A/N Happy New Year!
Just a short note to thank everyone who reads this and a special thank you to all who take the time to review. A special thank you to HalfASlug who has been very kind to mention this story to other readers. If you are one of the three readers who read this story and haven't yet read her wonderful stories, please check her out.
Well, here's another chapter. Let's just say this one earns its M !
Disclaimer: Imust not tell lies... Harry Potter doesn't belong to me.
Chapter 21: A Good Cause
He straightened the tie and its perfect knot, and pulled on the flaps of his wool cloak. Perfectly cut, it was made of fine yet warm wool maybe too warm for this mid-September morning but it lent him the air of authority he was looking for. His face was clean-shaven and his hair neatly trimmed and severely parted to the right, in a way that cleverly hid the beginning of his receding hairline. He examined his face in the mirror, noticing it was fuller again, his appetite having returned in the past year, and devoid of the purple bags that had underlined his eyes a few months ago. His gray eyes were as pale as ever and shone a calculating look back at him. He sniggered at his reflection, happy to find some of his old self there. Well, there was still the broken nose, now too far gone to be mended by simple magic, damn Weasley, but for the first time in months, he felt satisfied with being Draco Malfoy.
He had dressed his best as he had two visits to make that day, both with great potential for his future. His confidence was back in full swing as he walked in the office, noticing the ornate details of the plaster on the ceiling and the paintings of frolicking wood nymphs on the walls.
"Mr Malfoy, I'll admit it was a surprise to hear you wanted to see me," the other man greeted him.
"Well, I had to take time from my busy schedule but I'm sure what I have for you will be worth this conversation," Draco replied haughtily."Let me get to the point. I know the Aurors are investigating a case where Toxus Virulentus was used."
The reaction was brief and barely visible, a slight crisping of the fingers but it didn't escape Draco, nor the fact that he now had the upper hand.
"How would Aurors know about Toxus Virulentus? My understanding was that Shacklebolt had replaced almost the entire department with his men."
"And women," Draco added. "It's true, he has."
"And your family has been quite busy helping said department."
"Father mostly," Draco replied with a brief humorless smile. "But that's not why I'm here. I think you still are the only source of that poison on the market, aren't you?"
"Are you so sure, Mr Malfoy?"
"Well, it takes talent to brew a correct version. You said so yourself last time we met."
The other man smiled smugly.
"I am good. What is this about, Mr Malfoy?" he then asked seriously.
"Well, let's say it'd be easy for me to slip to the Aurors what I know about your talent. After all, Aunt Bella spoke highly of your gift in that area and we all know she was hard to please."
"That'd be irksome indeed. But I could easily prevent that."
"Ha, I thought you'd say that, so I have taken some precautions. Should anything happen to me, there's a letter and memory waiting for the Aurors."
"Thinking ahead, Mr Malfoy."
"I did learn a few things from Father."
Covering his arse was definitely one of them, he silently added.
"So, I suppose you would like something in return."
"You know what I need, don't you? You have the power to make it happen and it'll be easy for you, won't it?"
The other man stared at Draco with a mix of annoyance and admiration. Lucius's son deserved more credit than he would have given him. Still, there was no way he could let the young Malfoy walk around with so much knowledge, knowledge that could lead to the Aurors finding a lot more about him and that little troublesome moment with Jocasta. Young Malfoy would need to be taken care of. But that was neither there or now.
"Yes, I can make it happen."
"Then, I think we have a deal," Draco said seemingly satisfied but very well aware the other man was already planning an early demise for him. "And we will make an Unbreakable Vow to seal it, won't we?" he added with a Cheshire cat smile.
The other man stared at him.
"I have learnt a few things from my father, as I mentioned before," Draco added in a tone that could have been apologetic but was smug instead.
"You give me what I want and I won't speak to anyone about what I know."
The other man finally accepted, albeit reluctantly, and Draco knew his early death was still very much being planned. No matter, it was part of his plan. He had no intention to die and that was why he was very careful with the phrasing of his part of the vow.
She had to make a list. Lists always worked at keeping her organized. She had already sifted through about a hundred of old cases involving elves and had read about the many injustices the little creatures were subjected to. She still had to cull through old volumes at the ministry library, research any laws that had passed or had been proposed to help elves. She doubted she was the first person to ever be revolted by the shabby treatment given to house elves.
Methodically, she wrote down her list, assigned deadlines and planned. She was Hermione Granger and planning was one thing, amongst many others, she excelled at.
"Miss Granger," Hobbes's mild and yet grating voice interrupted her.
"Mr Hobbes," she greeted him back neutrally.
"I heard from the Auror office that you helped them in the interview of an elf."
"Yes, Sir, that was what I talked to you about."
"Ah yes. Well, it was good we could help the Aurors in that investigation, however using department time to provide lodging for the elf wasn't part of mission."
"I thought the mission of our department was to cater to harmonious relationship between wizards and other magical creatures, as well as to ensure the well being of said creatures. Am I mistaken?" she asked harshly.
"That elf was freed by her master. She's no longer our concern," Hobbes replied dismissively.
"So our job is just to make sure she's left alone on the street, addled by the shock of her recent dismissal and the loss of her beloved mistress, isn't it?" Hermione asked pointedly, feeling more outraged by the second.
"No, Miss Granger," Hobbes stammered. "That's not what I said."
"Sir, I wrote to Professor McGonagall to find a home for Nelly at Hogwarts. And Professor McGonagall was happy to accept Nelly at Hogwarts."
She hadn't meant to raise her voice, but she saw the slight recoil in Hobbes. She took a deep breath and pursued:
"Maybe you don't see it this way, but the treatment elves receive in this world is just abominable."
"Once again, Miss Granger, I don't think you understand our world so well," he fought back condescendingly.
"With all due respect, Sir, I think I do."
"You obviously don't," he insisted. "Elves live to serve. It's always been that way."
"Because something has always been done one way doesn't mean it's the right way," she countered.
Taking her Gryffindor courage in her hands, she added:
"Things need to change. I am working on putting together a law project to ban cruelty towards elves and make remuneration for their services compulsory."
Hobbes gave her a very patronising smile that she found more vexing than a frank derisive laugh would have been.
"And who do you think will approve of this law in the wizarding world?"
Despite the fury that was seething in her, she focused on remaining level-headed. After all, she had foreseen Hobbes's resistance to her project.
"Would you say the same if I got support from the Minister and from some old wizarding families?"
Reminding Hobbes she personally knew Kingsley was a tactic she wasn't proud of but that usually yielded results. She had mentioned her work to Kingsley and he had been encouraging, always supportive of changes that would bring out the end of oppression for one group or another.
"If Minister Shacklebolt is involved, I would of course follow his directives," he replied in a falsely reverent tone. "What old wizarding families are you talking about?" he finally asked and she knew that despite all, she had piqued Hobbes's interest. If her law was adopted, after all, there was a potential for a lot of positive attention for the department.
"Well, I have the support of Harry."
"He's your boyfriend, that doesn't count, even if it's Harry Potter," Hobbes retorted.
"Actually, Harry is more like my brother but that's beside the point. Besides Harry, I have some support from the Weasley family."
"Now that you mention it, I do remember, your boyfriend is one of Arthur Weasley's sons. That man was always about proposing the most asinine laws to protect the Muggles," Hobbes replied with unmasked contempt.
"Arthur Weasley is one of the bravest and kindest men I've ever had the pleasure of knowing," she replied incensed at the petty attack. She then remembered who she was dealing with and added:
"And he's senior undersecretary."
"Perhaps, but still, all those are connected to you personally. I'll tell you what, Miss Granger, get the support from a family you aren't closely linked to and maybe your law might stand a remote chance of even being reviewed."
She had known it would be his reaction and also, that he was unfortunately correct so she finally used the ace she had left in her sleeve:
"What if I get the Malfoys' support?"
This time, Hobbes gave her the derisive laugh.
"Well, if you manage this, then that would be an exploit indeed."
"Then, I will manage it. After all, I helped defeat Voldemort."
She had the small satisfaction of seeing him shrink back at the mention of the dark wizard's name.
"And you know what, Mr Hobbes, many elves helped us along the way."
It was odd, Narcissa realised, but she recognised that feeling. That was the same she had experienced when she had spent many hours reading stories about heroic warlocks slaying dragons or singing about the Black family history while lulling her blond little angel to sleep and he had returned sleepy smiles. It was a feeling of simple happiness and enjoyment. She was actually enjoying herself and the time she spent there.
True, there was the fact that the alternative awaiting her back at home was definitely a less pleasant prospect. Lucius's appearances were rarer and rarer and she wondered some days what he spent his time on, besides emptying bottles of refined mead, great wine, or sometimes, Firewhiskey. When they did have dinner together, it was in oppressing silence and she often took to her room instead to avoid her own husband. She still hadn't told him anything about what she did at St Mungo's.
She longed for the days when Lucius had been more like himself and wouldn't have a temporary reversal of fortune get him down. And she still clung desperately to the hope that once she finished the deal with Greengrass, they would be able to get some of that status back and Lucius would be more like the man she had fallen in love with and married.
But for now, she focused on the task at hand, task that didn't feel at all like work. Yes, some of the young charges were half-beasts but she could avoid those if she was careful and focus on the non-infected ones. Besides, the half-beasts kept raving about Miss Lavender, who seemed to be the same Lavender Brown who wrote the gossip column in the Daily Prophet. Narcissa thought it prudent to interact as little as possible with them.
But there were others, the ones who weren't infected and seemed to genuinely enjoy her presence. Little Mary was giggling as Narcissa read her a tale. The child reminded her of herself at the same age, albeit with less confidence than she had possessed as a child, probably due to the lack of a doting father and loving mother for Mary. How odd was it that she could find some solace in the company of a little orphaned girl?
She was pondering just that when she saw Draco approach and found herself approving of the way her son looked, tall, smartly dressed, and seemingly proud of who he was. She hadn't seen him this confident in several years.
"Hello, Mother," he greeted her as he let her deposit a peck on his cheek. "Have you seen Greengrass?"
"You've made a decision about his offer, I take it."
He nodded silently.
"I will accept his offer. I do need some gold after all."
The smile that had graced Narcissa's face as Draco had told her about his decision abruptly disappeared.
"Draco, I can give you gold."
"It would be Father's and I don't want it."
"The gold is as much mine."
"Not in Father's eyes," Draco said somewhat ruefully. "I will show him I don't need him," he added defiantly as part of him still seemed to be an eleven year-old boy seeking approval from his father.
"Besides, we will need some gold to give to St Mungo's very soon, won't we? Our deal with Greengrass is almost over."
"It is, I suppose," she replied.
Her master plan to regain status was about to reap its fruit and Draco had found a way to finally get back to his old self, as if having shaken off the stigma of the last few years. Yet, she couldn't summon the excitement the situation should have called for. Draco didn't seem to notice, obviously preoccupied by something that Narcissa assumed was his upcoming meeting with the head potioneer. So she forced a smile and finally sent her son on his way to Castor Greengrass's office.
Their day had been another frustrating one, spent interviewing many other friends of Jocasta Jameson's -the woman had been extremely well connected socially- and none of them had been men. All of them had been frivolous socialites more concerned about the gossip they could glean on the details of the gruesome murder than about the actual murder victim. One had even been less than surreptitious about hitting on Neville, to the amusement of Harry and Ron. Yet, in the end, there had been no progress about finding the mysterious male friend Nelly had mentioned and they were still no closer to solving her murder.
Now, all he wanted to do was to get home, run some of his observations through Hermione and that fantastic brain of hers and then run his hands all over her equally fantastic body. Sometimes, mindless shagging did wonders. Besides, Harry wasn't home that evening. Since Ginny was in London between two tours with the Harpies, Harry had decided to take her to a fancy dinner. And for Ron, it didn't go further than dinner as his brain categorically refused to imagine Harry and Ginny doing more than hand holding while making gooey eyes at each other and that was already a disgusting thought in and out of itself.
Yes, it would be a perfect evening to relax with Hermione. He actually wished there were more evenings with just Hermione and him, in their own home. The idea had been dancing in his brain for a few weeks now. Not that he wasn't grateful for Harry's home, he truly was and the rock bottom rent Harry was charging, wasn't likely to be found for a space as big as Grimmauld Place or including a house elf. Yet, he had started saving some of his wages, both from working for the Aurors and for George a few evenings and weekends, and was slowly but surely accumulating enough to start buying his own place in a year or so. Of course, there was also the fact of asking Hermione to live with him...
As he entered the house, he was surprised to find it empty. A quick glance at his watch told him it was nine o'clock. He had expected Hermione to be home by now. With a sigh, he grabbed the bacon sandwich Kreacher had left for him, along with the cucumber one he had made for Hermione and Apparated back at the ministry.
It didn't take him long to find her, alone in the department, working at the light of a candle that seemed about to run out of wax. She jumped out of her chair and spilled ink all over the parchment she had been writing on as he called her name.
He heard her mutter under her breath and wondered whether she was trying to suppress some chosen swear words. Part of him swelled up with pride at having some corruptive influence on the very proper Hermione Granger.
That was until she glared at him and could have almost burnt a hole in his forehead with the fire in her eyes.
"Ron, I've been working on this for the last four hours."
"Which is when you should have quit," he told her nonchalantly.
She groaned in frustration and he rolled his eyes up.
"Are you a witch or what?" he asked her as he used his wand to quickly siphon the ink staining her parchment.
She watched him effortlessly restore her work and as she realised she had overreacted, started laughing in a way that warmed his heart. When she finally stopped, she wiped a rogue tear brought by laughter at the corner of her right eye and left a smear of ink on her cheek.
"You've got ink on your cheek, by the way," he said very softly as his fingers went to trace her face. "Did you know?"
It was all it took for her to kiss him fully, her tongue sending jolts straight to that southern part of his anatomy, as it engaged in a sweet and languorous dance with his. Just as his thoughts moved to where he would like her tongue to go or how her desk was wide enough to lie on it, she ended the kiss and smiled against his lips.
"My knight always comes to my rescue, doesn't he? I hadn't seen the time," she told him truthfully.
"It's all right," he said huskily as he moved away from her, putting some distance between his very eager cock and her enticing curves, lest he actually put into action the wicked thoughts his brain had just fantasised.
He sat himself on the edge of her desk and handed her the sandwich Kreacher had made for her before biting ravenously in his own.
"Thought you'd want food," he said his mouth still full and she couldn't help smiling, finding his uncouth manners part of his undeniable charm.
They ate in silence before he finally asked her.
"What are you working on so late?"
"My project on passing a new law for house elves," she answered proudly. "I finally ran the idea through Hobbes this morning."
"Yeah? And how did the arse react?"
"Well, I think he's clever enough to see the potential benefit for the department and himself of course, if the law passes."
"That's good but there is a 'but', isn't there?"
"Well, remember what I told you about the last part of the deal with the Malfoys?"
She stood and positioned herself between his legs, creating a delightful pressure that distracted him.
"Yeah... what... no, what did you say?"
"The last part of the deal is that the Malfoys will help me get that law passed. They will back it up."
"That's quite twisted, you know?" He told her as she snaked her hand in his fiery locks and brought his mouth closer to hers.
"Yes, but if a family as prejudiced as them can support house elf reform, who won't?" she whispered against his lips while she hiked one of her legs up above his thigh, bringing their bodies incredibly close. I'll meet with them next week."
His brain suddenly seemed to take control over his body again as her words registered.
"Wait, you mean, we will meet with them."
"No, just me," she confirmed somewhat puzzled by his reaction.
He pushed her away and stood, now towering over her.
"You can't be fucking serious, Hermione. The Malfoys?"
"I can handle them," she replied somewhat determinedly. "Besides, the meeting will be at the ministry and for professional reasons."
"When it comes to that deal, you bloody well know it's all very personal," he bellowed.
She stared at him and used her wand to quickly shut and lock the door. She didn't expect anyone to be around this late at night but didn't want their argument to be overheard.
"Ron, calm down," she pleaded with him.
"Why? I should be calm when you are going to meet alone with the people who... who..." he couldn't say the word.
"They didn't," she countered. "Bellatrix did and she's dead. They won't do anything and if they try, I can take care of them."
"How?" he asked her as he easily and silently disarmed her as to prove a point.
He was surprised to see her kick his shinbone quite violently and easily steal his wand while he was still yelping in pain. She then used the wand to push him on the desk and immobilise his hands by his sides and sticking them to the desk.
"Why the bloody hell did you do that?" he asked her sounding both annoyed and impressed.
"Prove I can defend myself, Ron. Sorry about the kick," she said ruefully while she aimed the wand at the spot she had kicked and whispered a spell that changed the area from sore to all warm and tingling.
"That's a good diversion," he acknowledged. "But they wouldn't be as trusting of you," he pointed out.
"And I would kick somewhere else than shinbone and would use a full body-bind curse," she countered. "Ron, I can take care of myself," she repeated much less heatedly.
"Hermione," he attempted to reason her again as he struggled against the spell that held him stuck to the desk, restraining his hands and preventing him from touching her. "They are bastards and not worth your time."
"They are if it means a law can be passed to better the condition of house elves," she offered while getting closer to him. "Think of it, Ron. That would also be the end of our deal with them and I'll be glad to be shot of them after that, believe me."
He gave a big sigh and she knew he was starting to relent. He finally told her:
"I don't like it, not a bit."
"Ron, it will be an official meeting. They still have the deal we made hanging over their head, if they try to harm me, the magic of our deal will hand them dire consequences. Besides," she added as she got closer to him and ran her hand up the length of his thigh, "I know how to call you if need be," she added softly as she reached inside the pocket of his trousers, where she knew he kept the Deluminator.
As she pulled her hand out, she lingered, touching lightly his leg, and then moving on to his chest before gently cupping his face and laying a barely there kiss on his lips. He was eager to return it and his palms itched to bring her closer to him but he realised he was still unable to use his hands. He coughed slightly.
"Hum, Hermione, you can free me now. Your point is made."
"Actually, Ron Weasley, I am not sure I will."
Her voice was half way between bossiness and seduction and his desire for her grew tenfold.
"You know," he told her casually. "That scary bossy side of yours has always turned me on."
"Really?" she asked him seductively.
"Oh yeah. Besides, I can see some benefits... you'll have to do all the work if I can't use my hands."
"Who told you there was any work to be done?" she whispered in his ear before gently nibbling on his lobe and had the satisfaction of hearing an audible swallow.
She leant over him kissing his forehead, long nose, chin, and finally his full lips, parting them open with a dart of her tongue.
As she kissed him, she used her hands to tug at the haphazard knot of his tie and proceeded to untie it, quickly moving to his shirt and making fast work of the buttons, finally revealing his pale chest.
He let her undress him, being unable to move his hands but also thoroughly enjoying the situation. He had Hermione seemingly ready to shag his brains out on her own desk. Why risk having her change her mind? He just let her continue his undressing. She was now working on his trousers when she suddenly stopped, feigning the consideration of options offered to her:
"You know, I could leave you here..."
"Won't that be a good thing to explain to Hobbes tomorrow why you left your half-naked boyfriend stuck to your desk?"
"Not quite yet, half-naked, that is," she bantered back.
"Work on it then. Remember, my hands aren't working at present."
"Tsk-tsk," she chastised him playfully. "Technicality. As for Hobbes, I can just use a Disillusionment charm in the meantime."
"Somehow, I don't think you'll leave me here alone. You hate wasting opportunities."
"Then I'm all yours," he said as he lifted his pelvis and closed the distance between them, creating a delicious friction.
"You are quite a willing participant."
"Eager is more appropriate," he whispered to her as he nipped lightly at her shoulder. "But I know you can handle yourself," he risked, figuring she was turned on enough to continue this little game.
"Uhm?" was the only questioning noise coming from his lips as they were otherwise engaged in ravishing the skin of her neck.
"Don't stop," she told him breathily and removed the spell immobilising his hands.
He didn't know whether she was talking about kissing her, bantering with her, protecting her, or just plainly loving her but he was quite intent on carrying on any of those.
His hands now free to roam, he possessively took her by the waist while she wrapped her arms around his neck, and let him ravish her. Soon, her robes were discarded, her blouse opened, and her bra pushed out of the way as he sucked greedily on her pert breast, extracting delightful moans from her.
Her deft little hand had moved south to pull his trousers lower and gently rub the very blatant sign of his desire, sending him in a whirlwind of sensations. He used his right hand, now mercifully free, to explore under her skirt, caressing the soft skin of her round bum before moving to the front and pushing the flimsy fabric of her knickers aside to reach his goal. His long fingers gently prodded her slick folds before finding the hot and pulsing nub. It didn't take long for her to start keeling in absolute abandon as she came undone under his touch.
She had barely reopened her eyes that she pushed further on to the desk and climbed on him before slowly impaling herself on him. Ron forgot his own name as he found the familiar warmth of her surrounding him. He wanted to last, to give her the slow love-making she seemed to enjoy but this had long ago ceased to be an option. She seemed as far gone as he was and a few thrusts were all it took for them to reach their peak together.
She collapsed on top of him, still partially clothed and breathing heavily. His hand went to caress her voluminous hair as he kissed her lips and whispered loving nonsense. She just snuggled in the crook of his neck, the way she always did when their coupling ended.
"Love?" he whispered to her.
"Hum?" she replied somewhat dreamily.
"I think I've corrupted you."
"Might have," she mumbled.
"We shagged on your desk. I would say we must have broken about fifty departmental and ministry rules."
"Won't be the first time I break rules in your company," she replied with a yawn and had him laugh. "But see the bright side: it's always for a good cause."
A/N Thank you for reading... Reviews are very appreciated.