Sorry it took so long to get his loaded - I forgot to send it to my beta! EEP! But, here is the end, folks. LEMONS ahoy! Thank you all for patiently waiting. :D Usual disclaimer: JK Rowling is the ruler of this universe and thus makes the money. I just worship at her alter.

Staring out of the diamond-pane window of his study, Lucius recalled the events that had happened in the past month, since the small misunderstanding with Hermione.

He supposed he hadn't really blamed her for her reaction to his behaviour, but being a pure-blood well-ingrained in his ways, he had automatically reverted to manners that he usually reserved for home, for someone he felt cared for him, maybe even loved him. He snorted at that thought. More fool him, for believing the isolated witch could feel anything beyond social obligation towards him.

She often crossed his mind, her shiny chestnut locks and her dark-brown eyes with a hint of amber tingeing the irises, which trusted him fully, even if it was just that one time. Oh, she trusted him with the Ministry's finances or with anything that had to do with money in general, but her heart? He had only glimpsed that once, in that precious moment of vulnerability, and he craved more of it. But since his faux pas, she had relegated him to the position of employee... and nothing else.

She had refused to listen to him, to his explanation concerning his conduct. Even Draco had tried to clarify his father's actions, but she'd seen it all as a way for them to control her, to seize the power she had so carefully built up in the past two years. And so a battle had ensued for her attention, with Lucius renewing his efforts daily.

He had used every opportunity to place his hand on the small of her back—when she would let him get close enough—and guide her anywhere, or he would place her hand on his forearm to lead her to a seat during a financial meeting. She would immediately shake him off, although she refrained from doing so in front of dignitaries, clients, or constituents. He even found himself twirling a loose curl of her hair right in the middle of discussing the declining market value of property near Knockturn Alley with the Gringotts board. Thank Circe she didn't react other than to casually swot at his hand as if he were an annoying fly, but the goblins saw it differently. That had been a mess he never wished to revisit. Trying to convince the miserly little imps that he cared for the Minister and had no interest in taking over her position had taken a week of lining their banks vaults with precious valuables, Galleons and a few Dark texts he no longer had any use for.

Things came to a head when Lupin was cleared to return to the ministry as Hermione's aide and he, Lucius Malfoy, was shunted off to one side. The difference this time was that the werewolf did not have that ridiculous smug look about him when it came to Hermione's interaction with Lucius. He was also less suspicious of the blond and even somewhat sympathetic, regarding the awkward situation the haughty Slytherin had found himself in. Apparently, a month spent in the presence of Severus Snape had curtailed Lupin's instincts a great deal. Lucius had an inkling of why, if the small smiles he happened to glimpse on the sandy-haired wizard were anything to go by.

Instead of being faced with indifference—no Malfoy could tolerate that for any amount of time—Lucius removed himself from Hermione's office and proceeded to conduct his work from the manor, as he did with most of his other tasks. That way, he neither had to witness the preferential treatment she showed Lupin, nor suffer her constant presence, restricted as he was in his ability to show her affection.

He soon reverted to his old ways from before he had first approached the Minister: working late hours, avoiding social engagements and caught staring out the window more often than not by Draco. Of course, he was scolded by his son for moping again, but he couldn't find it within himself to care.

Grey clouds moved across the skies, and Lucius watched as crystals of snow began pelting the glass he stood before, mirroring his mood. He never realised that a tear had started creeping down his face until it hit his upper lip, and he inhaled deeply.

Damn, he missed her.

"I'd like an appointment."

Remus gave Draco a dubious look. "I don't know if she'll see you presently." He checked the appointment ledger anyway.

"I don't really care." Malfoy perched on one of the leather divan's opposite the wolf. "I can wait."

Sighing heavily, Lupin returned to his transcription. "She's at lunch right now."

As if on cue, Hermione entered the office while shrugging off her robe. "If I have to listen to Merryweather describe the mating habits of Erklings one more time, I think I'll—"

"Minister," Draco drawled as he stood. "I need to speak with you."

Hermione's expression immediately became distant. "About what?"

Draco glanced at Remus. "Alone."

She rolled her eyes. "Fine," she muttered, adding under her breath, "Like father like son."

When the door closed behind them, Draco started on her. "You really are a piece of work, you know that?"

Crossing her arms, she glared at him. "Mind your tone, Malfoy!"

"My tone? I'm telling you you're a frigid bitch, and you're worrying about my tone?" He shook his head in disbelief. "Weasley was right about one thing: you seriously need to sort out your priorities."

Hermione didn't question his accusation. "Was that all?"

"You're not even going to defend yourself? Do you even realise what you've done to him?" Draco was yelling at her now, completely exasperated at her reaction to the whole situation.

What she'd done to him? How could she possibly have done anything to the great Lucius Malfoy? He was impenetrable—an icon of pure-blood wizardry. Even though she was the first female Minister of Magic, she was still just a Muggle-born witch. "He'll find a mistress of some sort," she assured Draco, though her words lacked conviction.

Draco had never wanted to hex someone as much as he did Granger in that moment. "If my father wanted some mistress don't you think he would've taken up with one before?" He continued, not letting her answer. "No, he wanted a companion—someone who had a brain and not a sycophant, someone whom he could come to care for and love, someone just as powerful as he is." He sneered and gave her a disdainful look. "It would seem he was wrong on all counts, to try and find those things with you."

For the first time in quite a few years, tears welled in Hermione's eyes. Early on in her career, when she had decided she wanted to run for Minister one day, she had also decided to keep her heart protected. She knew that, if she ventured into such territory, she could lose focus and ergo hurt her chances at achieving her goal. Her heart had remained hidden for so long, though, that she had begun to think it was easier to be alone than to be hurt. Now she wasn't so sure. Longing to have happiness like Harry and Ginny, or Ron and Susan had made her wonder what her life could have been like if she had chosen a less glorious path. Not that she would be prepared to give up all that she had accomplished so far, for there was much that she still intended to accomplish while in office, but every time she looked around her there was no one else there to share in her success. Of course she had her friends, would always have them and care for them, but in the dark of night, when she clutched her pillow in search of warmth and love, she always had an empty ache that refused to be assuaged.

No one had ever captured her attention like Lucius Malfoy. From a young age, she had always seen him as an imposing figure, especially after the war, when his family had dusted off the ashes much like a phoenix and soared again—at least until Narcissa had passed away. Then Lucius had seemed to falter, as if he had been dealt one blow too many. She knew Draco had repeatedly tried to keep his father in the social scene, attempting to lure the man from his self-imposed sulk. When Lucius had presented himself to her two months ago, she'd thought he was there at the behest of his son. Now, she wondered if it hadn't been something entirely different. Had he really been trying to shake the moroseness that had become commonplace in his life, or was his intent towards her subversive?

If she miscalculated, she could lose everything. If she took a chance... Did she want to look in the mirror ten years from now—or even five—and wonder why she had been afraid? The tears finally slipped down her cheeks, and she wiped them away with the back of her hand.

"He wasn't wrong," she whispered.

Draco's eyes widened slightly in surprise. She supposed he had been mentally prepared for a fight when he'd entered her office. "And why is that?" he asked.

She smiled tremulously. "Because I found those things in him."

Arching a brow, in much the same manner as Lucius, Draco smirked. "I think you've been a little remiss in telling him so, don't you?"

She nodded, cleared her throat and retrieved her robe. "He's at the manor?"

Opening the door, Draco motioned for her to precede him. "Last I checked."

"Remus, cancel the rest of my appointments today," she called to her aide as she headed out of the office.


"Don't worry, Lupin," Draco said. "She'll be back... eventually."

"Malfoys," Remus muttered in disgust.

Lucius let the soothing water cascade over his taut shoulders, hoping it would help ease the ache that had been building there over the past few days. He leaned his forehead against the blue and white marble wall and tried to will away his thoughts. It did no good, not when she invaded his senses on a constant basis, even when she wasn't around. Her scent surrounded one of his finer robes, so he refused to have it cleaned. He would close his eyes and Hermione would flit across his mind's eye. At night, he imagined her soft and delicate hands traversing his body...

Much like they were at this moment.

He dared not open his eyes, fearing that her presence was another fevered dream. When he felt her tentative strokes along his hip, he clamped his hand down on her wrist to stop her exploration and turned around slowly to face her, his fathomless eyes boring into hers. He didn't question how she'd ended up in his bathroom of all places, but figured his son had something to do with it. Meddlesome boy. But she was here now, in all her naked glory, and he revelled in the way her nipples puckered under the spray of water that drenched both of them.

Knowing he had nothing to lose, he guided her hand to his now engorged cock and wrapped her fingers around it. Releasing her, he waited for her reaction.

Hermione's eyes grew soft and finally closed, as she tightened her grip on his hard length. He still wanted her; he hadn't turned her away. He had every right to, especially after the way she had treated him. But he didn't. And it made all the difference.

She gave him a tentative stroke, which had him whimpering. Her eyes now open, his gaze never left hers, as she pumped his cock and smiled in a slow and sexy way, hoping it looked like a blatant invitation.

Lucius' body tightened in anticipation at what she was suggesting. He closed his long fingers around hers and increased the pressure to his liking to show her what he enjoyed, their combined hands pumping his shaft while her thumb slipped over his tumescent head. His eyes were molten with heat, anticipation obviously curling throughout his entire being. He let go of his shaft long enough to reach out and caress her hip.

Her intake of breath from his touch had him kneeling before her and burying his face in the indentation of her hipbone, to softly nip the sweet skin there. "Beautiful," he whispered.

Closing her eyes, she let her head fall back from the exquisite emotions that were surging through her. Had he been this way with his wife? This tender? Her heart threatened to beat right out of her chest; she was so overcome. Threading her fingers through his platinum locks, she swore she heard him purr. She didn't have a chance to listen again, because he stood and pulled away, letting the water sluice down his magnificent abs, his jutting masculinity bobbing and waiting for her attention.

They were now skin to skin, and she'd never felt more alive in her life. This was what she had been missing: the connection, the surety of the other to be there in times of need, of love and warmth. It was a heady thing, this epiphany.

Lucius waited for Hermione to make the first move, because this time would be all her doing. The next time, however, would be all his… as would the one after that. It did shock him, though, when she lightly touched his sac, caressing and rolling his balls gently in her hands.

Feeling the tremor that ran through him at her ministrations, she smiled seductively. Kneeling down, she moved her fingertips languidly over his sculpted thighs. Looking up at his face to make sure he was watching her, she stuck out her tongue and slowly caressed his velvety head, dipping into the weeping slit.

Her breath was warm and tempting along his heavy shaft. "Hermione," he rasped, his stomach muscles clenching when her mouth closed around him tight and moist. Needing to do something with his hands, he caught her hair in his fists and dragged her even closer to him. He revelled in the feel of her fingers digging into his arse as she tried to draw him in deeper. Her pert breasts bouncing against his thighs heightened the pleasure she was already giving him.

Lucius knew it was time to stop her ministrations when she began swallowing around his hot staff, causing him to grit his teeth in order to not spill himself like a teenager. He pulled her head back, and she pouted at the interruption. Oh Merlin, those lips… those lips she always chewed on when she was thinking or nervous. He pressed a finger to her mouth and pulled her to a standing position, both of them panting with desire.

He caressed her red cheeks and then slanted his mouth over hers in a passion-fuelled duel. Breaking away so they could catch their breath, he grasped her face between his hands and looked deep into her eyes.

"Care for me," he pleaded. He wanted her heart and nothing less.

Tears once again filled her eyes, and her bottom lip quivered as she nuzzled into his palm. She didn't need to say any words; she nodded her head vigorously, wrapping her arms around him in a tight embrace.

He closed his eyes in relief while he pressed kisses on her damp skin, but startled when he felt Hermione's fingers wrap around his cock once more. Turning his face to her, he saw the challenge in her eyes and gave her that deliciously wicked smile. It made her melt, and she nearly went limp in his arms—the perfect opportunity for him to explore her creamy lushness.

His mouth travelled down her throat, suckling and leaving love nips along the way. They tingled, and she went rigid with passion, clenching her hands in his hair when he latched onto her shoulder. Then his mouth was on her breast, his tongue circling one puckered nipple.

She was totally lost.

She felt so small under his large palms, her skin warm and slick. He explored her everywhere, his fingers finally finding her wet, hot centre. He pushed one digit inside her quim, watching her eyes while her body responded with a fresh wave of liquid desire. Adding a second finger, he scraped her breast with his teeth, laving the soft flesh. He could feel her muscles start to clench around him, velvet and hot. When she screamed his name in release, he nearly came himself as he watched her face contort with sweet agony.

Clutching at Lucius, she spun out of control, a terrible and fabulous ride that went on for what seemed like forever. She panted in exhaustion and laid her head on his shoulder.

"Thank you," he heard her whisper and he smiled like any self-assured man would. Pulling her closer, he wrapped his hands around her hips, and lifted her. She squirmed somewhat when her back hit the cool marble wall, but soon relaxed when he guided her legs around his trim waist.

"Want you, Hermione," he whispered urgently in the crux of her neck. "And I intend to keep you."

She nuzzled his cheek. "Care for me," she repeated his heartfelt words.

He stared at this wonderful woman. His witch. "Always," he ground out, before pressing against her, hard and thick, seeking entrance to her core. He pushed aggressively, causing her body to open to him, and then he sheathed himself fully in her burning heat.

The feeling was marvellous; hot velvet clutched at him, tightening around his thick cock. The friction was almost unbearable. He needed to go slowly this once, to stave off any untimely release, but that was easier said than done.

"Look at me," he rasped, as he buried himself slowly within her depths.

Focusing, Hermione gazed longingly into his beautiful grey intensity. Each thrust caused them both to widen their eyes in ultimate comprehension. This went beyond caring. It went beyond even liking or trusting one another. It bordered on an emotion that both parties refused to name at the moment. As Lucius' thrusts increased, so too did the passion that would bind them together.

Hermione's muscles tightened in anticipation each time he drove into her willing body. "Lucius," she moaned, her nails digging into his shoulders. "Please!"

Kissing her savagely, he leaned her up against the marble for better leverage while his hips continued to piston at a frenzied pace. Sensing her imminent release, he nuzzled her, biting down on her shoulder and leaving a sizeable mark.

They both screamed in completion, shuddering around one another until they stood panting, finally replete with a sense of peace neither had known before. When Lucius gently let her legs slip from his waist, they looked at each other, smiling.

Hermione had tears that emerged from the passionate encounter, so he wiped them away and pressed his lips to her forehead. "One of these days we'll have to try that in a bed," he murmured.

She hummed her agreement. "Eventually."

"Am I forgiven?" He grazed her fiery cheek with his knuckles.

She leaned into his caress. "Am I?"

In response, he cupped her face and gave her a languid kiss. "Does that answer your question?"

Giving him a smile that rivalled his own wicked smirk, she nodded. "Have dinner with me."

His laughter echoed off the walls. "Bossy wench." He slapped her arse for good measure.

"You have no idea."

"Oh, I intend to find out," he promised, backing her up against the wall again.

And he did… many times over.