Disclaimer: I do not own any locations, characters, events, etc. that are part of wonderful Harry Potter universe; that honour is JKR's, and no profit is made from my borrowing them for this fic. The quote "How can any woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as though she were a perfectly normal human being" is a slightly modified quote by Oscar Wilde. The quote "There's poison in everything... It's only the dose that makes a thing not a poison" is a slightly modified quote by Paracelsus. The French dishes are based off those from a menu of the restaurant La Bergerie, in Alexandria, Virginia, USA.
Author's Notes: Written for the Wizard Love Valentine's Day exchange on LJ. This fic was ridiculously fun to write; the prompts ran away with me once I got this going, and although the French translations gave me a bit of hassle to get sorted, it was totally worth it. Amazing amounts of thanks go to lorcalon for the beta work, suggestions, and cheerleading along the way as I wrote this.

The crystal tumbler made a soft thunk-ing sound as Hermione placed it on the polished wood of the bar. Giving a nod to the wizard serving the drinks, she pushed the glass towards him and watched as he tilted a bottle of Ogden's Best over the rim. Dark amber liquid swirled around the two large chunks of ice inside, which hadn't even begun to melt with how quickly she had tossed back the first drink. "Wait," she muttered as the man straightened the bottle and turned to move away.

Wrapping her fingers around the side of the tumbler, Hermione tipped it back swiftly. The ice pressed coolly against her lips as the Firewhisky passed between them, burning pleasantly in her throat. As quickly as she had plucked it up, she returned the glass to the bar top with another curt nod to the bartender.

"You might as well just leave the bottle," a familiar voice drawled. Glancing over, Hermione saw Lucius Malfoy taking a seat on the stool beside her own, watching her with amusement glinting in his grey eyes. "Good evening, Mrs. Weasley," he greeted, taking the bottle of Ogden's as soon as the bartender placed it in front of them, tilting it over Hermione's glass and filling it for her before adding more to the glass he had brought with him to the bar.

"Rather formal tonight, aren't you, Lucius?" Hermione said, lifting her glass and tilting it to her lips only enough to take a small sip. Something about having the blond man joining her made her suddenly more conscious of the rate at which she was consuming the alcohol. The older wizard's low chuckle brought a faint smile to her lips for the first time that evening, and Hermione glanced at him again from the corner of her eye.

"I assumed your husband would not approve of us being on a first name basis."

"My husband," Hermione muttered sourly, all traces of her smile fading to be replaced by a scowl aimed at her tumbler of Firewhisky. "As you can see, Ronald is not here at the moment. And if he were," she added, forcing herself not to toss back the entire contents of her glass as she took another sip, "he would not have a say in whether or not you call me by my given name." From the corner of her eye, Hermione saw Lucius's mouth twitch as he suppressed a smile.

"I suppose he is the reason you're attempting to toss back glassfuls of Ogden's as though it's the antidote to a poison?" Lucius asked, topping up Hermione's glass from the bottle despite it only being half-empty now.

Hermione looked at Lucius, who was smirking at her, and chuckled quietly as she nodded her head. "Yes, actually," she said, swirling her tumbler in her hand and watching the Firewhisky wash over the cubes of ice a few times.

"I wouldn't have brought it up if I wasn't inclined to lend an ear, you know," Lucius said after a moment of silence stretched between them. Lifting his glass from the bar top for the first time since he sat down, the blond man tipped back a quarter of its contents quietly, watching the witch beside him from the corner of his eye.

"Honestly, I wouldn't know where to begin," she said, furrowing her brow in the direction of her drink, as though it might provide the answer. "It's all going rather downhill, I suppose; not that he's noticed it." Sighing, Hermione pressed the rim of her glass to her lips and drained it quickly before grimacing. The ice had begun to melt as the drink sat, and the burning taste of the Firewhisky had become diluted and unpleasant as it washed over her tongue. "It's as though I've gone back to being a close friend to him these days." Her tone had grown slightly bitter, and without another thought, Hermione tossed back the last of her drink and returned the tumbler to the bar top with a bit more force than she had intended.

From the corner of her eye, she caught the bartender's scowl at her rough treatment of the glassware, and Lucius waved him away when he tried to approach them. "That sounds remarkably depressing" he stated bluntly, although his tone still held a note of sympathy as he withdrew his wand from his cane to wave it briefly over her glass. The ice inside grew opalescent again, and once he returned his wand to its proper holding place, Lucius poured two fingers of Firewhisky into the tumbler for her. "How can any woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as though she were a perfectly normal human being?"

Hermione raised one eyebrow as she looked at Lucius, unable to stop the corner of her mouth from twitching slightly. "Have you been reading Muggle books again, Lucius?"

"Perhaps," the older man said, lifting his own drink to his lips and taking a sip. "That Wilde fellow has a point, though, doesn't he?" Lucius placed his tumbler back onto the bar top as he turned towards her, grey eyes meeting her own brown ones with a vaguely familiar expression. It wasn't a way that Ron had ever looked at her, but after another moment, Hermione remembered seeing it in the way Remus watched Snape during holidays at Grimmauld Place.

"Yes," she finally muttered, turning her focus back to the Firewhisky in front of her as a faint blush rose in her cheeks, "he certainly does."

Before either of them had the opportunity to speak again, Ron appeared at Hermione's shoulder. "Can we leave now?" he asked, leaning slightly against the bar beside his wife with an empty glass still clutched in one hand. "I don't feel well." From the corner of her eye, Hermione noticed the faint green tint to Ron's skin and recognized the expression on his face as the one he usually wore after too much drinking, just moments before he would go running to their bathroom.

"Of course," Hermione sighed, giving Lucius an apologetic smile. His own expression seemed suddenly guarded as he nodded in understanding, lifting his tumbler to his lips and tossing back its entire contents at once. "Good night, Lucius," she tried, glancing at him somewhat nervously from the corner of her eye as she slid from her stool.

"Good night, Hermione."

It was a blessing and a curse that Hermione's body processed alcohol rather slowly. A blessing because she remained sober long enough to make it home, although she began to feel a little warm and unsteady on her feet as she laid down in her bed. When she awoke in the morning, however, she found herself still feeling the effects of the Firewhisky through the pounding of her head and violent churning of her stomach. Cursing under her breath as she rummaged through the bathroom cabinet for a hangover potion, Hermione briefly entertained the notion of skiving off work for the day.

"'Morning," Ron mumbled, appearing behind her in the bathroom mirror as he wiped the sleep from his eyes. "Do we have any Sober-Ups left?"

"All out," she replied, glancing down into the sink basin as she slipped her toothbrush beneath the tap. "We forgot to stock up again after your last pub crawl with your brothers."

"Bugger," he hissed, turning back out of the bathroom and running his fingers through his ginger hair. "Looks like I'm staying in, then; mates or not, Harry'll flay me alive if I come in still pissed from last night." Hermione froze slightly at Ron's words, resisting the urge to scowl at his retreating back in case he decided to turn around. When he did glance back over his shoulder a moment later, she silently thanked her self control for saving her from awkwardly trying to explain why she was glaring at him. "What about you, 'Mione?"

Suppressing a groan at the overused and rather annoying nickname, Hermione turned her attention at the marble sink basin again. "I have to go in," she answered, what little thought she'd given to spending the day in an empty bed, catching up on some long-overdue pleasure reading vanishing immediately. "Lots of paperwork to do; deadlines and all that." The excuse sounded weak to her own ears, but Ron seemed to accept it and disappeared into their bedroom.

"Fuck," Hermione muttered under her breath, watching her reflection in the mirror as she focussed on attempting to brush the lingering smell of alcohol from her mouth.

Hermione took the long route through Muggle London as she made her way to work that morning. The crisp morning air did little to ease the ache in her head from her lingering hangover, however, and she found herself stopping by one of the cafés along the way. When she finally stepped into the atrium to join the queue for the lift, she was clutching her second cup of Caffè Americano in one hand and a simple white pastry bag in the other.

"Unable to find a hangover potion this morning, Mrs. Weasley?" Twisting to look over her shoulder, Hermione's mouth quirked upwards slightly as she saw Lucius standing behind her.

"What was the give-away?" she asked, taking a sip from the slightly watered down espresso as she turned to face him in line. Unlike Ron and even herself, Lucius's appearance showed no signs that he'd drank at all at the Ministry function the night before. Shifting the pastry bag to her other hand, holding it against the cup, Hermione self-consciously reached up to tuck a stray curl behind her ear, thankful she had securely pinned the mass of it to the back of her head earlier that morning.

"Other than the faint smudges beneath your eyes and unusually casual hairstyle?" Lucius asked, arching one narrow brow until Hermione blushed. "I'm also rather certain that coffee is not your usual drink of choice."

"It isn't," Hermione muttered with a nod, lowering her eyes to the lid of her cup before taking another drink. Even with the extra water, the strong, almost bitter taste of the espresso lingered a moment too long on the back of her tongue. "Vile stuff, really, but it's effective." Glancing up at him again, Hermione caught the amused smile on Lucius's lips and laughed softly to herself. The queue had moved forward during their short exchange, and the two of them stepped into the first downward heading lift available.

"You seem to be having a pleasant morning, Lucius," she stated, hovering near the front of the lift while he stood near her shoulder, both seemingly oblivious to the other Ministry employees sharing the small space.

"I cannot say it was anything special, although the last several minutes have certainly brightened my day." His sincere tone drew Hermione's eyes to him again, and she found his grey eyes shining with the same expression they had the night before. Swallowing nervously, Hermione filled the tense silence by taking another sip from the cup in her hand, forgetting about her pastry bag until it slipped awkwardly from her fingers.

The welcome witch's voice announced the lift's arrival on the seventh floor as Lucius bent down to pick up the dropped pastry bag for her. A confident smile hovered at the edges of his mouth as he offered it back to her, leaning in slightly and seeming to enjoy the faint blush that deepened in her cheeks. "I believe this is your floor, Hermione."

"Y-yes," she muttered, glancing away from Lucius's eyes and focusing intently on the pastry bag as she took it from him. "Thank you," she added quickly, slipping out of the open lift door and striding briskly down the empty corridor towards the Ludicrous Patents Office. When the click of the lift doors closing sounded behind her, she dared a brief look over her shoulder and saw that Lucius was still watching her walk away with the same smile on his lips.

A large stack of papers, stuffed into a straining manila folder, was waiting on her desk when Hermione stepped into her office. Knowing no good could come of a patent application that required so many forms, she took a seat in her chair and studiously ignored the file for a moment. Instead, she tossed back the last of her Caffè Americano, which had started to grow cold, bringing out the bitterness of the espresso, and removing her spiced pastry from its bag. The sweet scents of cinnamon and nutmeg assaulted her nose and made her mouth water as she sunk her teeth into the first bite of the still warm treat.

Just as she was sweeping the empty cup and crumpled pastry bag into the rubbish bin, mentally preparing herself for the daunting amount of paperwork for the latest patent request, a white paper aeroplane slipped into her office. "Oh, Merlin, what now?" she muttered, snatching the plane from the air as it passed over her desk. As soon as her fingers closed around it, however, she knew it wasn't one of the usual Ministry memos; the quality of the parchment was much too fine for that. Unfolding it against her desk, Hermione smoothed her hand over the creases and couldn't help but smile at the dark emerald words scratched across the paper.


As our discussion last night was interrupted, I wonder if you would care to join me for lunch this afternoon?

There's a small Muggle café only a short walk away, with a few speciality sandwiches that are simply spectacular.

- Lucius'

Before she could second guess the decision, Hermione plucked the quill from her desk and a blank memo from the drawer of her desk to pen a response.

Lucius knocked on her office door at a quarter-to-one, drawing Hermione's attention away from the lengthy patent request. Her eyes darted briefly to the clock before she nearly jumped out of her chair, eager to get away from the paperwork. Somewhere around page fifty-seven, Luna's explanation of her modified version of Muggle checkers had branched off onto a tangent about 'warblefigs' or some other nonsense.

"Sorry, Lucius, I lost track of the time," she said hurriedly, attempting to stuff the papers back into the manila folder with little success. With a frustrated sigh, Hermione gave up after a moment, leaving the file in a haphazard pile in the centre of her desk.

"I suppose this would not be the time to ask how your morning has been?" Lucius asked, stepping aside to allow Hermione through the door and into the long corridor that led back to the lift. The younger witch shot him a glare that only succeeded in making him laugh as he fell into step beside her.

"Honestly, this one wasn't so bad. Although the applicant seems to have inserted nearly fifteen pages on something entirely irrelevant," Hermione sighed softly as the two of them stepped into the lift together. The door clicked closed as she turned towards the blond man beside her and asked, "But do you know if any of the other departments have openings? Because I'm near to tearing my hair out if I have to look at one more ridiculous patent for a Quidditch broom that does things a broom has no business doing."

"Sadly," Lucius answered, his solemn tone defeated by his amused grin, "I am not well acquainted with most of the Ministry's departments. Most of my own dealings are confined to the Minister himself, or the D.M.L.E."

"The benefits of being your own private enterprise must be vast," Hermione said, a smile finally tugging at her lips. The lift door opened to the atrium and Lucius allowed her to step out first before falling back in step next to her as he led the way towards the visitors' exit that would take them out to the Muggle street.

"You know, I never took you as the type to enjoy a casual stroll through Muggle London," Hermione chimed, breaking the comfortable silence that had settled over them along the short walk towards the café. There was none of the rushed weaving through crowds she had expected for the end of the noon lunch rush, and the two of them had been able to walk side by side as they took in the pleasant early May weather.

"Six years ago, your assessment might have been correct." Lucius inclined his head slightly in what Hermione took to be a nod, and he glanced at her from the corner of his eye. "Now, however, I'm more inclined to enjoy the little moments such as this. Especially when I am in such wonderful company," Lucius added, as he placed his hand against the middle of Hermione's back, gently guiding her towards the door to the café as she smiled shyly.

"How was the rest of your evening after your husband pulled you away?" Lucius was not looking at her as he asked, his grey eyes trained instead on the cup of tea in his hands as he raised it to his lips for a sip. They had chatted idly about everything from the weather to their work while they enjoyed their lunch together. Just as he'd promised, the sandwiches had been exceptional, as had the tea, and Hermione had been enjoying the casual conversation between them.

"Incredibly boring would be the simple answer," she answered finally, blowing lightly on the steaming tea in her own cup before taking a small sip. As she lowered it back to the table, Hermione raised her eyes to Lucius and found herself smiling slight as she added, "I would have enjoyed it much more if I'd stayed with you." The older man's lip twitched and he offered her a small nod of agreement in response.

"I believe both of us would have." Glancing up at the back wall of the café, Lucius checked the hour on the small clock and frowned. "I believe we may need to return to the Ministry," he said quietly, his grey eyes returning to Hermione's face. "I've already kept you for over an hour."

"Damn," Hermione muttered under her breath, causing Lucius to chuckle as he shifted out of the booth and held out one hand to help her up.

"Would you allow me to see you again?" Lucius asked as Hermione laid her hand in his and allowed him to assist her out of her seat. "Another lunch meeting, perhaps?"

There was a hint of uncertainty in the older man's gaze as he looked at her, waiting for a response. He seemed to relax a fraction when she nodded, gracing him with another genuine smile as she fell into step beside him on the way out of the café. "I'm free for lunch on Wednesday, if that's good for you."

"I believe that would be perfect."

After lunch on Wednesday afternoon, Lucius invited Hermione out again the next day as well as Friday, taking her to the same Muggle café. Despite the small routine of it, none of their lunches together had seemed to drag as the few meals she shared with her husband had done for years. There was no shortage of conversation between them, with Lucius being the head of his own private company and Hermione's ever interesting, if often frustrating, work in the Ludicrous Patents Office. The few silences that passed between the two of them were comfortable ones, filled with the subtle but meaningful glances from the wizard and shy smiles from the witch.

As the weekend came and went, Hermione found herself missing the blond's company rather more than she'd expected. By Sunday evening, she had been half tempted to owl him about a possibility of the two of them having lunch again the following day. In the end, she discarded the idea when Ron decided that he wanted to hover in her shadow for the night, pawing at her shoulder like a dog begging for a treat.

To her surprise, when she arrived in her office on Monday morning, there was a letter from Lucius waiting on her desk to invite her to lunch again for Tuesday afternoon. Quickly suppressing her disappointment that it wouldn't be that day, she replied through one of the Ministry owls that she would be delighted to go out with him again before immersing herself in her work for the day. As the lunch hour came to its close on Thursday, the two of them were leaving the café together for the third time that week and parting rather reluctantly at the Ministry's visitors' entrance.

For the first time, Lucius stepped out of their routine of sorts and asked Hermione out for cocktails after work for Friday, and received a radiant smile from the witch in return.

"I should have thought to bring you here sooner," Lucius stated over the rim of his glass, tilting it back for a small sip of his drink. On the stool beside him, Hermione nodded slightly, and flashed him a smile as she finished off the martini in her glass.

"I wish you had, honestly. The cafe is great, but this," she said, waving her hand at the rather lavishly decorated lounge, "feels a bit more..."

"Intimate?" Lucius supplied when her words trailed off, looking entirely confident that his suggestion was the correct one. There was no hint of a blush in her cheeks as she nodded again, leaning subtly towards him on her stool. Almost uncertainly, Lucius glanced sideways to catch sight of the Muggle watch that peeked out of the cuff of his dress robes. "I believe it's time that I return you to your husband," he said, his tone reluctant.

Straightening on her stool, Hermione pursed her lips slightly as she glanced about for a clock to check the time, groaning quietly when she saw that it was already nearing eight. She'd been off work for almost two hours, and the excuse of 'cocktails with a business associate' could only buy her so much time. "If I must," she conceded, sliding gracefully off her stool as Lucius rose, offering his arm to escort her out.

"If it bothers you so deeply, Hermione, perhaps you wouldn't mind joining me for dinner tomorrow evening?"

Looking from his offered arm up to his face, Hermione asked, "Why not tonight?" and received a quiet laugh from him in return.

"The restaurant I have in mind will require a bit more advanced of a reservation than a few hours," he answered, smirking as she laid her hand in his and allowed him to escort her towards the door. "I promise, you will not regret the wait."

Her mind already working up an excuse to give to Ron- not that he would likely ask for one to begin with- Hermione returned the smile. "If that's the case, what time should I be ready?"

Lucius sent a owl to her home just after lunch the next afternoon to remind Hermione of their dinner plans, although she hadn't needed the extra reminder. She had told Ron almost immediately after he walked through the door the night before that he would have to handle his own supper. Although she had an excuse ready on the tip of her tongue if he asked, Hermione's words had been met with a shrug and a muttered comment about visiting his Mum for a few hours if she wasn't going to be in. If there'd been any lingering doubt in her mind about having dinner with the elder Malfoy, it had been erased entirely by her husband's lack of interest.

Hermione withdrew the brief letter from the pocket of her house robes that she'd discarded on the bed and read over it again with a faint smile on her lips, as she had done multiple times since receiving it. At the bottom of the slip of parchment, beneath his promise to come and collect her at quarter to eight- only after Hermione assured him in a letter of her own that Ron would not be there to question his appearance, and indeed, he'd been gone since after breakfast- he had scrawled an extra note that was at once completely inappropriate and entirely welcomed.

'I would recommend something lacy beneath your dress, Mrs. Weasley... I recall you look divine in blue.'

The sharp rapping of knuckles against the door to her flat startled her attention away from the memo, and Hermione quickly tucked it back inside the pocket of her robes. "Coming," she called loudly from the bedroom, knowing the sound would travel in the otherwise empty space as she cast one last glance at her appearance in the vanity mirror. Her hair fell in soft curls around her shoulders, pinned slightly back behind her ears with tiny silver pins. The midnight blue silk dress that clung to her curves was the same she had worn to the Ministry function nearly two weeks before, although she had modified it slightly for the evening.

Rather than the modest neckline it had boasted before, the fabric now plunged a bit deeper between her breasts, and if she leaned too far forward, Hermione could catch a glimpse of the powder blue lace lingerie beneath. Stepping back from the mirror slightly, she turned and watched the new slit along her right hip provide a tantalizing glimpse of her thigh and smiled. Lucius had played a subtle game for months before the function; if he was prepared to make his intent more obvious now, then so was she.

"Vous avez une réservation pour Malfoy," Lucius said to the woman behind a small wooden podium as they entered the restaurant. Hermione had expected to hear French when they entered; Lucius had warned her, before pulling her a bit closer to him than was necessary for a Side-Along, that they would be dining in a very posh establishment in Paris. Still, his fluent use of the language was surprising.

"Have you heard from Severus recently?" Lucius asked, as they followed the maître d' to their table.

"Last I knew, he and Remus had extended their vacation in Italy another month," Hermione answered as she claimed a seat at the table, accepting the menu offered to her with a smile.

"Nous voudrais une minute avant que commandons," Lucius said without looking at the waitress, watching Hermione over his own menu instead. "For a man who was always so convinced that love was a poison, he certainly seems to be doing well now that he's found it," Lucius added to her, glancing down at length to scan the wine list tucked beneath the cover of his menu.

"He's right, you know," Hermione said quietly, focusing her attention on trying to translate the dishes on the menu with her rusty French. She was wary to withdraw her wand in a crowded Muggle restaurant just to cast a translating spell, but her skills with the language were minimal at best. Arching one narrow brow, Lucius looked back up at Hermione in silent question, waiting for her to glance up and meet his eyes. "There's poison in everything, Lucius, even emotions. It's only the dose that makes a thing not a poison."

"Do explain," he said, the corner of his mouth twisting upwards as he set the leather-bound menu aside for a moment.

"My years of friendship with Ron have poisoned what chances we had for a romantic relationship," Hermione answered easily, steadily meeting Lucius' gaze as she spoke. "If we'd gone through less together, perhaps we'd have had a real chance. But friendship is all that we really have, despite our marriage; and even that is beginning to be poisoned by too much time together."

"Then wouldn't any marriage be doomed to failure through friendship?" Lucius asked, the traces of amusement gone from his demeanour and replaced by a more serious expression. "If friendship can poison a relationship, how do any of them work?"

"It's not the friendship itself that is the problem. It's how much of a foundation it is to the relationship." Leaning back slightly against the back of her booth, Hermione plucked the glass of ice water from the table in front of her and took a sip before she continued. "Alcohol is a poison, isn't it Lucius? One that we can all partake of, but in high enough doses, it can kill. The same can be said of friendship to a romantic relationship. In the end, if all there is between two people is friendship, then it will eventually kill the marriage."

"And is your marriage dying, Hermione?" She didn't miss the way that Lucius leaned somewhat closer as he asked, his grey eyes glittering slightly in the light of the lamp above their table.

"My marriage is dead, Lucius. I have only to lay it in the ground."

"Perhaps you simply need the proper motivation to do so," Lucius replied, his mouth twisting into a satisfied smirk that sent a shiver along Hermione's spine as he straightened in his seat.

"Etes-vous prêt à commander, ou vous voudrais une autre minute?" Hermione looked over at the waitress who had appeared beside their table again and then glanced to Lucius with a slightly confused expression. The older man gave a brief chuckle before turning his eyes to the woman who was watching the two of them expectantly.

"Oui, nous somme prêt. Comme hors d'œuvres, nous voudrais le carpaccio de coquille St Jacques et le Chateau de Beaucastel, le Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Comme plat principal, le magret de Moscovy rôti et les tagliarini fraiches aux truffes noires, avec el Beau 1st Cru Vignes. L' assiette de fromages avec Dom Perignon Brute, et comme dessert, nous voudrais les Crêpes Suzette avec café." Lucius plucked the menu from in front of Hermione as he spoke, laying it on top of his own and handing both over to the waitress as he finished speaking. It took the woman a moment to finish writing the extensive order in the small leather book in her hands, and she gave them a polite nod before she walked off. As Lucius turned his attention back to her, Hermione arched one eyebrow at him curiously.

"And what, may I ask, did you just order for us?"

"Diver sea scallops to begin, followed by roasted duck and risotto or a pasta with black truffles, an assorted cheese plate, and crêpes for afters," he answered easily, a hint of amusement in his eyes as he took in Hermione's expression of surprise. "I could be more specific, but seeing as you already seem to be in a state of shock, I imagine it might be better to let you see for yourself the finer details of each dish."

"And all of the wines?" she asked after a moment, remembering the various names that had been slipped in with the list of meals.

"A different wine for each course is not uncommon, Hermione," Lucius answered, the amusement that had shone in his eyes turning up the corner of his mouth as he spoke. "I could not slight you by restricting the meal to only one variety if it would not properly complement each dish."

Their conversation turned away from casual things as the meal progressed, and by the time that their dessert arrived, Hermione was more than ready to go somewhere more comfortable. Sipping at her coffee as she watched the table-side preparation of their crêpes, her eyes wandered more than once to the man across the table from her. Lucius had managed to make her feel more desired and special in one evening than Ron had done in nearly four years of marriage.

"I suppose it is an obvious question," Lucius said as they both pushed aside their dessert plates at the end of the meal, "but would you like to accompany me to Malfoy Manor for a drink, perhaps?" His grey eyes were focused on her face, and Hermione could see the hardly restrained desire in them as she smiled cheekily back at him.

"Only if you have more than a drink on your mind, Lucius." As she watched, his eyes darkened slightly, and she suspected if they'd been in more private quarters, his hands would have already been on her. Without another word, Lucius slid the black leather book containing the bill towards himself, glancing at the total only briefly before tucking the proper amount of Muggle money inside. Calling for the maître d', he handed the book over to her before sliding easily from his seat and extending his hand to Hermione.

"Shall we then?"

Despite the rather crowded state of the street outside, Lucius located a secluded place for the two of them to Apparate from. Pulling Hermione close, the blond wrapped one arm tightly around her waist as he transported them directly into his home. Their feet touched the floor in his bedroom at the Manor, though he had to steady the witch in his arms as she swayed slightly in her heels.

"Directly to the bedroom, Lucius?" she asked in an amused tone as she found her balance again.

"You seemed so eager to get here, I assumed you wouldn't mind," the older wizard answered with a smirk. He tightened his arms around her slightly, and Hermione tilted her face up towards him as her own twined around his neck. Lucius bent his head to kiss her, their lips pressing together eagerly as he backed slowly towards the bed, pulling her along with him.

When the back of his legs struck the bed, Hermione broke away from him, pushing gently against his shoulders until he fell back to sit on the mattress. "What are you up to, witch?" Lucius asked, arching his brow in amusement as he looked at the younger woman standing over him. Holding his gaze, Hermione smiled as she nudged his legs apart, lowering herself to her knees between them.

"If you have to ask that, Lucius, I really must question how well you hold your wine," Hermione answered good naturedly, her hands gliding slowly up along the man's thighs. The corner of his mouth twitched, but he said nothing as her fingers found the silver fastenings of his trousers and made quick work of tugging them open to expose the black silk boxers beneath. The bulge of his erection strained against the thin fabric and an eager glint entered Hermione's eyes as she unfastened the tiny black buttons that kept it restrained.

One of Lucius's hands reached out to caress her hair gently, watching her with a rapt expression as she wrapped her hand around the base of his cock and brought her lips closer. The first brush of them against the head made him gasp, threading his fingers into her curls in encouragement. Hermione glanced up at him through her lashes and flashed him a brief smile before taking his length into her mouth; only the head at first, and then slowly sliding her lips along his length until she was nearly swallowing him.

A low, rumbled groan escaped him as he rolled his hips upwards into her mouth, only to have her hum around his cock as it brushed against the back of her throat. Hermione held him there for a moment before finally pulling back slightly, gliding her lips along his shaft until only the head was between them. Her tongue brushed against the sensitive flesh there and Lucius's fingers tightened to a fist in her hair. "Little tease," he said, meeting her eyes when she glanced up at him again and seeing the desire that shone in them. Uncertainly, he guided her mouth down onto his length again with the hold on her hair, watching as she followed his lead somewhat eagerly.

Lucius leaned back slightly, supporting himself on one arm against the bed as he guided Hermione's movements with more certainty now. Her tongue licked at the hardened flesh as she sucked him, allowing him to set the steady pace of his cock sliding back and forth between her lips. His breathing slowly grew ragged above her, the sound mingling with an occasional groan of pleasure when her tongue would brush against a sensitive spot.

"Hermione," Lucius breathed, tugging at her hair until she pulled away to look up at him again. Leaning closer to her, he brushed his lips against hers briefly before trailing a series of light kisses along her jaw and towards her ear. She shivered beneath him and Lucius wrapped his arms around her to pull her up onto the edge of the bed with him, holding her in his lap. Hermione smiled at him as she leaned herself against his chest, arching into his hands as they trailed along her sides towards the hemline of her dress. "Did you take to my recommendation, Hermione?" he asked, feeling her shiver again as his warm breath washed over her ear.

"Yes," she answered in a whisper, her tongue darting out to wet her lips as Lucius slowly lifted her dress over her hips. The silky fabric glided over her skin as he tugged it upwards. He leaned in to claim her lips with his once he'd drawn it over her head, dropping the garment to pool on the floor beside the bed as they kissed.

When they pulled apart again, Lucius's grey eyes raked slowly over her body, taking in the lace undergarments for a moment before pulling the younger witch closer to him. "Beautiful," he murmured in her ear, wrapping one arm firmly around her waist and running the other gently up along the curve of her spine. Hermione smiled as she shifted her hips slightly, grinding herself lightly against Lucius's still hard cock. The blond tightened his arm around her waist to still the motion, meeting her confused eyes with an expression of hardly restrained lust.

"Please?" she quietly asked, her teeth sinking gently into her lower lip as Lucius searched her face for a moment. After a few seconds that seemed to stretch into minutes, he loosened his arm around her waist and rocked his own hips up to grind against her, savouring the soft moan that slipped from her parted lips. Her hands fumbled with the buttons of his shirt now, and Lucius withdrew his wand from the pocket of his trousers with an amused smirk turning up the corners of his mouth. With a quick gesture, he Vanished his own clothing, leaving her lingerie intact as the both of them ground against each other.

"Well, that's just cheating," she murmured, her lips resting near his ear as she rocked herself against him. Lucius chuckled in response, pulling her body tightly against his as he laid back onto the bed and rolled until she was pinned beneath him.

"I'm afraid I can't wait long enough to bother removing it all manually," he answered, the smirk still firmly in place as he dipped his head to kiss along the curve of Hermione's neck. "I hope that wasn't a complaint," he added, slipping one hand between their bodies to pull the fabric of Hermione's panties aside, his fingers brushing against the wet and heated flesh concealed beneath them. She gasped quietly and bucked her hips into the brief contact in answer, the pink tint that had risen in her cheeks over the past several minutes beginning to deepen.

Lucius positioned himself at her entrance and waited, drinking in the sight of her flushed skin and parted lips as she lay on the cream-coloured sheets of his bed. Her breathing was a bit heavier than it had been, and her hips rocked upwards in small movements, grinding her slick folds against the head of his cock. "Lucius, please," she whimpered after a moment, focussing her lust-clouded eyes on his face.

Leaning himself down towards her again, Lucius claimed her lips in a hungry kiss as he thrust himself slowly forward. Hermione's back arched as he entered her, pressing her lace-clad breasts against Lucius's chest as she moaned into the kiss, twining her arms around his neck to hold him to her. As he seated himself fully inside her, her legs came up to wrap around his waist as well.

His lips broke apart from hers at length, though he did not pull back from her as he began to thrust into her in slow, shallow movements. Beneath him, the younger woman's eyes fluttered closed and her teeth sunk into her bottom lip again as she ground her hips up into him with each of his thrusts. Her nails scratched lightly against the flesh of his shoulders and a soft, pleading whimper slipped past her lips a moment later.

Stilling his motions for a moment, Lucius removed Hermione's arms from around his neck to pin them above her head with one hand. Her eyes peeked open to glance at him briefly, until he thrust into her again, this time angling himself upwards slightly so that his cock struck the hidden bundle of nerves inside her. Immediately, her head snapped back with a gasp, and her legs tightened around his waist in an attempt to hold him still.

"Like that, do you?" he ground out, his voice becoming strained now as he repeated the motion. If she answered him at all, the words were lost as she let out a loud moan when his cock struck that spot within her again. The writhing of her body beneath him, though, was all the answer he needed, and Lucius increased the speed of his thrusts slightly.

Hermione's breathing quickly became ragged as he continued, coming in short pants the nearer she came to orgasming. Noticing the signs - the movements of her body and the scrunching of her face - Lucius reached his free hand between the two of them again to brush the soaked fabric of her panties aside a bit more. His fingers found her clit easily, rubbing it lightly until Hermione bucked her hips against the contact.

"Are you going to come for me, Hermione," he asked, leaning over her once again, supporting himself on the arm that held her wrists pinned securely to the bed.

"Yes," she breathed in reply, the end of the word pitched into a whimper as Lucius thrust himself into her again. His skilled fingers worked her clit a moment longer as he held his pace steady, watching her carefully as she neared the edge and finally went over.

Her muscles tightened around his cock and her legs held him so firmly in place that he couldn't have continued fucking her if he'd wanted to. She arched up off of the bed slightly, her dark curls fanning out around her head as she leaned her head back to cry out her pleasure. The sight of it was enough to push Lucius over the edge with her, and he stiffened above her with a low groan.

For one long moment, they remained in that position, breathing heavily as they both slowly relaxed from the intense sensations. Lucius was the first to move, withdrawing from inside her and releasing her wrists as he laid beside her on the bed. Hermione's face turned towards him with a contented smile gracing her lips, and Lucius couldn't help but lean in to kiss her once more.

"I think," she murmured softly when they parted again, her eyes still somewhat hazy from their previous activities as she looked at him, "that you've provided me proper motivation."