to caress her cheek with his long, tapered fingers, enjoying the flush that crept across her skin and the brightening of her eyes. "Have dinner with me," he said softly.
She blinked. "What?"
He pulled away and straightened the lapels of his robe. "Have dinner with me," he demanded again.
"I-I have work to—"
"I realize you're extremely busy, Miss Granger, and I recognise the demands placed on your time." He held out his hand. "The strain it puts upon your personal life must be overwhelming." Though he appeared sympathetic, it was too deeply rooted in his nature not to be manipulative. "Mixing business with pleasure in an atmosphere that is both acceptable to you and will put you at ease is my only request for the moment."
Though he'd made light of her low birth and constant need to prove herself in the past, Lucius now recognized her as a powerful witch, made even more powerful by her position in Wizarding society. It would be foolish of him to think otherwise. And such power was intoxicating, especially for him. Nothing would bring a Malfoy greater satisfaction than to be associated with—or better yet, own—all her power represented. His goal was simple: to seduce her. Make her his. Prove to her that even she had weaknesses that could be exposed. And he would start on them tonight.
"Pleasure?" she asked warily, then shook her head. "There is nothing we could discuss that I would find pleasurable."
"Ah, but you must eat. Work will be here in the morning." When she still refused to take his proffered hand, he rolled his eyes, and forcefully took her arm, gripping it tightly when she began to struggle. "Don't worry; we'll be dinning in a well-populated place, Minister. Think of this as positive press for your adoring public."
"Unhand me, you loathsome—"
He silenced her with a heady kiss which only ended when breathing became paramount. When he pulled back, what oxygen was still left in his lungs was stolen as he gazed upon her face. She was quite beautiful actually, not at all the gangly, awkward youth he had always known her as. Now, she possessed an allure some women tried all their lives to achieve. She also exuded a professional appearance; she had tamed her bird's nest of tangled locks and dressed to show her womanly curves. Somewhere between the end of the war and the beginning of her campaign for Minister, Hermione Granger had grown up most magnificently.
Slowly prying her eyes open, Hermione stared for several moments at the man still holding her in his grasp. "One dinner. That's it."
A wicked smile graced his lips. "We shall see."
Dinner was... unexpectedly nice.
Lucius had taken Hermione to a lovely Italian restaurant that specialised in family-style portions; each dish easily fed two people. Plus, it was crowded as he'd promised, and, though they raised some eyebrows at being seen together, they did not have to suffer paparazzi constantly pestering them about why they were there.
To be perfectly honest, she was surprised at his behaviour. Her expectation had been of an arrogant, snide, and all around unpleasant man. However, her preconceived notions about him were completely shattered once he began discussing current legislation; his wisdom about such things was quite apparent. In some ways, she felt unqualified for the position she held, though she had toiled to earn it through blood, sweat, and tears.
In fact, the whole evening surpassed anything that she had been expecting. He was naturally charming, witty and well-spoken, and always seemed to say the right thing on a personal level. Leading them to their assigned table, he had disarmed her by feathering a barely-there kiss on her knuckles before sitting down next to her rather than across from her. A compliment here and there about her handling of a policy or procedure, along with his lingering gaze, kept her unbalanced throughout the entire exchange. By the time the evening came to an end, she was utterly baffled.
Especially now, as they stood before the door to her house.
Biting her lip, an old habit of nervousness she'd never been able to shake, she squeezed Lucius' arm. "Thank you for the lovely dinner and discussion. I will look over those proposals you suggested first thing in the morning."
He covered her dainty fingers with his large ones. "It is a mark of great leadership to take advice from both sides, Hermione." Leaning down, he brushed her cheek with his lips. "It is an even wiser leader who uses such advice to further their advantage."
"I would nev—"
"Even if it, for instance, freed your precious house-elves?" he interrupted, refusing to let her go.
Damn it, he would have to latch onto her biggest cause that still hadn't been resolved. "That's different!"
Grasping her chin, he forced her to look at him. "No, it's not different." His eyes drank in her fear, allowing him to relish in the dark emotion once again. "You see only in shades of black and white, but this world is a thousand shades of grey."
"I see all the colours," she retorted sharply. "Including your black heart!"
To that, he smiled lasciviously. "You think you know the people?" He almost snorted at her naïveté. "There are no true friends in politics, not even your precious Lupin; we are all just sharks, circling, waiting for the first traces of blood to seep into the water."
"He would never betray me," she said fervently, struggling to free herself from his grasp.
"Oh, but he will, my little lioness." He pressed his lips to her forehead. "They all will."
He Disapparated before she could slap him.
Remus placed a large, steaming cup of strong tea on the desk in front of her. "How was the appointment last night?"
Hermione harrumphed and tunnelled her fingers through her hair. "That man is a slimy bastard."
Unable to keep from chuckling, he patted the top of her head. "I could've told you that."
"But he's an intelligent slimy bastard," she admitted reluctantly. Blowing out a pent-up breath, she turned her focus onto her assistant while Lucius' words about betrayal flitted through her mind.
"What are you saying?"
She bit the corner of her lower lip. "Nothing. Never mind. Would you please fetch me the Cottonwood proposal?"
He raised his brows at the term but quickly disregarded her unintended slight. Instead, he did as she asked and 'fetched' the necessary documents. He intended to stay in her office in case she needed dictation, but that plan fell to the wayside with the sound of the outer door of the Minister's chamber opening and closing.
"Ah, Lupin!" Lucius sported an overly cheery smile. "I wish to make an appointment."
"You can't be serious!"
"I agree. I can't be. Mister Black had latent sexual tendencies whereas I prefer Playwitch," the blond replied nonchalantly, inspecting his fingernails as he spoke.
It was like a sucker-punch to the stomach for Remus. All the memories of his best friend, his secret lover, washed over him and a sob rose in his throat. Swallowing his emotions, he snarled, "That was uncalled for."
"Minister Granger, I daresay your employee is looking rather... animalistic these days." Lucius turned his attention towards Hermione, who was now standing in the doorway glaring hard at him. "Are you sure he doesn't shed on the carpet?"
Enraged, Remus lunged at Malfoy but was caught with an Incarcerous by Hermione before he could reach his target. She gently moved his bound form to a corner and then whirled on Lucius.
"How dare you?" Unlike the previous evening, she succeeded in delivering a satisfying slap to his face.
Clenching his jaw against the sting, Lucius inhaled deeply. "Physical assault of any Ministry employee is a punishable offense, Miss Granger. How ever will you explain your handprint on my cheek when I approach the Aurors about your behaviour?"
Her eyes widened in fear. "You wouldn't..."
"My, my," he drawled. "Do I smell... blood in the water?"
"What do you want?" she asked in a hiss, eyes narrowed.
Glancing at his manicured nails, as if bored, he answered, "Oh, nothing much. Say, a position within your cabinet?"
She scoffed at the notion. "Nothing much? Why would you want to be in my cabinet? There are so many things that I'd expect someone like you would ask f—"
"In that case, I think I shall follow up with Auror Potter—wouldn't you agree?" He smirked at her look of outrage. "I'm sure he would be very interested to know what his 'best friend' was doing behind locked doors."
"I loathe you, Malfoy."
Moving to stand in front of her angry, trembling form, he caressed her cheek, his attitude in stark contrast to the previous few minutes. "No, you don't... Hermione." He brushed several stray curls away from her eyes while speaking softly. "You will love me for all I can give you—for offering you the Wizarding world on a silver platter."
"You think that's what I want?" she asked a little breathlessly, unable to break his thrall.
"I know it." Darting his gaze to the bound werewolf, currently looking as if he might gnaw his arm off so he could mangle him, Lucius placed his lips on Hermione's, and savoured the exquisite feel of her soft, pert mouth. "Women are always attracted to power," he murmured against her lips. "It was the reason Bellatrix would do anything for the Dark Lord."
She drew back quickly. "I am not her!"
"No, but you are a woman."
"And that makes me what? Weaker?"
"You really have no idea of your own power, do you?" He tilted his head, examining her. "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."
Trying to hide the blush from his underhanded compliment, she wiped her mouth with the back of her wrist. "I think you should leave now."
"Aren't we forgetting something?" He rubbed his thumb sensually over the polished silver snake head of his cane, delighting in the fact that she licked her lips while she watched him.
"Be here at nine tomorrow morning," she growled. "I am in need of a new financial consultant. How does that suit you?"
"Excellent!" he chirped. He flashed her that same false smile he had arrived with and bowed slightly. "I look forward to our... working together."
Once Malfoy left, she released Remus. "I'm sorry. He was baiting you intentionally."
Shrugging off her proffered hand, he sneered at her. "I know that."
Taken aback by his sudden aggressiveness, she moved away to allow him some breathing room. "Have you taken the—"
"I've taken the Wolfsbane potion like clockwork," he bit out. "This has nothing to do with the time of the month. That man is up to no good!"
"Then why are you letting him control you?" he asked, exasperated.
She glared at Remus. "I'm not. He truly has some interesting ideas. He could be a great asset to this administration."
"I can't believe you're even considering this." He began pacing. "It'll become just another regime, like Voldemort's."
"Stop right there," she ordered sternly. "I am not, nor will I ever be, like that megalomaniac and I'm hurt you would think that's even possible."
Halting his pacing in front of her, Remus had the grace to look ashamed. "Forgive me." He took her hand and pressed a kiss to the back of it. "I-I'm just... worried."
Uncomfortable with his actions, she withdrew her hand from his grasp, and patted him on the shoulder. "So am I," she replied, though more to herself than him.