A/N: First off, let me thank Gnrkrystle for a superb and speedy job of beta'ing this for me! I have no idea where the idea for this story came from but I'm enjoying writing it thus far. Of course everything isn't totally canon so you've been warned. As always I own nothing but my flighty muse.
Across the dimly lit room of a pub, sat a small, dark haired young woman lifting an amber bottle of ale to her lips as she laughed with two other females also at the table. Little did she know that she was being scrutinized from a well concealed spot at the opposite end of the place.
Lifting one shapely denim encased leg to cross over the other, she leaned forward to attempt to hear what hear what the blonde next to her was trying to yell over the loud noise in the pub. Long, dark brown, sleek tresses fell over the girl's face, her left, ringless hand coming up to push the errant strands out of her eyes.
After breaking out into more peals of laughter, the dark haired girl braced herself to climb down from her precarious perch on the barstool, her body wavering on slightly unsteady feet. The girl then, politely as possible, worked her way through the throngs of people, trying to avoid a group of youths throwing darts and one of clearly inebriated men holding mugs of ale while wilding gesticulating about, on her way to what was most likely the loo.
"Hello, witch," a low voice rumbled in her ear when she returned from the little cubby being passed off as a lavatory.
The young woman froze, able to place that familiar voice despite the loud cackling of the patrons in the pub. Looking up with what was unmistakably fear coloring her deep brown eyes, she saw a pair of icy grey ones staring back into hers. Nausea now deeply rooted in the pit of her stomach, the young woman contemplated running.
"We can do this the easy way or the hard way. Your choice," the man told her able to sense her thoughts.
Feeling her mouth go dry and an insistent throbbing at her temple the young woman acquiesced and nodded. Without another word she began to make her way back over to the table where her mates sat, still giggling and flirting with the male wait staff.
"Oi, Janie are you off already? It's only eight!" the blonde cried when she saw her friend reaching for her jacket.
"Shut up, Mag Don't you see she has company?" the other bawdy, raven haired girl offered slyly looking up at the long pale blonde haired man standing stiffly to the side. "So Jane, I guess we'll see you at some point tomorrow, eh?" she added suggestively while elbowing the tittering blonde.
"You slags," Jane told them both, trying to keep her tone cheery. "Yes, I'll see you tomorrow!"
She began walking away with the tall, blonde man at her elbow, both her girlfriends still drunkenly laughing while checking out the rear of her gentleman friend.
Once they were out of the pub, the young woman tried distancing herself from the man whose black, leather-gloved hand instantly shot out, firmly holding her by the cuff of her left arm, keeping her at his side.
"How did you find me?" she all but hissed, the throbbing in her head turning into what now felt like a migraine.
"You know, Jane, I never took you for the sort that did the pub crawl," her companion drawled. "Although, I suppose a lot can change in a years' time."
"You might as well just call me by my name. You've already found me," she conceded.
"Fine, Hermione. I must admit you have a flair for ensconcing; not to mention taking your mother's maiden name? Very clever."
"Well, I did what was needed, Mister Malfoy. Now, if you don't mind, where are you taking me?" Hermione spat, looking around at the darkened streets.
"I'm surprised you haven't asked what I plan on doing with you," Lucius replied smoothly.
The young woman's brown eyes widened as she speculated over his words. She suddenly stopped short, earning a glare from the elder Malfoy. "I need a moment; my head feels like it's going to burst," she said, her body beginning to slump down onto the sidewalk.
"I know it is; mine is also, and you know it's bloody well your fault," Lucius replied showing no remorse whatsoever towards her discomfort.
Hermione felt his arm make its way around her waist, and, despite wanting to yank away from his touch, it was the only thing keeping her standing upright at the moment.
"Just one second…I need to find a place away from all of these Muggles," he replied sounding aggravated. After unceremoniously yanking her into a darkened, abandoned alley, Hermione closed her eyes as she felt the familiar pull behind her navel as Lucius used side-along disapparation.
"Where are we?" Hermione demanded as her eyes fought to adjust to the sudden darkness.
Unconcerned with answering the increasingly irate witch, Lucius stayed silent yet used the snake headed top of his walking cane to prod the girl along.
"No! I'm not moving another step until you tell me where you've taken me!" she said angrily, prostrating herself in place.
"For the love of Circe, you are infuriating to be so small," Lucius replied, a hint of annoyance in his voice. "I guarantee that your strength is no match for mine, and you should know that I'm not adverse to slinging you over my shoulder and carrying you to my room if need be," he threatened.
Hermione's fear nearly palpable even in the dark, she shrank back from the man towering over her, still able to feel the heat from his body. Stumbling backwards, she fell right into a portrait and upset the image that immediately woke up and began grousing and swearing loudly.
Nearly jumping out of her skin, Hermione ran back towards Lucius and collided with his solid chest.
"My my, has it been that long that you're out of touch with the wizarding world?" he asked with a chuckle.
"Oh, shut it!" Hermione hissed, trying to still her racing heart.
"I might be able to help," Lucius said, amusement still coloring his voice. With a flurry of sound, he then dug into the inner pocket of his suit and withdrew his wand. After uttering 'lumos', the white light illuminated his face and a few feet of the area surrounding him and Hermione. "Shall we continue?"
Nodding, Hermione clutched onto the back of Lucius' black coat and trailed in behind him. Finally they stopped at a set of double doors, and Lucius pushed them open. He then proceeded to flick his wand about turning lamps on in the room.
"It's impolite to linger in doorways," she heard Lucius say when she stood in place for awhile. Hermione grudgingly walked into the large bedroom. As befitting a Malfoy, the room was lush and opulent without being ostentatious. The walls were dark, muted green and tall bay windows with lush velvet drapes took up one complete wall. A large curtained, mahogany four poster bed dominated the space, neatly made with a grey brocade duvet and soft looking grey sheets, a vast array of large, fluffy pillows at the headboard.
Despite thinking about the person that usually occupied the bed, Hermione found herself growing drowsy just by looking at it.
"Don't even think about it; you'll not get into my bed without bathing first," Lucius interjected, leaning his walking stick against the wall. "Merlin only knows what is festering in those ugly Muggle clothes of yours, sitting around in that disgusting pub."
Bristling at the last part of his sentence, Hermione reared up defensively. "My clothes are not ugly!" she insisted, looking down at her outfit. Her trainers were a bit scuffed, her denim jacket and jeans a bit tatty but the floral blouse she'd worn was her best and favorite. By all means, it wasn't one of her best outfits but it was certainly comfortable.
"Yes, Hermione, they are," Lucius replied, delicately pulling off his leather gloves as he appraised her outfit. "Hideous in fact. How are you not ashamed to go out dressed like that?"
"Well, I would have surely looked out of place dressed in witches' robes!" she snapped. "I guess you're used to your women being all tarted up. Sorry, but it's not going to happen."
"Clearly. I had the house elves pack up your belongings and bring them here; I can't say that I approve of a single garment you own."
Hermione was apoplectic, her nails digging into her palms as her face flushed red.
"What you do mean you had the house elves pack up my belongings and bring them here? You don't mean for me to live here with you!"
Lucius raised a perfect eyebrow and speculatively eyed the incensed young witch. "You and I both know that is what I intend," he glibly replied. "While I'm at it, I should let you know that you've led me on a fine chase this past year."
"With good reason!" Hermione all but shrieked, Lucius' calm demeanor only serving to infuriate her even further. "It wasn't supposed to happen and you know it!"
"Yes, but what's done is done, and now we must deal with it. Surely there are worse travesties that could have occurred."
"There are? Because being accidentally blood bound to a former Death Eater after nearly being tortured to death by his sister-in-law is no big deal, right?" Sinking down to the plush, forest green carpet, for reasons that Hermione knew had nothing to do with the ale that she'd imbibed merely thirty minutes ago, she began to soundlessly cry. "Why couldn't you just have let me be?" she croaked out between sniffles. "I didn't ask for any of this."
"You behave as if this is my fault, Miss Granger," Lucius interrupted." Why would I willingly choose to become bound to a witch that is my son's age? Hell, my late wife and I weren't even bound in this fashion."
His words brought Hermione up short, momentarily stopping her tears. "Your late-I'm sorry, I didn't know…" she trailed off.
"Yes, late. Why the hell else do you think I've been trying to find you all of this time? Do you think that headache is from that nasty sludge you were pretending to drink with those brazen mates of yours?"
Being reminded of her discomfort, Hermione cringed. Tucking her knees into her chest, she wrapped both arms around them, her eyes catching the slightly faded 'mudblood' carving that Bellatrix had placed there. It was that very scar that caused all of her trouble, the very reason for her uprooting herself from home and hiding in Australia for the past year.
The very night that she'd been tortured on the floor in the vast sitting room of Malfoy Manor, a scuffle had ensued after Bellatrix had taken her dagger to Hermione's arm. Lucius had unknowingly been cut on the palm of his hand when Dobby unscrewed the chandelier and caused it to come crashing down to the floor. Shards had flown everywhere, one neatly slicing a horizontal line in the elder Malfoy's hand.
He'd seen that the bushy haired witch was trying to run to her friends and in turn made a grab for her, his injured hand placed perfectly atop of the freshly carved and still bleeding words. A jolt between then had made him release his grip, after which the entire Golden Trio along with his previously freed house elf Apparated. However, he hadn't missed the look of panic in the girl's eyes that bore into his before they fled.
Hermione was anything but daft; she'd known what happened. However, in the midst of the ensuing war, she knew better than to add to the already heaping pile of stress they had to endure and thus remained quiet. She wasn't sure that Lucius had even realized what happened, but on the last day at Hogwarts when the Dark Lord had been defeated, Hermione hadn't missed how Lucius' bloodshot eyes had bore into hers as he stood among the group of Death Eaters.
Right before fleeing with his family, he'd given her that same look and it was all Hermione needed to confirm that he in fact knew what transpired between them.
Once everything had settled down, Hermione pored over every tome in the Hogwarts' library, some new and some old, looking for a way that the blood bond could be broken. After finding that the only way to break a bond was death, and to be separated was to endure pain, Hermione chose the latter option.
It was the unfortunate event of her parent's death (as a result of the war) that sent Hermione to live in Australia. Dear friends she had, they wanted to support her in her time of need. However, she'd vehemently refused, knowing that the plan brewing in her mind had to be kept secret in order for it to be carried out to fruition.
After making her move, she produced identification making a play on her middle name and her late mother's maiden name. Hermione then grew out her hair and kept it ironed straight, using Muggle hair dye in favor of charming her hair another color, not wanting her magic to be traced. She kept her wand hidden beneath the floorboards of her room in the small, inexpensive flat above a women's clothing store.
Hermione proceeded to procure a hasty job with a publishing firm as a reader, and despite the fact that the images never moved she found the work manageable at best. Reading was the only thing that offered her a peace of mind, as the distant but not severed bond between her and Lucius caused a daily physical discomfort that manifested itself into her mind.
Hermione had decided that she'd rather a lifetime of pain than to be married to a man that hated Muggles and, on more than one occasion, tried to have her and her friends killed. The innocuous potions that she was able to brew without her wand, and in the privacy of her locked bedroom, only offered temporarily relief, and as a result she'd often suffer from a slight throbbing in her head.
Trusting no one, she refused to date or offer too many details about herself to the people that she did socialize with. Usually, she stayed cooped up in her dingy little flat with her head buried in a book until she met Maggie and Selma at work, two young women that sorted mail and such.
While their wit combined didn't match Hermione's, she'd still found them good natured and jovial to be around. It was those two that took Hermione to pub at the weekend. On their first outing she realized that spirits eased her headaches a bit more than her potions; however, after imbibing too much one night and running to the loo with Maggie in behind her, holding her hair back as she emptied the contents of her stomach into the toilet, Hermione decided to stick with a single bottle of ale.
It took being completely inebriated that one time for Hermione to also realize that she wouldn't be in full control of her faculties if she couldn't even stand upright on her own; that fact also outweighed the benefits of drinking to get rid of her headaches. It was a shame, as the alcohol also helped her to sleep more easily at night, but witches and wizards that might have come snooping about would have been easy to place so long as they weren't being viewed through a haze of inebriation.
She should have known that something was wrong when she'd gone to the pub that night and the usual low ebb of pain in her head thrummed insistently. Her worse fears had come true when she'd come out of the loo and heard a familiar voice in her ear that sent a shiver of fear down her spine.
Hermione went with Lucius without a fight for two reasons; one, she knew that if she fled from him again the pain in her head would only increase and two, the man was nearly predatory in the manner in which he found her. It would have been futile to run; he'd only find her again.
Letting her arms fall limply to her sides, Hermione looked up to find Lucius' stooped down in front her. "I'm tired," she said in a defeated voice as she wiped the tear streaks off her face with the denim sleeve.
"As am I," he replied. "Tired of this blasted ache in my skull that refuses to leave."
"I meant I'm tired of running!" Hermione snapped, her eyes becoming unfocused as everything around her grew hazy. Lying back on the thick carpet with her arms akimbo, she then closed her eyes. "I don't care anymore," the pain in her head tormenting her to the brink of defeat. "No one knows I'm here, not even Maggie or Selma."
"I'm assuming those were your lovely lady friends I had the pleasure of meeting," Lucius said euphemistically. He continued after seeing Hermione feebly nod her head. "Apparently, they thought you were taking me home for a one-off."
Hermione fought back the urge to laugh, knowing that that was exactly what her friends thought. They were merciless flirts, yet both had steady boyfriends. They were forever trying to coerce Hermione into telling them what type of man she liked, which always ended with her face turning red and Maggie and Selma laughing uproariously.
"Don't you think they're going to find it strange when they don't see me tomorrow?" Hermione asked.
"No," Lucius drawled, that annoying lilt in his voice. "They've been obliviated, as well as your landlord and everyone else that's come in contact with you. The last thing I need is a group of nosy Muggles sticking their nose where it doesn't belong. By the way, that was a clever little niche for you to hide your wand," he added, speaking of the hollowed space beneath the floorboards.
Fuming inwardly, Hermione felt her hands ball up into tightly drawn fists. "How dare you!" she hissed, her eyes snapping open. "I still don't know why you went through all of this trouble to find me, you don't even like me! Throughout my entire time at Hogwarts I had to hear 'mudblood this, mudblood that' from you and your son."
"I can admit, I've made many mistakes for which I've paid dearly in the end."
Hermione frowned, disbelieving that she was hearing what sounded like repentance and, possibly, an apology from Lucius Malfoy's mouth. Hearing him suddenly heave a sigh, Hermione tipped her head to the side to see Lucius now standing at her feet. "You look terribly undignified lying there," he said.
"Well, you told me that I couldn't get in your bed and you'll probably hex me if I sit on the chaise," Hermione retorted.
"I said that you'd have to bathe first," Lucius corrected.
"I don't have anything to wear!" the aggravated witch shot back. "Besides my disgusting Muggle clothes that you abhor. You still didn't tell me how you found me!"
Grumbling underneath her breath, Hermione pushed herself to sitting up position and glared up at Lucius. Despite being someone that grated her nerves as much as his progeny, Hermione had to admit that the man was good looking.
When she'd last seen him his hair was lank and unkempt, his cheeks nearly always bearing stubble and his eyes red-rimmed and bleary. Lucius' icy grey eyes still seemed lacking its usual fire but he'd come for her neatly dressed in a fine black wool coat with the usual serpentine pins adorning it, an immaculate black suit buttoned all the way up with a white collar peeking out at the neck, and gloved hands holding steadily onto his walking stick.
Still standing over Hermione, Lucius was now clad in his white dress shirt and black trousers, his sleek blonde hair pulled back in a black velvet beribboned queue. "If you insist on behaving like a petulant child, I'll only be forced to treat you as such," Lucius conveyed, reaching behind him to remove the ribbon from his hair.
"I'm behaving like a petulant child?" Hermione echoed. "Forgive me, sir, but my head still hurts; yet your only concern is my pub germ-infested clothes tainting your room. By the way this carpet is remarkable, I can't find one speck of dust on it," she replied, turning her head and looking at the patch of green. "It's as if this room belongs to someone with OCD."
Lucius curled up his lip in distaste. "I don't know what that means, surely one of your Muggle words, but yes, I will admit to prefer the fastidious side of things. Besides a hot bath is in order; it might help with your affliction."
Conceding, Hermione stood up on shaky legs and reached out to steady herself on one of the bedposts.
"I'll tell you whatever you want to know after you've had your bath. I don't think I need to point out that you look as if you haven't had a decent one in ages," she heard Lucius add before he disappeared into what she presumed was his bathroom. Wishing she had something to toss at the back of his arrogant, blonde head, Hermione closed her eyes and wondered how she'd ended up in Malfoy Manor.
"Are you going to fall asleep standing up?" came a silky voice next to her ear, breaking the reverie.
Brown eyes flashing angrily at the man invading her personal space, Hermione stalked away from the bed and went into the bathroom, Lucius following in behind.
Hermione stopped short when she saw steps leading to the oversized tub set in dark marble, musing inwardly that her now old flat could fit easily inside of the entire spacious bathroom. Her eyes widened when she saw that there was even a small fireplace across from the tub, and a glass enclosed shower room that was the size of a small bedroom.
After locating folded towels and what looked like a pair of silk pajamas on a bench, Hermione looked pointedly at Lucius waiting for him to take his leave. Shooting her a bemused glance, he finally left and Hermione took the opportunity to disrobe. She was clad in jeans and had her hands on the buttons when Lucius opened the bathroom door, causing Hermione to protest loudly.
"What do you want?" she hissed, turning her back towards the door whilst trying to cover her body.
"Just a trifle matter," Lucius replied lightly, wielding his wand in a manner that Hermione was unable to see. "That does nothing for your coloring," he continued before shutting the door again.
'What in bloody hell was that all about,' she thought to herself as she hastily removed her jeans and knickers. After neatly folding her clothing and placing them underneath the bench, Hermione made her way up the steps to the tub and gratefully slid one foot into the hot water. Half her body was nearly submersed in the frothy, fragrant bubbles when she caught a glimpse of her form in the mirror across the room.
"Lucius Malfoy!" she shrieked, seeing that he'd transformed her hair back to its natural shade. His charm had done nothing to undo its sleekness, but she knew a few minutes in the hot water would change that anyway.
Unable to hear that the devil was outside of the bathroom laughing, Hermione slid all the way down into the fragrant water, leaving only the top of her shoulders exposed. Leaning her head back against the smooth edge, she had to admit that Lucius had been right; the hot water was doing wonders for her headache. She stubbornly refused to admit that being in close proximity to the man was most likely the true reason for her discomfort subsiding - as her previous research had proved it would.
Sinking further down into the water, Hermione couldn't help but to close her eyes. The tub was large enough for at least three or four people, and even with both legs splayed she was unable to feel the sides. She'd nearly nodded off when she heard water splashing, and then the unmistakable sensation of rougher, bare legs against her own.
Squealing in outrage, Hermione's arms flew up to cover her breasts, bubbles clinging to her skin.
"Get out!" she yelled, looking across at Lucius whom wore the damndest smirk on his face.
"This is my house, in case you have forgotten," he replied easily, sinking back to rest his head on the edge of the tub. "And this is my tub, which is big enough for both of us."
"What does that have to do with anything?" Hermione asked sounding utterly confounded.
Lucius sat up momentarily to shift his now dampened dark blonde hair to one side. "For all intents and purposes, you are my wife," he said after sitting back. "I assure you there is no lack of propriety in us sharing a bath."
Swallowing nervously, Hermione fought to peel her eyes away from the bubbles clinging to his broad, slightly hirsute chest. She shuddered when she saw the faded Dark Mark on his left forearm, and hastily averted her eyes. "Be that as it may, I can't help but wonder if you are expecting things of me that I'm not ready for," she admitted.
Lucius sighed gustily and closed his eyes. "Fear not witch; the only thing I want to do right now is be rid of this headache and enjoy my bath in silence. Speaking of which, have you noticed that the throbbing in your temple has already begun to subside?"
Hermione's unusual silence was enough of an affirmative answer for Lucius, and he chuckled to himself. "Severus said that it would happen."
"Professor-I mean- Headmaster Snape knows about us?" Hermione asked aghast.
"Yes. He's the one that helped me find you. Have you forgotten about our penchant for espionage?"
Hermione found that she was unable to speak as Lucius prattled on, now unabashedly rubbing a loofah sponge over his skin.
"We were impressed by your ability to elude us both; remarkable work even without the use of magic. Severus was unable to use a locator charm since you'd stopped using your wand, but in the end all it took was currency and a bit of sleuthing before I found you. Then, I stepped into that damned pub and felt like my head was going to explode. I knew you had to be there; I nearly didn't recognize you with that dark hair but your eyes gave it away when I called you witch."
Staring down into the frothy suds, Hermione bit down on her lip shocked to find herself speechless - a rare occurrence by any standards.
"You're like an open book," Lucius continued. "Your face, even your eyes, they're much too expressive. You wouldn't have last five minutes in front of the Dark Lord."
"I'm not sure if that's an insult…or a compliment," Hermione replied indignantly, looking at Lucius squarely in the face.
"An insult by any means had you had to stand before him; you would have had to do a much better job than you're doing now to control your emotions. However, seeing as he's no longer in existence…a compliment. The last thing I need in my presence is another fraud or sycophant."
Unable to keep from scowling, Hermione set her jaw firmly as her next question came to mind. "So besides your headache, what other reason did you have to scour the earth in hopes of finding me?"
"I told you; if not for you I'd be a widow. Maybe a wild-haired know-it-all is just the thing I need right now."
Hermione gritted her teeth at the arrogant words coming from Lucius' mouth. "Firstly, you sound like Snape-"
"Who else do you think I heard that phrase from? Well, I'll admit I added the wild-haired part myself," Lucius interrupted, his eyes going to the now damp curls hanging down to Hermione's shoulders.
"As I was saying," she continued tightly. "What do you mean 'just the thing you need right now'? I'm not a thing or one of your slatterns to bend to your every whim - which you can cast aside when you become bored. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but did you not just say that you don't need any more sycophants?"
"A poor choice of words; I apologize," Lucius replied, offering the loofah sponge to the young woman. When she declined he merely shrugged and set it on the ledge behind him. "I mean what I said; you could have done worse. At the very least you'll have a life of comfort, and more galleons at your fingertips than you could have ever dreamt of. Isn't that what you young witches want?"
Hermione was flummoxed; one minute the man was apologetic and the next he managed to rear his pompous manner.
"I'd hex you into next week if I had my wand," she bit out. "But I'll settle with leaving you to your own devices right now, I don't think your bathroom is large enough to fit, you, me, and your ego." With that, she braced both soapy arms on the sides of the tub and began to move to her feet when she noticed Lucius staring right back at her, his grey eyes coolly appraising the bubbles that began sliding down her wet and nearly exposed body.
"By all means, don't let me stop you," he said with a smirk.
"Must you leer at me in that lewd fashion?"
"My tub, remember? I'll leer all I like. Besides, it's been awhile since I've had such a lovely creature grace my presence."
Biting back a few choice words, Hermione accio'd a towel more roughly than intended, and had to rush to keep it from falling in the water. After managing to spread it open to form a barrier between her and her unintended, she rushed to stand up in the tub and hastily wrapped it around her glistening form.
Lucius was still staring at her in a way that made her feel uneasy, his amusement all to obvious at Hermione's discomfort when she realized that she had to hitch the towel further up her thighs just to be able to climb out of the tub. Lucius made no amends to conceal the fact that he was blatantly staring at the briefly exposed flesh, causing Hermione to flush angrily.
After snatching up the folded silk pajamas, she stormed out of the bathroom and into the bedroom, Lucius' chuckling ringing in her ears. Hastily toweling off the moisture, Hermione unfolded the pajamas and rolled her eyes. They appeared to be a pair of Lucius' as she saw the embroidered 'LM' in fancy script on the pocket.
Grumbling to herself that they probably cost more than her entire wardrobe, she slipped into the too-large, midnight blue silk shirt that came down to her knees, the sleeves too long for her arms. 'He could have at least transfigured them to my size,' she thought after slipping into the matching pants, the legs trailing down and flapping over her feet.
Knowing that the persnickety older wizard would most likely have a coronary if he saw Hermione walking on and dragging the bottoms of his pajamas (not that it would have mattered on the pristine carpet, she reasoned), she sat on the edge of the bed and attempted to roll the bottom of the pants into a neat cuff. The slippery material refused to stay put and Hermione furtively looked around for Lucius' walking stick, considering using his wand to charm it into place.
"As if I'd be daft enough to leave my wand lying about," she heard the smooth voice from the now opened bathroom doorway.
Whirling around, Hermione shot Lucius a withering glance. "It's not as if I planned on cursing you; I merely wanted proper sized sleepwear," she said. Her words were suddenly cut short as she realized that the tall, lithe blonde was propped against the wall with only a towel around his waist.
Feeling her mouth gone dry, Hermione sat shamelessly taking in the sight of Lucius' barely concealed form. The man had the most perfect body she'd ever lay eyes on; broad shoulders, a firm, sinewy looking chest that led down to a sculpted stomach. 'Hell, even his feet are attractive,' she thought to herself.
"Am I acceptable?" he asked, causing Hermione to stutter in embarrassment.
"I don't know what you're talking about," she groused. "Now, if you don't mind, may I please have my wand, or can you at least transfigure my clothes to fit me?" Hermione emphasized her point by holding up her right arm, the excess blue material cascading down nearly to her thigh.
"I'd rather not," Lucius loftily answered as he made his way over to a mahogany tallboy. "I'm rather attached to those garments; I'd like to keep them intact." He then proceeded to open a top drawer and briefly perused its contents before withdrawing a similar pair of black silk pajamas.
Without any regard to the young woman still staring at him from across the room, Lucius dropped his towel exposing a toned backside. Hermione nearly fell off the bed when she saw the two dimples in his lower back.
"Are you always this gauche?" Lucius asked his bare back still to Hermione as he stepped into the pajama bottoms.
"Are you always this rude?" she shot back. "It seems you can barely speak to me without uttering any sort of unpleasantry."
"Sorry. Old habits die hard."
"Well, it's rather lovely of you to make the effort," Hermione retorted in a voice dripping with sarcasm. She then watched wide eyed as Lucius made his way over to the opposite side of the bed, still only clad in the silk trousers. "Don't you think you're a bit underdressed?"
"If I have to choose between comfort and your prissy little mind, I'm going with comfort," he said yanking back the grey duvet. "I've always slept like this and will continue to do so."
Lucius then slipped in between the covers, lying face down on a pillow with his perpetually stick straight hair cascading over one bare shoulder. "By the way," he added without turning his head. "Don't bother trying to Disapparate out of here; I have wards on the manor and the house elves will let me know if you attempt to leave."
"Yes, Lord and Master Malfoy. Am I your captive then? Why don't you just place me under lock and key, or chain me to your bed?"
"Don't tempt me, witch," came the muffled reply.
Huffing to herself, Hermione yanked the bed sheets back on her side and slid beneath, making sure to keep as much distance as possible from Lucius. Settling her head on the pillow, she nearly swooned at the feel of the high thread count sheets beneath her skin - not to mention the soft mattress that her body sank into. Hermione couldn't remember ever laying on a more luxurious bed, though it was a pity about the person that she had to share it with.
Despite her comfortable surroundings, Hermione found that it did little to assuage the tension from her body. She thought about her friends and wondered how they'd receive her after her lengthy absence. They'd understood that she left on the premise of her parents' death, but they were confused about her decision to live in Australia for an undetermined length of time.
It hadn't been easy living as a Muggle after being in the wizarding world for so long. There had been many instances that she longed for the comfort of her best friends, even if it just to laugh about something that only a witch or wizard would understand. However, in an effort to keep her whereabouts latent, she'd used the Muggle post and never used her name, surmising that her friends would recognize her neat handwriting. Her letters had been far and few, and after awhile the boys' correspondence began to lack its usual warmth.
"Must you think so loudly?" her crude bed partner suddenly interjected.
"Well, if you'd turn off the light, maybe I'd be able to sleep!" Hermione snapped.
Hearing Lucius mutter 'nox' underneath his breath, Hermione noticed that he hadn't reached for his wand much less moved his head from the pillow.
"You know how to do wandless magic?" she asked curiously after every lamp in the room was extinguished leaving them in pitch black.
Lucius didn't answer, his head shifting slightly on the pillow the only sound breaking the silence.
Huddling beneath the duvet, Hermione found that the darkness only serve to incite her already muddled thoughts. Because of everything that happened in the previous year, she'd never even gone on a proper date. The only person she'd snogged was Ron and that was the last day of the war at Hogwarts. Of course like the flighty young man that he was, he'd lost interest shortly thereafter when he found his newfound celebrity included a slew of young, attractive witches trailing in behind his every wake.
Once again, her feelings had been hurt and, of course, he hadn't noticed. In the end, Hermione brushed her hurt feelings aside, too occupied with trying to figure out a way to get out of her accidental blood binding with the elder Malfoy.
Overcome with emotions, Hermione bit down on her bottom lip in an attempt to keep from sobbing. She knew that she wasn't the most attractive witch, but she'd always had her wits and book smarts to fall back on. If someone told her that she couldn't do something, her tenacity made her prove them wrong. However she found herself at an impasse, and there was nothing that anyone could do.
Hermione knew that it was futile to harp on things that couldn't be changed. Still, she couldn't help but to think that it wasn't fair. She'd barely had the chance to be anyone's girlfriend, and she surely didn't know how to be someone's wife, much less to a person that openly voiced their displeasure about Muggle born witches.
Lucius seemed to take pleasure in pointing out each of her flaws, even if he did so in a suave and elegant manner. Although she had to concede; his words toward her had been unkind yet his actions had not. Remembering that he'd referred to her as a lovely creature, Hermione found that those words held no charm. She'd had enough experience with other girls at Hogwarts telling her how their classmates would say anything just to get them out of their knickers.
Hearing firsthand about Draco using similar tactics, Hermione knew that the apple didn't fall far from the tree. The last thing she wanted to be was Lucius Malfoy's paramour, yet she knew that trying to run away again would make her susceptible again to that crippling pain in her head. The pain was one reason why blood bonds were so rare; they were made between a witch and wizard that loved so deeply that the thought of parting from one another would never cross their mind.
Now she was forced to be the former Death Eater's companion. If the thought of using the Killing Curse against herself didn't seem so melodramatic, Hermione might have considered it. Angry tears filled her eyes. She couldn't argue that Lucius had kidnapped her, as she'd willingly walked out of the pub with him, even if it was due to fear. He'd whisked her off to his home and ordered her around, without the slightest regard as to how she might feel about their predicament.
Silent tears poured down Hermione's cheeks as she suddenly thought about Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, the way that they looked at each other, clearly still in love after being married for years. Up until now, she'd never fancied falling in love and getting married - now she realized that the option to choose to do so would have been nice. Now it was too late; she was stuck with a pureblood snob that hated her, purely due to a freak accident.
Holding her body rigidly, Hermione was unaware that her trembling shoulders had slightly shaken the bed in an effort to keep Lucius' from hearing her crying.
"You don't need to do that, witch; I'm not a complete ogre. You can see those half-witted friends of yours at your leisure," she heard Lucius mutter from the other side of the bed.
Hearing Lucius' words, Hermione felt slightly mollified that the man seemed to have at least one redeeming quality. Taking in a shuddering breath, her tears finally subsided as exhaustion settled in.