Hermione was a bit upset with herself, truth be told. She knew she could be an incredible kiss-ass, but still it seemed over the top to have agreed to revisit the scene of her torture just to win points with a certain raven-haired master of potions—even the very one who oversaw her potions apprenticeship and could determine her entire professional future. She wanted Snape to think she was strong, a warrior veteran, but instead she felt like a limp noodle and was probably going to utterly embarrass herself in front of him today.
She glumly followed him from the dungeons to the apparition point and grasped his arm firmly with mittened hands, closing her eyes and awaiting sidealong to Malfoy Manor. After a long, silent moment in the cold, her eyes snapped open and she looked questioningly at her master. He examined her face with piercing eyes and answered her look with his own questioning glance. She nodded once, grasping his arm even tighter. They whipped away into the squeezing darkness and landed with a thump in a lavish, expensive-smelling cloakroom.
A few days earlier, Snape had very hesitantly informed her that Lucius Malfoy wished to make amends with her. After snorting in his face and making as if to walk away, she was stopped by a tone in his voice that she had never heard before. It was almost pleading. He said that this “clearing of the air” would be a necessary step in order to procure funding for a new potions laboratory at Hogwarts. Lucius was interested in [cleansing] his family name as much as he could post war and a large donation to the school would go a long way toward achieving that goal. Being seen at public functions from time to time in the company of one of the Golden Trio could do even more for his reputation. She would be completely safe in Snape’s company and it wouldn’t even have to be a long visit.
Hermione had argued for a while and eventually, grudgingly acquiesced, feeling unsettled by the change in her master’s demeanor. He had never asked her for anything outside of the duties of her apprenticeship before, and she found herself loath to disappoint him. If she were honest with herself, her fear of returning to the Malfoy estate was nothing compared to the fear of letting Severus down in any way.
Snape had explained that she was not to expect Lucius to be overly remorseful. It was not his style. At best, he would give a formal, yet rote, apology and then behave as if nothing at all had happened. His charm would ooze. Hermione would be expected to play along with this show or be deemed a poor sport. The visit would be short and to the point. She could do that, she was sure. So much time had passed since the war; it was getting easier to let some things fade into the background. Bellatrix was dead. Malfoy had come forward with full disclosure at the end of the war, obviously wishing to jump to the winning side in the final moments, but his intelligence regarding Death Eater hideouts had proved essential in rounding up war criminals after the death of Voldemort. Besides, if she didn’t play along, the generous donation would perhaps go to the Divination department where Draco taught and that was wholly unacceptable.
Once they had hung their cloaks and scarves on gilded hooks on the wall, Hermione followed Severus out of the cloakroom, down a hallway that she had never seen before and into a small sitting room. Bookshelves lined the walls, and squashy leather chairs set an inviting tone. There was a small bar and Snape immediately poured himself a firewhiskey and offered his apprentice nothing. She scowled at him, but he was already slumped deeply in a chair, a fresh-picked book in front of his face. Hermione stepped toward the bar thinking to procure some liquid courage when the door popped open and Lucius Malfoy swept in.
The breath seemed to stop in Hermione’s throat and she knew she was gaping with her mouth open. She snapped her jaws shut and took a step back, grasping the edge of one of the built-in bookshelves hard with both hands.
Bowing deeply, he said, “Miss Granger, I welcome you to my home.”
He turned and nodded at the still sequestered potions master, “Severus, I see you’ve served yourself already. Good, good.”
His gaze travelled around the room for a moment, then returned to Hermione and he stepped closer to her. “I hope you will accept my humble and sincere apology for the many terrors you suffered in my home when last you were here. I can make no excuse other than wartime and my own exceedingly poor choice of allies.” He stopped then and his ice-blue eyes locked onto hers for a long moment as the silence grew.
Snape cleared his throat impatiently and she understood it to be a cue, and quickly said, “Yes, of course, Mr. Malfoy, I accept. I appreciate your candor. I think we are all eager to put memories of the war behind us.”
Hermione found that although the necessary pleasantries were over, she couldn’t look away from the pale eyes in front of her. There was something coming across strange about the elder Malfoy and she wasn’t sure it was just some slight social discomfort causing the changes in his demeanor. Her curious eyes inspected him more closely and noticed that his breathing was a bit ragged, as if he was still winded from striding up the long entryway into the room. He looked mussed and sweaty, not his usual put-together self. She noticed with a start that his eyes were extremely dilated and she thought to herself, He’s high on something! Potions? Pills?
As she leaned forward trying to covertly sniff his breath and identify any illicit potions, two things happened. She heard Severus say quietly, “Hell’s bells, not again,” and Lucius whipped out his wand and waving it, trapped her hands to the shelf she still held onto. She struggled, but was quite stuck by whatever spell it was.
Several moments passed; time seemed to slow. She noticed that her throat was beginning to chafe from shouting at the top of her lungs, however pointless it was as Lucius had quickly silenced her with a second swish of his wand. She managed to catch him with a kick to the shins before having her feet stuck to the floor. No amount of struggling or wandless attempts would loosen the sticking charms on her.
Frantically, she looked to Snape and was bewildered that he was calmly observing from his chair, appearing unsurprised by the turn of events. He shook his head slightly with his eyes closed as if disappointed, and then sent her a quelling look as if to say, I’ve got this. For a quarter of a split second she wondered if this had been part of the plan all along, but her trust in Snape told her that was a ridiculous idea.
She stopped the useless struggling and stood in her bonds breathing heavily, staring wide-eyed at Malfoy who was holding his hands out beseechingly in front of him, “Miss Granger, I have no intent of hurting you. In fact, the exact opposite is what is on my mind.”
With an unsettling leer he leaned into her, not touching but within a hair’s breadth of touching her. She recoiled as far as she could, grinding her shoulders and back against the bookshelf. Several tomes fell to the floor with a smack, but this didn’t seem to concern Lucius at all as he bent at the waist with his mouth above the skin of her arm and inhaled, sucking in air from next to her skin. She felt a slight cool breeze caused by the suction of his lips. Extreme agitation had caused her magic to run riot over her body trying to free her, and it was now a thin covering of prickly energy raising every hair on her head and arms with static crackling. Lucius seemed to draw it into his mouth, swishing it around and tasting it.
Rising back up with his eyes rolling in his skull, he said, “Oh Miss Granger, that’s divine! Pins and needles with a trace of honey. I’d love to feel that on my naked body. Could I? Would you allow this?”
His breathing was even more ragged now, as if he had been dueling. Hermione could smell the lust potion on his breath, a burst of anise and clove with each exhalation, his mouth mere centimeters away from hers. Her mind retreated to the comfort of analysis as she began running down possible potions from what she smelled. Ligurrio? Concupisco? No, that would smell of geranium and he would be sweating more profusely. Her heart rate began to slow as her mind was taken up with cataloging lust potions.
She was completely, utterly unable to believe that Snape would allow Lucius Malfoy to assault her right in front of him, but he wasn’t exploding into leopard-like action, destroying Malfoy with a few masterly waves of his wand as she expected. No blood had been spilt, no destruction rained down on the room. What he had done was drain his drink, risen out of his chair, and leisurely strolled to a spot close behind Lucius. He seemed to be deciding on something, his eyes flicking to her and back to Lucius, then back to her again. She stared daggers at him. Why wasn’t he doing anything? Lucius Malfoy was out of his mind on lust potions, sniffing her, tasting her and there Snape stood within arm’s reach, cogitating, his fingers on his lips and eyes squinting.
She saw a look cross his face that she could not name before he took a final step up to Lucius and pressed himself to his back, banding an arm around his chest and arms and holding him still. Hermione let herself relax minutely. Finally, he was going to do something; release her, punish Malfoy--something.
But he just stood there motionless while Lucius leaned back and rested his head on his shoulder, grinding his backside lasciviously against the front placard of Snape’s trousers. Severus turned his face against Lucius’ neck and she thought for a moment he was going to kiss the smooth, pale skin there, but he stopped with his lips and cheek just resting there.
His voice was whisper quiet yet deadly, “Lucius, did you invite Ms. Granger and myself here for an orgy?”
Lucius scoffed, “Hardly an orgy, Severus, there’s just the three of us. I believe the French call that a ménage-a-trois, do they not?”
“I don’t care what they call it, Lucius. We are here on false pretenses and have arrived to find you out of your mind on lust potions. That doesn’t seem to be appropriate for this business meeting, does it? This will make a second time Ms. Granger has been assaulted in your home. Do you think MLE will find all this interesting should she choose to report it?”
Lucius remained silent but his body continually moved, involuntarily rubbing back and forth sinuously against Snape’s body. He was breathing fast, drawing in huge lungfulls of air. Snape dragged his cheek against Malfoy’s and exhaled gently into his ear, causing him to jerk and his eyes to shutter closed.
Snape’s tone was soft and seductive, “Lucius?”
“Have you become addicted again?”
“No! Yes...I—I…no. Just from time to time, Severus. It’s not a problem. Listen, why don’t we all three retire to my bedroom and relax? I have more potions there. We’ll have some fun, won’t we?”
His eyes were damp and his pupils dark, a shaky but alluring smile on his lips as he turned his pleading glance to Hermione. She dropped her gaze away from his wanton stare and wetted lips. At Malfoy’s waist, Hermione suddenly noticed a long, pale, and quite familiar hand snaking around and then down, sliding and disappearing in the fine silken folds of his blue robe. The arm descended serpent-like until it reached its destination and formed a rather large lump at the apex of Lucius’ thighs. The bulge in the robes began to move excruciatingly slowly up and down, up and down. Lucius groaned deeply. His whole body arched up as he sucked in a shuddering breath.
His sticking spell released quite unexpectedly, leaving Hermione with the sudden realization that her knees would not hold her up anymore. She thumped inelegantly to the floor, her hair bouncing around her face in sweaty coils. She was filled with a warm, quivering awareness; a wave of lust so intense she wondered if she had received a contact buzz from inhaling his potions-spiced breath. She couldn’t shift her eyes off the rhythmically moving bulge in the robes. There was, in fact, nothing in the whole world that could make her look away right now, and the seconds dragged on now measured solely in hot, panted breaths. Hermione found herself dizzy and breathless, but this time not from panic. This time it was from observing what was perhaps the most erotic scene it had ever been her privilege to witness.
Pale and pink Lucius was sweating and writhing shamelessly against the black robes and hard hidden forms of Snape’s body. Their white and ebony hair mingled together over Lucius’ shoulder. Snape’s eyes were closed tight, his alabaster face otherwise blank, but she observed a hypnotic single bead of sweat roll between his eyebrows and down his prominent nose, dropping onto pale blue robes and leaving a round dot of dark fabric there.
After a few more seconds of subtle rhythmic movement, grinding and swaying, Lucius released a frustrated moan and looked like he was in pain. Stuttering and begging, whining, “Severus no, please, wait…you’re going to make me…not yet…I’m going to…I’m going to…”
Biting down hard on Lucius’ neck, Snape quickly gave one, two, three more powerful, twisting tugs, and she beheld the moment of release blossom on Lucius’ face; she heard his shouted oaths and gasps; she saw his eyes roll up and his head arch back and press into Snape’s shoulder. Severus continued to cradle him with one arm, his other hand still hidden in Lucius’s robes as they all three caught their breath. A hush fell in the space where orgasmic groaning and gasping had been a moment before.
Hermione pressed her cold hands to her hot cheeks and dragged her eyes up to her master’s face, but he would not meet her gaze. Gradually, he removed his hand from the folds of Lucius’ trousers and robes (making the man squirm a bit at the sensation) and then carefully spelled it clean with his wand. She could almost swear he was blushing, but his moves were crisp and economical as if nothing more exciting had been happening than the scheduled business meeting. He extended a hand to help her rise from the floor, and she couldn’t help but note that it was not the hand that had been touching Lucius Malfoy only moments before. Why that should disappoint her, she could not begin to fathom.
Malfoy himself looked sour and spent, his arms crossed over his chest and his face turned away from them. “Yes, well, how efficient of you, Severus. Not really what I had in mind for the evening and over all too soon, but all’s well that ends well, I suppose. You may see yourself out.”
He began to edge toward the door of the sitting room, tugging his robes around him, but Snape’s voice stopped him, “I’ll expect the galleons for the new potions laboratory to be transferred no later than tomorrow evening, Lucius.” The pale blonde head merely nodded once and was gone.
Hermione was startled to find that her anger toward him for her harrowing captivity was completely spent and in its place she felt only a kind of pity for a man fallen so low, a man who had everything from a monetary standpoint and yet it seemed to bring him no satisfaction. He was casting about for advantages to gain from a position of no influence, with nothing much to offer anymore except galleons. Many sweet, sweet galleons that they were going to use for the good of children, of course. At least that gave her a bit of consolation.
Hermione and her master apparated from the same opulent cloakroom and trod in silence together to the castle for a few moments until a lingering question finally bubbled up out of her, “You’ve done that before, haven’t you?”
Severus stopped, eyes closed. His hand gripped her arm to arrest her forward movement. He held her still as he spoke, “Not for a very long time, not since we were boys at school together. Lucius has had a potions problem for as long as I’ve known him.”
He opened his eyes finally and she felt her heart clutch at the self-recrimination in their inky depths. “I’m such a fool for trusting him! I thought it would be fine, I thought it would be safe. I shall never forgive myself for taking you there and putting you in that situation, and all for galleons. You must be utterly disgusted with me.”
He made to turn away, but she put her mitten-clad hands to his face and held it gently, made him look at her, “No! No. From the moment it started, I knew that I was safe because you were there. My trust was with you, even if it took you bloody forever to do anything!”
She laughed a bit hysterically then said, “My trust is always with you. And look, you got us out without bloodshed and we’re getting a new potions laboratory. You out-Slytherined another Slytherin in the most peaceful way possible. You knew what to do. You always do.”
She allowed her gaze to fill with all of her emotions at that moment; pride, trust, gratitude, even love. His return gaze was both incredulous and humorous as he choked out, “I bloody wanked a Death Eater in front of you and you’re commending me on my peaceful tactics? You’re mad, woman!”
Hermione laughed and covered her eyes, “I am mad! I was literally brought to my knees by the sight of two beautiful men writhing together in front of me. As a result I’ve gone completely ripping mad and I may never regain my sanity!”
And then, Hermione just had to know. Her insatiable curiosity swelled within her and she had to definitively discover where she stood with him, even if that might mean she continued the rest of her apprenticeship in embarrassed rejection. No longer smiling, she lunged forward and embraced him, roughly pressing her lips to his. It was a risk. If he pushed her away, then maybe the interlude with Lucius told her everything she needed to know about his inclinations and a possible future together. If he kissed her back, then perhaps her hopes could be realized—preferably in a new setting not involving Lucius Malfoy or lust potions.
He kissed her back. And after several passionate moments lifted her snug against him by her bum, leaving her with no uncertainty about, at least, the near future and his attraction to her. As they continued hand-in-hand away from the apparition point, Hermione could swear she detected a hint of anise and clove in the air around her. It made her think of autumn leaves and possibilities.