AN: Yay! A new Lumione fic! This is a gift for the very lovely Lailana. I'm sorry it's so late, dearie, but here it is. Hope you enjoy it! :D
I'd initially intended to write a one-shot, but I noticed I've been very lazy of late, so I've decided to make it full-fledged. STILL! It might not be a long-runner. But who knows?
To the readers of Holier Than Thou, I swear I'm still working on it. The Muse isn't being particularly cooperative with that story, but I'll press on. Thanks for your patience.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter and/or the characters of the original story created by J.K. Rowling.
Hermione stared hard at the blank piece of parchment set before her. Gripping her quill, she chewed her bottom lip, completely at a loss as to what to write. She'd recently signed up for a penfriend service named WizFriend, and was swiftly beginning to regret that decision. Yes, she may have been suffering a bit of loneliness of late, but it spoke of a certain kind of desperation for companionship when one had to pay for a friend…
But, she refused to feel ashamed anymore. It was true that she was lonely. Harry and Ron were so involved with their Auror duties these days that they had little time for her now. And her friendship with Ginny and Luna had become strained, too, since the former had become a curse-breaker, and was hardly ever in the UK for more than a few days, and the latter had her hands full running the newspaper she'd inherited from her father.
It didn't hurt to make new friends, regardless of the means one chose to do so. Besides, ever since she'd quit her job at the Ministry, and had opened up her very own bookshop, she had plenty of time on her hands.
So, after supplying her five galleons to WizFriend, and filling out the requisite fields for compatibility tests, WizFriend had provided her a male penfriend named – much to her amusement – 'Legolas.' He claimed to be a voracious reader, a Parisian art lover, fancied gardening, enjoyed playing his clarinet just before breakfast, believed the Ministry was being run by incompetent, unregenerate fools, and detested cats.
Dipping her quill into the nearby bottle of ink, Hermione decided that she'd just write whatever came to her mind, edit it, then rewrite a new letter with the edited portions of the letter.
Dear Legolas –
No. Too stiff.
Hello Legolas –
Still sounds a bit off…
Thank you for accepting me as your penfriend, Legolas. Judging from our mutual interests, I believe that we will become very good friends. You are my first and only penfriend, and truth be told, I haven't an idea as to what to say – which is strange, for in real life I'm usually quite talkative. Well, to get the ball rolling – what's the last book you've read? Did you enjoy it? Looking forward to hearing from you!
Hermione began chewing her bottom lip again, frowning at the letter. She worried that it sounded too dull, or whether she should strikeout the line mentioning her talkativeness. Still, she supposed it wasn't an awful letter, and at least it was short and to the point. In any case if he pronounced her boring and didn't care to respond, then it was his loss. She was a very interesting –
The porcelain wind chime she'd affixed to the bookshop's front door chimed its lovely tune as someone entered. Looking up, she discovered Lucius Malfoy standing in the entranceway.
Dread filled Hermione – not because of fear of Lucius Malfoy, but fear of her own behaviour. Ever since she'd opened up her bookshop a year ago, Lucius Malfoy had been a regular patron for the last three months. He came twice a week, perused the shelves for about ten minutes before deciding on his choice, took the book and sat down in one of her comfy sofas, and stayed at least an hour to read before eventually coming and purchasing the book.
He never spoke to her. The most he would ever say is 'good morning' or 'thank you.' Still, during these visits, Hermione's anxiety knew no bounds. He invoked a spirit of clumsiness within her, for she dropped, spilled, overturned and fumbled with things whenever he was near. Because of him, she'd had to replace more than one of her tea-sets.
"Good morning, Miss Granger," he said in his usual mellifluous tones.
"H-hello…err…Mr Malfoy," she returned. "Good m-morning."
Oh, yes. He made her stammer, too.
He remained where he stood for a moment – an eternity it seemed to Hermione – staring at her. Sitting stiffly on her stool behind the cashier's desk, Hermione stared right back. He was dressed in his customary black robes made of cashmere, held closed by the intertwining necks of two silver dragons featuring as a clasp. Today, he'd decided to pull his hair back into a neat ponytail, a thin, black, satin ribbon holding each strand in place at his neck, and Hermione couldn't help noticing how he looked much younger with this change.
And more handsome, too. Although, she'd already noticed that fact eons ago…
Then he approached her desk, and it took all of Hermione's willpower not to shrink away from his sudden proximity.
"Miss Granger, have you any copies of Bercarius' Potions and Poultices?"
"Of course!" she replied in a tone that was higher than she'd intended. However, thankful for an excuse to put some distance between her and Lucius, she settled her hands on the edge of her desk, pushed her stool back and attempted to slide off it to her feet. Unfortunately, while pushing the stool backwards, its back legs snagged on the carpeting, tilted forwards and tipped her off. Trying to prevent her fall, her hands scrabbled at the desk's edge for purchase, missed, knocked her bottle of ink to the floor and scattered the bits of parchment and paraphernalia that had littered her desk. Fortunately, the carpeting was soft enough to cushion her fall.
"Miss Granger, are you hurt? Do you require assistance?" This was Lucius as he peered over the desk to look down at her. Amusement laced his words.
Face beet-red, Hermione scrambled to her feet.
"No, no! I'm quite alright, thanks." Don't cry, Hermione. Don't cry! "Just follow me and I'll show you where to find your book!"
An impressive pseudonym. Perchance you are a Greek mythology enthusiast as myself? What inspired you to claim such a name for yourself?
You need not restrict your tongue – or quill – with me, my dear Athena. Whatever strikes your fancy, and you feel inclined to share, do so without hesitation.
The last book I've read? That will be Alfred Bercarius' Potions and Poultices, and yes, I did enjoy it. In my spare time, I like to believe myself a potioneer. I challenge myself to create the most complicated of healing potions, and then I donate them to St. Mungo's. I've often entertained the idea of opening an apothecary, however, I fear that that dream will remain just as it is – a dream.
I'm sure you can sympathise. Or have you already fulfilled your greatest wish?
Hermione smiled as she reread Legolas' letter. It had arrived a few moments ago, three days after she'd sent him hers. Surprisingly enough, the tiny bit of mayhem Lucius Malfoy's appearance had created hadn't affected her letter. Although, the same couldn't be said for her carpet. Even now, after countless stain eradication spells, a large dark blob still remained on her sage-coloured carpet where the ink bottle had vomited out its contents. Damn expensive ink.
But the ink was not to be blamed. It was Lucius Malfoy. She just didn't know why the man affected her so much. Was she terrified of him? Maybe just a smidgen. The war may have ended five years ago, and certain actions that were perpetrated against her, her friends and her family may have been forgiven, but they certainly were not forgotten.
And, in any case, she wasn't so terrified of him to warrant her uncharacteristic clumsiness. She supposed what made her so nervous around Lucius Malfoy was the element of the unknown. Firstly, why did he come to her bookshop? Why didn't he walk the extra two minutes to Flourish and Blotts instead? Secondly, why did he always come to her bookshop twice a week? How could he even read all of the books he purchased in so short a time, anyway? And, thirdly, why did it feel as though he looked at her whenever she wasn't paying attention? Why would he be looking at her? What the bloody hell was his agenda?
Sometimes, she considered questioning him about the purpose for his visits, but she never found the courage to do so. Why Lucius Malfoy, Pureblood, Muggle-hating Extremist and Elitist would actively support her – a Muggleborn – prosperity was truly beyond her scope of reasoning. She fancied the idea that maybe he felt guilty about his past treatment towards her, and thought this a suitable way to repay her. Or maybe he just genuinely wanted books to read, and found her bookshop worthy of his tastes.
But why the civility, though? He could easily conduct his business without speaking a word to her. He also needn't tip her a few (or several – sometimes he was very generous) galleons extra when he ordered tea. And that 'offering his assistance' bit three days ago…he'd been willing to touch her? Maybe he knew she'd never accept and had merely offered out of politeness? Still, why did he persist in being…well…nice?
She supposed some things were just too mind-boggling to even bother deciphering.
Her porcelain wind chime tinkled as someone stepped into her bookshop.
She looked up.
"Good morning, Miss Granger," he greeted. "How are you, today?"
Very surprised, for it was the first time he'd ever enquired after her welfare, she replied, "Err…f-fine, I suppose. You?" Then, remembering herself: "Oh, and good morning t-to you, too." Damn it! She hated when she stuttered.
His gaze grabbed and held hers hostage. She wondered if his gaze was preventing her from breathing, too. Curiously, she noted how very much alike his eyes were to Draco's, yet, she could distinguish his were of a darker shade. Slate. A bit like the colour clouds turned when they were full to bursting with rainwater. They seemed softer, too. The previous hate and anger that had resided within them no longer existed, yet their intensity still remained unchanged.
"I'm well. Very well. Thank you," he said simply, and that was that. He broke their gaze, turned away and headed for the nearest shelves.
Feeling as though she'd been released from some kind of spell, Hermione breathed deeply. She wished Lucius Malfoy didn't affect her like he did. Maybe she should just put up a sign on her door that read: "No blond wizards with first names beginning with 'L' and surnames beginning with 'M' will be served at this establishment. Go away. Thank you."
That would teach him for making her so ridiculously nervous.
In any case, a cup of chamomile tea might help relax her.
So, planting her hands on the edge of the desk, she pushed her stool backwards.
And, just like three days ago, the stool tipped her off prematurely, sent her hands flailing wildly and upsetting, overthrowing and spilling everything in their reach. She landed on her side on the floor with a sound of: "Oompf!" There was a fluttering of parchment falling all around her, and the glug-glug-glug of another expensive bottle of ink spewing its filling on her carpet.
Sprawled on the floor, she sighed heavily.
Damn. This really needed to stop happening.
AN: I doubt it'll be anytime soon, though, Hermione! :)