Malfoy Men Know

With a heavy sigh, Narcissa left her elegantly appointed bedroom and strode across the floor to the staircase, her feet soundless in the thick pile of the oriental rugs. She glided her fingers over the priceless furnishings and art work that she passed. Narcissa used to take such pride in these things but now...

No, she insisted. She didn't love her gendarme. Yes, she felt protected when she was with him and even when she wasn't. He was sweet, fun and charmingly innocent—such a wonderful change from her days of being a favored Death Eaters' entertainment.

She slowly descended the stairs. How had he allowed it? What was he doing during those times? The questions had been her constant companions for years. How could her husband have continued to tell her that he loved her, even as he escorted her to one degrading event after another?

She had borne it; she was a Black, after all. Regulus had given her strength. He was so young when he died, not much older than Draco now, yet he was always so reassuring, because of his own great confidence in himself and their chosen path to follow the Dark Lord.

Narcissa had been devastated when she'd learned of her favorite cousin's disappearance-presumed-death and had almost lost the baby she'd just learned that she was carrying.

Regulus had given her respite. In her excusable, delicate condition, (the near-miscarriage, not the pregnancy) she had avoided any more physical contact with Voldemort's favored supporters, until she'd advanced to the stage where she wasn't considered as desirable.

In the year between Draco's birth and Voldemort's defeat at Godric's Hollow, she'd used nursing, post-partum depression, even the rare occurrence of colic for a witch's newborn, anything she could imagine to keep from having to participate in the revels.

Lucius had encouraged her subterfuge, wanting her to say with their son, while he was out doing the Dark Lord's gruesome bidding.

Narcissa now walked through the ground floor rooms, summoning early roses from the gardens for the vases, a task that she didn't entrust to the house elves, who didn't have her sense of beauty or style.

She had, of course, mourned the Dark Lord's demise with her husband, sister and friends, while secretly breathing a sigh of relief that she'd never again be touched by random Death Eaters.

She'd dedicated herself to being a doting mother, reinforcing her husband's ideas about the importance of class distinctions.

Voldemort's return hadn't worried her. After all, it was thirteen years later. Who would want her when there were the fresh ingénues (perhaps a bit flashier and coarser) available?

Everyone. After all, who would want a vulgar, young girl, when there was the glamorous and haughty Narcissa Malfoy to be put in her place, with no infant to distract her?

She'd regrettably dug out her old moonstone ring and borne it again, this time without the support of her long-dead cousin, and the questions had returned.

How could he allow it? she asked herself again, with the last vase filled. Where was he during those times? She headed to the breakfast nook between the large, recently refurbished formal dining room and the kitchen. How could he still say he loved me...

"Good morning, Cissy," Lucius smiled from his seat at the head of the table, one at which he'd not been awake at this hour to inhabit for months. He was clean-shaven and looked like his old, dynamic self.

"Good morning, Lucius," she said with a gasp, sitting at the other end of the small, square table and pouring her tea. "You're not usually up so early."

"Yes," Lucius said. "I've missed seeing how beautiful my wife is in the morning, and this would be my only opportunity, since we haven't shared a room in months."

Cissy dropped her eyes to the highly-polished surface of the table and composed a bright, cheerful face in its reflection before lifting her head to her smirking husband. "Well, dear, our schedules are so different now. I didn't wish to disturb you with my early rise."

"Well, you needn't worry about that," Lucius said, leaning against the curved back of his chair. The candles in the wall sconces and on the table and sideboard illuminated his new resolve. "I shall join you for breakfast from now on, so there's no reason for you not to return to our bedroom."

"Oh," Narcissa stammered, "well...I..."

He smiled at her discomfiture. "But tonight, we should go to Paris—your favorite hotel."

"The Sorcière?" Cissy couldn't hide her delight at the suggestion. She did love that place, with the floating beds and fairy chambermaids.

Lucius's smile widened as he walked toward her. "Yes, the Sorcière. It's been too long since I've romanced you," he said, touching his fingertips to the smooth taper of her neck.

Narcissa looked up in confusion. Was this the old Lucius, the man who had charmed her from her first day in Slytherin?

He took her hands and lifted her from her seat. "You go upstairs and pack and I'll instruct the servants to return your things to our bedroom after we've gone. There's no reason to keep a separate room, since you'll no longer be meeting any teen-aged aurors, correct?"

Her grey-blue eyes were as wide as the early morning sky. Lucius had that square-jawed look of finality that told her there'd be no further mention of the subject. If she didn't comply, she'd soon hear of the grisly death or baffling disappearance of Ronald Weasley.

"Correct, Lucius," she said quietly, returning his kiss to her cheek, then leaving the room to pack, too secretly distraught to enjoy the beauty of her surroundings or the fragrance of the roses.

Lucius watched her go with admiration. Still an elegant, exciting woman, the envy of all they knew. Oh, others might have had her for an hour or so, but she was his.

His fingers clenched around the new moonstone ring in his pocket. He'd planned exactly how he'd present it to her, sitting together on the floating bed, with the full moon shining through the large windows.

Yes, she was his. And Malfoy men knew how to hold onto what was theirs.

The large cluster of tall evergreens at the entrance of the Forbidden Forest seemed to divide in two, as the half-giant lumbered through, his eyes raised to the sky and the amazing sight—a large eagle owl with a snake circling its neck.

Rather than heading to the owlery, the bird flew toward Hogwarts Castle and a seldom-used terrace facing the woods.

The owl landed and appeared to dip its head for the snake—shiny brown with rainbow streaks? No snake from around here, said the animal expert—to uncoil and drop lightly to the cobble-stoned patio.

Hagrid continued to watch the creatures' unprecedented actions, until the owl and snake became a young couple, kissing passionately.

The blond boy, he could tell, was Draco Malfoy and the girl, with her arms wrapped tightly around him, pressing herself against him and lifting her leg to rub over his, was...Hermione!

What was she doing? Hagrid moved just a little closer, using his giant-proportioned sight and hearing to learn.

"What will I do without you for two weeks?" Draco asked. Hagrid could hear the frustration in the boy's tone, then he heard Hermione's small laugh.

"What do you mean? We'll see each other every day."

"Yeah," said Draco, running his hands down her back to rest on her bum (Hermione's bum, thought Hagrid viciously) "but we have NEWTs. Tell me you won't be studying every waking moment until your last exam..."

Shouldn't everyone? Hermione asked herself, as his lips brushed her temple.

"...then reviewing your notes and essays, which I'm sure you've kept..."

How did he know that? How long had he watched me, she wondered, lightly scratching his back with her fingernails.

"...to see how many questions you didn't answer perfectly," he concluded, giving her a little room in his arms so he could see her answer.

She lifted a shoulder, "That's why we're here."

Hagrid nodded in approval. That was more like Hermione. He heard Draco's breathy answer.

"Not me. I'm here for you. I almost didn't stay at the beginning of term when I saw you weren't here. That's why I spent so much time working on the shrieking shack. I wanted it to be a place you'd love, and maybe love me too. Now how long do I have to wait to have you back there again?"

"Well..." Hermione hesitated.

"That's what I thought," said Draco. "I'll be insane without you and I just got you back and it doesn't seem to bother you at all."

Hagrid gnarled his lip in revulsion.

"Of course it does," said Hermione soothingly, curling her fingers in his hair, "but I have to concentrate on what I need to do." Hagrid saw the gleam in her eye, like sun shining through coppery fall leaves, as she added, "If I should become too stressed though, I hope you'll let me use you for relief."

Her oldest friend at Hogwarts was aghast at her forwardness.

"Use me," Draco intoned. "Take flagrant advantage of me."

Hagrid scrunched his face, as if he had a bad taste in his mouth.

Hermione sighed. "But we shouldn't think of this as a separation. We've talked about being a strength for each other. This can be a real test of that. We can study together and when we're finished and we've helped each other do our best, then we can be together at the cottage."

Draco grinned. "Can I massage your leg under the table in the library?"

"Only if you respect my boundaries," Hermione answered with a giggle.

Hagrid wondered why that was so funny to them.

"Alright, two weeks of hand-holding, boundary-respecting and studying, and then you're mine." Draco resumed kissing her and Hagrid growled, thinking of poor Ron.

"We'll sleep together every night," Draco said, nibbling her neck, "and I'll kiss you first thing every morning."

Even from his distant vantage point, Hagrid detected a change in the couple's actions and intensity.

"One last time," Draco whispered hoarsely.

"Where?" Hermione asked.

Hagrid saw the boy lift her with more strength than he thought he'd have and carry her with her legs dangling to the back of the terrace and a small alcove.

"Yes?" Draco asked, now panting with need.

"Yes," Hermione answered.

"Mute us," he requested in a gravelly voice.

Hagrid observed some momentary fumbling and then...he turned his head quickly. Draco had her against the wall and was...Hagrid didn't want to see that, but he did want to talk to Hermione. He pulled a knife and a rough wood carving out of his pocket and began making some cuts. Like someone flying over a train wreck, he was unable to keep himself from glancing out of the corner of his eye at the couple.

He couldn't hear them, but could tell from their expressions and strength of their thrusts that they were grunting and gasping and soaring, much like when they were in the air earlier.

He wondered about Hermione's, er...getting scraped, then noticed that Malfoy had his hands behind her, cradling her.

"Good," he snarled, returning to his handiwork, "the little centaur should be scratched up...or worse." He looked over again and saw Draco's head thrown back and a look of completion on his face, as he mouthed, Hermioneee! Then the young man dropped his forehead to her shoulder and breathed heavily, while she ran her fingers over his back.

"I love you, Draco," Hermione said.

"And I love you," he answered.

There was more fumbling, then she pushed them out of the alcove. "I'll meet you in the library after dinner," she said, playfully.

"Right," he answered with a smile and last kiss. "I'll be the one with the hands."

He watched her gingerly walk down the stairs on the right side of the terrace, conscious not to put all of her weight in her step.

He grinned and ran down the left side of the porch for the back entrance to the dungeons, repeating one of his father's favorite maxims, "Malfoy men know how to hold onto what is theirs."

Hermione's careful stride and happy humming came to an abrupt halt when she heard behind her, "Wot d'ye think yer doin', Hermione Granger?"

"Hagrid," she said, turning around, "I'm so happy to see you. Where have you been?"

He frowned and answered, "Spend most a' my time in the forest with Grawp now. Draco Malfoy, Hermione?"

She set her jaw and looked at him with defiance. "Yes, Draco Malfoy. I love him."

"But he—"

"I know everything he's done, Hagrid, and I know how he feels now."

"And ye remember who his father is? He tried to kill yer best friend. How can ye break bread with him?"

She lowered her head. "Hagrid, I don't expect you to understand, but—"

"I unnerstand, Hermione. Ye think yer in love. But it's not just about the two of ye. Ye take him; ye take his famly. Are ye ready fer that?"

He turned and headed back toward the forest. Hermione sighed and took one regretful, painful step. She returned to her modified tiptoe and headed again for the main door, thinking Hagrid had a point. Maybe she should use that time in the library, when Draco had to be restrained, to talk to him about their families.

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