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Old 07-13-2015, 09:45 PM   #51
Fat Molly
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Severus and Hermione seated themselves down to a breakfast that was of distressing beauty.



"I can't possibly finish all this," pleaded Hermione as she watched the table magically become laden with more and more food. "This is a lot, Severus."



"Your at least make an effort to try, witch," said Severus comfortably, easing himself into his favorite chair. His arse filled it well - as he settled himself down, the pads of buttock fat jiggled beneath him, distinctly sloshing the rest of his body backwards and forwards with the tiniest of motions. It was like he was settling in the middle of a voluminous water bed.



"You've been putting some on," Hermione observed, "you'll have to help me out."



He flushed red as he lay a hand on top of his belly. "I certainly intend to," he said with an arched eyebrow.



The robe he wore was the right size while standing, but while sitting it was tightly clinging to him, revealing the jiggly buttery mountain that was his bloated tum. Every motion he made, it wobbled just a bit. Readjusting in his chair, shifting his weight on his buttocks, made his fat slosh around so appealingly.



He was fit to burst, she thought with a flush rising on her own cheeks, her lady-boner becoming painful.



He took up his fork and, not breaking eye contact with her, began to slice into a stack of hot cakes as broad as his round face.



She smiled, and took up her own utensils. Time for carbohydrates of her own - her preference was for salty to start, and she brought forward a platter of bacon croissants.



One of them flew out of her reach before she could grasp it, and she saw Severus mopping up his plateful of extra syrup with the pastry.



"How'd you eat all those so fast?" she demanded, her heart racing as she saw his hot cakes were gone.



He just grinned with a supercilious look. "Now I've sated myself for the moment, it's time to help you," he said, stuffing the rest of the croissant in his mouth.



Hermione sat back and let him approach her. She let her legs spread wide as she relished the feeling of her thigh fat wobbling beneath her. What was it about thigh fat that made her feel so...expansive? Voluptuous?



She realized it as soon as she saw the way he strode unsteadily from his side of the table to hers. He tried to mask it with his usual gliding stride, but she could tell he was subtly more unsteady, just a touch more waddley. Increased poundage was to blame, she imagined. It was probably time for her to weigh him and get a sense of how much man she had to fuck her.



Yes, he took up just a bit more space with every new pound he added to his vast frame, and every inch looked so natural and becoming on him that she could barely remember how he looked during her old school days.



Hermione shuddered as he laid his thick face in the crook between her neck and clavicle, and just breathed heavily in her hair.



"What do you want?" he whispered. His voice was hoarse, and he pressed himself against her side. A rising erection got her attention, though it wasn't full fledged given their wholehearted efforts earlier.



Hermione reached for the urgently-haranguing cock and clasped her hand around its softness, wrapping the silken cloth of Severus’ robe around it.



“I want to be the fattest bitch you ever fucked,” she said, the words rolling out of her mouth easily as she pressed her ample side against him. She didn’t think she had much of a sadistic streak, but sometimes the mood struck her.



“Curses,” he murmured in agony, wrapping his arms around her and pressing her tighter against him. “You know how to tease me.”



“And so do you know how to tease me,” agreed Hermione, and she grabbed at Severus’ hands and removed them from her person. “Be useful, my dear, or be gone.”



Not needing to be told twice, Severus settled his large arse onto the arm of her chair, straddling it with his thick slabs of thighs. His right one jostled joyfully against her, contained beneath the silk but tightly pressed against it. She pressed against him, helping him balance, and opened her mouth expectantly.



“I know you don’t want potions to increase the size of your stomach,” Severus said, his voice soft and steely, “but how about charms? Spells?”



Hermione grinned. “Have you been experimenting?”



He nodded, his long hair fanning across his plump and ruddy cheek. “A bit. Nothing particularly mind-blowing. A charm to subvert the gag reflex, for one thing, and another to permit the expansion of the jaw and throat as needed to accommodate food.”



Hermione felt uncomfortable, and started imagining cartoons where the mouths of the characters would get bigger and bigger.



“Show me,” she said, “I want to see you use it first.”



He grinned shyly. “You seem to find every conceivable excuse for me to eat, my darling.”



“Don’t tell me you don’t like it,” she purred in response, her face warming with a blush.



He just smirked in response, and with a quick wand-tap on his throat and chin, he lay down his wand and took up a basket of crumpets instead.



“And now,” he said, and lifted the basket to his mouth, “the demonstration.” He tilted his head back, and, without further ado, poured the crumpets into his mouth. The movement was gentle and slow, as was to be expected from a potions-master used to tipping substances into cauldrons in a controlled fashion. And somehow each crumpet, nearly the size of Severus’ hand, managed to wend its way into his mouth. It wasn’t as if his mouth was visibly growing larger, at least not that Hermione could tell.



But, ah, his stomach was. With a whole basket of crumpets in his belly, he settled back against the chair for support, and rubbed the bloated top of his belly with care.



“That… don’t do that with dry carbohydrates,” he said with a groan, “they expand so much in the stomach, so quickly, that there’s no room for anything else.”



“But they do digest easier,” Hermione said, her hand settling into a comfortable place just below Severus’ heavy breasts, and she began to massage him gently.



“Oh Merlin,” Severus half-groaned, half-growled, “Oh, minx. You distracting wench. We’ll never get you up to your weight goal if every time I try and feed you up, you turn the tables on me.”



“True,” Hermione said, and pinched Severus’ ample love-handle tenderly. “But you’re so fun to feed.”



“I suppose I do play the part of willing participant,” he responded begrudgingly, and then, with a heaving sigh, he sat forward. “Would you like to try this series of spells?”



Hermione looked at him. His face was sweaty, and he wiped it with his sleeve. Her hand hadn’t left the cozy place where it’d made its home, caressing his flesh through his quality robe.



“You know what,” she said, and let out a breath - along with her sense of dignity - “I would like to go ahead and use some potions. I do have a goal, and while I’d prefer for this all to go along naturally, it seems as if I’m being silly by holding out.”



“But you were worried about the lack of permanence,” Severus said, his face contorting with question. “About deflating, so to speak.”



“Let’s confront that once we come to it,” Hermione said with a tone of finality. “For the moment, I would like to try anything and everything we can. We have a goal. I’m scarcely 183 pounds at this point. I’d like to reach 324 within approximately two months. We have a hundred and forty-odd pounds to put on in that time.”



“And, again,” Severus drawled, seemingly recovered from his stiff bout of pain from the crumpets, “why that number in particular?”



Hermione’s face crinkled with delight. “A wager I made with Ron. Also,” she said, a smirk coming onto her face, “that’s how much you weighed at the beginning of this month. You’ve surpassed that well by now, haven’t you?”



Snape just rolled his eyes, but didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to answer. His newest stretch marks were telltale signs of his gluttony.



“We’ll start with what we already know has worked in the past,” Hermione said, her bossiness coming to the forefront. “We have experimented with the expansion potion, and the pain suppressant potion. We’ll use both of those now, in the amounts I previously used.”



She paused. “Last time we used the potions, I gained ten pounds afterwards. All of that went straight to my beautiful growing gut.” She patted it fondly, and Severus’ hand began to wander towards it, his thumb sinking below her not-quite-hangy-overhang and grasping her belly fat firmly. “I’m not entirely sure if we managed just to do that in one day, or if that happened over the course of that week.”



He looked thoughtful. “I think it’s possible that you gained, perhaps, a full five to seven pounds during that session we had. The remainder, I believe, came from the rest of the week.”



“Excellent,” Hermione said, and summoned a piece of parchment from her desk. “So, if I calculate this correctly…”



She did some brief mental math, then smiled.



“We have to fill me up like that nearly every day until Christmas, but we shall get there. A hundred and forty pounds in about sixty days means I should gain between two to three pounds a day. If we stuff me like we did that one time every day between then and now, we’ll have met the goal.”



Severus’ eyes were wide. “You don’t mean you’ll actually go through with this so seriously?” he said, his hand retreating, his eyes somewhat wild with worry. “There may be serious repercussions to such rapid gain, Hermione.”



She smirked. “Better do it now, then, while I’m young and relatively fit. My body will adapt better. It’ll be like training,” she mused, “or studying.” Her eyes lit up. “Could we call them lessons?”



“Oh gods,” Snape cursed, shaking his head, “that I cannot do, Hermione. We will never, ever, ever, play around with that dynamic. Never.”



“Just thought I’d ask,” Hermione responded, feeling a twinge of sadness at his vehemence. Playing with the teacher/student dynamic was deeply appealing to her, all the more so because he resisted it so.



“So in any case,” she said, trying to remain bouyant, “enough dicking about. Let’s get started on this and get it over with, so I can get back to grading. I’ve got so much revision to do with these children.”



“Understood,” Severus said, always responsive to her need to grade. He was full of gratitude, she knew, about not having to do it himself any longer. “Let’s commence.”



……….



As per their success last time, he administered the exact quantity of twelve drops of the expansion potion, setting it aside for once she finished her first successful stuffing. And then, she commenced with the eating, using the new charms he’d tested.



Oh, it was heavenly to be able to inhale hot cakes and eggs and bacon without a care in the world for chewing or tasting. No, this was serious eating, not even for the pleasure of it, but for the delayed anticipation of a future deliciously plump body.



Ah yes, she mused to herself, one might even call this *weight training.*



She slurped as much as she could down, and then settled back in her chair with an ‘oof.’ Severus, his own belly starting to sag and swell as his carbs digested, reassured her by giving her the water to drink. All at once, her belly flooded with room, and the enhanced stretching capacities were exciting to fill.



Oh, despite herself, she enjoyed herself. Severus summoned towards her an enormous coffee cake, covered in sweet crumble and oozing with warm chocolate bits. With the new charm, she lifted the entire thing and put it in her mouth. How it worked she couldn’t quite say, but the food was successfully inside her mouth, and she chewed it, and swallowed it, without any difficulty.



To cut the cloying sweetness, he offered her a pitcher of fresh orange juice. Then, after a moment, he had a realization.



“Wait,” he said, and heaved his enormous buttocks off the chair and went to the kitchen, his tread heavy as he went. Soon he returned with a pound of sugar. With a deft hand, he opened the top, and poured it in.



Hermione grinned. “Might as well get the extra calories in,” she said with a smirk. “Well done, darling.”



He grinned in the way he often did when he was doing something she thought was kind, but he thought was selfish. She didn’t protest, and instead simply drank down the picture in a few enthusiastic glugs.



“Excellent,” she said, and paused as Severus wiped her face with a fine linen cloth. “Now some more meat, my dear.”



He glanced about, and then gathered up a platter of kidneys. While not Hermione’s favorite breakfast item, they certainly were filling and fattening, so she swallowed those down and let them settle into her expansive belly.



“This is becoming less and less squishy,” she said with delight, drawing her hand over her belly, so taut and tight it appeared as if she were pregnant. “I’m enjoying this a lot, my dear.”



“Glad,” Severus replied thickly, clearing his throat.



Her hand rustled against his silk gown as it slipped down, and she found his cock growing hard beneath it.



“Keep at it,” she said with a sense of deep satisfaction, “we haven’t stuffed me senseless yet.”



He nodded and, like a good servant, he brought forward several options for her next enjoyment - more of that heavenly strawberries with cream, as well as a platter of overstuffed sausages, and a large basket of hot biscuits.



Oh, the biscuits would always be her first choice. She grabbed them and shoveled one after another down her expanded throat. It felt so good to just shove bite after bite down, and she felt the dense fatty carbs swell in her belly.



The entire two dozen soon was consumed, and oh, she was growing full finally.



“Sausage,” she grunted, feeling every bit a pig ready to be slaughtered, and Severus brought bite after bite to her open and willing mouth as she swallowed them. Each bit brought her a little bit closer to fullness, a little bit closer to completion.



And then, finally, there was only one.



“Strawberries,” she said, waving away the final sausage. Severus nodded and grabbed the strawberries. She couldn’t be bothered to say or do any more, so he spooned the thick mixture into her mouth, and she swallowed greedily, envisioning how every bite was going to combine to create a magical mixture of fat that would soon be draping over her body like plush and silk.



Then, finally, she was done with these also, and she strained her neck to look into Severus’ eyes. He was glistening with sweat, and as she looked at him with askance in her eyes, he pressed his hard member against her. He’d recovered quite a lot, and was ready to fuck her again, there was no question about that.



He began to tug away at his robe, and it unfolded around him, slipping to the floor as he steadied himself. Hermione reclined back in her chair, experiencing the weightlessness that came with being so badly overstuffed, and she cooed at him, pointing one pudgy finger at the final sausage.



He looked at her and grabbed it, and raised it to her mouth to bite.



“No,” she mumbled, and stifled a belch. She pointed at her nether regions, which had been neglected this entire time. “There.”



He chuckled, and with one hand around his own cock, he took the cock-sized sausage and, with a quick glance to check in with her, he thrust it inside her wet vagina, which sucked at it hungrily.



He didn’t need to be told how to move it, or where to try and hit. He had quite a bit of practice at this point, and she moaned and groaned with the augmenting pleasure until she climaxed, her entire body forcefully shaking with the experience of orgasm.


She came three times more before she ordered him, with a flick of her hand, to be done with it, and then he took the sausage into his hand and looked at her expectantly.



“It’s calories,” she murmured, “but I can’t eat another bite.”



“I won’t let them go to waste,” he said with a darkly passionate kiss of her cunt, and he ate the sausage himself, covered though it was with her juices.



Oh, she felt so lovely at the sight of this! Particularly since he went straight back to her cunt once he was done with the sausage, which had only served to whet his appetite for her wet juices. He licked and sucked, and she whimpered and begged, and his fingers made their way up her vagina, sticking together so well that she came again right then and there.



Then, with a swift motion, he helped her up. “Come, my vixen,” he said with a dark grin, “you’d best come with me.”



Then he led her to the bedroom, and proceeded to fuck her precious brains out.
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Old 07-13-2015, 09:45 PM   #52
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The days rolled by, and Hermione put in the requisite amount of effort. Severus, as her feeder, went above and beyond the call of duty. He fetched and carried for her, ensured that there was never a moment where her fingers were lacking a nearby full plate, and gently encouraged her once she was already full.



All of the talk about gaining, all the time, made Hermione heady, and she found herself masturbating with greater regularity - her only exercise, Severus observed with a smirk. She always needed to get off after breakfast, and almost always needed to after dinner. Once in a while, Severus would even indulge her in a post-lunch coitus, which left her even hornier and hungrier for the evening's repast.



Severus, in turn, even helped her with grading sometimes, along with the preparations for the conference.



The night of Halloween was a welcome deviation from their rigorous schedule of several days. Classes were off for the day, since the students could scarcely focus, and Hermione and Snape made an appearance in the Great Hall for the holiday feast.



"Hm," McGonagall said, his eyes wide as she looked over both of her staff potioneers. Hermione was donned in a skintight dress that left nothing to the imagination. At a squishy ten pounds heavier since last Saturday, and a full twenty heavier since last time she'd spoken with the headmistress, Hermione was definitely a sight to see.



Severus also was straining at the belt, sweat on his brow from lugging around his excessive stomach, and McGonagall swallowed her disapproval. Both of them seemed puzzlingly intent on eating themselves silly, and while McGonagall didn't like it, she supposed she had to accept it. What was the alternative?



Still it was disgusting the way they flaunted their sexuality - neither at all ashamed as Hermione subtly expanded Severus' chair when his rear overflowed the wooden arms uncomfortably. He sighed contentedly, and squeezed hermione's own burgeoning rump, which was blossoming into a becoming the sweetest set of peaches west of Glasgow.

Both of them couldn't keep their hands off the appetizer bread rolls, and their basket had to be refilled before McGonagall could remark on the situation.



All she could do, she realized, was provide a stern glare whenever she managed to catch either of their eyes.



Not that she was able to do so much. Severus, for his part, when he managed to tear his eyes away from the feast of food before them, tantalizing them all, his eyes were devouring Hermione, in particular her breasts and expansive stomach. He clearly was under her spell, and his eyes were fierce and protective of her, but also penetrating with lustful hunger.



Hermione, slightly more demure and subtle in her admiration of him, stared contentedly over the heads of her students, but her eyes were glazed over and far away, and McGonagall soon saw why - the girl's hand was deep under the table in Snape's lap.



This would not do, but there was suddenly a clinking of glasses as her deputy headmaster Flitwick called the hall to order.



And then she was standing, staring at all of the students who were alternately bored or irritated. She glanced at the other members of the head table, and saw that Hermione's hands were chastely folded over her belly.



She didn't notice that Severus' hands were now strangely absent from the table.



With some relief, but also some worry, McGonagall gave a bland speech that lasted far too long in everyone else's opinion but her own, she knew. But no matter. They could wait a little more to remember that after Halloween was all hallow's day, and everyone could do with a reminder to not overdo it tonight.



This message, she knew, would fall on deaf ears, not the least of which would be her poor examples of potions masters, past and present.



She was rewarded with the knowledge of being right as she regarded them begin to eat. Severus didn't even bother to ladle himself any beef stew, simply placing a whole tureen in front of him and using the serving spoon as his own. Hermione, again, was more subtle, and placed an entire loaf of egg bread between them, out of reach of anyone else, and proceeded to use it to sop up some of the sauce from his bowl. Too quickly the entire loaf had disappeared, mostly into her belly.



Once the stew was extinguished; Severus settled back in his seat to rub his belly, and Hermione took an entire tray of pumpkin flat cakes and prepared them, apparently for him - wrapping them into rolls with the aid of sticky apple butter and cream.



Then, surprisingly, Severus sat up and, with a look of intense concentration, refilled Hermione's wine glass and fed her one of the cloyingly sweet rolls she had prepared.



Oh! To watch this endeavor was strangely heartening for Minerva, who liked to see Severus looking self important and useful. He certainly had a purpose now, it seemed - and it was to take care of Hermione.



It occurred to Minerva that Hermione might be pregnant. The amount of care and attention he was paying to her, after all, was beautiful in a way that seemed to evoke parental themes. The way Severus rubbed Hermione's belly also seemed to be suggestive of this. Of course it didn't occur to McGonagall that she'd witnessed Hermione's hands ghosting across Severus' belly earlier that evening, and hadn't come to the same conclusion. Minerva was, in fact, a bit old fashioned.



Indeed, Hermione's bulging belly and the couple's intensive attention towards said tummy seemed conclusive enough. Hermione was clearly pregnant. It didn't make sense otherwise.



McGonagall was attuned enough to realize that Severus and Hermione were unconventional enough a couple that they might consider having a child before marriage or something. So she just shook her head - Hermione was certainly eating more than the fair share her child deserves - but at least it made some sense to her.



In either case, she passed them a plate of roasted figs wrapped in bacon - one of her own favorite treats - and gave the couple a half-hearted encouraging smile.



Her eyes widened as she watched Severus eat about half of the delicacies while Hermione glared sternly at him, but he dutifully changed his course in due time in order to stuff his partner's face instead.



"Careful now," she said, her voice carrying clearly across the table. "Mind that this is the sort of food that really sticks to the ribs, Severus."



He grinned at her - grinned! Severus Snape was smiling! - and he said with a singsong voice, "Minerva, do you think my ribs will even notice something more sticking to them, at this rate?"



Then, with a laugh at her horrified eyes, he slapped his belly, sending it jiggling with a horrific motion that reminded her just how big he'd gotten.



Ruefully, she looked away as he laughed again, his bark strident and forceful, and then she watched him from the corner of her eye, more discreetly the rest of the dinner. He was truly gorging himself, she saw, it wasn't just his exhaustive appetite. He was going all out, as if to keep paces with Hermione.



Hermione. Oh the poor dear had tended towards plump towards the end of her school years, but nothing nearly so thick as she seemed to be headed. Watching as the girl scooped up another pint-sized dollop of ice cream from the central platters and swallow it all with a few hefty bites, McGonagall found herself feeling slightly queasy. The girl seemed bound and determined to eat and eat and eat, without stopping until she had truly met her limit.



McGonagall looked around to the students at the tables. None of them seemed to be paying attention, she thought at first, but then she saw a crowd of young Hufflepuffs that were gazing at Hermione and Severus with fascination in their eyes.



Oh dear lord, McGonagall thought. She hoped they weren’t about to embark on their own gluttonous journey in imitation of the staffmembers.



Hermione and Severus were, to McGonagall’s surprise, the first staffmembers to leave the hall. Their bloated tummies protuding before them, they made their excuses independently of one another - Severus left first, easing himself up out of his expanded chair with a groan, then disappearing outside the doors to the Great Hall - and then Hermione following, disappearing after him.



Both of them had, McGonagall observed, stuffed their pockets full of pastries and candy before leaving.



She sighed, and trudged back up to her office, feeling a bit full herself. She, however, had certainly not overdone it to the same degree that the couple had.



She went to her desk, and waved her hand over it. Unlike Albus, who had kept most of his organizational plots in his head, Minerva used a chalkboardlike configuration for her lists. It meant she was much more efficient, actually, than Albus ever was, since he actually tended to forget things that he didn’t think were important. But part of being the headmistress, in her opinion, was tending to all things, including those she felt were unimportant.



There was something on her chalkboard that she’d been worried about fulfilling. Now she could cross it off her list.



Albus’ portrait in the headmistress’ office woke up from its slumber as she entered.



“Minerva,” said Albus with a happy tone, “good to see you. And how are you this fine Halloween evening?”



“Terrible,” confessed Minerva, and went straight to her chalkboard. “We don’t need to worry about THIS anymore, Albus.”



She fiercely crossed off the list - “Help Severus Find A New Direction For His Life.”

Albus just chuckled. “And how did you manage to do this, Minerva?”



McGonagall rolled her eyes. “You don’t even want to know, Albus. You don’t even want to know.”



He just grinned at her with his twinkling eyes, and she rolled her own at him.



“You already know, don’t you,” she said with exasperation, settling herself down in her office.



Albus didn’t say anything for a moment, then said with a smile, “I know Horatio Galler, who lives in Hermione Granger’s room. Kind old gentleman. Likes to keep me informed of the latest news as it arises. Particularly related to the proclivities of one potions master researcher.”



Minerva threw a stale lemon drop at Albus’ portrait in response.
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Old 07-13-2015, 09:46 PM   #53
Fat Molly
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Hermione and Severus had done their best to be good for the date of Halloween. They'd woken up late, luxuriating in the rare holiday.



"You will not be working today," Severus said sternly as Hermione rose and started reaching for the parchment and quill she had left on the bedside table. "No. I beg of you. Leave off for just the day." He grabbed her arm with a fierce grin and peppered her hand with kisses.



Hermione laughed. Sometimes Severus could be so immensely charming.



"Fine," she conceded, "but we already decided we weren't going to eat much today until the feast. How should we occupy our time?"



There was a glint in his eyes. "Let's go out," he said, "the day promises to be a beautiful one."



Hermione smiled, and nodded.



"Also," he said pointedly, "the exercise will do you good, young lady. You've been getting a bit round lately."



He pressed his fingers into her stomach, his false scorn barely hiding his glee and lust.



"Hmph," Hermione said, her fingers running through her abundant messy curls, "Language like that, Severus, and you won't be getting any satisfaction for that egregious cock of yours until after the feast."



He moaned, his hand drifting down to address his morning wood affectionately. "No, you wouldn't, witch," he bit out, the sadistic pleasure of being denied emerging in his tone.



"Oh certainly I would," she said, running her fingers over his thick thighs. "Just watch me deny you the satisfaction of fucking me this morning, Severus Snape."



His moan was low and guttural, but she could hear he had already given up trying to persuade her. She'd been finding that of the two of them, Severus was the one who took the most pleasure out of pain. She wouldn't have pinned him for a sadist in a thousand years, but the way he squirmed at the very mention of not getting what he wanted was undeniable.



She ran her hands over him, making him groan with the pain of unfulfilled desire.



"Please," he begged, with a final ounce of optimism that was entirely without effort.



"No," she said. And with that she bounced up and pranced to the shower.



Severus smirked at her ruefully as she went.

.......

She returned to find him on the phone, one hand clasping his limp cock aimlessly.



"Certainly, my love," he mumbled to his phone. "it isn't any trouble. No, none at all."



"Isn't it late in the day over there for her to be calling?" Hermione asked, and playfully squeezed his belly.



"Teasing vixen," he said, pressing the receiver against his cheek to mute his voice and turning his head towards Hermione. "Yes. It's Erika. She's had a bit of trouble with Jean-Raoul, and needs an ear."



"Take your time," Hermione said, wiping her body off. "But no ménage a un for you." She removed his hand from where it fondled his dick.



"Curses," he said, the pleasure palpable in his voice, "you deny me the simplest gratification of sexing you, and then you forbid me sex myself. And all this for what end?"



"Simply because it pleases me," said Hermione comfortably, and she bent down to dry her toes, waving her ample rump in Severus' face.



He groaned, and went back to his phone call. "Sorry, my dear. Someone is *very* distracting on my end."



Hermione grinned, taking credit with sheer delight.



"So what did you say to that?" He went on, turning back to the conversation seriously. Hermione acknowledged the change by going to her desk and cracking open a book. Reading wasn't work, after all. Even if it was information she could tie into her upcoming article…



"Mhm. I see."



Severus was actually a very good phone listener, Hermione realized as she listened to him. He would provide comments as needed, but mostly focused on empathic responses and thoughtful questions.



Maybe she didn't see it when she was interacting with him, and maybe it came out more strongly when interacting with his other girlfriend. But either way, it gave her a little fluttery feeling in her empty belly. Or maybe that was just her desire for breakfast calling. Yes, she decided her stomach growled loudly, making Severus turn his head and arch an eyebrow at her, it was her hunger.



She looked at Severus, who was looking increasingly grumpy, and she decided to go ahead and get them a spot of something. She clapped for Minty and ordered coffee, juice, and oatmeal for them both, then commenced her reading.



Severus remained on the phone with Erika until the food arrived, at which point he wished her a good morning and closed his phone.



"Oatmeal?" He play-raged, sitting himself down with a pout. "How is a man supposed to start his day on this muck?"



"McGonagall does it," hermione said with a smirk. "Good for the digestion, as she says."



He rolled his eyes, but dug in hungrily anyhow, serving himself in large spoonfuls.



He ate it all, and looked up for more. But Hermione was already sending away the rest of the tureen, and his face fell considerably.



"Did master not like it?" Minty was saying, surveying Severus' scowl warily.



"Oh no," Hermione said comfortably, "he did enjoy it. But you and the elves are not to serve him anything more until the feast tonight. Is that understood?"



The elf was worried at the way that Severus glowered, but as Hermione patted Minty’s shoulder gently, the elf scurried away, glancing back only once as she scampered.



“What,” Severus demanded, sitting with his wide legs astride, “is the meaning of this? You’re restricting me?”



“It’s just a bit of a diet, honey,” Hermione said smoothly, “and you shouldn’t be surprised. If you think I need exercise, oh darling, you need to take a look at yourself in the mirror.”



Severus growled, and looked down at himself. “What?” he said, huffily. “It’s not as though I’m *fat.*”



Hermione did her best to restrain her laughter. “Oh no, honey, I never meant to say that. Of course, of course you’re not fat. But you’d best be careful, or one day you’re going to wake up and be as big as a hippogriff!”



“Can’t a man can’t have a bit of meat on his bones without the entire country going up in arms about it?” he demanded, leaning back in his chair and looking quite smug and self-satisfied.



“A *bit* of meat?” she chortled, and stood up to embrace him. Her lips locked onto his, and her hand massaged his soft, unstuffed gut. “I think you’ve got a little more than a *bit* here, darling.”



He kissed her deeply in return, and relaxed into her massage. His stomach rumbled, and she massaged deeper, trying to help aid his digestion.



“You have got *quite* the gut, dear,” Hermione said, her fingers sinking pleasurably into his broad white flesh.



He grunted and withdrew from kissing her, and gazed down the mountainous expanse of his body. “I can still see my feet. Mostly.”



He bent over, and Hermione withdrew her hand. His entire belly squished into itself like a great ball of dough being kneaded. It was of course quite big, and quite difficult to navigate, but by spreading his legs to accommodate it, he was able to bend down well enough to peer at his feet curiously. “Well, erm, now I can.”



“Oh, love,” Hermione clucked, and patted his shoulder sympathetically as he tried to heave himself back upright. “You’re getting too big, too big indeed, tut tut. Can you even tie your shoes on your own?”



“Yes,” he said, sitting back and rubbing where his belt had pinched his supple, soft skin. “But only with magic.”



“Oh, darling,” Hermione said, with mock pity. “You’re too fat to tie your shoes yourself? For shame, for shame. You’d better keep to your diet, sweetheart, or you’re going to become as big as Slughorn.”



“How long will that take, do you suppose?” Severus asked, his smile sickly sweet with pleasure.



“It depends on how much he weighs,” Hermione responded cheerfully. “And lo, I actually happen to know.”



She stroked her own belly comfortingly as she strode to the old desk in the corner of her room. “There’s a bit of blotting paper here,” she announced, bringing back a sheet that was covered in bits of ink and scribbles, “where Slughorn was tracking his weight. This was his desk and room until he left last spring, if you recall.”



“No,” Severus said disbelievingly, his eyes wide as he dropped the act. “And you haven’t mentioned it to me before?”



“I found it earlier this year,” Hermione said, “and quite forgot about it.”



She unfolded the paper carefully and ran a pencil over the paper, shading in the indents from where Slughorn’s old writing was.



“It does appear,” Hermione said with a smirk, “that he was trying to lose weight, poor old soul. And failing miserably. Look here, he was plateauing at around 485 all through May.”



Severus’ face grew grim, and all of his good humor evaporated. “What am I?” he asked, his voice soft and worried. “Cast that charm,” he elaborated at her brief confusion.



She did, and her modified plump witch, Cozy, emerged from her wand. Cozy looked Severus from head to foot, and patted his belly warmly.



“You’ve been coming along nicely,” she cooed, and took out her measuring tape. “A plump 60 inches around your belly. What effort! And…” - she waved her wand - “A hefty three hundred and forty three pounds. Good gracious, you’ve been hungry.” She winked. “What a nice plump hunk of man for you, dearie,” she said, addressing Hermione. “



Severus did some mental calculations. “That’s about seventeen pounds in two weeks,” he said, looking stunned. “I…”



He looked at Hermione, frantic worry in his eyes, as if he’d been caught sneaking biscuits from the biscuit jar.



She smiled beatifically at him. “And how on earth is that a surprise?” she said with a radiant grin. “You’ve been eating practically nonstop, my love.”



“Ugh,” he groaned, not denying the obvious, and he looked down at himself, a little bit sad, and quite uncomfortable.



Hermione waved Cozy over to assess her, and was pleasantly surprised with the results.



“Ten pounds in less than seven days - good job dearheart,” Cozy announced happily, Beaming, she looked over at Severus again, who was experimentally cradling his empty belly, assessing its weight.



“It’s not as if it all goes there, ducky,” Cozy said with a smirk. She ran her wand along Severus’ jaw and arms, and then down to his buttocks. “You also are quite skilled at putting on weight in these areas, here.”



Severus hands went immediately to touch his squishy behind, and indeed he seemed satisfied with what he found there - for even he couldn’t help himself from squeezing at his joyfully round cheeks, which indeed, Hermione now saw, had taken the bulk of his new pounds.



Hermione crept up behind him and, without further adieu, began to frot against him, her clit begging for stimulation against his soft behind.



“Ai,” exclaimed Severus, spinning around and catching her against his tummy before he managed to swing her into a close, squishy embrace. “None of that, now, you said we’d have to wait until after dinner.”



“But now I regret that,” Hermione pouted, “now that I know how fat you’ve gotten.”



“Ah,” Severus said with an arched eyebrow, “but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Or something like that.”



Hermione’s hand dove underneath his belly, and hefted it in her fingers. It was so soft and squishy, and she couldn’t wait to get her clit against it.



“Fine,” she said, and turned away from him after a quick kiss to the cheek. “You know why it’s a good thing that we’re eating light this morning, right?”



Severus rolled his eyes. “It tricks the body into thinking it’s starving, and then permits us to gorge ourselves even further at the feast.”



Hermione grinned. “Correct.”



“But we already are so *good* at gorging ourselves,” Severus complained, “so bloody, bloody good.”



He sighed. “Erika will scarcely recognize me. I hope she realizes what she’s put me through by putting me on medication in the first place.”



He shook his head, and went to go put on his clothes. Hermione followed suit, and they departed for a luxurious long walk out in the moors.
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Old 07-14-2015, 09:11 PM   #54
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Autumn was proving itself to be in full swing as they trudged along through the gardens. Hermione held Severus' hand as they walked, and the sun was heavy and bright in the mid morning sky. Dry Leaves swirled around them as they walked, and shadows grew darker and longer beneath the trees and shrubs. The crunch of the leaves was almost the only sound they heard as they walked away from the castle, deeper into the woods of the forbidden forest.

"Squirrel," observed Hermione, noticing a flurry of fur scampering through the detritus of the forest.
Severus nodded. He was thoroughly out of breath - they had gone quite a distance, and some of it uphill - and at the next fallen tree he collapsed onto it, his massive tum heaving as he caught his wind.

Hermione joined him, relishing the shortness she also felt pinching at her belly, and heaved a great sigh. Her hand went, by default, to lay upon his belly, and she felt as he breathed - one, two, three - all his flesh jiggling with the effort.

"At this rate," Severus said, once he had recovered sufficiently, "I'm liable to be as big as Slughorn by March. If not sooner. Even if I only gain a single stone a month, and not two as has the data has demonstrated so far, I'll be as round as him come this time next year."

"You forget one thing," Hermione said, patting him gently on the belly, sending his jiggly mass of flesh shivering like jello. "It's not always linear, my dear. In order to get to that size, you will have to eat enough to not only gain weight, but maintain your current size. And that scales, so to speak. According to my reading."

He furrowed his brow and nodded, but did not respond otherwise.

They soon stood again, and as they continued their walk, they began talking about the conference preparations - Hermione going over her lists (which were completely memorized by now) with scrupulous attention, and Severus responding with comments and reminders.

The sun was bright, but did little to keep the chill of autumn away from them. The wind was brisk and cool, and They found their place slowing as Hermione snuggled deeper and deeper into Severus' warm tummy, until finally they were at a standstill.

"Mm," Hermione moaned, "let's change the subject, shall we?"

Severus didn't need another cue, his lips diving into hers with rapt attention, and he made liberal use of his tongue in his exertions despite his holdover heavy breathing from walking. It was actually way sexy, Hermione felt, that he needed her so badly that he couldn't be arsed to wait until he'd caught his breath. It felt as though he needed her more than breath itself, though she knew that was a fantasy.

After some minutes, he broke away from her and looked around. "I need to get off my feet," he said. "This fat arse can't hold itself up much longer."

Hermione giggled. He glared.

"This is no laughing matter," he said, his tone dark. "I'm going to fold over if I don't sit. Now."

She smiled and patted his arse, and grabbed hold of its tempting softness. "Okay," she agreed, and he made a beeline for a large flat rock.

It was cold to the touch, but they sat upon it anyways, and cuddled each other against the chill wind.

"You're so comfortable," Hermione mused, "it's going to be hard to persuade me to move."

He groaned in response. "Improbable but true," he responded, and he kissed her on the top of her head. “Why on earth do you like me?”

Then his stomach growled.

"Curses," he said, and then looked up in surprise as Hermione pressed a cookie into his palm. "What's this?" He asked, a sense of delight in his voice.

Hermione grinned. "Do you think I'd let my man go hungry?"

"It seems a bit out of character," he agreed with a snort, and he inhaled the cookie without further comment.

Then, like a keen-nosed dog, he looked at her expectantly.

Hermione feigned surprise. "What?" She asked with a smirk.

He glared at her with a sense of piteousness that was somehow as disconcerting as a Great Dane making puppy eyes

"No more," she said, hands open in innocence. "That's all I got. Just enough to get the edge off."

"No?" Severus said, then rolled his eyes. "You fail to understand how this works, Hermione," he said forcefully. "There's no such thing as getting the edge off my hunger. Such a small crumb as that only serves to whet my appetite and make it worse. Are you prepared to deal with the consequences?"

"In other words," Hermione said with a laugh, "if you give a mouse a cookie...?"

He didn't get it, and that shone in his face as he frowned with confusion.

"After your time, I suppose," she said helplessly. "Serves me right for dating a man twice as old as I am."

"What are you saying?" Severus said, his voice stern and his eyes glimmering with false affront. "My dear, have you deigned to such abuse as to calling me both fat, and old, in the same morning?"

She liked where this was going. Her subby Severus was folding away in favor of his more precocious, dommy self.

She liked that they both were switches. A lot.

"I don't mean it that way," she said, her voice growing tremulous with mock despair, "only, you can't dispute with facts, and you are so very much bigger than me, and so very much more experienced..."

"Experienced?" Severus scoffed, but he was grinning ear to ear. "I'll show you experienced."

Then with a wave of his hand, the rock became mattresslike, a soft bed of velvet, and he thrust Hermione down on it with a firm grasp. She gasped and began to breathe heavily as she felt his raging erection against her soft thigh.

Then she saw his soft, soft belly hanging over her, and the way it hung off him was so tantalizing and alluring. It was as if someone had inserted an enormous bowl of pudding under his skin and carelessly sewed it on so that it sagged heavily. When he moved, it followed, swinging pendulumlike in his wake, accentuating every movement he made.

"Oh yes," Severus said, from his crouching position over her, his manly breasts sagging and heaving with his deep stabilizing breaths, "there *will* be consequences."

Hermione whined with lust as his teeth came down on her earlobe, and he was nipping her and biting her, making her shriek with laughter and attraction.

He wanted her - desired her - and was prepared to fight to have her.

She had a momentary glimpse into her past, thinking of Ron and Harry and their silliness about her - and she realized that, yes, she did actually find that attractive. And hot. The possessiveness, the fierceness, the loyalty, the animalistic predatory eyes of a lover just wanting her...

Okay maybe that last part wasn't something Ron and Harry could manage for her. But Severus - oh he could. He could!

So much of their relationship, she realized, tied up into animalistic themes. Their singleminded attraction towards fatness was so much like woodland mammals preparing for hibernating all winter, embracing good days of plenty with gusto until the days of scarcity came again.

As Severus grabbed her by the hair and lifted her head up to kiss her all the better, she bit along his growing heavy chin and he growled, snapping her back into her role.

There was something primeval about their relationship, she decided, or maybe it was just the fact that they were out of doors that morning.

Either way, enough was enough. She reached for his tummy, which seemed tired of hanging off his bitter old bones, and massaged it, teasing him by letting her fingers wander further and further down every casual circle she made.

"Yes," Severus said with a hiss, and without a fuss flopped onto his back and closed his eyes against the sight of the trees and blue sky that shone through them.

He was so beautiful there, in his black satin waistcoat that was turning salt and pepper grey with the stretching spells it had endured, black high-collared shirt, and black wizard trousers that groused at their fruitless duties of keeping Severus' massive belly contained from the public eye. His cloak spread out behind him elegantly, and as he lay there, eyes closed expectantly, he grasped it with one fine-boned but plump hand.

"You're so immensely attractive," Hermione whispered, her hand delicately laying upon his upper thigh.

He took a deep, deep breath, as if summoning patience.

"You're not doing it," he observed, neutral of tone.

"No," Hermione said, moving her butt onto the warmth of his cloak and her legs so that she could sit cross legged.

"You're not going to," Severus said next, opening one eye drearily, like a woken dragon.

She moved herself slightly closer to him. "Delayed gratification is all the sweeter for its delay," she murmured.

He snorted.

"Don't quote Robinicouse at me," he snorted. "What a terrible potions master he was."

"A better philosopher than potioneer," agreed Hermione, letting her eyes wander to a falling leaf. It seemed to fall so gently on the breeze, caught by a nearly sentient wind that seemed captivated by the beautiful thing.

The air swirled around it, and it landed gently on her upper thigh.

"Don't you think the world is more sentient than we give it credit for?" Hermione mused.

He grunted, and his stomach growled.

"What do you mean?" He asked aloud.

Without replying at first, Hermione leaned over the edge of the stone and grabbed her bag to retrieve another biscuit for her lover.

Thoughtfully, she put the biscuit on the tip of his nose, touching his lip. He didn't move for a moment, didn’t even open his eyes, but she saw a glimpse of tongue experimentally creep out from between his lips. Then, with a voracious smack, he opened his mouth and entrapped the biscuit whole, leaving only crumbs.

"Please tell me there's more where that came from," he begged, wiping off his face with his sleeve and sitting up with a great effort of will.

Sitting there on the stone, she admired him - his tummy spread so beautifully across his lap it had to be considered poetry in its own right. It was too beautiful, like a flower on a cake, made with buttercream.

"No, I'm sorry," Hermione said, "that was in fact the last one."

"You minx," he said, his eyes lighting up. "I don't believe you for one second."

"Check my bag," she responded with glee.

He nodded, though looked quite suspicious, and bent down to grasp her bag. It was indeed empty of biscuits, according to what he could see. And there were no concealment charms of any sort that could be detected.

"You've got more, I know it," he said, laying back upon the cloak and raising his arm in a melodramatic sigh, "but I am too famished to contemplate how to find them."

Hermione just giggled, and grabbed him eagerly around his soft middle. Which led to more kisses. Which led to very delicious snogging. In fact, Hermione was rather surprised that they even got back to the topic they'd started at all. But as they lay there on the rock, his hand tousled her hair.

"So," he said, eyes bright and keen. "Universal sentience. Would you like to expound upon your theory?"

Hermione barely bit back herself from making the pun in "expound" more obvious than it already was, But she held her tongue, and managed to retain her dignity.

"It occurs to me that there's a concept in arithmancy that all elements of an equation have various configurations that are possible based on specific building blocks indiscernible to us," Hermione said, her giddy smile fading as she got more thoughtful. "And that same concept is used in muggle chemistry, as I'm sure you well know."

"Indeed," Severus affirmed. "Bonds, atoms, and elements."

"Precisely," Hermione said, picking at her thumbnail absently. "There are many ways that one atom can bond together to make particles, but there are not an unlimited number of ways to bond. Some elements bond together, others do not, and it has to do with which ones are compatible."

Severus nodded. His head tilted towards hers, and he gently touched his finger to her face, gazing into her eyes when she turned her head.

She kissed him tenderly on the nose.

“I’m thinking other things might be like that, too,” she murmured, and laid another kiss on his cheek. “Certain people work well with some, and not well with others. It has to do with which ones are compatible.”

He snorted, but kissed her cheek in response as well, gathering her up into his squishy lap and snuggling her close, holding her like a bundle of sticks in his arms. “Elementary, my dear Hermione.”

She didn’t notice the pun for a moment, and then she fake-slapped him in the face. He chortled and kissed her.

“So we’re talking about micro, micro parts, when we’re talking about atoms and such,” Hermione said, “but I think that elements that are a little bit larger also have similar forms of attraction. You know how in some potions, the ingredients don’t bond unless they’re facing north? Or how other ingredients simply cannot be mixed successfully, ever, even in a floating medium, like horehound and bursieweed?”

Severus was looking a bit more serious than he had been, and he nodded. “Yes,” he said, his fingers playing with the buttons on her silky bodice, “that does indeed make quite a bit of sense.”

“So for example,” Hermione went on, “this leaf, which just fell from the tree. I believe it might have some elemental attraction to me, somehow, and that’s why it landed on my lap.”

“Ah,” Severus said with a groan, “and now you’ve lost me.”

“Why,” Hermione said, “this is by far the most scientific ontology of existence I’ve ever heard of, or come up with.”

“Sure,” Severus said, shaking his head, “but, Hermione,” he pleaded, “does everything truly have to have some sort of explanation?” He paused, and looked at her with a deep sense of sadness. “Isn’t it enough to just… be?”

This was certainly a surprise to Hermione, who was certainly more likely to expect Severus Snape to demand a more rigorous explanation and then drive holes into her arguments as she presented them.

“Why,” she murmured, “of course? But I’m curious, Severus… why are you so copacetic about this? I’d have expected something else.”

“What would you expect?” Severus asked, looking genuinely puzzled.

“I… I don’t know,” Hermione flailed, “I feel like your beliefs about the universe would be far more complex than zen, that’s all.”

His face grew dark, and he dropped his arms and gazed steadily at her. “Hermione Jean Granger,” he said seriously, “I have been tortured. I have been used as a pawn in a great meaningless drama by two wizards with inflated egos who couldn’t be sure that I wasn’t disposable at a moment’s notice. I’ve been isolated by my allies, left adrift on the merest shred of doubt, and moreover have deserved every bit of abuse because I was fucked up over a girl who had told me she wasn’t interested right at the start of puberty.

“And what’s more,” he continued, “I’ve killed. I’ve even participated in darker things than killing. Am I supposed to believe that there’s some elemental attraction that my soul has towards the darkness? Am I supposed to believe that every action I’ve done has been one out of a small range of choices I had based on my chemical makeup?” He paused. “Am I supposed to believe that I can’t change, and I can’t have changed since?”

Hermione was about to argue - her theory completely allowed for mutability - but she wasn’t about to argue with the man who looked as close to tears as she’d ever seen him.

“You’re right,” she murmured, and leaned forward. “I let my fat arse get in the middle of things. I’m sorry, my dear. I didn’t think.”

“Think next time,” he said, his eyes sad and staring off in the distance.

Hermione drew herself closer to him, and his arms resumed their close embrace.

…………….

Soon they were walking again, holding hands as they crunched through the leaves and drew their cloaks more tightly around their shoulders. Severus was more quiet, less playful than before, and was clearly brooding.

“For… for what it’s worth,” Hermione said, trying to break the silence, “McGonagall said of you that you’d both changed, and not changed nearly as much as I thought. She says she saw the goodness in you long before you could see it yourself.” While it was a paraphrase, she felt like her words were capturing the spirit of the headmistress’ words.

Severus just grunted, not looking at her, but he squeezed her hand a bit more tightly.

“Let’s stop again,” he said, as he nearly tripped over a cluster of toadstools, “do you have your gloves?”

Hermione wasn’t about to be caught twice without her gardening gloves on a casual hike with Severus, so she did indeed have them.

As Severus knelt down and prepared to collect the little red things, his stomach growled again. “Dammit,” he murmured, mostly out of pretense, but Hermione, successfully surprised him by wrapping herself around him and popping another biscuit in his mouth.

“Why, if I wasn’t already down here,” he said with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, “I’d get up and fuck you here on the forest floor, my vixen.”

“Got to keep your strength up, darling,” Hermione said with a smile, and then proceeded to get down and help him with the toadstools.

……….

They worked together quite some time, and then Hermione realized he’d completely tricked her into doing work on a day he’d claimed to leave free of work. “Severus,” she complained, and sat herself down next to him. “I’m horny. Let’s have sex, please?”

“Here?” he asked, looking up. His forehead was shiny from the exertions, and he readjusted himself carefully. He’d been sitting on his feet as he squatted, and he clearly was regretting that choice as he unfolded himself painfully.

“Or, you know, anywhere,” Hermione said with a singsong kind of voice. “I’m happy to do it anywhere that you like, my dear.”

He looked around, winced as he moved his leg - “Pins and needles,” he explained testily - and then motioned at a boulder that wasn’t very flat. “How about there?” he asked, “it looks so round it’s nearly spherical.”

“Yeah,” Hermione said, “do you think you can actually clamber on there, though?”

He glared at her meaningfully. “Severus Snape does *not* clamber,” he said with a haughty snarl.

“Oh,” Hermione said with a palm to the forehead. “Flying. Right.”

Severus took the moment to stand up and arch his back. “What time is it?”

Hermione glanced at her watch. “Two hours before the feast.”

“Merlin,” he said, and cracked his back. “This took longer than I thought,”

“Yes,” Hermione said, and looked at the boulder. Indeed, as she looked at it, she realized why he pointed it out. It was as round and spherical as a belly, she realized, and a little bit flat on the top. Then she had an idea. “Yes,” she said again, and with an effort, she floated up on top of the rock. “Wait a moment.”

He nodded, clearly not going anywhere until his legs had recovered from their numbness, and he sat on his plump rear, tying bags of mushrooms.

Hermione, for her part, ran her wand over the rock face, wishing and transfiguring it to be something that even Severus could appreciate.

The rock became less and less granite, and more and more fleshy. Soft, grayish, pale softness began to emerge, with the dappled colors of stretch marks, shiny and grey where they'd been massaged into submission by a lazy owner. The rock began to grow softer, more squishy, and soon to touch there was nothing making it resemble a rock at all, other than the color. The thing had become a giant belly, and Hermione felt her stress melt away as she relaxed into it.

“Ready when you are,” she called to Severus, who experimentally flew a few hops, then leaped up on top of the boulder. He sank into it with a sigh of bliss.

“Oh,” he murmured, “I… Hermione, can’t we forgo our sex ban and do it, now, right here?”

“I’d say yes,” Hermione said, her smile cheeky. “But then what would be the after-dinner incentive?”

“More sex,” he said, and tried to tackle her. Hermione ducked him playfully, allowing him to fall into the generously endowed boulder of fat.

“We will have to return here then, witch,” he said fiercely, “we’ll leave a trail of breadcrumbs so we remember how to find it again.”

“Is that a Hansel and Gretel reference?” Hermione asked with a laugh. “Oh, of course that would be the childhood Muggle fairy tale that you’d remember best.”

“And why shouldn’t it be?” Severus asked with a soft smile. “I don’t suppose Hansel’s side of the story was ever adequately told.”

“Would you like to roleplay that at some future date?” Hermione asked, crouching over Severus. It was a surreal experience, to be both straddling a jiggling mound of (real) Severus-fat as well as on top of a jiggling mound of (simulated) magical fat.

His eyes were hungry. “Without a doubt,” he murmured, “I’d love to now, if I didn’t want to spoil my appetite for the feast.”

Hermione nodded. “We can luxuriate here for a few moments, though.”

She settled down on top of the velvety mound of belly fat that comprised the boulder, and Severus hugged her tightly, smelling in her scent deeply. “You’re good enough to eat,” he said with a darkly carniverous voice, and Hermione just kissed him in response.

“You’ve been so good today,” she murmured, “just a little bit more, and you can feast to your heart’s content in the Great Hall.”

“Only if you do so with me,” he answered with a subtly happy voice, and Hermione kissed him fervently.

“Of course.”
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Old 07-18-2015, 08:50 AM   #55
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Halloween night was spectacular.

"I've got a great idea," Hermione said, as they tripped up the stairs to their rooms two by two. "I want to dress up."

He gave her a stern look. "Haven't you teased me enough, witch?"

"Fine," she said, and shook her head. "I wish I knew more clothing spells. But I can manage. Give me five minutes once we get in? I'll slip out of this in the dining room, so you can have the pleasure of watching me struggle out of this, and then dress in the bedroom in my costume."

"Ugh," he agreed with a sigh, "fine. The combination of a strip tease and food has allayed me. You have until I finish these pastries I brought from the Great Hall."

"That's just enough time," she said, and then realized that if left unattended with her pastries, those would likely be gone as well. "Just know I'll be taking the contents of my pockets with me when I go to change."

He sighed with a deep sense of aggravation. "Curses," he said, "and just when I had planned to take all of your pumpkin pasties and eat them whilst you were occupied."

Hermione just giggled, and generously tucked one of hers into his hand as they went. They were going slower after the first flight of stairs, and Severus' hand was sweaty with the effort, but he stuffed the confection in his mouth and chewed it as they went.

...............

The plan went off as expected. Hermione nearly had to use butter to get herself out of the too-tight dress, and Severus chortled at every mistake she made in removing it, but it was finally off, and her growing belly - complete with red stretch marks - was finally available for viewing.

"You look so delicious," he moaned, standing up from his place at the table and approaching her. "You. Me. Bedroom. Now."

"Not yet," said Hermione with a squeal, ducking from his grasp. "I'll be even more delicious in a moment, I promise."

"It'd better be good," Severus called as she ran into the bedroom as fast as her chubby legs could carry her.

Within a few moments, Hermione was ready. She hadn't really had the time, leisure, or opportunity to wear a truly fantastical costume since she was quite young, and even then she'd tended to be practical and less whimsical.

But now she had someone to be creative for, and it was exciting to try and do something new.

She called Minty and had Minty help her achieve her costume. With a mixture of agar gum, chocolate custard, and sugar, she coated herself with the sticky residue, most particularly her vaginal area. Then Minty laid out an assortment of candy from the Halloween feast, varying from chocolate frogs to candy corn to caramels to peanut butter balls to jelly worms, as well as crushed chocolate biscuits. All of this was laid out on a tarp on the floor, and Hermione laid down and rolled her fattening body in it, but not before putting her hair into a cotton-candy towel to prevent it from getting too icky.

"Oh gods," she whispered as she finally sat up, her body covered in the delicious potpourri, "I wish I could absorb all this instead if having Severus eat it all off me."

"I wish so as well, Mistress," Minty said with a smile, "for that would be wonderful magic indeed."

"Indeed," Hermione said, and stood up. She proceeded to magic her body with a stasis charm, to keep everything in place, and then she rose and walked out into the dining room.

It had taken her a little longer than she had expected, and Severus had stuffed himself with all of the pastries both of them had brought back, and he was sitting in his chair with a self-satisfied smirk while rubbing his bloated belly. He sat straighter at the sight of Hermione, and his jaw dropped.

"Well!" he exclaimed, and stood with a laborious effort, and approached her warily. "Witch," he said as he carefully touched her. "What new madness is this?"

"Don't you want to devour every inch of me?" Hermione begged, and as she was wont to expect, he nodded solemnly.

"Come," he said, and gestured to the bedroom. "Let's finish this feast with our desert."



........................ I may add the smut that goes here, but I might not ..................

A week later, Hermione was pleased to have a new dress after a short few minutes picking out new robes. It was long, and blue, and fluttered at her ankles with a crepe chine fabric that was laced with ribbons. It had delicate embroidery across the whole thing, especially at the neckline. And moreover, she had a little room to grow to fit her burgeoning body.

Now at the tipping point between the late 190s and early 200s, she was ready to make the final push forwards to grow her body over the hump she'd struggled with for days. And then some.

Severus emerged from the dressing room at the low-end clothier's in Knockturn Alley. Jeremiah Horn, the proprietor, brushed some loose threads off the shoulders of Severus' robes.

"Well?" Severus asked with an arched eyebrow.

Hermione, ever pensive, played it up a little.

"Turn a bit," she motioned.

He did so, slowly.

"Faster," she insisted, and he obliged. The resulting flourish was distinctly perfect for him.

"Hm," Hermione said, casting her eye over the other clothing he had tried on in the past hour. Honestly, he was taking longer than she had, and that was probably because he actually was more vain than she was.

But, this set he was wearing was perfect, and also inevitably the most expensive. Hermione wasn't about to let her man overspend for something if she could help it. She had read long and hard about bargaining practices in preparation for this trip, and she'd be damned if they'd go to waste!

"I think the one without the buttons was a bit more flattering," Hermione said, a hint of disapproval in her voice. "Given how big you've gotten recently, Severus, I have to say that you've got to look at options that de-accentuate your tum. Not make it look like you're showing it off."

He growled at her, but not for the reasons poor Mr. Horn probably assumed. The shopkeeper was looking back and forth between the couple, as if to assess who was paying his bill. Then, with a shrug, he seemed to side with Hermione. "Mr. Snape," he said, a twinge of regret in his face, "I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to agree with your wife on this one."

Severus' eyes were cold and clear, and he approached the man, who was in his mid thirties or so, and deeply underwhelmed.

He crossed his arms and stared deeply into the man's eyes. Mr. Horn took a step back. Severus did not intimidate him further.

"You were in my 7th year potions class the year I became an instructor at Hogwarts," Severus said, his voice dropping dangerously. "Do you remember?"

Mr. Horn's eyebrows rose by several inches. "Oh. Professor Snape," he said, recognition dawning on his face. "Of course I remember you."

He didn't bother to add the following, but they were clear to read on his face:

1. I didn't recognize you, particularly since you've got fat
2. You still scare the living daylights out of me

"That's right," Severus said, and gestured to Hermione. "And my wife, as you called her, is none other than Hermione Granger, without whom the present wizarding world would be a sorry sight indeed."

"Of course," Mr. horn said, taking off his glasses and wiping them, as if they were the cause of his egregious faux pas. They might very well have been, for that matter - they were very thick. "Pardon me, Professor. You certainly did your part in ensuring the wizarding world's safety as well."

"Indeed," Severus said, his tone as dripping with poison as Hermione ever had heard, "maybe just enough to correct half the things I did to terrorize it as well."

Mr. Horn seemed on the verge of cowering, so Hermione cast Severus a warning glance. He read the signal and nodded. "Enough," he said with a wave of his hand. "I'm just an old man on a shit research pension, shuttered away so I can dodder to my heart's content and hopefully forget my role in the ruin of this world."

Mr. Horn looked as if he'd been thrust into a corner. "Well then," he said to Severus, putting his spectacles back on, "I seem to have stepped in it quite thoroughly."

Severus didn't deign to respond, and Hermione took that cue as well. She wasn't going to trip up the man's game.

Severus then proceeded to wistfully stare into the mirror, brushing down the front with a heavy sigh.

"This is out of my price range, I think," he said, smoothing out the wrinkles that formed at his bulging tum, "I always did like buttons, however."

"If you start your diet, like you're supposed to," Hermione conceded, "you might just look fetching in it."

"But again, the expense," murmured Severus, and began to undo the buttons with a sense of futility borne of setting his dreams too high.

The shop-keeper quickly dashed into the back room to consult with the man who was previously introduced as his assistant, but was clearly something more important than that, and the men scurried back together.

"We'd like," said Mr. Horn, "to offer you a discount. Given our suppliers gave us a cut rate on this particular shipment-"

"-Since it was on clearance," cut in the man introduced as Mr. Grace,

"We'd like to offer this to you at ten percent off," finished Mr. Horn. "Is that acceptable to you, Professor Snape?"

Severus made a show of looking into his wallet, and he looked dismally at his scarce galleons. "I wish it were," he said helplessly, "but as you see, I've only got ten galleons here."

The men exchanged a telepathic glance between each other.

"We can do that," said Mr. Grace, and Mr. Horn added, "Yes, certainly we can. That's generous of you, Professor Snape. Most generous indeed. And considering everything you've done for our world, well, it seems only proper that you get some benefit of it."

Severus made a show of denying the discount, but they were insistent, and soon Severus was ushered out of the shop with a collection of new items along with the robes he liked so much, and once they got out the door and Mr. Grace and Mr. Horn had closed the door with a bang, Severus grinned outright at Hermione.

"That was a good showing," he said comfortably, "but I do hope you weren't serious about your diet."

"Oh," Hermione said with a grin of her own, "I was quite serious."

His face quirked, as if he could guess where she was going.

"I'm fully on board with you having a diet where you try as fast as you can to wear these robes out, and then going back shamefacedly to get a bigger size by May of this coming year," she said with a laugh, and he snorted.

"You're so predictable," he said fondly, and as she glanced at him with teasing admonishment, he amended, "in the best sense of the word."

"Is there a best sense of the word?" she asked, and she danced onward through the alley in front of him.
.............

They stopped at a not-often-frequented luncheon joint serving Jamaican food. They were notably the only non-persons of color in the place, which was sparsely attended even at the lunch hour.

"It's disgraceful, this artificial segregation," Hermione said as they were served curried goat with beans, and rice, with fried plantains on the side. "I had no idea Knockturn Alley existed when McGonagall first took me through Diagon Alley. And come to think of it, I don't think I saw any non-white shopkeepers there when I went the first time. I remember thinking it was so tremendously strange."

"It's truly a novelty for Lee Jordan to be working at Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, that's for sure," Snape agreed, and scraped out the remaining rice from the family-sized serving bowl they'd been given.

"Well, it's not right," Hermione said, a fire burning in the pit of her stomach - unrelated to her happy gustatory experiences with digesting the heavy, fatty food. "The Wizarding World simply doesn't have language to talk about race. From when I first entered Hogwarts, I don't think I have ever heard anyone talk about persons of color at all."

"Whereas the Muggles have actually got language for it, I suppose," Severus remarked. He popped more fried plantains in his mouth. "But that doesn't mean they're better about it."

"No," Hermione agreed, "no, this is more subtle, but in some ways less important in the wizarding world. We're still getting over the idea that people born of Muggles are significantly worse than people born of 'pure' heritage." She groaned. "Oh. Wait. Never mind. While not all Muggleborns are persons of color, persons of color in the wizarding world are ONLY Muggleborn, or born of Muggleborns."

"Excellent observation," Severus said with a sigh. "And where do most of them end up, come to think of it?"

"Gryffindor," Hermione said, and her heart nearly broke at the realization. "At least we are welcoming there."

Severus shrugged. "Perhaps? I can't tell for sure. Your class was among the most diverse that we'd ever had previously, that's for certain."

Hermione nodded. "As time goes on, I imagine it will continue to go in the right direction. Though there's so much in the way of subliminal racism..."

She looked around them. "Like Fortescue's has a queue around the street at this time of day. Where are the people here, or at that Lassi shop across the way?"

Severus shook his head. "Do I even need to say? This is Knockturn Alley. Only poor people, and scheming people, ever enter."



The point was well taken, and they finished eating in relative quiet.
..........

They returned to Severus' rooms, and with a few sweeping gestures, he put away his new clothes. "Thank you for... persuading me," he said, sounding a trifle grateful. "I needed it."

"You're certainly quite welcome," Hermione said, wrapping herself around him and poking his belly fondly. "I will miss seeing how your clothes strain to contain you, for a while, but it's a sacrifice made with a long-term investment in mind."

"Ah," Severus said, reclining on the sofa and popping a number of biscuits into his mouth, "And what is that investment?"

"The process of watching you grow out of your new clothes," Hermione said, and found herself squirming with pleasure and delight. "What a treat that will be."

"Hm. A challenge," he said, meeting her eyes and quirking a smile. "You know I always am up for a challenge."

"Yes," Hermione said, and she seated herself at the dining table. They had an unfinished chess game there, floating over the remnants of their morning's breakfast - a few croissants and other pastries remained, as well as some Halloween candy the elves had brought them, leftovers from the feast. "I know you are."

She motioned him over to the table, and he obliged. As they settled down to playing the game, and continuing to snack, Severus slipped his feet out of his shoes, and Hermione did the same, and their feet nestled together under the table as they focused.
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Old 07-18-2015, 08:51 AM   #56
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Hermione had truly gotten into the swing of things, and found herself getting hungry even at odd intervals when she previously would never be hungry.

Severus, ever in his quest for scientific precision, had her wear a button that correlated to a spreadsheet. Whenever she felt the gnaw of hunger within her, she was supposed to tap the button, and it would tally the number of times she tapped it per day.

It was fascinating for her to see the results. Her hunger was actually increasing, and proportionately so was her calorie intake. (She would check in with Cozy daily at this point, and add her statistics to the spreadsheet.)

She was happy to discover that she had, practically overnight, catapulted from her waffling between 199 and 200 to finally a firm 205, and she luxuriated in the feeling. Now that she had worked out the plateau, she felt certain that her gain there forward would be steady, and augmenting with every pound. On her five-foot frame, her plumpness was becoming more and more undeniable, and she was sure she was reaching the threshold of social unacceptability. Particularly given how the dresses she wore were tight on her body.

"It's relatively easy to put on weight, I've found, the heavier you are," Severus said, staring at his figure with bewilderment the first crisp Saturday morning in November. They were walking around the lake, since Severus insisted they get regular exercise daily. Hermione, with her indoorsy attitude and bookish hobbies, knew the virtues of exercise, but rarely would take part in it of her own volition, despite her good sense kicking her.

But, Severus had once been an inveterate exerciser, with his running around the castle all night caused by his mania, and truly loved it, despite how he'd fallen off the wagon for so long. So he'd been getting them both up early to go on walks every day for half an hour before breakfast. Longer on weekends, he promised.

"I suppose it just has to do with ratios," Hermione said, sitting at the base of a charred tree where she'd paused to rest, "proportionately it's similar to a snowball - when you start off, the surface area is small, but then as you increase that surface area, the increase multiplies the ability to congeal fat to the body. Or something."

"I wouldn't say that," Severus said, taking her arm and walking with her along the perimeter of the lake. "Instead, I'd hazard the guess that it is something more to do with units of measurement - the unit of measurement, the pound, does not adapt to the body's natural proportional changes. As in, from a proportional perspective, one pound is to a 100-pound person the same as 4 pounds is to a 400 pound person. In other words, for a 400 pound person, 1 pound has a disproportionate amount of impact, I imagine, than it has to a smaller person, and vice versa. And with every additional pound added to one's frame, the value of the pound deflates."

"Are you all right?" Hermione interjected, "you sound a bit off, my dear."

He laughed with a hint of manicness, and shook his head. "No, I'm not. I just used economics to explain a question of biology. Fancy that. And if you would examine that for a moment-"

"-I do think you're right," Hermione said, and stopped them gently. "But I still sense there's something amiss with you. You're rambling."

He tried to pull them onwards, but she held tightly to him, and he took a deep breath as he realized she was anchoring him to the spot. "You're sensing that I'm...uncomfortable," he said, taking a deep breath. His round cheeks were flushed with the vigorous exertions of the day, and his face was very pale and white. "I suppose it's worth telling you why."

He inclined his head gravely towards the charred tree she'd been sitting under.

"That tree," he said simply, "is the cursed one."

Hermione's eyebrows knitted together.

"What do you mean by that?"

He looked at her with a small amount of quizzicalness. "You mean to say... you never saw my memories?"

"No," she said, "at least not ones involving trees."

"Oh," he said, and sighed. "Then let me illuminate you. But first, let us leave this area."

Hermione nodded, and followed him, arm in arm.

They settled down at a bank on the diametric opposite of the tree, and they sat on the dead grass, which waved damply in the morning breeze.

"I'll keep this short," he said, as Hermione's hand squeezed itself into the place between his right breast and his belly, to keep her warm. "I have no desire to go over it with more detail than is absolutely necessary."

"I hear you," Hermione said, and she listened as he briefly and concisely described the travails he'd had with James Potter and the Levicorpus incident, and how it culminated with his loss of Lily's friendship. At the end of it, Severus was staring off into space, shaking ever so slightly, only noticeable because of the way his stomach jiggled.

"I'm so sorry," Hermione whispered, touching his shoulder gently. "That must have been traumatic."

"It was," Severus said darkly, "but not nearly so much as all that followed once I joined the Death Eaters."

Hermione didn't know what to say, so she just asked, "Do you want a hug?" and he nodded, wiping his eyes with the back of his sleeve.

They remained there for almost an hour, Hermione whispering sweet comforts to him while he did his best to keep from weeping.

But by the end of it, he'd come to a conclusion.

"I shouldn't be crying," he said, taking deep slow breaths in and out. "Because while I have lost so much in this world, Hermione... I have started to find some things as well."

"Perhaps so," Hermione said, kissing him gently on the cheek, "but your pain is still real and valid."

"And will probably never go away," he returned, placing his face on her warm skin, "for it is nearly as much a part of me as anything else. But I have hope," he went on, clasping her to him more tightly, "and I hope that I can have some small amount of happiness on this earth."

Hermione's mind went involuntarily back to September, when Severus had, in his fearsome way, declared that he had 'ambiguous feelings towards living.' And, in that moment, she really felt both powerful and vulnerable. Despite him not coming outright and saying it, he was saying that she had changed him, and changed how he felt about life, living, and the pursuit of happiness. There was great power and great responsibility in this knowledge, that she had indeed changed him to be something a little bit better.

"I'm so glad you feel that way," she murmured, and kissed him at the top of his head, since it was easily accessible to her lips.

Somehow this gentle motion seemed to set him off completely, and his quiet shaking and weeping emerged into outright sobbing on her shoulder. She just stroked his shoulder, secure in the knowledge that he had years of tears to cry - and so did she - but he'd been doing so much more, for so much longer, and for so much less reward. And all he wanted now was to be cared for, a little bit.

She could do that for him. She was happy to.

...

Her caregiver emotions must have been in full swing at that point, because when Severus went upstairs to take a nap - it was, he claimed, the best way to put him back in the right frame of mind - Hermione went to the library.

And who should be there, but Neville.

The poor boy was rail-thin, his cheeks haggard and empty with the illness that raged within him, and Hermione felt her heart weep to see her fellow classmate and professor in such a state.

"Neville?" she asked, and approached him tenderly.

She discovered that the young man, in reading, had fallen fully asleep on his book. He was trying to prep for his class the next day, she could see, and he wasn't very far along.

"Neville?" she asked, and gently brushed his shoulder.

He sat up with a start, knocking his quill and other sundry items onto the floor.

"Hermione?" he said, his voice cracking a little, "Erm, hello."

"Hello," she said smoothly, "may I sit with you?"

Neville's eyes looked Hermione up and down warily, as if assessing whether her newfound belly was contagious, and then muttered, unenthusiastic, "Sure."

"Jolly good," Hermione said, though wasn't sure where that unusual amount of exuberance came from. "So you're prepping for your lessons, I see?"

"Yes," Neville said, trying to break a smile, but Hermione saw his heart simply wasn't in it. He proceeded to clear his throat, and ask in a good-natured way, "Have you heard from Luna lately?"

"No," Hermione said, not sure what he was expecting. "Have you?"

"Yes," Neville said, and sighed. "She found out somehow about what was happening... with me... and has been sending me exotic herbs and such from all over the world. It's very sweet," he went on, blathering a bit, "but she doesn't understand that we won't work, we can't work, and that's all there is to it. I'm pretty sure she thinks that she and I are just figuring things out, not irrevocably broken up."

Hermione sighed. This was just like Luna.

"Not that I mind her sending me rare herbs with strange medicinal properties that might be useful to me in my illness," Neville went on sadly, "but I'm simply afraid she's putting her heart where she oughtn't, you understand?"

"Yes," Hermione said, starting to get irritated with his sappiness, despite her better conscience, "I do."

Honestly, she was more surprised that it was him who broke it off with Luna, and not the other way around. Hermione felt like Luna tended to float in and out of her worlds without a care, and Hermione fully expected that she'd be more likely to wander off and leave Neville hanging.

But maybe that's what did happen, and Neville had just called it off as a result. Hermione didn't know. She didn't exactly care to know, either. Neville was sweet, and pathetic, and used to be attractive. Now, he was a broken shell of what he was. He was in shambles, really.

Still, she should do what she could for him, no matter how misogynistic and rude he'd been to her. And his lesson plans were begging to be finished.

"How much are you eating?" she asked him gently, and he shrugged.

"Clearly not enough," he murmured, but then a sly grin came to his face. "Though you and Snape together are liable to eat the castle out of house and home, if you don't watch yourselves."

"Those sound like fighting words," Hermione said daintily, "I don't suppose you'll surrender your notes to me and let me finish them off, given how you've already sounded the horns to wage war upon me?"

Neville seemed torn between his dignity and his pragmatism, and his pragmatism won. "Thank you," he breathed, and closed his eyes. "I.. you're a good friend, 'Mione, remember that," he said, as she began to scratch out some of his woozily-written words, "Even though I was bloody terrible to you, you've come back."

"I have a problem with that," Hermione said, "historically speaking. Boys are right prats."

"Do you include Snape in that?" Neville asked, apparently not willing to let the topic go. His eyes looked over her hungrily, and she saw for the first time in a while how much Neville truly wanted her - wanted her as his lover, his confidante, his comfort, everything. And honestly, he'd do her a damn sight better than Harry or Ron, presuming he got better. Probably would do her better than Snape ever would either, she realized with some chagrin. But Snape, for all his brokenness, was a man, and Neville was scarcely that. Severus had a level of competence and skill that Neville was barely exploring on his own. Neville would definitely age well, but until then, he was no potential replacement for Severus, of that Hermione was damn sure.

"I don't," Hermione said, "but he's a prat too."

Satisfied with this, Neville slumped down in the hard wooden chair. "Thanks again, 'Mione. And," he went on, mumblingly, "If you wanted, muh muh mugh mugh muh muh."

"What?" Hermione asked, tilting her face and staring straight at him. She turned a page of the textbook as she did.

"I said," Neville said, looking up with a face as white as a sheet, "if you wanted to do what you said you wanted to do, before, we could do that."

He was loopy, but he managed to stare straight into her eyes.

And she stared straight into his.

She felt like she almost caught a glimpse of the inside of his mind - which she immediately regretted. She didn't want to look inside his mind! So she turned her head back to her work. She should talk to Severus about this. She'd never had that experience before. She imagined that was what occulmency was. But she hadn't done it on purpose...

In any case, Neville mistook her worries about her involuntary Occumlency instinct as hesitation about his offer. "I... it was stupid," he said, staring down sadly at his rickety body. "Forget I said anything."

"No," Hermione said, and reached out her finger to touch his chin. "May I... touch you?"

He nodded assent, without looking up, and she tilted his chin upwards. "You deserve love, Neville," she murmured, "and right now, it's a good idea to seek it out wherever you can. I would let Luna keep sending you things. And, for my own part, I would love to be of service to you in whatever way meets both our interests and needs."

"You're talking like a Slytherin," Neville said with a frown, "You're changing, Hermione, in more ways than one."

She paused and thought about it. "Perhaps," she said, "but does that change anything? My offer remains open."

"Yes," Neville said, growing more sure with every repetition, "Yes, I would like to experiment with you, Hermione. Even though you're all tangled up with... Professor Snape."

Hermione grinned and nodded in acknowledgement of the fact that Neville was using Severus' professional title, endowing hi with respect previously not given in the conversation. Then, with a pat on his shoulder, she set to scribbling for twenty minutes, while Neville dozed off. At first he fell asleep while leaning back. Then he fell deeper into sleep leaning forward. Then, in the final culminating era of his sleep, he had collapsed against Hermione's busy shoulder.

"Come," Hermione said, wrapping up the quills she had, "I've finished up your lesson plan for the next week. And I'll help you with your future ones too, if you want them."

"Oh, Hermione, thank Merlin, you're so wonderful," Neville gushed, blinking heavily and standing up.

"But," Hermione said, "I do have one condition. And it is a fair one, I think."

Neville's eyes got wide. "What? If you're going to suggest that me, you, and HIM have a-"

"-I'm going to stop you right there," Hermione said, raising her hand, "because I don't think I myself could stomach the thought. In comparison, this should be a tame request, I think. I simply ask that you get my additional work to help you officially sanctioned - by McGonagall."

"No," Neville said, his eyes hard and sharp.

"I don't know that you have much of a choice, Neville," Hermione said, feeling very Slytherin indeed. "You're unable to complete your lesson plans without falling asleep, Neville. This is deeply worrisome. There are protections available to prevent you from losing your job. Please," she begged, and she found her throat tightening up, That was strange - she hadn't been prepared to get so worked up on Neville's behalf.

They continued the sand-off for several inutes, until Neville finally threw in the towel. "You win," he said sheepishly, and agreed, "I will tell McGonagall. Everything."

"Good," Hermione said, "then, it's settled. I'll help you manage your courseload. But, Neville, there is one other request I would ask of you."

Neville looked a lot more game for this request than the first. "What?" he asked helpfully.

"I," Hermione said, "want to talk to Madame Pomfrey about your condition,," Hermione said, "and if she says what I suspect she will say, I'd like to help you gain back some of the weight you've lost."

Neville looked down at his skin-and-bones cadaverous frame, and reasoned, "Sure, why not?"

"That's right," Hermione said, "you are going to be all right, Neville. You are going to be all right."

He took the moment to thrust himself around her in a firm embrace, and he kissed her squarely on the cheek.
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Old 07-18-2015, 08:51 AM   #57
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Hermione took Neville back to his rooms once she was done with his lesson plans for the week. He was practically falling apart, but she helped him get to bed.

"Get some actual sleep," she said, tucking him in under the covers, "and when would you like me to come back?"

"Later," Neville said, relaxing into the bed groggily. He was clearly in need of sleep.

"But when?" Hermione asked, a bit crossly.

He blinked at her and yawned. "Maybe at dinner?"

Hermione pursed her lips. Clearly dinner time was an important time for her and Severus. But once, she supposed he wouldn't mind awful much. Or maybe they could all eat together.

"I can arrange that," she said.

Neville smiled beatifically. "Thank you," he murmured, and she immediately felt guilty that she'd even contemplated resisting his request. "You're lovely."

"Don't thank me yet," Hermione said with a warning tone. "I'm far from having started with you."

With that, she pressed her fingers on top of his head in a gentle pat, and left the room quietly.
...............

When she got back to Severus' room, she found him deeply asleep. Which was good, she supposed, since he'd been troubled by insomnia the past few nights.
In fact, she felt like she could do with a bit of sleep herself, so she tucked herself in with him, squirming

As soon as he seem to understand what exactly had crawled into bed with him, she felt his arms draped around her like velvet curtains, and she snuggled her butt up against his crotch.

Sleep didn't come to her, particularly since she was so wound up with thoughts about Neville.

She wondered what Snape would think once they've managed to have a conversation about it. Would he be mad? Would he be pleased for her? She didn't know. But, she was glad that Neville had gotten over his weird feelings about Snape, at least to the extent that he could. She was glad that she might be able to help him in a small way.

Her thoughts occupied her for a while. Once Severus woke up, she felt his breathing change. Instead of the long slow breaths he made when sleeping, with a hint of snoring, she felt his breath gets shorter, and much more rapid. He also pressed his face into the nape of her neck, and his nose dug into her bushy hair.

"How are you, my dear?" he asked her.

She snuggled closer into him, and her pelvis twitched with a sudden jolt of erotic tension. His belly was so soft against her buttocks, and as she felt around, she sensed his cock was starting to wake up as well.

"All right," she said, burrowing deeper under the blankets, closer to him, not looking into his eyes. "I had a talk with Neville."

Severus eased himself up into a sitting position. "What did you talk about?" he asked, his voice immediately a touch darker.

Hermione sighed. "I asked him if he wanted some help with his lesson plans, " she said, "because I saw him sleep in the library, trying desperately to finish them."

Severus looked vaguely amused, but Hermione shut that down with a glare. "That isn't funny, he is ill. Potentially terminal."

Severus had the good grace to look at least a little chagrined, but he didn't look completely abject. "So," he said, "you helped him with his lesson plans."

"Yes," she said, "and I am going to continue helping him."

"Why?" he asked, looking genuinely puzzled. "He was patently unkind to you."

"Because," Hermione said, "he is my friend. And my conscience wouldn't allow me to do anything else. He needs someone. And I am the person he needs."

Service raised an eyebrow. "He needs you?" he asked, a tinge of jealousy in his voice.

"Yes," Hermione said, "and what's more, he needs more than a lab assistant. Neville also need someone to care about him, someone to cuddle him, someone to tell him that everything is alright."

Servers looked like he had swallowed a fly. "And you think you are going to do that as well," he asked, his face becoming strained.

"Severus," Hermione said, "we've already talked about this, and you said it was alright."

"We did before," Severus said, "before he was an arse to you."

She shrugged. "It wasn't that big of a deal. He was a prat, but not spiteful or malicious."

"Oh," Severus said, his eyes rolling back, "and what's *that* supposed to mean?"

"Nothing!" Hermione snapped. "I mean what I'm saying, Severus. We've talked about this. Don't go projecting your feelings of inadequacy onto me. I'm talking only about him, not about you."

Severus looked like he was going to respond with something spiteful or malicious, but closed his mouth again as he thought better of it. After a few moments of consideration, he said, "You can do as you like. But that doesn't mean I think it's a great idea."

"What's so bad about it?" Hermione asked. "It's not like he and I are destined for some great romance that will set my relationship with you and me off in the wrong direction. Moreover," Hermione went on, "I feel like until I have experimented with another relationship, that I can't exactly call myself polyamorous."

Severus shook his head. "That is a logical fallacy," he said, "but I can understand why you might feel that way. It's an uncomfortable position to be in when it doesn't feel equilateral. I should know," he said miserably. "I spent years in a similar place with Erika."

"Yeah," Hermione said, "it feels like I am not living up to the expectations of being poly."

Severus shrugged. "I'm not entirely sure that the label fits our relationship well," he said, "given that we are behaving essentially as a monogamous couple at this time. Aside from talking with Erika," he acknowledged.

"And what you do with Erika certainly is outside the bounds of what would be permissible if we were in a monogamous relationship," Hermione said curtly, sitting up as well. "Don't forget that. If I were your monogamous girlfriend, you sure as hell wouldn't be allowed to talk with someone else like you do with her on the phone."

"Does it make you uncomfortable?" Severus asked, his eyes dark and his brow furrowed. "For me to continue my relationship with her in this way? Or my conversations with her?"

"Actually," Hermione said, "no, not at all. It seems like she has a good influence on you in many ways, and you always seem to be a little bit happier when you get off the phone with her. So I think it's good. I just don't want you to get complacent and think that we're 'essentially monogamous.' Because, we aren't."

"That is fair," Severus acknowledged, looking a bit downcast. "I... I'm sorry," he murmured, looking at the floor. "It's not fair of me to reframe our relationship in my head without talking about it. Even as I think on it now, I see how illogical I was being."

"Yeah," Hermione said solidly. "That was illogical. But that's all right," she said, wrapping her arms around him forgivingly. "I still like you, a lot."

"*Like* me?" he said, and snorted dramatically. "Yeah. You do. Merlin knows why, though."

"Okay," Hermione said, not sure how to respond to his increasingly bitter mood. So she plowed forward. "So," she went on, "this won't change that."

"I know," he said, and his voice was dark and deep.

"And just to restate," Hermione said, "at risk of sounding like a broken record, this is nothing to do with what you look like, my attraction to you, or my feelings about you. But if we are going to do this polyamory thing, it needs to be at work both ways, and I want to play around with it a little bit. See what it is like."

"I suppose," he said, though his shoulders were swamped, and he was looking down at the ground.

"You cannot guilt me about it," Hermione said. "Whether intentionally or not, you introduced me to this concept initially, by telling me how wonderful your girlfriend was, and it's worth taking some time to explore a little bit more. Even if I didn't think Neville was a good choice for me."

"I don't disagree," Severus said.

"But you're not feeling good about it," Hermione said.

"No, I'm not," Severus said, and fell silent.

"Why?" asked Hermione, holding him closer tucking her foot between his long legs.

Severus sighed. "I just have never had to deal with the feelings that I am feeling now."

His hand intertwined with her fingers, and he rested it on top of his growing belly. "I just never have had a relationship like this before," he said, his eyes far away, "and forgive me if I am loath to let you out of my sight to be in the company of another man. I've spent most of my life painfully on the wrong side of a love triangle."

Hermione sighed. "Would it be different if Neville wasn't looking for a relationship as well as physical contact?" she asked.

"Yes," he said, "though I know that is a double standard."

"Right," Hermione said, "and I also think that is wrong, and illogical."

"I know," he said, putting his hands on his face, and sighing dramatically. "I am just so new to this so many ways. Erika, for all I love her, wasn't really…"

He stopped there and took a deep breath. "She was already really very entangled with Jean-Raoul, and I was her secondary from the start. From that day, our relationship has never changed in terms of its balance - me on the simmering cauldron in back, Jean-Raoul at the forefront. She has her life with him, and activities with me, while certainly pleasant, aren't of great import in her life. And I'm comfortable with that form of poly, but not the form of poly where my main squeeze…"

He looked embarrassed. "Forgive the term, I don't know where that came from," he went on, "I've never been in the position where the person who occupies so much of my emotional and intellectual efforts is dating someone else as well."

"Well," Hermione said, "For me it's not changing in exactly the way you described. In this relationship, you have always been dating someone else. And I think it's fine. But it's certainly not fair to me to not for you to expect that I not date anyone else for the sake of your comfort. How did Erika respond to your interest in me, initially?"

"Positively," he confessed. "She actively encouraged me to pursue you."

"Ah," Hermione said, "I didn't know that."

"No," he replied, "I felt embarrassed talking to her about it." He disentangled himself from her and rearranged himself so that he was horizontal on the bed, putting his arms behind his head and readjusting to give Hermione a little more space. "I'm Erika in this situation, I suppose," he said, "so I should be encouraging of your relationship with Neville."

"It isn't an intuitive feeling, I imagine," Hermione said, drawing the covers more tightly around him and snuggling down alongside him. "Have you talked with her about this?"

"No," he admitted, and looked a bit abashed. He stared up at the ceiling and didn't make eye contact with her. "Would you like me to?"

"I think it might be a good idea," Hermione said. "She can help you get your head screwed on straight."

"I know that," he said, and sighed. His belly rose and fell with his breaths, looking like a pillowy white mountain. "This is purely trouble between the intellectual part of my brain and the emotional part," he said. "That's all."

"I hear you," Hermione said, "and I'm willing to be as helpful as I can in sorting this out."

"I know you are," he said, "you're uncommonly patient with me." He sighed, and draped his arms over her, and around her. "I don't know why you're so good to me," he whispered, a deep sigh emerging from him. "You truly are a decent person."

Hermione did her best to shrug while Severus had latched onto her. "I don't think most other people would do the same, but then again, I don't really hold most people in the highest esteem."

He chuckled a little bit at that, and patted her on the head. "You," he said carefully, "I like you."

She grinned at him. "So," she said, ready to take on the next battle. "Neville asked me to dinner tonight. Is that alright?"

Severus' briefly elevated mood sank a bit. "I suppose," he said, and looked a little sad at the prospect of being alone for a meal - the first time in a long while. "I... admit I've gotten used to you being with me while eating," he murmured. "Perhaps too much so."

Hermione didn't say anything, since she could see the wheels churning in his head. Then, he brightened up again. "It will finally give me a chance to focus on finishing the folio of abstracts for the conference," he said, "just don't take too long."

She nodded. "I won't," she said, and then she found herself giving him a wicked grin. "But you know what I need to do before I head to Neville's dinner," she asked, her voice rising with a wicked anticipation.

"And what is that?" he asked, his eyes growing wide as he seem to recognize where she was headed.

"I need to," she said carefully, "make sure that my 'main squeeze' stays plump and squeezy in the meantime."

"I suppose that could be accommodated," Severus said, his eyes brightening, and then they both got out of bed and went to the dining table in the main room.
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Old 11-15-2015, 10:40 AM   #58
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In no time, the table was covered in food - all of it scrumptious, all of it ready for consumption.

They seated themselves comfortably in their usual positions, adjacent to each other, their legs carefully twining together.

"What's on the menu today?" Severus asked aloud, lifting away covers briskly. "Mm. A whole ham, fettuccine, and green peas."

The amount of food was, compared to many of their previous dinners featured in this story, relatively modest, but Hermione knew that between the two of them they'd finish it all off, and still seek out dessert.

He served her first, then himself. The room was dark, as nightfall had come to them in the time they'd been asleep.

"Oh," Hermione groaned, after several bites of fettuccine, "this is divine."

"Simple enough," Severus said in agreement, "but highly edible."

After his first few bites, he waved his hand at the phonograph in the corner, which they'd used several times before. Some scratchy music emerged, and Hermione recognized it as being classical music. The gentle hum of an oboe caressed their ears as they commenced eating, and Hermione felt complex themes develop, and the way the notes hung in the air pierced her heart. The piano trilled, and it sounded of spring - the perfect accompaniment to their dinner.

The arpeggios began to cascade up, like the gentle song of a harp, and Hermione held her breath until the demure end of the movement.

"What is this?" she asked, "it's beautiful."

Severus had slowed his pace, being on his second plate of pasta and ham already, and his eyes gazed off into the distance. "Tchaikovsky," he said, his face satisfied, and then he looked at her. "Strikes a chord with you, does it?"

She grimaced and smiled at his pun, particularly at the way his eyebrow quirked in anticipation of her response. "I suppose," she said, "you might say that."

He nodded, still a bit pleased with himself, and he lay down his fork in preparation for a bit of a story. "My mother," he began, and his face immediately became slightly more shuttered, though he persevered through it, "was a woman of great talents, who squandered them because she desired a different life. She wanted to abandon wizardkind and become an opera singer. She settled for a music hall, and fell in love with my father, who was one of the backstage hands where she worked."

Severus shook his head. "All I have of hers, of any real import, is her record collection. That's why I have it," he said, "I suppose if I'd had any interest in pursuing my own taste in music, I'd have very different ideals - but for the moment, I'm content with these old things that I've heard a hundred times each."

Hermione nodded. She was incredibly touched at his confession, and she was captivated by the image in her head of Severus' mother. She imagined the woman in a beautiful pink gown, not unlike that Liza Doolittle wore in My Fair Lady, with a graceful train, crepe-chine flowers, and a glorious flow to it.

Then she shook the image out of her mind. "What was she like?" Hermione asked.

Severus picked up his fork, and stabbed at his food, took a few heaping bites, crouching his neck down to better evacuate the noodles into his mouth. Then, with a frown, he said, "Stern. Broken. Unfixable."

He swallowed his food, and seemed reluctant to say more, but added, "She also drank hideously, after I started at Hogwarts. It ruined her voice."

Hermione reached over and touched his hand. He laid down his fork and let her hold his hand for a moment, until he came up with something else to say. His voice was a bit rumbly as he finished, "She was a beautiful woman, and a loving mother, though all her will had been stomped out of her to do anything more than see me safely out the door."

He frowned, shook his head as if to clear it, and then commenced to finish the plate, sopping up the dregs of the creamy white sauce with a roll.

"Did she ever make any recordings of her music?" Hermione asked, hoping she wasn't digging too deep into his head.

He shot a warning glance at her - she read it as, 'I'll indulge you this last one, but for the love of Merlin please shut up after this' - and he gave a pensive half-smile. "I know she talked about it. There was an album or somesuch - she was hoping it would recharge her career, be her first debut back on the stage after having me - but my father's bitterness stalled that brief misadventure. I was eleven then," he mused, "the spring before I got my Hogwarts letter. But I don't remember anything else about it - my father couldn't bear to hear anything about it."

He sighed, and served himself a third plate automatically. "I remember hearing her practice, hours and hours each day. She would practice in the bedroom while my father was out, warming up with warm salt water. Sometimes she'd make me fetch it if she wasn't feeling well."

His face grew tighter, and his eyes seemed to dilate as he retreated into his memories. "She was so frail. And she so rarely felt well."

Hermione nodded. "So painful, to see that creative power melt away into the despair of being in a relationship with your father," she murmured, feeling helpless to ease the pain that burdened him. Somehow, however, this was the right thing to say - Severus' glazed look disappeared, and he took a deep breath, as though he was coming out from under water.

"Thank you, my dear," he said, taking her hand and clasping it warmly. His thumb gently pressed itself along the curve of her palm, tracing a path along her life line, and he sighed. "Enough," he said, settling back more comfortably and starting to embark upon his third plate with an inspired stab with the fork. "No more melancholy today."

"All right," Hermione said, though her mind was going into its own well-worn dark places. The music behind them was growing darker, with the piano growing more and more ominous.

She hadn't talked to her own parents in years, at this point. She used to have a good excuse - fighting the wizarding war. Once that was over, she had found another excuse - dealing with all the logistical details was going to take a great deal of time to resolve, including where they were going to live, what they were going to do about their shuttered dental practice, and more. She had told herself that because she was in the fledgling part of her career, she was going to be too busy to sort all this out, so since they weren't in any danger, why not let them sit for another year or so until she was stable enough to take a vacation?

But that vacation had never happened - the expectations at the Public Advocate's office had worn on her deeply, and she hadn't taken a vacation until she quit.

And now, she had to admit, this excuse as well was no longer really relevant. She was well settled in to a stable job. She had taken this job because, among other reasons, there was a built-in vacation period of the year. She had no excuse not to spring her parents from Down Under as soon as summer vacation hit.

But now she had more complications in the picture. Severus.

How would her parents react to her dating one of her former teachers? Not well.

How would her health-obsessed parents react to her ballooning up a hundred plus pounds between the time they last saw her and the present? Not well at all.

And truth be told, while she experienced some pangs of sadness whenever the topic of parents came up, overall she was fairly satisfied with the situation. Her parents had always been well-meaning busybodies when it came to her, and it was only because of the lack of phone service to Hogwarts that Hermione hadn't gotten a call every night from her mother or father asking about her homework.

She was brilliant at working hard, her parents had always said, but wasn't there something else she should be doing as well?

Hermione, in fact, had felt oppressed by her parents. Kindly and doting as they'd always been, they'd also charged her to press herself beyond what anyone else could have reasonably expected from a young girl.

Hermione hadn't yet really sat down to examine her relationship with her parents as an adult. And as she examined it there, at the dinner table, with Severus wolfing down a third, and then a fourth plate of pasta, she realized that she simply might like them not being in her life anymore.

She felt like a terrible person for feeling that way. Why did she have to not like her parents? Unlike Severus' parents, who had failed him in so many ways, her parents had always irrevocably been there for her.

"Hermione?"

Severus looked somewhat bored, but below that she could tell he was concerned.

"I'm fine," she said, taking a piece of the ham and chewing it slowly. "Just thinking about my parents."

"You haven't told me much about them," Severus said, and a hint of pain came to his face. "In fact, I was talking to Erika about Jean-Raoul, and she was complaining that so many of her conversations revolve around him - and I realize that the same might be applicable here."

"It's fine," Hermione said comfortably, "you listen when I do want to talk about myself."

"Yes," Severus said, but his look was insightful, and target at her. He reached for a fifth serving of pasta, but as his overfull belly slowed his approach to the table, he stopped, and sat back, looking at her, putting two hands on top of the shelf his belly made. He looked thoughtful. "But you don't much, do you?" he said, his voice low. "So often, my dear, what you talk about is ideas. Beautiful ideas, but ideas nonetheless." He shook his head. "It's very Ravenclaw, actually."

"Either that, or Slytherin," Hermione said pointedly.

He raised his eyebrow curiously. The music from the phonograph was a waltz now, lilting and cheerful, with occasional dark tones that gave it dimensionality and substance.

"Avoidance," she added.

He frowned thoughtfully and nodded, settling back in his chair, and he let out an involuntary groan as he readjusted.

"If I get any bigger," he said with black humor, "I'm going to have to cut out a hole in this table for me to eat at."

"Oh," Hermione said, feeling her cheeks heat up at the very mention of it. "And that hole will have to get bigger with every inch you gain around your immense belly."

He nodded, but didn't really seem in the mood to engage in their kink, taking a deep breath and relaxing into himself again.

"So, Hermione," he asked, gently, "Let's avoid the avoidance. Your parents."

Hermione sighed. She wasn't looking forward to this. "What's there to say? They're in Australia under assumed names. I have no idea what they're doing - I cut myself out of their memories as best I could. I haven't heard from them, so I assume the charms still are holding well enough."

Severus nodded. "But what are they like?" he asked, putting a pensive finger on his chin and touching it idly.

Hermione found herself thinking back about Severus and his mother. She wished her parents were so remarkable, so romantic. Her parents seemed so bland in comparison, so mundane.

"My parents are dentists," she said, "and Muggles, of course. My father's very kind, and intelligent. My mother is quite handy, and does cross-stitch as a hobby. She's very patient and tolerant, and quite bright herself, though not quite as brilliant as my father, I think."

She shrugged. "I really don't know what else to say. I had a good childhood. I never had any problems."

"You don't have to have had problems to have something to say," Severus said, "and, indeed, it is refreshing to hear about something so unique in this broken world. Pray continue."

Hermione thought back. She had rarely engaged in any time talking about her parents to either Ron or Harry, who had accepted her so much as a person in her own right that she'd rarely bothered to think of them.

"I think the trouble with them" she said finally, "is that they really struggled to see me as my own person. That is their one flaw, I think."

"That's a significant flaw," Severus said receptively.

"Yeah, I suppose," Hermione said, and then frowned. "I don't know. They both loved me deeply. But they also just..."

She sighed.

"I don't know what they would have done if I'd been born, like, developmentally disabled or whatnot. Before we knew I was a witch, they talked nonstop about how I was going to go to University. There never was any doubt I was going. No chance for me to choose something else, if I'd wanted it."

She felt a darkness emerge from inside her that had been deeply ingrained in her psyche. "I know they would have, if I'd protested, supported me in whatever I wanted to do. But I think they didn't let me choose an awful lot about what my life was going to look like. My being a witch, that completely threw them off. They had no idea what to do with me at first. But McGonagall was very skilled at talking down reluctant muggle-born parents, even mine. I'm glad she did," Hermione concluded, realizing she was taking up a great deal of the conversation at this rate, and feeling self-conscious. "I know some part of me would have died if I didn't come to Hogwarts."

"Understandably so," Severus said, though she could tell he was getting marginally uncomfortable. She could guess why.

"I suppose another reason I haven't talked all that much about me," she said quietly, "is because for a significant portion of my life, I was your student. I'm only twenty six as of last September," she went on, her voice low and, despite her efforts to sound mature, she felt her voice shaking a bit. "Seven out of my 26 years - or over a quarter of my life - and, indeed, my most formative years that I can remember - was as your student."

She saw the dismay drape over his face as she reminded him about the facts. The music in the background, on the phonograph, swelled with timpani and violins cascading up and down. They died away as suddenly as they had leaped into action.

"That doesn't matter," he said carefully, and she could see his Slytherin showing. "There's still a full 70-odd percent of your life to tell me about."

She elected not to argue with him. "Fine," she acknowledged.

"Moreover," he went on, "it's... it's not as though I don't want to hear about what your life was like as my student," he said, a little gruffly. "It's a bit awkward, of course, but that will go away with time."

He was putting a tremendous amount of effort behind the words, and Hermione was incredibly grateful for that.

"Thank you," she said with a sad smile on her lips. He was trying, she could see, and trying very well. She hoped the awkwardness about their past roles would go away. Perhaps it was too soon to expect that.

Then again, she much preferred it this way - his awkwardness, the way his face grew red (she could tell even in the candlelight), his throat-clearing, and his general reluctance to broach the subject. It was far better this way, she knew, than for him to have been lusting after her for years, only to have her in his bed with a sense of 'FINALLY!'

That would have been quite unpleasant to her. And honestly, more than a bit gross.

She wondered if there was any chance that Severus might have had feelings for her when she was a student, if he hadn't been so caught up in his obsession with Lily. She certainly had crushed on him, of course, as we saw very early in this story.

Then she decided she couldn't think on that much longer. Severus was who he was, and the lifelong obsession with Lily was a large part of who he was.

And now, she mused with some distinct happiness rustling around in her brain, he had grown out of it, for whatever reason - in more ways than one. And he was going to continue growing, alongside her.

In more ways than one.

Severus began to stir, and she could tell he was ready for dessert.

"My dear," she murmured softly, putting her napkin on the table and standing up, "I'm... I'm going to go be with Neville now. Will you be all right?"

He cast his eyes up at her, and there was abject sorrow in them. But then, with an effort, he managed to smile painfully wide, his eyes clouding over with the evidence of his false front.

"Completely," he said with a false brightness behind the word.

She felt a stab of pain in her heart to see and hear it.

"I don't think so," she said, shaking her head. "Do we need to talk more about it?"

He laughed hollowly. "No, no," he said. "I won't even miss you," he lied, "I'll have my hands full."

She looked at him sternly, clearly not believing him. "We'll talk more about this later," she said.

"No need!" he said cheerfully - oh yes, something was wrong when Severus Snape was cheerful - and she grasped his shoulder firmly. He turned his head, and their eyes met.

"Listen," she said, her tone low and quiet. "We will have dinner. And then I will come back. I will not fuck him. Definitely not. I don't even know if we'll kiss or not. He's really sick, Severus," she concluded, "And you really, really have nothing to worry about."

"Who says I'm worried?" he asked, his guard dropping just a bit, and his bottom lip curled under, where he bit it.

She shook her head. Sometimes he was incorrigible, but she wasn't sure that she wouldn't behave the same way in his position.

"I'll be back soon," she said, patting his shoulder and kissing him on the head.

She brushed off her dress and approached the front door, grasped the handle, and turned back to face him.

"In the meantime," she added, her heart palpitating with a fierceness that she could scarcely remember ever feeling before, "here's something for you to chew on other than your dessert."

He immediately looked worried, his eyes wide and calculating, staring straight at her.

The music had changed at this point, and the phonograph was playing some scratchy voices singing a cheerful operatic chorus, punctuated by a vibrant orchestra.

Hermione felt a lump in her throat rise, and she stammered out, "I love you, Severus. I know you're not hot on the love thing. You can take it or leave it. But I love you, and I'm not going anywhere. I know you have feelings about this, but can talk about it later. And that's a promise."

With that, his mouth opened, but she wasn't prepared to talk to him about it. She rushed out the door, and found herself walking briskly down the hallway, her heart pounding in her chest, but she felt immensely happier for having said it.




..........................

If you're curious about the piece of music Hermione and Severus started their evening listening to, it was the randomly-chosen Opus 1, Piano Concerto in B-flat minor, Opus 23. Part II from my Tchaikovsky Spotify playlist.

If you're curious, the other music I listen to while writing ranges between Philip Glass's The Hours soundtrack (for when I want to write angst), and various meme videos on youtube that are hilarious and don't require any of my attention at all, e.g. Brodyquest, or HE-MAN HEYEAYEA SONG FOR 10 HOURS or Biggie Smalls feat. Thomas the Tank Engine. Strange backdrops indeed for my writing I suppose.

Also regarding Hermione's age: so because I suck, back when I started this fic, I said that it was 5 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, placing this story at the beginning of 2004. Hermione's birthday is September 19, which means she's among the oldest in her class. This places her birthday as being 1979, given that Harry was born in 1980 and is amongst the youngest in his class, since the entry to Hogwarts is determined by your age on September 1st. So all that lines up fine and dandy. The place where I screwed up is that I was using the wrong damn calendar at the beginning of the fic - I was describing things as being Saturday the Xth of Whatevmber, and for this I was using a 2007 calendar! Alas alack! I hope you're all willing to overlook this chronological issue. Basically from here on forward, in the interest of continuity, I'm continuing to use a 2007 calendar for this fic set in 2004. I hope this isn't the Worst Thing Ever, but I don't feel like going back and editing the thing to have it make sense.
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Old 11-15-2015, 10:40 AM   #59
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Chapter 42

Chapter Text

Hermione felt her body pulsing as she walked down the hallway. She almost expected Severus to come to the door and demand, 'Wait!'

But he didn't. She wasn't sure if that was a good sign or not.

Soon she was back at Neville's door. She knocked, but there was no answer, just the hollowness of her knuckles on the cold wood.

She tried the handle and found it was still open. What a far cry from Severus, who still warded his door with layer upon layer of spells. There was no evidence she saw, as she went in, that Neville had anything to guard himself.

Neville himself was still sleeping in his bed, practically dead to the world as she approached him.

"Hey," she said in a low voice, and was met with his raspy breathing. She sat herself down in the comfortable chair next to the head of his bed and looked at him sadly.

His cheeks were hollowed out, and his loose flesh - from when they were round and rosy - hung limply. His nose was adorably button-shaped, but it seemed a bit over-large on his face in its current state. His chin was covered in stubble from a few days' worth of not shaving, and his cheekbones protruded unhandsomely from his face.

That wasn't even considering the rest of him. He was in bed with all his clothes on, all the blankets drawn up around him in an attempt to make sufficient insulation. The room wasn't cold; she'd left a fire in the fireplace, and it still emanated plenty of heat.

She heaved herself up - an increasingly difficult task given how much she'd added to her fat arse recently - and bent down effortfully to get a log to toss on the fire.

At the crunching of firewood, Neville stirred, and as Hermione tossed the log onto the fire and bent up straight - finding herself breathing heavily at the exertion - he opened his eyes wide. His eyes were already quite big and voluminious normally, constantly agape in a state of perpetual bewilderment and wonder, but now they seemed uncanny, even eerie.

"How are you?" Hermione asked, sitting down next to him in the chair again.

He took a deep breath and made an attempt to smile.

"Doing better, with the rest," he reported, and he made a motion to get up.

"No," Hermione said, putting out her hand and leaning forward. Neville sighed with fatigue, and instead opted to just sit up.

"You came back," he said, sounding as if he was surprised.

"Of course, silly," she said, offering him her hand. "I said I would."

"I know," he said, and shook his head. "I'm just... I'm sorry, 'Mione." He took a few deep breaths, and then leaned back against the headboard with a fainting motion.

"Are you all right?" Hermione asked, standing up and supporting his head before he banged it.

"Yes," he reported, and coughed. "Just a bit weak, is all."

"It appears so," Hermione said.

She thought back to her reading on his disease, which she'd completed back in early October.

"I have a few questions for you," she began, and she drew her purse onto her lap and began to rifle through it, until she found a notebook she'd stashed away a month ago with a red and gold cover. "When's the last time you saw a healer, or a doctor?"

Neville shrugged. "Last week I was at my healer's at Diagon Alley." He opened his eyes blearily and closed them again.

"And the last time you ate?"

He seemed puzzled. "Maybe yesterday?"

"Oh gods," Hermione said, and closed her eyes tight. Her stomach, full to the brim with the contents of her heavy dinner, began to feel oppressive to her - in not a good way. "We've got to change that immediately."

Neville nodded. "I know, it's a problem," he said softly, and he opened his eyes wider, clearly trying to get a better look at her. "I suppose you know a thing or two about how to eat, given how you and Snape were at Halloween," he said, his tone trying to mask the bitterness in his voice, but failing miserably.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Let's not talk about Snape. I'm here for you, Neville," she said, her voice growing softer. "And when's the last time you had water? Or any fluids at all?"

He didn't have a ready answer for that either, so she summoned immediately a glass from his kitchenette - when it arrived, it was soiled and gross, and she had to cast a quick scourgify on it.

"I can't believe the elves let you get away with this," Hermione said, shaking her head and filling the glass with an aguamenti. Then, realizing as he raised his shaking hand that he wasn't going to be easily able to drink it, she took a pencil from the bedside table and transformed it into a straw. "Here, drink this."

Neville nodded, not needing to be told twice, and he sucked obediently at the straw.

"All of it," she said sternly as he tried to give it back after half of it was gone.

Looking quailed, he successfully drank the whole glass, and she took it back from him.

"I guess I needed that," Neville said, and took a deep breath. "Yeah. I'm feeling a bit better already."

"I can't believe you haven't been drinking water, Neville," she scolded, sounding a bit cross. "Really, it's one of the most important things when you're receiving those vile potions for cancer treatment."

"Yeah," he replied softly, "but I have to drink those three times a day. All the rest of the time I have no stomach for anything else." He grimaced as he looked at his pocket watch, which emerged from the loose folds of his waistcoat. Hermione had never noticed him wear the watch before.

"Drat," he said, frowning at the time. "As it happens, it's that time again."

"Where are they?" Hermione asked, and stood to fetch them. Neville shook his head and waved his hand, and a potion in a crystal bottle flew into it.

"They're safe," he said with a shrug, "in the kitchen cabinet."

Hermione watched as he unstoppered the vial, and she touched his arm as he swirled it around, staring it down. He was steeling himself for the swallow.

"How about you eat first," Hermione said, "since it makes your stomach so queasy?"

"I already tried that," Neville said unhappily. "If I eat before, then take it, I end up puking my guts out in the loo."

She shook her head. "Have you tried eating, and then waiting an hour to take the medicine?"

He looked a little bewildered. "No. But then I wouldn't be on schedule."

Ah, so here was a place she already could help him. If Hermione knew anything about anything, she knew about schedules.

"Then here's what we'll do," she said succinctly. "Tonight, we'll eat now, and tonight take your potion an hour late. It won't make that much of a difference," she said as he began to argue, "I think any healer would agree with me that delaying by a short while will have a minimal impact. Have you ever forgotten to take it, and taken it late?"

"A few times," Neville acknowledged, and the shame in his face indicated that it was more than a few times indeed.

"Did you feel any ill effects from taking it late?" Hermione asked, sensing that she was getting bossy, but so what? Neville needed a bit of bossiness in his life right now.

"Not really," he admitted, and he tried to smile at her. It was weak, but it was good.

"Then let's do it," she said. "We'll get some food into you now, and then an hour later, you'll take the potion. Understood?"

"Yes, 'Mione," he said softly, and smiled. It was a little bit of a stronger smile now. She couldn't tell if it was real or just Gryffindor courage, however.

"Good," she said briskly, and clapped her hands for an elf.

Neville shook his head when nothing happened.

"I... told them not to come in here," Neville said, his face brightening up. "I thought it would please you, to see I wasn't relying on their... slave labor? Is that what you called it?"

Hermione's jaw dropped. Nearly to the point where it was unrescuable.

"You thought it would please me?" she asked, her voice breaking as she said the words.

"Yeah," Neville said, and was clearly already doubting this plan. "What, erm, did I do the wrong thing? You've always been so passionate about their rights," he went on, blathering and clearly feeling worse and worse with every word he spoke. "You did so much to advance the cause of S.P.E.W., I thought it would make you happy to see I wasn't abusing them like you always said we did."

"Oh, Neville," Hermione said, her heart breaking as she looked at his piteous face. "I don't think that way anymore."

"Really?" he asked, confused. "So you think it's all right to abuse them?"

"No!" Hermione said, her voice becoming angry. "Not at all! Just... I came to have a different kind of understanding, about the house elves," she said, feeling ashamed of herself in every regard. Her mind floated back to the situation with Lowly and Fancy, and her cheeks burned with shame.

That was once incident where she was shown just how much she had an impact on the world around her. Now, here she was, being shown that very same lesson in a completely different way.

She felt incredibly guilty, because she was sure that no matter how nice Neville was in telling the elf not to come to tend to him, the self-abuse perpetrated by the elf to their ears was incomprehensible. That, and Neville could have been truly benefiting from an extra pair of hands, someone taking care of him, for these past few months.

In fact, Hermione felt like she was personally responsible for Neville's poor self-care for the past several months - she'd indirectly contributed to it in a major way.

At least she was going to help to fix it. If it wasn't too late. She hoped it wasn't too late. Neville looked ghostly pale in the dim room.

"Now, I understand a little bit more about them," Hermione said, and took a deep breath. "But I'll explain more once I summon one." She clapped again, and called out specifically, "Minty?"

Minty dutifully showed up after a few moments of hesitation, and she glanced around the bedroom, and up at Neville with a great deal of anxiety in her eyes.

"Master Neville doesn't like elves," she said with a brief curtsy, "Does Minty have permission to serve the Mistress Hermione here?"

"Yes," Neville said, his face turning darker with worry. "I... I didn't mean that you have to be afraid to come here, Minty."

Hermione felt a flutter of gratitude that Neville was astute enough to pick up on the elf's name after Hermione's single use. That meant he wasn't quite as out of it as she feared.

"Then does Minty have permission to serve the Mistress Hermione?" asked Minty carefully, looking as if she was walking on eggshells.

"Of course," Neville said with a heavy wave of his hand, and it landed back in his lap. "Any elf can come and go as they please. It seems like it's silly to trouble you over me, but I think Hermione wants you to resume taking care of me."

Minty raised her little elf eyebrows attentively. "Certainly, Master Neville," she said with another curtsy. "Lucky will be honored to serve you again, and will swing the great front door of Hogwarts on his hands if Lucky serves Master Neville to your satisfaction."

Neville looked horrified. "That won't be necessary," he said, shaking his head with a shiver. "Please don't."

"It seems as if Master Neville forbids Lucky from punishing himself," Hermione said strictly, and gave Minty an intense look. "And that goes for you as well, Minty."

Minty bowed. "Minty hears," she said with a nod, and she asked, "What does Mistress Hermione wish from Minty tonight?"

"A bit of broth," Hermione said, "and biscuits, and porridge, and sliced tomatoes, some fizzy water, and some chips."

"Right away," Minty said, and dashed away.

Neville smiled at Hermione with a sense of other-worldliness. "I wish," he whispered, but stopped himself.

"What?" Hermione asked, turning herself to focus completely on him.

"I'm going to sound so silly," Neville said, and a blush rose on his cheeks.

"Don't worry about that," Hermione said, "go on."

He took a moment to steel himself, but there was a flicker of trust in his eyes. "I wish that you'd sit in bed with me," he said, trying to sound brave. Instead he just sounded adorable.

"Of course," Hermione said, "and more besides, if you like."

"Oh," Neville said, and his cheeks flushed an even deeper red. "Would you... hold me?"

"Yes," Hermione said, "I'm glad you asked."

With that, she heaved herself up out of the chair, and clambered onto the bed, carefully over his knobby knees, and she lay alongside him and spooned him.

He sighed with contentment, and snuggled against her, breathing deeply.

"I'm... I'm glad you're here," he murmured, sounding wistful. "I just wish it wasn't because I'm sick."

Hermione clasped him tighter. "Nonsense," she said, "It's not just because you're sick."

He was quiet for a moment, and her hands felt around the area she was holding onto. It was, predictably, his belly area - not that there was anything significant there now. She felt through the layered blankets for an idea of what they were hiding, and she found the loose skin of his formerly pronounced tummy move under her fingers. She also, with some movement, found his ribs.

"In fact," she said deftly, "I was more attracted to you when you had a little bit of something here." She patted the thin rubbery belly that he had, and he shuddered.

"You're joking," he said, and the clarity and awakeness of his voice were a testament to his shock.

"I'm not," Hermione said, taking a deep breath, pressing her own soft growing mound of belly against his spine. "Why, what do you like?"

"I... can't say, for sure," Neville said, his voice back to its dismal tones. He took a deep breath that filled his diaphragm, and exhaled. "I like you, though. Whatever you look like."

Hermione felt her heart melt. "Oh," she murmured, and pulled him closer to her. "You poor dear," she said, and pressed her forehead against the back of his neck. "We're going to get you back to normal," she said energetically. "We'll get you well again."

He turned over to face her, with effort. His breath reeked, but he didn't seem to be aware of it. She knew it was probably the potions, and the dehydration. "Thank you," he said softly, and laid his head on her plump chest. "With you, I know we will."

...................

She felt like she was leading him on. That's what she was feeling.

As she spoon-fed him porridge and sliced tomatoes - all of what she'd ordered for him was breakfast food, she realized - he chewed and swallowed obediently. She didn't over-feed him, because she knew he couldn't take much.

She also had no idea what he liked, sexually. It would be too much of a coincidence if he happened to be interested in the kink she shared with Severus. But, she thought, that was why poly was a good idea. It helped provide some diversity in peoples' lives. She could figure out other things to do with Neville. If they ever got to that point.

Though as she laid him down to sleep, after a meager cup's worth of food - she'd measured - and promised to come back tomorrow and go down with him to breakfast, she felt her conscience rumble, along with her stomach. Her plan had been to eat two dinners, and she was feeling peckish. She hadn't planned on Neville being nearly as sick as he was, and she hadn't wanted to disturb him before taking his potion with the scent of heavy food.

Severus, she saw when she returned back to his rooms, was donned in his dressing gown, and wearing his glasses, and laying on the sofa on his belly, with his computer before him.

He looked up in surprise at her.

"That was fast," he said casually, as if nothing had happened when she had left the room.

"Yeah," Hermione said, and sat down where he made room for her next to him on the couch. She was surprised to see him so receptive to her, and she wondered what on earth she was in for. "He's really not doing well. He couldn't remember the last time he drank even a glass of water."

"Poor sod," Severus said, his face latched onto hers. "I trust you took care of him as best you could."

"Absolutely," she said, and she sighed. "I really don't want him to die."

"That won't happen," he said with a shrug. "I can't remember ever anyone in the wizarding world dying of cancer."

"Really?" Hermione asked, and she realized she believed him. "Oh. Well. I suppose. Cancer is really a big Muggle thing."

"I know," he said dryly, shutting his computer with a bit of a huff. "But it isn't here."

Hermione nodded. "Are you okay?" she asked, reaching out to take off his glasses.

She couldn't help but notice his eyes were a little raw, but they shone keenly at her as she removed them and put them on the sidetable.

In response, he grabbed her around the waist and drew her on top of him, kissing her deeply, using subtle and tantalizing tonguing.

"Oh," she sighed, reciprocating fervently. She wasn't exactly sure how he was, but she could tell that there was something going on in his Slytherin head. She would just have to wait and see what would happen.

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Old 11-15-2015, 10:55 AM   #60
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Hermione went and took care of Neville for at least an hour every day for the next week. Sometimes she spent a little more time with him, depending on Snape's mood and what she thought Neville needed.

At first, Snape was excessively grumpy about it, but after a time, he seemed to get used to the idea. The more that it became a routine, the less he seemed to object.

Particularly given how asexual the arrangement was, Severus soon seemed fairly comfortable with the arrangement. In fact, Severus seemed to grow more and more easy with the arrangement in large part because she proceeded as usual with Severus in terms of her eating. She kept up a strict diet - eating an increasing number of calories on a daily basis. It soon became clear to her that anything else was unlikely to yield results.

And Severus also used his skills to enhance her growth. While Hermione wanted to continue holding off on the more excessive potions, he did provide her (when she requested it) with some of the potions they'd used before - the one that enhanced her capacity, if temporarily, tended to be her favorite.

By November 17th, Hermione had put on a hefty fourteen pounds in seven days, and she and Severus were planning to go out to Hogsmeade for the evening as a celebration of such success.

Neville had recovered substantially from his weakness of the previous week - a good amount of what he'd undergone in terms of his weakness was dehydration, they decided - and Hermione was having her second breakfast of the day with him.

Stuffing herself at the staff table, Hermione mused wickedly at the way that Neville's clothes weren't nearly as stringy and unfitting as they'd been a scarce week previously. She also saw the way his cheeks were maintaining their color a lot better, and she felt glad at the sight.

A happy thought struck her - she was largely responsible for his increasing heartiness and good health. She had watched him wane away for so many weeks, and yet with just a little bit of care, he was doing substantially better.

Hermione was pleased with the sight of this, and she poked him in the arm as he sat down.

"How are we this morning?" she asked, putting down her book and proceeding to turn a smile at him.

Neville had a tendency to blush furiously whenever she interacted with him. He did so now, profusely.

"Doing, erm, quite better, I think," he said, and he smiled back at her. She pushed the sugar bowl in his direction, and with a compliant but long-suffering sigh, he accepted it. His application of sugar on his porridge was insubstantial, and she corrected his estimate once he'd finished by taking the sugar spoon and adding another few heaping spoonfulls, along with some raisins and berries.

"Oh come now," Neville said, his face settling into a good-humored grimace, "don't tell me I've got to eat all that. Haven't I've been putting it on well recently? I ought to lay off the sweets."

"Well, if you insist," Hermione said, shrugging, "be my guest. But don't forget," she added, and she leaned closer to Neville until she was whispering in his ear, "I like my lovers like I like my meals - substantial, and fattening."

This meant Neville nearly fainted from the amount of blood that rushed to his ears. "Can't argue with that," he said, after a dry swallow, and he picked up his spoon dutifully. "Yes, 'Mione, I shall indeed attempt to do justice to this bowl of porridge. With gusto."

She laughed gently at him, and he smiled back at her. They had settled into a pattern of indulgent banter back and forth, her coddling him and badgering him to eat, and him acting reluctant. It seemed to suit their relationship - and he wasn't really reluctant, as of course they both knew. But in the public of the Great Hall, Hermione found that this pattern was more comfortable for them both than allowing him to simply indulge gluttonously. Not that he was able to indulge gluttonously, given his lack of appetite, of course... but in any case, this seemed to be working.

Hermione proceeded to push the bacon in his direction, as he was scraping the bottom of his bowl of porridge, and he groaned at her. "Not bacon," he moaned, "didn't I eat enough of that for you yesterday?"

"Three rashers is hardly *substantial,*" purred Hermione, "I fully expect you to surpass that this morning. Four, or you shall not have my company again for breakfast tomorrow."

"Really?" Neville asked, and there was worry in his voice as he dropped the play-acting.

"No, of course not," Hermione said. "Eat what you can. You already had quite a bit of porridge. That's very good for you."

"All right," Neville said, and he began to nibble at the rashers of bacon that sat in front of him.

Then Hermione felt the heavy - though near-silent - tread of a familiar step at her side. She swerved her head around to see Severus, looking immensely satisfied with himself.

"Professor Longbottom," Severus said smoothly in greeting, and then he reached over Hermione's began to serve himself from the platter of bacon. "Good morning to you. Professor Granger," he added, a strange and interesting twinkle - twinkle?! - in his eye. "Good morning to you as well."

"Good morning, Professor Snape," Hermione said, biting back a laugh. She wasn't entirely sure what he was doing down here for breakfast, of all things - she'd already eaten with him in her rooms just prior. It wasn't as if he were actually that hungry, or so she thought.

No, there was something else going on in his head.

She waited patiently until he sat down, a heaping plateful of bacon and eggs in front of him, on Neville's left, and out of Hermione's reach.

"What are you doing tonight, Longbottom?" asked Snape quietly, in a voice just loud enough that Hermione was barely able to hear.

"I... I don't know," Neville said, "aren't you and Hermione going out to Hogsmeade?"

"Yes," Severus said, "and I'd like, with Hermione's consent, to invite you to come along with us."

Neville looked genuinely terrified at the idea.

"Um. Why?" asked Neville, premeditated visions surging through his mind at such a rapid pace that Hermione didn't need legilimency skills to see them.

"Because," Severus said, settling back in his chair with an easy grace that seemed unachieveable for someone of his bulk. "I'd like to have dinner with the both of you. Get to know the man *my partner*" (he emphasized the words with such an enunciation that they seemed to drip from his mouth sensually) "seems to enjoy so much."

"I, erm, would be pleased to, sir," Neville said, and the lie was bald.

Hermione and Severus stole a glance, and Hermione could tell that Snape was actually a bit nervous about this, despite his comparative ease. "Come on, Neville," Hermione said encouragingly, "It won't be so bad. If you don't want to, you don't have to."

Neville took a glance between Hermione and Severus, looking trapped and worried. Then, summoning his bravery, he said, "I'll be there. Let's meet after classes then, shall we? Outside on the front steps?"

"Sounds fine to me," Severus said, brushing some crumbs off the front of his shirt. "Hermione?"

"Yes," agreed the witch pleasantly. Hermione's heart began to thrum with excitement, and her over-stuffed tum began to churn with anticipation and some anxiety. "I... I need to finish this chapter before class," she said, gesturing to the book she'd been reading before Neville showed up, "Severus, would you sit next to me?"

"With pleasure, my dear," Severus rumbled, and there was a smugness and satisfaction in his voice as he got up and moved his valuable arse to the chair next to her, which was better suited to his expanding form anyway. He'd been the good metamour, Hermione could see, reading between the lines. She highly suspected Erika had something to do with this invitation.

Either way, Neville continued picking away at his bacon, and Severus set about swallowing his with considerably greater fervor.

Pushing away her own plate, and replacing it with her book, Hermione extended her legs in either direction. She found Severus' foot waiting for her on one side, and Neville's ready to receive her on the other.

What a glorious course of events, to have two men so deeply interested in her that they were willing to both eat breakfast with her?

Hermione had no idea what she must have done to deserve this, but she was immensely grateful. She could only hope that she would be able to ensure she kept them both feeling loved, cared for, and admired, as much as was within her control.

And moreover, she was feeling quite proud of Severus. Probably not as proud as he was of himself, but still, what he'd done was really setting the stage for a positive experience with Neville. He was helping her with this relationship, despite his own emotional misgivings. And that, she thought, was beautiful.

She told him so, as they left the Great Hall together, arm in arm as he escorted her to the dungeons, since Neville had to head out to the greenhouses.

"Beautiful?" he asked for clarification, and if they hadn't been walking and focusing on getting her to class on time, she imagined he'd have blushed a little bit more. "That... no one's ever said that about anything I've done, before. Not that I can recall," he said faintly, and then, after a minute or so of silence, he abruptly stopped, and pulled them aside into an alcove behind a suit of armor. "No," he said, pausing and turning towards her. "No one has. I'm certain of it."

There was a darkness in his eyes, a fire of entropy, and Hermione felt the intensity of them nearly overwhelm her.

"Please," he said, and he was looking at the floor. "Please say it again."

"I think it's beautiful," Hermione said, standing up on tiptoe and kissing him on his awkward large nose. "It's a beautiful thing, what you're doing. Making things comfortable for him. It might be uncomfortable in the short run, but it will ease things over for the future. And it's beautiful that you're thinking about this situation with that kind of foresight."

She added, thoughtfully, pressing her fingers into his soft double-chin and turning his head up, to meet her eyes, "And you, are too, by the way. You are beautiful."

He seemed unsure of how to respond, and refused to look at her anymore, instead returning to stare at the ground. His chest heaved, and Hermione sensed he could use closeness.

"I love you," she said, embracing him warmly. "And I hope that someday, you can tell me that you love me, too."

There was a deep, warm silence between them as her words seemed to settle around them like a heavy mantle of warmth.

Then, the first bell rang, and the tepid trickle of students heading to class became a river, and the noise of it was invigorating.

He seemed to take it as reassuring. Leaning in towards her ear, he whispered lowly, “Hermione, how do you think I could not love you?”

Her breath was completely taken away at that moment by a deep and probing kiss. He seemed not to want to talk about it, though, and he let go of her almost as suddenly as he’d initiated. “Now go to your class,” he said with a smirk, and patted her firmly on the buttocks. “I’ll see you tonight.”

Feeling her heart light and airy, Hermione practically skipped to class.

Life was truly wonderful.
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Old 11-15-2015, 10:56 AM   #61
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Chapter 44

Chapter Text

They soon were in Hogsmeade. Hermione met up with Neville promptly after class. Severus let her know that he'd meet them there.

And so it was with trepidation that the two colleagues walked to Hogsmeade, hand in trembling hand.

It had just begun to snow - not very hard, just a light dusting. It melted even before it landed on the ground. Hermione did notice, though, that Neville was prone to shivering. He was wearing several layers of clothing, and what looked like two mufflers, and even still he clutched his briefcase tightly to him as though it could help insulate him better.

"Poor dear," Hermione said, and wrapped her arm around him. Her hip came closer to his, until it softly squished into his bony thigh. Her plump love-handles filled in some of the space between his rickety bones and her own, and she felt him breathing fitfully.

"Poor both of us," Neville said, trying in vain to keep his teeth from chattering. "We're both about to be skewered, 'Mione."

Despite the fact that the very thought of getting skewered by Severus Snape made a blush of desire rise on Hermione's cheeks, she maintained her dignity and brushed her bushy hair back off of her forehead with a gentle gloved hand. "You're making such a fuss," she said, and then she stopped under the first streetlight of Hogsmeade It was glowing with purple and yellow fairy lights, and the next lantern ahead of them was lit up in green and orange. The lights inside moved, and the effect was rather like looking at light reflected off of a swimming pool - it moved gently and bumblingly, illuminating the area in beautiful unearthly colors.

"Are you sure you're all right to do this?" asked Hermione seriously, staring into Neville's eyes. Granted, she was partly making an excuse to stop, since she was already quite out of breath from their brief walk uphill to Hogsmeade. "We don't have to do it. You can go back if you want to."

"No," Neville said, with gritted teeth. There was determination in his face, and she knew she wouldn't be able to dissuade him even if she didn't think it was the best thing. As it happened, she thought that doing this was, indeed, the best thing for them - but she couldn't be certain. "I'm doing it."

"Great," Hermione said, "then stop complaining about it." She pulled his hand and kept walking along the path, letting the lights dance across their faces as they went.

"It's bloody Severus Snape," moaned Neville, but there was something sporting about his complaining, Hermione now realized. It was somewhat for show, but also to cover up how terrified Neville was. "I'll complain as much as I bloody well please."

"Then you won't be getting any dessert," Hermione said stiffly, and the threat worked like a charm.

Oh yes. Whatever trouble Neville had been having with his appetite was gone now. Or at least, he had an increased interest in food. Hermione blushed with pride and the heat of desire as Neville stopped them. Abruptly, he put his hand on the back of her head, and he pressed his lips against hers.

And then, for the first time since that doomed night in the gazebo, he kissed her deeply.

Hermione felt her head spin. Neville had been mostly too ill to even think about anything other than gentle cuddling for the duration of their new relationship. This... this was new. And foretold good things.

And there was a spark of vitality in his kiss that made her nearly swoon in excitement. The way he moved his tongue around her mouth, it was unagile and unpracticed, but the way he curled his tongue under hers, the way he sucked her lower lip, the way he pressed against her so forcefully... Kissing Neville was so different than Snape. Snape was languid, sensual, and erotic in how he approached kissing her. But there was also a sense of lackadaisicalness sometimes, a sort of affected indifference. Not always, of course - there were times when he was incredibly possessive and needy, and then his kisses lost that sense of feline coldness in favor of a more feral approach.

But kissing Neville was altogether different. Perhaps the best comparison would be between a Labrador retriever and a cat. Neville's kissing of her was earnest and wholehearted. She had no doubt that he was, in that moment, wholly realizing their kiss. It wasn't nearly as sensual as kissing Snape, but then again, it didn't have to be. So much was communicated in just the way Neville's tongue curled around hers, a sense of warmth and affection that seemed impossible for Severus to emanate.

It felt good.

And it felt even better to know that her enjoyment of Neville's kiss was completely sanctioned in the context of her relationship with Severus.

Indeed, Hermione nearly felt faint at the knowledge that she had won the admiration of two very different men.

She felt, immediately, like she didn't deserve it. Her mood suddenly plummeted, and as it did, her engagement with Neville stopped. She lowered her head and, taking a deep breath, she pressed her face into Neville's shoulder.

"Why do you like me?" she murmured, feeling despondent. "I don't... I don't understand at all."

"Hermione," said Neville, clearly uncertain of what to say or do. He drew his arms carefully around her, and then pulled her tightly against him. She felt slightly uncomfortable, given how little meat there was on him, but she reciprocated, wrapping her arms around his barely convex middle. Only his many layers of clothes made him at all bearable to hug for comfort.

Then again, his grasp was strong and firm around her, and she felt his fingers kneading slightly at her love-handles. He was tentative, exploring. It certainly didn't seem like his preference, but he did seem like he was receptive to figuring out what on earth she liked about being a bigger person.

"You're the most brilliant witch or wizard I know," Neville said, and Hermione felt him rocking slightly, and she swayed along with him. "And it's an honor to be with you. How could anyone not like you?"

"Thank you," she said, and she sighed. She felt like he hadn't said what she needed to hear.

And fortunately, Neville was quick enough to read her.

"Is there something else bothering you?" he asked softly, and he pressed a kiss into her soft buttery cheek.

"I mean," Hermione said, and sighed. She buried her face thoroughly in his shoulder. His woolen robe was rough against her face, but it smelled warm and comforting. He didn't use any cologne that she could tell, but he smelled neutral and good, like cake batter or beeswax. "I wish people bothered to tell me something other than how smart I am. I'm... a bit burned out on it."

She hadn't even realized it herself until she said it. The words hung heavy in the darkness that surrounded them, interrupted only by the flaring fairy-lights that moved across the shadows.

"Well," Neville said, and he was clearly trying to scounge up something else to say. "I... well, 'Mione, you're so much more than your mind. You've... you've got such kindness in you. Such - such love. Including for those who don't normally get a lot of love from the world."

"What," Hermione snorted, taking a deep breath. "You mean houselves?"

"Yes," Neville said, "but also Snape."

She pulled away from him just enough to look into his eyes. There was just a bit of bitterness there, but mostly admiration.

"You think it's testament of me being *good,* me being with him?" Hermione asked. "I do want you to know, Neville, that the thought hasn't crossed my mind. Please don't think of my relationship with Severus as one where I'm trying to fix him, or something."

"Oh, but aren't you?" Neville asked, and there was a sadness in his eyes. "Isn't this what you're doing with me? Fixing me?"

"I... that makes it sound as if the humanity is taken out of my relationships with you both," Hermione said, though her conversation with McGonagall weighed heavily in the back of her mind. "Both of you deserve to be loved, and loved without the indignity of the assumption that I know how to fix either of you."

She looked around them, looking back from whence they'd come. The cobblestone path to the castle was broken in places after years of poor curatorship, and also the recent battle. The trees were barren and cold in the darkness, and shook in the wind.

"I don't want you to feel like I'm trying to fix you," she added, "I want to be helpful to you, but only so much as you yourself want."

"But what if I can't help but feel like I'm just a project?" Neville asked, and she saw that there were tears in his eyes. They were brimming, but hadn't come to spill down his face yet.

"You're just going to have to trust me," said Hermione, "and take what I say at face value. Otherwise..."

She pressed her hand against his chest, and she leaned in closer, looking down. "Otherwise this can't continue."

"I... is it all right if we say it's a work in progress, then?" Neville asked, after bated breath. "Taking you at face value?"

"Certainly we can," Hermione said. And she reached up and kissed Neville on his wan cheek. "Human relationships are complex and mysterious things. I don't expect you to be inhuman."

"All right," Neville said, in what sounded like a satisfied grumbly way, and he clasped his arms around her one last time. "Then let's get on to the pub, shall we?"

"Yes," Hermione said, and she looked up at him. He seemed a bit more copacetic now, and she was glad to see that the worry seemed partially erased from his face. "Let's go."
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Old 11-15-2015, 10:57 AM   #62
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Severus was waiting for them at the pub in Hogsmeade. There wasn't a sign of worry on his face, but Hermione could see the way that he stood abruptly at the arrival of Hermione and Neville, the way he pulled out Hermione's chair (carefully positioned so that he would be on one side of her and Neville would be on the other), and the way he settled down at the table... no one who didn't know him intimately would have seen anything amiss. Even so, Hermione hadn't a clue what was going on in his poor head. It was probably gnawing at itself over and over again, each moment growing more and more obsessed with the dramatic melodrama that fueled it.

She nearly rolled her eyes as she noticed how jittery he was, but that would be far from kind, much less polite, so she simply kissed him on the cheek, letting her lips linger close to his ear.

"Thank you, my love," she said in a low voice, feeling the warmth of his face. He was so physically hot. It was... interesting. Not the first time she'd noticed it, but perhaps it was more noticeable after being so close to Neville the past several minutes.

She laid her lips against his cheek again just once more, letting the slightest bit of tongue touch his skin, and she caught the faintest hint of a shiver in him.

"Please," he said with a self-assured rumble, "sit."

She took the chair that was so graciously proffered, and Neville, looking as if he were once again confronting Nagini's snake, sat next to her.

"I took the liberty of ordering firsts," Severus said, "mostly out of impatience."

He was in a bit of a mood, Hermione observed the way he drew out his s sounds was one he only used when his patience was being tried on many levels.

"Are we late?" Hermione asked, glancing around them for a clock.

"Rather," said Severus, and she saw him lean back in his chair. Her eyes trained on his, and she saw in his eyes such a fearful pain that it nearly consumed her to merely glance into it.

"I... I'm sorry," Hermione said, though still confused slightly. "I didn't realize we were that off."

She glanced at Neville, who was frowning at his pocket watch, and he hastily put it away.

Neville was a lot more transparent. Something was wrong, and Hermione suspected what it was based purely on Neville's body language.

"I think we've had an issue of miscommunication about time," Hermione said, and in the same breath, Neville said, "I think this was a bad idea."

"No," responded Severus with a low grumble. He rose with an abrupt motion. "I'll be back presently," he said, and there was no emotion visible in his eyes. He was, Hermione guessed, trying to get himself under control. But was it going to require her intervention, or was he going to be all right for the dinner?

Perhaps this had been an ill-fated plan. Perhaps she was indeed too greedy, trying to have more than one man to indulge her desires.

She watched as Severus stalked off to the lavatory, and she glanced at Neville. He was getting up.

No, she told herself, she needed to stop telling herself she didn't deserve this. She realized that this was part of the package, part of the blessing and curse that was engaging in multiple consensual relationships. It was a balancing act, and once it was calibrated, it would be exquisite. But to get to that point would require training and hard work.

This wasn't going to end if she had anything to say about it. It might not be pleasant to do a simple dinner, but they were going to do this. They'd planned it. Hermione couldn't imagine behaving like this when Erika would come to town.

Then again, the boys hadn't even exchanged a single sentence with each other and they were already falling apart. Would she really, actually, be copacetic when Erika came in from the States?

She knew she needed to not have confidence that she could be better.

But she also needed to know that they all did their best to try. If they all wanted this, they should at least give it their best effort.

"Please," Hermione said, and pressed her hand into Neville's shoulder. Not much given to fighting at this stage in his illness, even though he was doing much better, he simply settled back down into the chair and sighed. "Don't go. Not yet. We haven't even started."

"*He* left," Neville said, and there was such venom in his voice that Hermione was startled. She leaned down and looked into Neville's eyes. He was glowering at the door into which Severus had disappeared.

What an impossible situation. Hermione sighed.

"Then show him you're better than that," Hermione said desperately, and then gathered herself up and hastened to the door where Severus was.

She pressed her ear against the door and listened, half expecting a rampage of glass and other things breaking, but instead she heard nothing but silence. There were no sounds. There was nothing indicating that Severus was even still in there. She knocked, and heard no answer. She knew he probably hadn't apparated, but she was beginning to consider the possibility more seriously when he opened the door and she practically fell into his arms.

"Sorry," she murmured, grasping his forearm for support. "Are you all right?"

"Perfectly," Severus responded, and he indeed seemed like he had a renewed sense of self control. "I'm sorry for my absence, but was it so long that you had to seek me out?"

"I just..." Hermione began, and sighed. "I'm concerned you're repressing everything."

"Repressing what?" he asked, and there was a coldness and ambivalence in his voice that made her heart grow still with sadness. Whatever he'd been feeling, it was far out of her reach for the moment. At least their dinner was safe, though she knew it'd be a bit rushed on all their parts - Severus because he was holding himself barely together, Neville because he hated Snape so much, and Hermione because she just wanted to shout at them and bring them to their senses.

But she truly did understand that would not work very well, so she just grasped Severus' hand warmly and escorted him to the table.

Neville was picking slightly at the appetizer that had landed on the table - a steamed artichoke, dismantled and arrayed like a flower around a beautiful creamy sauce. He'd taken one leaf and was chewing the tip thoughtfully. He hastily put it down once he saw the couple returning to the table.

"We, erm, are staying, I take it?" Neville asked, hesitantly reaching for another artichoke leaf.

"Of course," Hermione said with forced cheerfulness. This was going to be difficult, but she realized they'd gotten past the critical point of failure. They were embarking on this difficult adventure for sure now. "Now please, be a dear, and pass me some of that."

Neville did her that small favor, and Severus just grunted his approval when Hermione pushed the plate towards his direction.

The three of them scanned their menus awkwardly, not saying anything to each other at all.

Then, once the waitstaff took their orders, they sat in silence until Neville, trying to adjust in his seat, accidentally passed gas.

His entire face flushed red, and he looked between Hermione and Severus, trying to decide who was going to shame him the most, Hermione read. She wondered every day why Neville hadn't been sorted into Hufflepuff, but perhaps his Gryffindor judgmental streak was something he kept well concealed most of the time.

To Hermione's immense relief, Severus' initial look of confusion was soon consumed by a hearty snicker.

"I'm sorry, professor," murmured Neville, looking as helpless as a trapped mouse. "My potions have had some unintended side effects that we've had to balance with laxatives, and while it's certainly standard for my condition, there's only so much I can control-"

He was cut off as Severus began convulsively laughing. Perhaps the volcanic emotions he'd been experiencing needed some sort of release and this was the easiest one. In any case, Severus was unable to get a grip of himself for several minutes as he laughed uproariously.

It was unnerving. Hermione and Neville were similarly sitting in shock and bewilderment as Severus laughed himself out. Then, once he took a deep breath and stabilized himself, he said, "My dear Professor Longbottom, no need to apologize. I'm fully aware of the side effects of your condition's treatment regimen."

This proceeded to make him start laughing all over again, though, and Hermione and Neville kept on feeling awkward and unsure of how to proceed. Until finally, Hermione shook her head, grasped Severus' hand, and said, "Are you all right?"

A weird grin on his face, Severus took a few short quick breaths, and his face settled into its usual more neutral repose. "Of course. Of course."

But that somehow signaled the turning point in their dinner that night. Severus, at that moment, managed to escape the foul mood he'd been in, and Hermione finally could relax. Neville didn't manage to really unwind much - he sat nearly ramrod straight the entire rest of dinner, and barely ate, as if beseeching his bowels to keep their symphonies for after he'd escaped Snape's presence.

Still, at the end of it, he was smiling half-heartedly at Hermione's poor jokes about potions and herbology, and Severus had promised that Hermione could take Neville to the spot where he'd taken her to collect the yarrow and hemlock earlier in the fall.

Dinner itself was lackluster, unfortunately. Pub food wasn't particularly glamorous, and after so many months of nothing but the best of house-elf fare, Hermione found herself disappointed by the repast from the restaurant.

But that night, she walked back to the castle with two men on either of her arms. One of them seemed to be in a slightly manic mood, and the other seemed to be quite depressed, but somehow these two long-term enemies had managed to make peace enough to be civil to each other during a joint dinner.

Hermione marveled at this all the way home.

"How was this?" she asked as they approached the castle doors. She felt Severus clasp her tighter, and Neville let go gently to go ahead and get the door.

"I- are you asking me?" Neville asked, as she grabbed his arm that he tried to weave out of her own.

"Yes, of course," Hermione said, and she pulled Neville closer to her. She felt Neville sweat in the crook of his arm, and Severus' hot breath on her skin as he leaned towards her, possessively breathing in the scent of her neck.

"I... erm, it was all right," Neville said, and there was a look of relief in his eyes. "It could have been much worse."

Severus didn't add anything, merely snorting.

Hermione draped one arm around Severus' wide waist and held him close to her. "I'm glad you came," she said, "it is... good, I think."

"I agree," Severus said, to Hermione's immense surprise. She realized his mood seemed to have settle down. It seemed like he wasn't really on alert to the same degree - instead he seemed to be fairly content. While Neville had been abstinent with his food, Severus hadn't in the least, and he'd stuffed himself thoroughly.

"Erm," Neville said, and gently disentangled himself from Hermione again, "Thanks."

He proceeded to quietly head to the doors of the castle and open them. "After you," he said, and Hermione and Severus walked through the doors. Once they were over the threshold, he amended, "Actually, I think I'll stay out a while."

His hand was in his pocket where Hermione had seen him fidgeting with a box of cigarettes.

"All right," Hermione said, "good night."

"Good night," answered Neville, and turned away.

"What?" Severus growled, "No goodnight kiss? Are you mad?"

Hermione found herself chuckling at the suggestion. Neville himself simply looked pale. The moonlight shone behind him, making him almost a mere silhouette, and he looked pallid and nervous.

But Severus had let go of Hermione, unwinding himself from her with evident reluctance. "Don't you think this woman deserves it?" he asked, and with a grand gesture, he pressed his own lips on her soft hand in a gentlemanly fashion.

Hermione blushed despite herself.

Neville looked as scared as if this were a trap. But after glancing between Severus and Hermione multiple times, he finally took a deep breath and, swiftly, he advanced upon Hermione, drew her into his arms, and pressed into her lips.

It wasn't as good a kiss as from earlier, and indeed it was quite short, but she could tell how stressed he was.

"Thank you for a nice evening," said Neville, letting Hermione go and addressing the two of them. "Good night."

He then proceeded to go out the doors and close them gently behind.

Severus looked simply amused at the proceedings, as far as she could tell in the near-darkness of the entryway.

"You're so strange," Hermione said, shaking her head, "So full of surprises."

"So it would seem," Severus said, sounding as if he was engaging in a private joke.

They went to bed that night together, Hermione drawing upon his warmth, feeling delighted at the way his fingers curled around her, pressing her closer to him.

Somehow they'd survived this, and Hermione could not be more grateful.
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Old 11-15-2015, 10:58 AM   #63
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The air was cold and crisp in the bright and early morning of November 21st as Hermione and Severus apparated behind a lonely dumpster at Heathrow.

"So why is she visiting now, of all times?" Hermione asked, stepping gingerly around a mountain of trash bags.

"Americans can't be bothered to wait for Christmas, so they devised a holiday for late autumn based on the anniversary of their second attempt at colonizing their continent," Severus snarked, drawing a hand through his hair and wrinkling his nose. She wasn’t sure if it was at the smell or the concept of Thanksgiving. "Come," he gestured, and they walked towards the long side of the airport where pickups occurred.

It felt like they emerged in a sea of muggles. Liveried men with placards stood impassively, just close enough to the escalators that they were visible to all descending. Several older couples waited breathlessly for their children to return home from Uni. A few single people hung around, looking moody and jumpy, waiting for partners returning from business trips.

Even in plainclothes, Hermione and Severus did not fit in well. They lingered next to a sad potted plant and held hands, Hermione running her thumb over Severus' palm, and Severus sweating profusely in the iridescent light.

“You all right?” asked Hermione, and Severus snorted impassively. His other motions belied his nervousness, however - the way his fingers refused to hold still in her hand, the rapid pace of his breathing, the movement of his eyes across every woman’s face that came down the escalators.

Hermione also was nervous, but her nervousness was more akin to how she’d felt in anticipation of their dinner with Neville the other night. Severus seemed distinctly more agitated than he had been then. She remained concerned, and did her best to remain calm as possible, even to the extent of regulating her breathing.

The digital screens in the airport updated automatically with a dizzying array of numbers and letters that, if Hermione hadn't been so good at arithmancy, would have been quite distracting indeed. Severus seemed acclimated to it, and only once in a while stared malevolently at the information, as if daring it to contradict the information he had.

Erika Holmes was due to arrive at 7:15am, and not a minute sooner or later.

Of course that didn't happen, airplanes being what they are.

As 7:15 passed, Severus growled and pressed his forehead against the wall. The screen said Erika’s plane was delayed by an hour.

"We have time," Hermione said comfortingly, "my classes will keep. Time turners are exactly for this kind of situation."

"My patience, however, will not keep," Severus seethed, and with an aggrieved sigh he dragged them both towards some empty benches near the baggage carousel. The benches were hard, made of an uncomfortable mesh wire, and had arms. The arms meant he had to jostle to squeeze himself in, and the net result was that he looked like a cake oozing out of its mold at every possible place.

Hermione sat down next to him, admiring the view all the while, and pressed her head on his shoulder.

"No need to panic, love," she murmured, and kissed him fondly. "We can wait."

He seemed to want to reply, but they were interrupted by a gentle voice.

"Excuse me?"

The voice emerged from behind them, and Hermione arched her head to look back. Then she felt like her brain had dropped out of her skull.

Her parents were standing there, bags in hand, looking just the same as they always had - her father in a blue windbreaker and her mother in sensible shoes - but they were also cloudy-eyes, just as she had left them.

"My name is Wendell," said her father, extending a big familiar hand to her. Hermione took it numbly as he shook it, as introducing himself to a stranger. It felt eerie. "We are here to look for our daughter. She disappeared several years ago and we believe she came here."

He frowned, and despite the cloudiness in his eyes, Hermione could see how sad he looked.

Hermione's mother seemed significantly less distraught, as was her wont. "You do remind me a bit of Wendy's great aunt, Hermione. Doesn't she, dear? Her hair especially."

Severus, clearly bewildered, stood up slowly, and faced the people who were potentially menacing his girlfriend. His eyes met Hermione's, and Hermione practically screamed in her mind, "Shit - these are my parents!" She hoped he picked up on it through legilimancy, though she knew he tried to keep that skill tucked deep within his mind these days.

"Pleasure to meet you," drawled Severus, extending his hand. "Siger Prince."

Hermione's eyebrow twitched as he pronounced his pseudonym - bookmarking it in her mind to ask him about it.

It never occurred to her to think that hard about what she would do in this situation. Granted, it had seemed patently unlikely to come up - she had counted on never meeting her parents in England again until she brought them back. Silly, she realized.

She looked at Severus with frustration. This was not what she had expected to deal with on the Monday morning prior to meeting her Metamour. He seemed unrealistically calm and collected - a total reversal of where he’d been minutes prior. It seems that stress brought out the best in him, though that was an unfortunate habit of which she intended to break him.

"We can help you," Hermione said finally, realizing she might as well face the music. "Just wait a moment?"

"No matter," said her father amiably, "We’ll manage, I think. Can we get a cab out there?" He gestured towards the door leading to the car park.

"...Siger," Hermione said, and focused her eyes hard at Severus, begging him to pay attention to their forefront of her mind.

"What is this?" She heard his voice in her mind, and she relaxed slightly.

"My parents," she screeched internally, "help me!"

"Heaven help us," he responded, "your parents?"

He appeared somewhat amused now that there was some explanation. "What can I do to help?"

"Let's just... Stall them," Hermione fumbled. "I need to take off the charm that I put them under years ago. They don't remember me but still the charm is clearly wearing off, they're remembering fragments of their old life.”

"Okay," Severus said in her mind. Then, he glanced around until he saw a photo booth. It appeared to be out of order, but he gestured grandly towards it.

"Wendell, it is our custom in this country to give visitors a gift when they arrive in Heathrow. Would you do me the honor of taking a photograph with me in celebration of your arrival?"

Hermione's father looked as puzzled as could be. "I suppose," he said dubiously.

"Then come," Severus said grandly, grabbing Hermione's father's elbow smoothly and maneuvering him into the booth with such a suave grace that Hermione almost envied her father of Severus' touch.

Hermione's mother looked more suspicious than her father, and she scrutinized Hermione closely. "What is your name?" she asked, pushing her glasses further up her nose with the back of her palm. Hermione noticed with a stab of nostalgia that her mother had pen marks all up and down her wrist - a habit of writing with such fervor that she didn’t realize she was smearing her pages. Hermione had been careful not to inherit that habit, though she sometimes slipped up and did it. It’d become such an automatic effort, to catch herself pressing her wrist against the page, that she had completely forgotten why she’d started trying to catch herself in the first place.

Hermione felt her heart sink. "Would you believe - my name, it's Hermione," she said softly, as if not wanting to believe it herself.

Her mother didn't have any gleam of recognition. She merely nodded. "Suits you well," she said. "Hermione what?"

"Granger," murmured Hermione even more softly.

Again, no lightbulb seemed to go off in her mother's eyes. "What a horrid name," she said with a roll of the eyes, and Hermione's jaw dropped.

She was saved by Severus emerging from the booth, her father in tow. Dr. Oliver Granger looked as if he's been stupefied.

"Next," barked Severus efficiently, and before anyone could complain, he whisked away Hermione's mother into the photo booth.

Hermione was left with her father, who had been clearly brought out of the confounding charms. Severus must not have done much in the way of counseling, however, because Hermione observed her father’s memory thaw out as clearly as if it’d been in the deep freeze. Oliver initially blinked at her, experiencing recognition, and then as it began to dawn on him, his hand flew to his mouth, and he took a deep steadying breath.

Then, it soon became clear that he was trying hard not to cry. His attempt to conceal his emotion barely worked, and he finally broke down crying, throwing himself onto the hard bench and putting his face in his hands.

Hermione was stunned. She’d never - ever- seen her father cry. Not even at his beloved mother’s funeral did she see him pass a tear. He’d always been so stoic and manly - even when he’d got kidney stones as a little tyke and had to lay on the couch for several days until they passed. He’d never appeared weak, helpless, or shed a tear. And now here he was, completely torn to pieces in a public place.

This wasn’t like her father. This wasn’t like him at all.

"Erm, da'?" asked Hermione, sitting down next to her father. She offered her hand, and he took it, but kept his face covered with his spare hand as he sobbed silently.

"I don't understand," he finally said, brushing his face clean of tears and taking a deep breath. "Her... Hermione?"

She nodded gloomily. While deeply distressing to see her father so distraught, obtaining her father’s forgiveness would be easy. It was her mother who really was going to be the trial by fire.

"Yeah," she confessed, feeling her own eyes prickling, "it's me."

"It is *I*," he corrected automatically, but Oliver looked immediately shocked at himself. "But it doesn't matter," he assured her, as if he were afraid his grammar corrections were the reason she’d left them in Australia, and he embraced her warmly, though there was an undercurrent of intense fear in his voice. "How are you, my darling?"

Hermione felt her heart melt, and her prickles began to form her own sobs. What was happening to her father? She didn’t quite understand.

"I missed you," she whimpered, feeling the despair she had felt for so long culminate in a massive wave of relief. What she didn’t articulate was that seeing her father, like this, made her miss him even more - the memory she had of him. She hadn’t remembered him being so childlike, but here he was, cradling her but simultaneously seeming to derive more strength from her than she was receiving from him.

He had changed, Hermione felt, and it wasn’t something superfluous. This was something very deep. She wondered what it might be. Was it just that her memories of her parents were flawed?

In the meantime, Severus emerged from the booth, calm and collected. Hermione's mother was not, however, and she was already glaring daggers at Hermione.

Hermione deserved it, of course. But she wished more than ever that her mother was the forgiving type.

Hermione's father, Oliver-nee-Wendell-nee-Oliver, hadn't let her go. "I can't believe it," he said, "I just don't understand what happened."

"You weren't supposed to understand," Hermione said, and patted her father on the shoulder.

"Why, Hermione?" asked her mother, Rachel Granger-Wilkins. She seems to have pieced together more than Oliver had. But just like Oliver, there was something off about her. She seemed tired - unspeakably, deeply tired. Hermione was unnerved by it.

"I owe both of you an explanation," Hermione said, trying to get a grip on herself and dismiss the odd feeling she had about her parents, "and trust me, I will get to it. But it will take some time, and I really don't have that today."

This was clearly the wrong thing to say. Rachel’s eyes burned in response, Oliver seemed as pathetic as a cat who had fallen into a puddle, and Severus was scanning them both with fierce attention.

Then his eyes met Hermione’s. "Hermione!" said Severus sharply. "May I talk with you a moment?"

He didn't allow her to disagree, and instead her parents watched in some astonishment as he swept her into the photo booth.

"So what is the plan?" he asked. His voice was cold and formal.

"What do you mean?" Hermione responded..

"You know what I mean," he said with a snap. "No doubt you have regaled them for all your school years with tales of your awful bully of a professor. Now, tell me our cover story - why are we here?"

Hermione looked abashed. It was true - she'd laid it on pretty heavy in her letters home. Her parents had despised him all the more fully on his behalf.

The truth shone in her eyes, and he seemed to gleam in response - some combination of pride over how his affected disguise had worked, and bitterness at how deeply it had been entrenched in her parent's minds.

"May I make a suggestion?" He asked, his voice taut and crisp. "We are here to go to Australia and find them. You tried before but couldn't undo the memory charm. Say I'm a specialist at these things, which isn't much of a stretch as it happens. Fortunately this happy coincidence means we won't have to go, oh lucky us."

Hermione's eyes widened. "You just came up with that?" she asked, processing all the information.

"Old habits," he said glibly. He gazed into her eyes, already armed against her next question.

"I expect you don't want to simply be introduced as my romantic companion?"

He snorted and rolled his eyes.

"No, really, it isn't funny," she said, feeling her face flush. "I know we haven't talked about this, but there's no reason to laugh at me."

"Hermione," he responded, his voice low and a touch of anger in it, "let's not pretend as though I'm bring-home-to-the-parents material. Usually that is a prelude to marriage proposals, I believe? And that simply would be unfair of me to suggest, for so many reasons. Much less the day you are unexpectedly reuniting with your parents who you filed away for half a decade."

"I have many questions," Hermione hissed, "but most specifically why you think you aren't worth introducing to my parents as my lover, or boy friend, or what have you."

His laugh was dark and self deprecating, and he refused to meet her eyes, instead staring up at the grimy ceiling of the photo booth. "Do you even need to ask?" he responded, and she could tell his anxiety was rising markedly.

"Fine," she said, standing and smoothing her dress. "We will go with your story for today. But be forewarned," she said, "one of the reasons I "filed away" my parents is because I don't lie to them. And if they ask about the nature of our relationship, I will tell the truth.”

"Fine," he said, realizing he wasn't going to get much farther with this line of inquiry for the moment, "and by the way - let's talk about that spell for a moment."

"Ah yes," Hermione responded, "I'm quite pleased you managed to undo it so quickly. It took me hours to set up."

"Unfortunately, my dear," Severus said with a thin warmth, which was as close as he could come to being reassuring while explaining how she’d spectacularly fucked up. “The spells you used, while not permanent, do have some permanent damage. I removed the confounding components and the false memories that you transplanted in their consciousness, but you did some Substantial damage to their minds in doing what you did.”

“Oh no,” Hermione said, feeling her chest tighten.

“You didn't do any changes to their subconscious minds, which means that the memory charms you placed didn't work long term because their consciousness and subconsciousness were constantly in battle with each other. Together they pieced together some fragments of their subconscious - which might have caused them even more permanent psychological damage.”

“Oh no,” she murmured, feeling her breath shorten. “I didn’t know...”

Severus sighed. His eyes were melancholy, and she realized it was because he was being reminded of their so-significant age difference. Where had he been during the time that she’d been putting her parents in Australia? “It was of course impressive magic for someone of your age,” he said, “but I'm sure that with your maturation of your knowledge, even today without prior preparation you could do a more effective job with less effort than that time you did it then.

“Memory charms in particular,” he went on, “are truly difficult skills. Undersung for their difficulty, in many ways. They require the dexterity and precision of a surgeon, and the fortitude of a healer.” He sighed, warming up to the subject. Hermione listened with her usual rapt attention - though it was a little bit more difficult to hear, because of what it meant - putting her parents in danger.



“There are so many ways to mess up a memory spell,” Severus went on, “many with irreversible damage. And yet because of the way they are presented in media, people take them lightly, confounding people right and left as so pleased them. Most of the basic charms used in school have little to no permanent effect, but once anyone purchases a standard master's level textbook they can get the more devious stuff. And we don't teach people how to use that stuff, because it is ironically dangerous. I have always been an advocate for teaching anyone keen on a concept everything about a topic, particularly how to keep themselves safe while performing practical applications. Whereas those who have no whit or care about a dangerous thing, like potions, shouldn't be on the core curriculum.”

Feeling the shame burning her - it irked her so much to be even thought of in the same room as being careless - she snapped, “Save the lecture.”

Severus’s brow furrowed, and she took a stabilizing breath. “Severus, don’t break down on me now. I love you, and I love what you're saying, mostly. But now is not really the time.”

“Of course,” he said. He looked at her, before cautiously adding, “Suffice it to say, it was relatively easy to break the bonds of their conscious minds because they were already fairly worn away. Your parents are clever people, and because of that I’m sure they were abnormally successful in getting through the charms. But every brain is different, as most books neglect to say, and setting up memory modification spells is not a one size fits all situation, despite what some numbskull authors might imply. All memories have different means of being encoded and because of that, each person attempting to modify memories must target multiple elements of the person's psyche and identify the primary channels of memory. One common side effect of poorly affected memory spells is paralysis and loss of life - because when tinkering with the memory, most people do not realize, one can accidentally snap some wires in the brain related to autonomic functions like breathing and the heartbeat, and muscle memory functions like walking and swimming. It is indeed rare that any memory modification comes without a somatic effect.”

Hermione proceeded to realize how very dangerous her endeavors had been. Her own anxiety quadrupled her problem and magnified it immensely. Despite Severus’ measured explanation, she felt like he was telling her that her parents being alive at this point was a miracle, really. Given how much modification she made to her damn spells because they weren't working like she wanted... She'd built a web of destruction around her parents. She was grateful they were here and that she had run into them by such a chance, and she felt nearly suicidal at the idea that she had nearly done them in by her attempt to protect them.

"I understand, Severus," she said softly, her head slumping with the overwhelming guilt at being admonished.

Because he was already closely attending to her, he picked up on the deep feelings of inadequacy and sadness immediately.

"Come now," he said, "come now."

He pressed her into his arms, and she wilted against his softness with relief, a welcome distraction. His muggle clothes fit him a little snugly, which was exactly how she liked - a simple dark green button down with black trousers and a dark grey greatcoat. He was warm and snuggly, and heavenly to touch. In the dark recesses of her mind, she wanted comfort and reassurance in the most basic and human way possible - sex. She wanted him now, even knowing her parents were outside in shock.

Severus seemed to understand, and he held her closer to her. "I suppose your parents are appreciating the time to conference," Severus said, and he pressed his lips into Hermione's soft, buoyant hair.

She sighed and embraced him more fervently. "You're just making an excuse," she said.

"You can leave any time you want," he said, holding her closer with a firm hand that threatened to press her into an unbreakable embrace, "but... I need to track the incoming flights."

Hermione just waved her hand and buried her face in Severus’ soft breasts, and a mirage of the screen from outside shows up on the darkened screen in the photo booth.

As they looked, it appeared that Erika's flight was delayed even further.

"Satisfied?" asked Hermione, and Severus nodded.

"Somewhat," he said, and he pressed tightly against her until she realized his member was at attention.

"Mm," Hermione said, "Kinky."

"Just to let you know what you're in for tonight," he said, and, with a deep breath, he added, "Also, if it pleases you, though Merlin knows why it would, you can tell your parents I am your... Romantic partner or whatnot."

Hermione's sadness immediately turned. "It would please me a great deal."

He nodded. The tips of his hair brushed against Hermione’s cheeks. "Unfortunately I can't support you if they disown you. At least not until I hit a massively lucrative patent."

Hermione kissed his lovely soft cheek and steeled herself against the firestorm she was sure to ensure. Them, with a surrender to the future, she went outside.
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Old 11-15-2015, 10:59 AM   #64
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Chapter 47

Chapter Text

They ended up sitting in the comfy chairs of an airport coffee shop, but the atmosphere was still stifling. The fogginess in the eyes of Rachel Wilkins-Granger was gone, but Oliver Granger still seemed a bit out of it.

Rachel, was fiercely angry about the whole affair in a way that reassured Hermione that little personality damage has been done. Still, the sense of fatigue seemed to pervade everything Rachel said and did, from stirring her coffee to starting her interrogation of Hermione. Oliver, for his part, was as toothless as usual, erring on the side of benevolent and permissive.

"What a fortunate coincidence it happened this way," Oliver said, settling down into a comfy chair, his mood much brighter after he had a few sips of a mocha latte in him. (For a skinny man, he indulged himself quite a lot on sweet things.) "I still can't quite believe our good luck. Thank goodness you didn't head all the way to Down Under before you realized we were stuck back here!"

"Yes," Rachel said, her tone terse. "What luck."

She hadn't completely accepted the brief tale of explanation that Hermione and Severus had presented. With that suspicious note, she sipped her austere black tea. She cast a glance at Severus, who was busily engaged in eating a bran cake. He had murmured his drink order to the barista to hide the fact that he'd asked for double whip and triple caramel for his own latte. Hermione heard it, being close to his side, and she'd pinched him affectionately to see his belly jiggle. He'd cast her a severe glare that, in a more intimate context, would have made her giggle. Given the circumstances, she'd just smiled and turned away and squeezed his hand.

She was still holding it tightly since they'd left the photo booth together. She thought it was more mature, to quietly announced her romantic connection to "Siger" by this simple gesture. Rachel was swift on the uptake and seemed to still be evaluating Serverus' weaknesses. For, Hermione knew, her mother would principally focus on those like a hawk. Heaven knew her mother had harped on Ron and Harry enough over the years. (Hermione's passing crushes on both of them could scarcely pass by unnoticed to Rachel).

"So," Rachel said finally, as the three others tried their best to ignore Rachel's previous comment, "when's the due date, Hermione?"

It was clearly a jibe at her body's size - Hermione, at her plumpening 221 pounds and waist of forty-seven inches, Hermione was nearly a hundred pounds heavier than when she'd last seen her parents. Granted, being a teenager of 130-odd and five feet high wasn't skinny, but it certainly wasn't terribly predictive of what was to happen to Hermione's body.

In response, Hermione cast a warning glare at her mother, and cast her eyes down again, picking at her scone.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," Rachel said, but it was clear she wasn't sorry at all. There was a sharpness behind her pacifying tone. "Forgive me. I shouldn't have assumed. You've always just been so... petite."

"It's been five years since you last saw me, mother," Hermione said, "and I don't want to talk about it."

"All right, all right," said Oliver, who exuded the sense that he couldn't care less what size Hermione was or wasn't. "She doesn't want to talk about it. So," he went on, and clapped Severus on the shoulder heavily. Severus quietly seethed. "Tell us about your man."

"I'd love to," Hermione said, "but don't you want to talk about... Everything else?"

"All in good time," assured Oliver heartily, putting on his best listening face - which was about as convincing as a Labrador retriever abstaining from a treat. "What do you do, Siger?"

"I'm a potions master," Severus said quietly. "With specialties in what you'd call immunology and endocrinology. But I tend to dabble in cross-systems interactions, and have done some projects in other disciplines, including neurology and pharmacy."

"Ah," Oliver said with relief, hearing Severus speak doctor language. Severus was as close as he could be to passing win Oliver's approval at this point. "So are you involved with research, or more practical applications?"

"I have had the good fortune to become involved In experimental research, with some more standard studies. Mostly I am involved in developing and brewing prototypes, and I collaborate with a practical team at St. Mungo's hospital, if you've heard of that."

"I see," Oliver Said, a classic phrase that signaled to Hermione that the conversation was about to go far over his head. "And what sorts of projects are you doing with the hospital?"

"They span a variety of areas," Severus said, and the frown on his face indicated he saw through Oliver's worldliness. "I'm not sure if you want to hear about them in detail."

"Oh please, go ahead," Oliver said, and with his authentic forwardness, he added, "I don't know how much of it I'll be able to keep up with, it's been awhile since medical school. But I am terribly interested."

"If you insist," Severus said, and began detailing his various projects. All of which Hermione was already intimately familiar with, and which this writer, dear readers, cannot keep up with, I'm sad to say. It all sounded very promising, I assure you.

In the meantime, while the men were occupied, Hermione's mother found the opportunity to grill Hermione directly.

"So," Rachel asked, her face fiery, "how did you think we'd feel about this?"

Hermione blinked. "About what in particular?" She asked, because she could not guess which of her recent violations was the most egregious.

"About leaving us in Australia for over five years, isn't that enough?" responsed Rachel, her eyes grey and skeptical. In her eyes there was, Hermione saw as she looked closely, the faintest hint of tears.

...

It wasn't much of a stretch for anyone impartial to conclude the similarity between the likeness of Dr. Wilkins-Granger and that of Hermione herself. But relationships between ambitious mothers and daughters are strange. Hermione tended to be impressed by her mother, and also fearfully afraid that she would not live up to her mother's standards.

Rachel's parents were softcore Jews of the Reformed persuasion. Her father had been a doctor, and her mother had been a nurse. Rachel had one-upped her mother very boldly by becoming a doctor herself, sacrificing having a family until nearly too late. Her parents both died resentfully before Rachel could reproduce.

Oliver was a full ten years younger than her; and they met when she employed him as a junior partner at her practice. It was, despite the urgency behind it, a marriage of love as much as convenience, and Oliver and Rachel were inseparable creatures. Hermione had no idea why. Oliver was warm and bumbley, charismatic and delightful, if a bit over enthusiastic. Whereas Rachel was cold, and smart as a whip - and this combination was ,in her generation especially, more of a liability than an asset.

Hermione was Rachel's first and last child, not counting a college abortion. (This abortion was one which Rachel spoke frankly about, being an explosive feminist wholeheartedly dedicated to women's rights.) Rachel sought to do everything to ensure Hermione had all the advantages necessary to become an even better doctor.

Until, of course, Hermione had gone to magic school instead. Rachel never had quite forgiven her that disappointment. Rachel never said so outright, but it came out in small ways - comments about her friends' children and their progress towards medical school, her constant encouragement to drop out of Hogwarts at any sign that Hermione wasn't happy there, and even her expressed hopes that if Hermione wanted to be a witch, that at least Hermione would marry a doctor.

Oliver, for his part, was benignly negligent when it came to Hermione's education, merely expressing that Rachel knew far better than he did about educating children. He provided Hermione with whatever interesting books she desired, and frequently gave her new ones to explore. He was thoughtful and kind, and for these reasons Hermione tended to prefer her dad over her mother. But he had the horrible habit of not listening at all when Hermione told him about the interesting things she was reading, and also to constantly think of Hermione as a little girl just needing to follow the rules and let the adults handle all the difficult work. He wanted her to be a child and enjoy her childhood, and not fret so much. It was sweet but not particularly helpful support.

Hermione had decided that Rachel and Oliver's chapter as involuntary expats would be good for all involved. Her mother would forget what kind of disappointment she had as a daughter, and more importantly, would not remind Hermione of this while Hermione was engaged in a deadly contents of which mission, if she had tried to explain them, would sound stupid to her mother. Oliver would have told her not to fret about it, but let the adults in her world handle it, they probably knew what they were doing. Rachel would probably have suggested shooting the bastards, with guns. (In all seriousness, Hermione wished she hadn't been so stubborn to dismiss this latter idea. Even Voldemort was not immune to bullets.)

But it wasn't all self serving, Hermione's desire to remove her parents from the country. Rachel had an unfortunate tendency to overextend herself, and her cardiologist had recommended an early retirement due to Rachel's health challenges. This suggestion was one that Rachel had defied vigorously. In fact, the summer after Hermione's fourth year, Rachel had been put in the hospital for irregular palpitations of the heart, and Rachel had fought until she obtained an early discharge - only to collapse at work and be rushed into the ICU until she recovered. But she wasn't back to her old self again even by the time Hermione sent her parents to Australia.

Since Hermione's fifth year, Oliver had confided that he felt fear every time her mother worked late. Rachel subsisted on take-away, with little regard to her own health, in order to author grants, develop programs, and issue hospital emergency surgeries at all hours. Her life was significantly more exciting and strenuous than the lives of most private practice dentists, in other words. But even as she entered her sixties, she was not prepared to stop her frenetic pace of work.

It was this that had also inspired Hermione to take the actions that she had done - Hermione had, in her naiveté, thought her mother being removed from her work would put her mother's health back in the right. Now of course Hermione knew her mother would be vigorously denying herself rest until she died on her feet, because Hermione better understood people now. Ironically she understood her mother better now after having spent five years out of touch. But Hermione forgave her younger self and her dream that her mother might in fact be better off without her work. It had been a kind dream.

…..

"Why did you do this?" asked Rachel again, and Hermione sighed.

"It's complicated," she said, feeling her throat tighten. Then, she took a deep breath. Was it better to just flat-out lie, and say that it was a decision based on a lack of reason? Or was it better to say that this was a premeditated decision?

She found herself comparing the situation to one of manslaughter versus contemplated and planned murder. It was a bit morbid, but it helped her come to a conclusion about how to frame the situation.

"It was a senseless decision, you're completely right," Hermione said, even though this was far from the truth. Her own words echoed in her mind I always tell my parents the truth, and she realized that this wasn't entirely true anymore. She'd always been forthcoming with her parents before, when she was a child.

But now? Now she was an adult. And now she could decide how to act with her parents. She supposed that if she stopped being so forthcoming, they might actually treat her as an adult, with boundaries worth respecting.

It was an uncomfortable feeling, but also a liberating one. She just hoped it wouldn't backfire.

"I was completely at my wit's end when I did it," Hermione said, hoping her mother wouldn't see through her lie. "I had no idea what I was doing. I just… threw together some old spells I hoped would work, and somehow they did." Granted, this latter part was almost true - despite her extensive research beforehand, the spells she'd used hadn't worked quite as well as she'd hoped, and she had indeed needed to improvise.

"But why didn't you trust us?" asked Rachel, "We're your parents. We could have helped you."

"You're right," Hermione said, feeling her mood sink a little bit as she conceded this point. It was a lie - she knew how Voldemort would have, had it even been remotely convenient, slashed their faces open just to get at Hermione.

But perhaps it was better they didn't know how much danger they were in.

"You're right," Hermione went on, "as soon as it was all done, I saw how it was actually worse for you to be out of the country. But it was too late, and there wasn't a way for me to undo it."

"And why so long for you to come for us?" asked Rachel, her voice rising slightly. She seemed on the verge of tears.

Hermione hated to see her mother cry.

"Because I couldn't find a way," Hermione said sadly, looking down at the ground. "Siger and I, we have been working for years, now, to try and figure out how to free you from the mess of charms and modifications I made to your memories. It was only this week we finally had a breakthrough. You saw how easily he slipped you out of them. Don't be fooled - it wasn't simple to come up with the right combination of spells, even though the execution was easy."

Rachel's eyes were shining now, and a few tears began to slip from them. She pressed a napkin primly against her cheeks.

"It wasn't easy," she said, "to come out of that fog. All those memories coming back… it was like being run over by a freight train of one's own feelings."

"I know," Hermione said, "I'm so sorry."

Rachel patted her cheeks again, blinking at Hermione with a sense of foreign helplessness. She seemed to be asking Who even are you?

"And what's more," Rachel asked, pivoting on the subject, "Hermione, is Siger your boyfriend?"

This was loud enough that Oliver and Severus could hear, and the two of them went silent, both gazing over at the women.

Hermione looked over at Severus, and his face was casually neutral. Say whatever you like, Severus reminded her with his eyes.

"You could say that," she said. "He is a person I care for very much, and want to spend more time with."

Her mother looked closely at him. Finally, she asked, "are you Jewish?"

Hermione was shocked. She Knew her mother was from a Jewish family but that they'd been secular enough to be pleased to accommodate the agnostic Oliver Granger into their family.

Severus was taken aback as she was, not for the least of reasons was because he had been effectively on the authoritarian end of a genocidal war.

"Erm, no," he said, his face coloring. "They don't exactly...erm...wizards don't exactly practice Muggle traditions in that way."

"What does that mean?" asked Rachel doggedly.

Severus, giving up, shook his head. "Raised Catholic, practicing agnostic."

"Ah," said Hermione's mother in a tone that seemed neutral. Then she grudgingly smiled, mostly satisfied. "I don't want my daughter to end up with a black hat."

Severus had not, apparently, heard much about Orthodox Judaism in his time in America, and his puzzled look showed as much. But Hermione figured she could explain more about it later.

"So," Rachel was going on, gazing at them both with scrutiny that would have befitted McGonagall. "I still have many questions."

"Ask away, mother," Hermione said, "but do bear in mind that I need to eventually go back and teach my classes for the day."

"Ah," Oliver said, "so you're a professor?"

"Yes," Hermione said, "and actually, Professor Snape and I-"

Then, with horror, she realized what she had said. The name 'Professor Snape' had just spilled out of her mouth like sand out of a macrame bag. And moreover, she didn't have the good sense to cover it up by correcting herself immediately - she instead cast a desperate glance at Severus, who just rolled his eyes at her.

"I knew it," Rachel said, standing up, furious. "I knew you were hiding something!"

"Oh dear heavens," Oliver said, appearing a bit stunned. Then, still a bit foggy in the brain, he asked, "What is it they were hiding, exactly?"

Ignoring her husband completely, "You were her PROFESSOR," Rachel practically shrieked, and approached Severus with malice in her eyes. "And five years later, here you are. When did you set your sights on our little girl? The first day she walked into your class, I'll bet. That's why you treated her like such a bully. Classic abuser tactics - degrade a girl until she's lost all confidence in herself, then scoop her up with praise and supplication. Makes her dependent on your love" she said, violently angry.

Severus, for his part, just sat there, unmoving.

Hermione hadn't been expecting this.

"And how is it that just now you've come to the sudden breakthrough where you can miraculously cure us of the curse that we were under?" Rachel went on. "This was far more than a mere coincidence, my darling girl. This man has had you under his thumb the entire time."

If there had been any truth to any of this, Hermione might have quailed underneath her mother's tremendous might. As it happened, however, Hermione took a few deep breaths, and then softly suggested, "Mother, you've got to calm down. Your heart."

"I will not calm down," Rachel said, beginning to cry outright. "I will not calm down."

Oliver, fortunately, took this as his cue, and he stood up and embraced his wife. "Hush, hush," he murmured, rocking her while Rachel began to sob incoherently in his arms. "It's all right. It's all right."

As Rachel gasped for air on Oliver's shoulder, Severus stood. He stared coldly at the couple. "I think I'd best be off," he said, and he walked away, not looking back at Hermione.

Hermione's heart immediately broke.

"Mother!" she exclaimed, but as her mother just started crying louder, Hermione mellowed her voice. "Mother. I'm sorry," she said quietly. "It's not what you think. It really isn't. We only just started dating a few months ago. He's… I've been engaged, mother," she went on, rambling aimlessly, "Ron and I were engaged. We were going to be married. I didn't even know Severus was alive for… for years. And Ron and I, we were going to be married. Severus didn't even show up again in the wizarding world until relatively recently. He spent years in America, mother. He had another girlfriend. He and I… this is new. And he was never inappropriate in that way when he was a teacher. Never."

This seemed to placate Oliver's apparent concern well enough. "See, darling," he murmured to Rachel, "It isn't like you thought. They haven't been dating very long. She was going to marry Ronald Weasley, that funny kid with the scar on his face and the long hair, isn't that right?"

"No, that was- oh, nevermind," Hermione tried to correct Oliver. He was on her side, repeating back everything Hermione had said to Rachel.

"You know, ma," Hermione said, gently embracing her mother and father together, "You're going to have to learn to trust me, if we're going to continue to be in each others' lives now that you're back. I know I shattered that trust you had in me when I was young and made an incredibly stupid decision that took far too long to correct. But I'm much older now - and grown up, now - and you're going to have to take what I say at face value. Not try and decide that I was smoking in the bathroom because I was reading a book in there so long."

Hermione smiled faintly at the memory of her mother banging on the bathroom door after Hermione had gotten so engaged in a book that she had been in there a full hour - and Rachel had been suspicious and enraged until Hermione opened the door and showed her she'd read over a hundred pages in a book and the window was closed tight the whole time.

"I understand," Rachel said, sniffling. "It's just… oh, Hermione, you're so grown up now. And it feels like it happened overnight. I don't know how to react, Hermione."

"That's right," reassured Oliver, and he kissed his wife gently on the cheek. "That's right."

"Excuse me?" asked a voice behind them, and Hermione felt a tap on her shoulder. Hermione processed the voice, and it seemed fairly familiar to Hermione but wasn't immediately recognizable.

Hermione turned her head and saw a plump, soft black woman in her early thirties standing in front of her. "I couldn't help but overhear - are you the Hermione I'm looking for?"

Hermione tore herself away from her parents as she did a double-take. "Erika?"

The girl smiled, her grin wide. "That's me!"

Goddamit, Hermione thought to herself, Where on earth did Severus go, and why am I suddenly in a modern comedy of errors?

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Old 11-15-2015, 11:03 AM   #65
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Chapter 48

Chapter Text

Hermione couldn't believe the poor fortune she was having today.

"Erika," she said in a low whisper, "now is not a good time."

Louder she said, "Erika, what a surprise! What are you doing in England?"

Thankfully Erika was quick to follow along. "Visiting friends," she said, grinning widely. "What a coincidence, you being here! I'm surprised they aren't here yet to pick me up. Could you by any chance give me a ride?"

"Of course," Hermione said, and gestured to the comfy chairs. "These are my parents, Oliver and Rachel."

"A pleasure to meet you," said Erika, extending her hand warmly. Hermione recognized, in her words and gesture, Severus' learned pureblood charm, and nearly laughed aloud to see it. Was it possible he had influenced her so much?

Oliver shook her hand with the same enthusiasm, and Rachel primly reciprocated as well.

"I'm so excited to be home," Erika said, gazing around at the bleak airport as if it were enchanted. "It's been so long."

"Glad to have you home," Hermione said, "our mutual friend has gone to the bathroom, I assume, and he will be back shortly."

"So what are you all doing here?" Erika asked. Her casualness was a godsend. Hermione couldn't be more thankful.

"Well," Hermione explained, "Severus and I were headed to Australia to try and remedy my parents. You surely remember hearing about how we'd been working for years to find a way to bring them back to themselves. But as it happened, my parents came here - and now with our recent experimental charm, they're okay."

"Wow," Erika said, her large eyes gleaming with humor and recognition. "That's such a coincidence. How amazing! You know what the Jungians say," she went on, and she waggled her fingers in a "jazz hands" motion. "Synchronicity."

"Exactly right," said Oliver, who ate up that wooey shit like Severus could eat a whole turkey, "such a unique coincidence, it seems like it was fated to happen."

"Yes indeed," echoed Hermione with a sigh. Perhaps all this would work out in the end. "If you believe in fate."

Neither parent commented on the heavy implication that Hermione, like all sensible people, did not believe in fate.

"So what next?" asked Erika smoothly before either of the doctors Granger could respond. "How about breakfast?"

"Splendid," replied Oliver without a second of hesitation. "Severus already had himself a bit of cake, but I suppose the rest of us could've a bite. I'm not quite sure what time it's supposed to be now, but I'm sure it's close to a mealtime somewhere."

Rachel sighed dramatically and began to walk resignedly towards the dismal morning food court.

"No, mum," Hermione said, and then stopped. Her first instinct was to say, "let's just go back to the castle," but then she realized that she wasn't sure if she could do that. As far as Hermione knew, Muggles couldn't even see Hogwarts.

"I'm wondering if you're thinking we should go back to the school," she heard a voice behind her, and a warm hand settled on her shoulder. Severus was back, a little bit calmer at least on the surface. "We should, you know. You have classes to teach."

"But can we?" Hermione asked, and raised an eyebrow at her parents.

"We aren't stowaways, you know," came Rachel's bitter voice, "We are your parents, Hermione."

"Let her be," came Oliver's placating voice. "Don't you see this is more complicated than that?"

"This wizarding business has always been too complicated for my taste," responded Rachel with a hint of a snarl.

Severus' eyes seemed to gleam. "I like your mum," he said beneath his breath, taking Hermione's hand. "Skeptic after my own heart." He seemed to hesitate with Erika, who was smiling at him broadly but with eyes that demonstrated compassion for the complicated situation. It was clear he wanted desperately to take her hand as well, and sweep her up into an embrace, but for the moment he simply extended his hand to her. "A pleasure to see you again, my dear."

"Same to you, Professor Snape," said Erika, who barely hid a giggle.

Hermione had never seen Severus blush to be called Professor Snape, but the color rose to his cheeks as Erika grinned at him knowledgeably. He smoothed the front of his shirt, which was a bit on the threadbare side since it was a Muggle piece he hadn't worn in quite a while and needed to extend prior to coming out that morning. For a moment, he seemed to have forgotten Hermione entirely, and was wholly concentrating on his interactions with Erika. Erika grasped his hand again, and shook it meaningfully, clasping it with both her hands. "It really is good to see you, Severus," she said, and patted his shoulder as she turned back to Hermione.

Hermione, on her part, felt the smallest bit sad. She wondered if she still made Severus blush. When was the last time she had made him so mumbly and bashful? She couldn't remember for the moment, and that saddened her.

Severus was doing his best to reinvest in his composure, and proceeded to wave the group - which was swiftly reaching ridiculous proportions - out of a fire exit, which he silenced with a wave of his wand. With his authoritative bearing, everyone followed without hesitation.

Then, once under cover of a fuel refilling barrel, he offered his arm to Hermione, and she took it with a sense of nervousness. He motioned for the others to do the same: Erika (who seemed casually bewildered but game for the ride,) Oliver (whose eyes were widening with excitement at the realization that finally, after so many years, he was going to see his beloved daughter complete magic), and Rachel (who appeared somber and possibly constipated, given the grim line of her lips.)

Severus seemed to have apologies in his eyes as he met Hermione's gaze. All he said, however, was "Here goes nothing," and they closed their eyes and apparated back to the castle.

........
Oliver promptly threw up as soon as they landed at the front gates of Hogwarts.

"I have always thought it very intelligent of the creators of Hogwarts to position the barriers of the anti-apparition wards far from the castle grounds," Severus said smirkingly as he extended a handkerchief magically pulled out of his cuff and offered it to Oliver.

Oliver, for his part, smiled gratefully, and heaved his guts out another time.

"He's dreadfully weak stomached," said Rachel, who appeared none the worse for wear. "Unlike some people I could mention."

Hermione wasn't sure if that was a fat joke at Severus' expense, a compliment, or both, or neither. Rachel didn't do them the favor of elaborating, so Hermione dismissed it. Anything less than overt antagonism would, unfortunately, have to be ignored. Her mother had every right to be bitter and mean.

"Drink this," Severus said, uncorking a stopper from a bottle he'd brought for Erika's benefit and giving it to Oliver, "and you will feel better."

Oliver took one whiff and wrinkled his nose, but downed the potion and took a few deep breaths. "That's amazing," he said as he stood straight again. "What is that?"

"It's a patented brew," Severus said, "I can't divulge the contents to anyone who doesn't have the license, unfortunately."

"Oh, that's all right," Oliver said, a little dazedly. He had caught sight of Hogwarts, and a huge grin emerged on his face. "That's the school, there?" he asked, a hand pointing at the school.

Everyone looked where he was pointing. Hogwarts was looking particularly lovely at this time of the morning, with the sun getting closer to the middle of the sky. Even Rachel had to be impressed.

"Yes," Hermione said proudly, "it is."

Severus nodded, then steeled himself for the walk back by taking a few deep breaths. "Come along," he said, and offered his arm to Rachel Granger, who refused it but appeared somewhat flattered. Hermione was relieved to see her having to hide a smile. That was much more what she had been hoping for from her mother upon their reunion. With that look, she knew that things would be all right. Even though it had been challenging, it was going to be all right.

.......
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Old 11-15-2015, 11:04 AM   #66
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Chapter 49

Chapter Text

The rest of the morning was occupied by trying to help Hermione's parents get settled in. Hermione finally got them disposed of in a spare guest bedroom, courtesy of a bemused McGonagall. They were severely jetlagged and were pleased to sleep through Hermione's classes, once they'd gotten their fill at the Hogwarts breakfast tables.

Finally, Hermione, Erika, and Severus were alone in Hermione's rooms as Hermione began to scramble together the materials for her classes.

Erika and Severus were sitting on Hermione's book-crowded couch, and Severus was awkwardly holding Erika's hand. At the same time, he seemed unsure whether to enjoy her eye contact or not.

"So you'll be running your classes from now through dinnertime," Erika was saying to Hermione. The other woman's eyes were running over Hermione's sitting room, an Hermione was mostly sure that Erika was just getting accustomed to her new environment - but there was a little something in her brain that seemed to suggest otherwise. As if Erika were appraising Hermione's apartment and deciding Hermione weren't good enough for Severus.

*It's not as if a lot of other people will date him, given what a fat arse he is,* Hermione thought, then hushed the thought immediately with shame. She didn't believe that. She felt like Severus' occasional charm and intelligence, not to mention hero status, would have earned him hundreds of the country's most desirable dates at the drop of a hat if he wanted them, no matter what he looked like. Still, she wondered where this thought came from. Was it a response to her feelings of jealousy, which were muted but still persistent a Erika sat on the sofa with Severus.

"It's nice to know that Severus' taste is consistent," Erika said, as if reading Hermione's mind. "He seems to have a thing for the most wickedly smart girls."

"Thanks?" Hermione said, taking a deep breath. She was finding herself coursing with anxiety and adrenaline, a delayed reaction to the situation where her parents arrived. At the turn of a pin, she felt almost like crying.

Severus turned his head and smiled at Hermione thinly, his lips pressed together in close tight formation. Then he saw that her eyes were starting to well up, and he stood abruptly. "What's wrong?" he asked, drawing her into a close embrace with him.

Hermione wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her face into his soft pillowlike breasts. "I don't think I can run classes today," she confessed as she pressed herself deeper into his softness. "This all... is too much."

"That's fine," Severus said gently. "I've never seen you cancel a class. Trust me, some professors are cavalier about it. I encourage you to take care of yourself." He clasped Hermione more tightly in response to her broken sob emerging from her throat. One of his large hands rubbed up and down her shoulders. "Shh," he murmured, and his low voice was strangely soothing. "Should I cancel your classes for you?"

"Yes please," Hermione murmured, and took a few steadying breaths. "I'm sorry Erika," she added, "this is a wonderful first impression of me. My apologies."

"Far from it," Erika said, a good-natured tone to her voice. "This certainly isn't my first impression of you. I've been hearing about how thrilled Severus has been with you for months. You've already won me over, Hemione."

Hermione hadn't thought of it that way. Granted, in some ways she felt the same, because Severus did keep Hermione apprised on his conversations and such regarding Erika. But it wasn't precisely the same, because she still didn't feel completely comfortable with the whole metamour situation.

"Thank you," Hermione said, breathing in and out. Severus then waved his hand, and sent all the books from the couch onto the floor, and then he sat his nice wide arse in the center of the couch, close against Erika. He proceeded to, almost shyly, pat the seat next to him.

Hermione proceeded to sit down, feeling her body stiffen. This was so strange.

Then Severus extended one hesitant arm to surround Erika, who leaned against him with perfect comfort. Then, with a soft tug, he brought Hermione down to a symmetrically similar position on the other side. She slipped down a little more, however, as she untucked herself from under his arm and lay down, flattening the back of her head against his thick thigh. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, feeling her hot breath come back to her as she breathed against Severus' hot stomach flesh. Hermione closed her eyes and felt Severus rubbing his hand through her long curly hair.

"I can't believe this," he murmured, once his hand was firmly stuck in Hermione's curls, "I have two beautiful women who want to be with me."

"Yep," answered Erika simply, and Hermione felt Severus' torso turn slightly. Then, she heard the slightest wet sucking sounds of a kiss, and her eyes flew open. She looked up at Severus and Erika, tentatively re-exploring each other with their tongues and lips. Hermione watched with fascination as Severus' double chins wobbled, and she appreciated the way the bit of pudge in Erika's plump neck also wiggled as they moved. Hermione idly slipped one hand underneath the warm flap of Severus' expansive belly, and she relaxed into the heat of his skin. Her eyes closed, and she listened to Severus and Erika kiss some more. Erika sounded like a good kisser; she was both an initiator and a receiver, and seemed to coax Severus into being more active and passionate with every gentle smack of her lips.

Hermione could not help but feel the slightest bit envious. Watching and listening to someone kiss Severus made her want to kiss and appreciate him as well.

She opened her eyes widely and watched with rapt attention as the others made their ballet duet a reality. Then, as they seemed inclined to stop, Severus opened his eyes and looked down into Hermione's eyes.

"Come," he rumbled thickly, pressing her shoulder and urging her to rise. Hermione did so belaboredly, and she sighed once she got herself into a sitting position.

As soon as she was accessible to him, he pressed his lips into her own. And Hermione felt immediately a mix of desire and pain. She could taste Erika's kiss on his lips - a light and lovely cocoa butter flavor, unless she was imagining it.

Her mind began to spin, and she laid a final kiss on Severus' soft cheek and stood, feeling a bit dizzy.

"I... I don't know if I can do this?" she asked, grasping Severus' shoulder with one hand and pressing her other hand against her face. "This... today was just too much."

"I understand," Erika said, and she glanced between the two magic people with some curiosity, as if expecting sparks or something. "I... I could leave you two be, awhile."

"No, no," Hermione said, shaking her head. She wasn't sure what she wanted. She felt weighed down by the events of the day, and desperately wished she could wake up again and go through the whole day over more slowly. "I just want to take a bit of a lay-down, if that's all right."

"Would you like company?" asked Erika, who was feverishly processing the situation. Hermione watched as Severus, in his confusion and distress, glanced a few times between the two women, before finally settling on Hermione with a look of concern.

"I..."

The honest answer was yes, but Hermione was not about to tell someone who was reuniting with his overseas girlfriend for the first time in years that he should abandon said girlfriend at the drop of a hat.

Erika then slapped Severus on the shoulder good-naturedly. "All right, I'll go ahead and take a nap in Severus' room, then," she said carefully, "if that's all right."

"No," Hermione said, and all of a sudden she felt even worse at the idea of banishing a woman who had come all this way to spend time with her partner. "No, you don't have to go."

"Okay," Severus said, and he seemed frustrated by the situation. He took a deep breath. "Do you want me to come and hold you while you fall asleep?"

"That'd be nice," Hermione said, "but I don't want you to have to leave Erika."

Severus groaned aloud. "I can't be in two places at once," he responded with a hint of a growl. "It's not as though we can all go to bed together."

The two women looked at each other. It sounded simple but it actually was a solution.

"Actually... would... that work for you, Hermione?" broached Erika. "...Sev in the middle?"

Hermione closed her eyes and tried not to smile at Erika calling him Sev. Somehow the levity lended itself to the situation and made her feel like it was worth a try. "Let's give it a shot," she said, feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for someone with greater social competence.

Severus' eyes went wide, but he ended up smiling hesitantly, and turned his head down so his hair fell in front of his face. "If it isn't sustainable, we'll consider other options."

What on earth was this? Hermione couldn't get her head around it, even though she took some deep breaths, and she walked fatiguedly to the bedroom, where she crawled under the bedcovers, barely kicking off her shoes.

Severus and Erika followed her, and silently, they joined her on the bed. The two of them lay on top of the coverlet, while she snuggled beneath it, but Severus accio'ed a fluffy throw blanket from a chair and draped it across their laps. Then he proceeded to snuggle as close to Hermione as possible, and his hand rested gently in the space between her neck and ear, his fingers gently lapping at her earlobe.

Erika, for her part, snuggled into the crook of his arm, saying "I brought my Kindle."

Hermione murmured a wordless sound and buried her head in the pillow. Then, feeling a desperate need for contact, she turned over and pressed her face into Severus' large soft tum instead. He responded by weaving his fingers into her hair kindly, moving in long, languid strokes.

She fell asleep there, to the tune of two persons' breathing - Severus and Erika.

It was somewhat unnerving, but strangely soothing.
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Old 11-15-2015, 11:05 AM   #67
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Chapter 50

Chapter Text

Hermione awoke again feeling like she had a mouth full of wool. Also she felt far too hot. She ripped herself away from the warm spot that she had been occupying and she turned and stared out the window. The sun was lower in the sky than she remembered, and she had a brief moment of panic as she worried whether she'd missed her classes. Then she remembered that she had cancelled them, and she took a deep stabilizing breath.

There was no light on in the room, though the sun setting in the west was casting a golden glow over everything in the bedroom.

Then she felt something soft stir next to her, and her head rose from the warm nest of blankets that draped around her. Everything was so soft and gentle to the touch. Most of the time she didn't have the brain space to notice these things, but she luxuriated in it now.

Crookshanks poked his grizzled head from between the sheets and mewed at her plaintively.

"I'm sorry, lovely," she said, stifling a yawn. She was sad to see that Severus and Erika were not there. It wasn't as if she was fair to expect their undivided attention, of course, when she was sleeping... but it would have been so much better to wake up next to them.

She heaved herself out of bed reluctantly, petted Crookshanks dutifully, and plodded into the kitchenette. She was desperately hungry, and she looked around for signs that Erika or Severus had left something to eat.

It came as a relief to see that Erika had got a box of duty-free chocolates at the airport, and only about a third of them were gone. Hermione happily consumed the rest of the large box as she went to draw herself a bath.

The water was hot, and she relaxed into it, letting her aching body review what it felt like to decompress. She had not given herself a break in so long.

She closed her eyes against the steaming water, and let the coziness of the situation overcome her. She felt like all was well in the world, despite her frustrations of earlier. Well, mostly in spite of them. She refused to let herself think about the situations with her parents and with Erika. It was too much for the moment.

She hear a scratching at the door, and she waved it open with wandless magic - she'd been practicing and trying to build up her skills in this area - and was sadly disappointed to see Crookshanks.

Where was her boyfriend, and why was she sitting in the bath alone?

She eventually got herself out of the bath, drew a robe around her laxly, and padded back to her couch. It still bore the vague imprint of three arses - one enormous, one fairly substantial, and one quite a lot smaller. With a sigh, she made herself comfortable there, and summoned the remainder of the chocolates she hadn't hastily downed.

She'd slept a long time, and now she felt completely disoriented.

However, there was no time like the present for a bit of dinner, even though it was merely five, so she clapped her hands and ordered from the houself that showed itself there.

She found herself absently ordering a modest amount - more curtailed than most of her meals of late. Some sausages, some potatoes, some fried leeks, some peas in butter. And as these all showed themselves in front of her, she found her mouth watering for more.

The potatoes were whipped with cream and butter, flavored with a hint of chive and paprika, and Hermione found herself quaffing the lot of them. The peas were interspersed with celery and carrot, and had a hint of onion flavor as well. The leeks were greasy and hot, and were luscious to tear into, with their strong scent and unusual texture. Then, last, was the taste of the sausages. The sausages given her were chicken with apple and sun-dried tomato, and were exceptionally cooked, plump and hot and when speared they made the slightest sound of deflating, as if it were a subtle balloon. The sausages cut perfectly as Hermione sliced them and brought them to her mouth, and she relished the hearty taste.

All too soon, she was left without any more food in front of her, and she lazily contemplated whether or not she wanted to proceed further in gorging herself.

And as it happened, given her recent gluttonous habits, the result was that she decided yes, she did deserve to eat some more. She did miss lunch that day, after all. Not to mention breakfast.

And so, soon enough, she found herself facing a large bowl of pasta, nearly the size of her arse. It was covered in the sweetest and most delicious Alfredo white sauce, with pine nuts and savory tomato, drizzled with a flavor of pepper and Gorgonzola to make it more dimensional in its flavors, but Hermione could do nothing more than inhale the whole ruddy thing. The food was so thick, and yet so bold, and she ached with every part of her being as she swallowed it all, hungrily.

Then, too soon, she began to feel the telltale pressure on the inside of her belly which alerted her that yes, she was indeed getting far too full. She slurped down the remaining noodles before her tum could protest, and then with a sense of victory, she toddled over to her bed and collapsed upon it, belly up.

She closed her eyes and luxuriated in the sense of completion and satisfaction that warmed her, and her fingers began to knead the soft folds of her belly with her fingers. She felt curious and relaxed, and exploratory, and she relished the lack of urgency. Her warm robe fell open, merely framing her instead of covering her, and it felt soft and cozy beneath her splendidly wide arse.

It was so nice to just *feel* herself in the quiet of her bedroom, alone. The silence seemed to reverberate around her, encompassing her and making her feel acutely aware of everything. There was no sound but the faintest insinuation of the wind outside the windowpanes, and Hermione's own deep breathing. All she could feel and see was in her immediate vicinity. It was gloriously quiet.

She took a deep breath, and fell into a dreamlike reverie. The warmth of her stuffed tum, the smoothness of her soft skin, the way her pudgy fingers played along the sides of her distended, growing belly... it all served to seduce her, make her hunger for something more compelling than even food.

With her fingers aching to exert their power over something more substantial than her mere skin, she found them wandering across the hills and valleys of her tum until they reached the pubic area, where they entered the dense forest she grew there. Her fingers then twisted among her hairs, testing their strength and wending their way through the tendrils, pulling here and stroking there.

It wasn't a stretch of the imagination to extend their attention to her wetter parts. Soon her fingers submerged themselves into the sweet slick place within her labia majora. It was a pleasurable experience, and it definitely felt naughty.

Hermione had done her fair share of masturbation in her life, but she often found herself avoiding it when she was in a relationship. Since being with Severus, she'd rarely had occasion for pleasuring herself. But this particular moment, she couldn't help herself. And that's really what made it feel even more forbidden, salacious, and delightfully dirty.

She had made herself horny simply by the simple act of eating. Horny to the point where she couldn't even wait until her boyfriend came back to please herself. And she couldn't even bring herself to feel guilty about it.

No, her fingers, while out of practice, were quick on the uptake, and soon began to commence stroking that particular area that Hermione found so pleasing and ravishing. She felt spasms of pleasure catch her bated breath, and she spread her legs wider as if to accommodate someone there.

And, despite herself, she began to imagine Erika licking her. Frenziedly, enthusiastically, licking Hermione's pussy clean.

She was completely unaware of what it was she was imagining until she was already well caught up in her fantasy. As she began to realize what was happening, she tried to shut it down. But as she closed her eyes and tried to close her mind to the fantasy, she found it only made it worse.

Erika - a woman she'd known for all of ten minutes, essentially - was a completely verboten person to objectify. She wasn't even nearly as round and plump as Hermione generally liked, which made it all the more interesting.

Hermione had a brief illumination as she orgasmed for the first time - this was probably something to do with jealousy, she rationalized - but it was nonetheless noteworthy. She found there was some tears underneath that orgasm - some pent-up emotion she had been waiting to expend, somehow.

It took her a few minutes of crying into her pillow to start feeling all right again. She realized she really needed the stimulation tonight, for whatever reason.

Then, she took several deep breaths, and began to start up her engine again. She closed her eyes, and continued to rub one out, and her fingers were thick and slick with her own juices.

But as she orgasmed a second time, a bit more vocally than the first time, she heard the front door of her apartment close, and heavy footsteps in the hall.

"Hermione?" came Severus' voice, and with a few unhesitating steps he came to the open bedroom door. His eyes were wide to see Hermione spread across the bed as she was, and he simply raised an eyebrow and smirked.

"Is she alright?" came a feminine voice from behind Severus' bulk, and Severus quickly turned around and deftly hid Erika's eyes in his voluminous chest.

"I think that Hermione's quite all right," said Severus with a grin, trying to maneuver Erika out of eyeshot. "Let's give her some privacy, shall we?"

"Erm," Erika said, not picking up on the hint. She tore herself away from Severus' grasp, and turned her head to see Hermione haphazardly covering herself with her robe. "Oh. Erm. Sorry," she apologized, realizing she'd committed a faux pas, "We thought you were still asleep. He's only been to check on you like twelve times all day."

"Erika!" Severus moaned, proceeding to gently shove his girlfriend out of Hermione's room, "The door."

"Of course," Erika said with an eyeroll. "Sorry again to interrupt you. Take your time and finish."

Hermione reddened - was her activity so obvious that a relative stranger could see what she was doing? - and most determinedly did *not* finish, because that was impolite to do when company was afoot.

Still, as she shoved on a dress and robes and thrust her feet into some house slippers, she was curious what sort of things were in Erika's mind as she'd left the room. And whether or not Erika had any interest in playing with Hermione, the way Hermione was interested in playing with her.
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Old 11-15-2015, 11:06 AM   #68
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Chapter 51: hermione's mom issues

Chapter Text

"I couldn't help but notice," Erika went on as Severus frowned into his mug of tea, "that you've got very lovely skin on your upper thighs, Hermione."

Erika seemed bound and determined to make this experience as awkward as possible, Hermione felt. She felt frumpy and somehow old as she sat in front of the fire, feet against the grate, unwinding her latest knitting disaster. Erika was sharing biscuits between the two magical people, and Hermione was eating them as fast as Erika could get them out of the package.

"It almost makes me wonder," Erika went on, joyfully saucy, her eyes glinting with intrigue, "what it'd taste like?"

"That's enough," said Severus, and he was blushing furiously red. He seemed to be quite the fish out of water, and was unable to get a hold of the situation. It must have been so uncomfortable for him, that suave manager of human dynamics, forced to crumble beneath the whims of two women flirting with each other.

Wait. Hermione's brain nearly popped out of her skull. Did she really tell herself that she was *flirting* with Erika?

But there it was, that was the truth. And the truth was exhilarating.

Hermione tried her best to keep a straight face as she tried to think of an appropriate... nay, inappropriate response.

"It takes one to know one, I suppose," Hermione said, trying to keep her tone carefully neutral.

But Erika knew better, and her eyes were dancing. She pushed some more biscuits towards Hermione's waiting hand. "Severus," Erika crooned, sitting back and smiling at their mutual boyfriend, "I can't believe you didn't tell me what a sex dumpling you had."

"Well." Severus didn't seem to have a cogent response at the tip of his tongue, for once in his life, and Hermione scooped him.

"The feeling is mutual," said Hermione, pleased to have effectively thrown the ball back to Erika for a repartee.

Erika simply grinned in response. They didn't have to overdo it.

Frankly, there were a lot of things happening in this situation. First, attraction. Hermione was instinctively attracted to Erika in a very carnal way. Second, convenience. Erika was convenient, she was here, and moreover she was already fucking Severus. (Hermione had slyly confirmed by a whispery glance at Severus' trousers, which were distinctly rumpled in such a way as suggested he'd had them off in the recent past.) Third, availability. Hermione knew without a doubt that Erika was available. Not only was she already fucking Hermione's boyfriend, she was polyamorous. And Hermione was interested in seeing what exactly that meant.

It is important for the sake of this story that we clarify the following: Hermione, at this stage of her life, had never fulfilled a sexual relationship with a girl. She'd been too timid to respond positively to Ginny Weasley's fey experimentations during the TriWizard cup, and ever since, well, Hermione had endured several feminine crushes, but not actively pursued any of them beyond trying to suggest good books for them to read. (Usually this was not well reciprocated and only further bolstered her appearance of being a swotty bookworm, and not in a good way.)

Hermione had, at this point, only made it past the stage of her attraction to women where she had figured out that flirting was something she could do with women, and should do with women if she intended to pursue any, ever. She had not, however, figured out the logistics of such things - including how to get a woman in her bed. Indeed, for reasons mostly relating to convenience, Hermione ended up with men a good deal of the time. Men were simply easier to come by, and more likely to demonstrate interest in her.

So for Hermione to be on the receiving end of flirting with a woman was particularly exciting and new.

Unfortunately for Hermione, she was a bit prone to assuming that polyamorous was the same as unbridled slut (and I use that word in a reclaiming, victorious, empowering fashion). Which assumption has some bearing on this chapter.

In any case, Hermione was interested, Erika seemed interested, and all was right in the world.

I wish I could say that they simply all tumbled into bed together after this - Erika to lick Hermione's soft thigh skin, and vice versa, and Severus to put his head between their two cunts and pleasure them until they moaned in unison - but unfortunately for us (at least for the moment), Hermione's parents still were in the picture. And they certainly were not interested in partaking in, or witnessing, such activities. (This was something that Hermione was 99% sure about.)

In any case. Hermione sat there in front of the fire, rolling her tongue over biscuits that she chewed slowly whilst relishing, and teasing apart the latest horror of mess that had emerged from her knitting basket. Erika sat, cross-legged, on the rug, with a book in her hand that she was only half-reading. And Severus sat on the couch, his laptop hovering in front of him, a hand resting on his ponderous belly while he read from online journal articles.

This was how Rachel and Oliver found them all when they came to visit for dinner.

"How are you after your sleep?" asked Hermione of both her parents, whose jetlagged selves had been put to bed as well since their arrival.

"Ah, much better, splendid," said Oliver, sitting down next to Severus on the couch immediately. "I'm glad to have had a bit of shut-eye. Rachel, dear, how are you feeling?"

"Have been better," Rachel said. She looked even more intense than earlier, with a deeply furrowed brow and narrowed eyes. "Didn't sleep much."

"It's hard getting acclimated to this soggy old island again," Oliver said smoothly, trying to make up for his wife's brusqueness.

This interaction set the tone for much of the evening. Oliver was placating, doddering, and sometimes even beseeching. Rachel seemed to become harder and more cold with every passing minute.

It finally escalated to the point where Rachel seemed inclined to bite the heads off everyone who approached her for anything, and Oliver seemed profoundly troubled by his wife's agitated behavior.

"So I hope you'll be coming with us tomorrow," Rachel said, "back to the old house."

Hermione looked startled. "Erm. The old house. It actually was sold some time ago. I couldn't do anything; the bank repossessed it since I couldn't pay the mortgage."

"You shipped us off to Australia," Rachel said, her eyes burning, "and you couldn't be bothered to pay the mortgage?"

Of course, at the time that this had all happened, Hermione had been scared out of her wits and in constant peril, living in hiding in the forest of Dean. But Hermione didn't know how she could explain that to her parents.

Instead of responding, she just stared into her plate. It was looking a bit empty, so she compulsively reached for a serving spoon to get some more rice.

"I knew it," Rachel said with a sense of finality, "I knew it. How... classically irresponsible of you, Hermione. You ship us off to Australia and you don't even bother keeping the home that your father and I worked to own for so many years."

"I mean," Hermione said, squirming, "you still have plenty of money, right? Trust me, mum, if there was a way where I could save the house, I would have, but-"

"-And all for what?" Rachel interrupted fiercely, standing up. "For the sake of living in a magic castle?"

Hermione was stunned. Is that all her mother had been able to process in the past twelve hours? She'd told them about the war, about fighting for justice, about how she'd been on the front lines helping her friend win a major war, about how they'd nearly starved to death in the woods and she was tortured by evil Death Eaters as a prisoner of war... and her mother thought she cared about a ruddy castle?

"Well, Hermione, we have seen your magic castle," Rachel said, her head sitting proudly upon her shoulders. "You have introduced us to your professors, and to your boyfriend - in the same stroke, which was genius." Rachel had a bit of a smirk in her voice, though her face betrayed no such emotion. "And now when we ask you, what do we do now, you tell us we can do anything we want - because no matter what, you are going to let us wend out own ways to our graves, and how we get there doesn't matter to you."

Hermione's eyes were wide. She had never, ever seen this much anger in her mother before. And she had no idea what to say. She cast a worried glance at Severus, who appeared thoughtful. She also looked at Erika, who merely looked worried.

Rachel went on, "You get what you deserve, Hermione. And what you deserve is to be alone until you eat yourself to death."

Hermione had no idea what to say to all this, but Severus had heard enough, and he was quick to throw a stupefy at Rachel. This meant that Hermione's mum was paralyzed, unable to speak or move.

Severus approached her carefully even so, as if expecting her to snap out of her binding. He cast a wand over her mother's skull, and gently cast an illuminating spell. Rachel's brain became visible, lit up in different colors like in a biology textbook.

"Erika," called Severus, staring closely at the visual. He gestured at one particular section and colored it brighter with his wand. "This is the area related to paranoid ideation, am I correct?"

"Of course," Erika responded, looking over Severus' thick meaty shoulder. "And it's bright as all get out."

"Yes," Severus said with a wince. "I'm going to attempt to repeat the procedure we worked on together to isolate the items in her brain."

He proceeded to whisk around different aspects of Rachel's brain like he was unwrapping a very complicated present, with layer upon layer of paper. He puzzled over it for several minutes until he identified what he seemed to be looking for.

"Ah," he said calmly, "see this?"

He gestured in a haphazard motion. Both women stepped forward, realizing as they did so that they both knew Severus' tics and how to respond to them. Erika looked into Hermione's eyes and grinned delightedly. Erika's large brown eyes were wide and intelligent, and her lips pulled apart so invitingly. Hermione found herself relaxing into a brief fantasy about flirting with them.

That is, until Severus pulled her physically over to look inside her mother's brain.

"This is the area that is activated when your mother thinks of her husband," Severus said, pointing to a large mass of neural connections colored in hues of red, pink, and purple. "And this is the area that is activated when your mother thinks of you." He gestured at an even larger set of neural networks that were those same colors in the center of the most dense areas, but were mostly glowing a dull, swampy green. It looked like a moldy hamburger that needed some more time on the grill. "There is a difference, I'm sure you see."

Hermione nodded, and a lump of dread began to grow in her throat. "She hates me," she said, feeling small and vulnerable as it began to dawn on her what kind of permanent damage had been done.

"It's a perfectly logical biological mechanism," Severus said, not skipping a beat. "I've seen this before in other long term memory modified persons. Do you understand how a memory charm works from a biological standpoint? It's fascinating.

"Memory storage is nearly infinite, though a good amount of what we think of as memory is only a fraction of the actual memory content we contain. Muscle memory is one of those key areas that is rarely addressed in school, and that's by design - it's far more dangerous to mess with that, since it relates to the autonomic functions like breathing. But I digress.

"Memory is essentially infinite. A memory charm does not destroy the memories targeted - it merely shuts down the areas of the brain where these memories are stored. Eglantine Spengler is one of the few academic witches who bothers to toy around with muggle technology, and she identified that when certain shut down areas of the brain are stimulated, those memories are shown to be present, just suppressed.

"However, just as with Alzheimer's patients, the longer areas of the brain are suppressed, the more likely it is that they will never be activated again. The memories trapped there grow harder and harder to access, until they become nearly completely untraceable. This is why memory charms have the illusion of wiping someone's memory completely, even though this simply is a misnomer.

"Shutting down tiny areas of the brain on sporadic occasions rarely has an effect. However, there can be cumulative damage compiled when there is a sufficient quotient of repeated exposure, exposure dosages, and exposure duration."

"It's like radiation," Erika explained concisely. Hermione just nodded, mutely. She looked at her father, who had pressed his face against his hands and was staring sadly at his wife as she remained frozen and incapacitated.

"On top of that," Severus went on, "The person whose magic was used to alter the person's mind damages the very chemical makeup of the brain. A small dose of memory modification won't hurt you, and is relatively simple to heal. However, a more serious alteration will leave more drastic damage. This damage will usually result in one of two diametric symptoms: pathy or antipathy, depending on the way the neurochemicals of the invader's brain correspond with the neurochemicals of the invaded person's brain. Compounded with the amount of time, this damage can spread like rot. In this case, your mother's toxic brain is poisoning areas unrelated to the point of entry that you used, which was her memory center related to you. It's slowly spreading. One of the ways that it's already changed her brain is that it's mutated some of the matter of her brain, converting it to something that is at least genetically very similar to paranoia. A portion of the damaged matter is surrounding the point of entry, as I already described."

"So what does that all mean?" asked Oliver, sounding pathetic and sad.

"It means that Rachel has sustained some serious and likely irreversible damage to certain parts of her brain containing associations with Hermione," Severus said, and he appeared somewhat apologetic and less clinical as he met her eyes.

"Irreversible?" Hermione asked, and she began to realize that she could see where Severus was heading with this line of reasoning. "What does that mean, exactly?"

"There's only one way to stave off a complete psychotic takeover of her brain," Severus said, "and that's to contain the rotted area and seal it up again, make it inaccessible to her so that it stops the spread. It's almost cancerous in how it proceeds, so it needs to be done swiftly."

"Then go ahead," Oliver said, standing up and approaching his wife. He reached out and touched her hand, and seemed surprised that it was warm. "She isn't herself."

"What does that mean, though?" Hermione asked. "Will she see me as a stranger again?"

"I'm not an expert on this," Severus said, but his face read clearly that he knew something terrible that he wasn't willing to share, "so we'd best take her to St. Mungo's for help."

Hermione nodded glumly. She felt a certain warmth near her hand, and she saw that Erika was offering her hand to hold. Hermione took it, not sure how to respond otherwise.
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Old 11-15-2015, 11:08 AM   #69
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tw: depressive ideation
Chapter Text

Hermione ended that day in bed with Erika. Not in the way you might be expecting, and not in the way I have been hoping. But it was the right way, for the moment, and that was all there was to it.

Hermione, Severus, and Erika returned from St. Mungo's with Oliver in tow. It was very late at night at this point, and they returned via the floo to Hermione's sitting room. Severus was deeply withdrawn into himself, barely saying a word to anyone, collapsing into the sofa and tucking his head down and gazing in front of him through the greasy strands of his hair.

Erika seemed unable to decide what to say, and instead kept asking each person in the group if they were all right, to the point where it was nearly annoying. She looked a bit on edge, and disinclined to relax.

Oliver seemed excessively weary, and Hermione began to realize how old he seemed. There was a stiffness to his walk that she couldn't remember, and a slowness of his processing speed that belied some additional damage to his own brain from the severe and long-lasting memory charms.

"I hope she'll be all right there, alone," Oliver said, looking sad. He dabbed his eyes on his shirt-sleeve for the fifth time and Severus, with some annoyance, drew a handkerchief out of his sleeve and nearly threw it at the older man. Erika intercepted it and gently offered it to Oliver. Then, as he accepted it tearfully, he caught Hermione's eye. And the poorly-affected strength he'd adopted crumbled completely in an instant, and soon he was grasping Hermione tightly, sobbing on her shoulder as she rubbed his back.

She'd never had to comfort her father before. He was truly crying like a little child. What had happened to them? Hermione could scarcely guess.

The weight of guilt had been settling upon her even more and more heavily throughout the evening as the troupe had gone to St. Mungo's and checked Rachel into the Ward for Unfortunate Muggles. She'd been given calming potions and sedated, though that didn't stop her suspicious scowl towards Hermione whenever Hermione entered the room.

Indeed, Hermione was deeply afraid that her mother was irrevocably changed. How could her mother reject her so forcefully, and so mindlessly? It was so irrational. And all the things she'd said - trust me, dear readers, you don't want to have read everything the woman said to Hermione, nor do I wish to write them - they stuck in a place deep inside Hermione's heart.

Now, instead of thinking of her parents as benevolently meddlesome and pushy, but enthusiastically supportive of her success... now she was having to sort out the idea that her parents were perhaps not as good of people as she thought they were. Or, at least, this was true of her mother. Her father, poor soul... she had no idea what to think of what was happening to him.

No, Hermione was now thinking about Neville, and his parents, and their mental states. They were affected by memory spells - deeply malevolent ones, among other tortures - and now were permanently in St. Mungo's due to their inability to care for themselves. She didn't think the same fate would come to her parents... but what if it did?

Hermione had things to talk about with Neville, that was for sure.

So Hermione was hugging her father, and with every sob her own heart broke over and over again. The reason he was like this was because of *her* and the fact that she'd tried to do too much with too few skills and resources.

Yes, Hermione reasoned with herself, that was probably why she hadn't fetched her parents from Australia a lot sooner. She must have had an inkling that once she did, she'd have to face the facts that she'd taken on too much, and made costly errors as a result.

Errors that might have, in fact, cost her at least one of her parents.

.........

Soon, Oliver fell asleep on the couch. He clearly didn't want to be left alone, and Hermione transformed said couch slightly wider and had the house elves bring fresh linens for him, so it was quite comfortable. She asked Minty to keep an eye on him during the night, lest he need her kindness. Minty agreed that she might be of service to him, and that was that.

She quietly retreated to the bedroom with Erika and Severus once Oliver had closed his eyes.

"Are we going to say anything to your father?" hissed Severus as he quietly closed the door.

Hermione just numbly shook her head. She felt such despair over the situation - why did it have to be this way? And why did it have to be *her* fault?

Hermione was no stranger to feeling guilt, but this experience was simply the worst she had ever endured.

Severus seemed to see her blank response, and he rolled his lips more tightly and looked pleadingly at Erika, seeking a cue.

"You don't seem all right," Erika said, finally confident enough to decide that Hermione needed her own emotions to be translated to her. "Lay down."

Not needing to be told twice, Hermione lay on the bed, and closed her eyes. She felt like she needed to sleep for at least twelve hours.

"Do you mind if I lay next to you?" Erika asked, and Hermione just made a noise in the negative, keeping her eyes closed.

She felt the brush of satin as the other woman got in the bed with her, and soon she felt a tentative warm hand approaching hers.

"Do you mind if I hold your hand?" Erika asked, and Hermione indicated this would be all right. Soon one of Erika's hot, soft hands were wrapped around her own, and she felt Erika's other hand floating over her shoulder.

"Would you like a hug?" Erika asked, and Hermione just nodded yes.

Then Erika wrapped herself around Hermione. The other girl was deceptively soft and squishy in ways that Hermione relished; while she really was more pudgy than fat, Erika was a pleasure to be embraced by.

The warm and coconut scent of Erika made Hermione want to relax into her own sobbing.

"Do you mind if I tell you something?" Hermione asked, and Erika grunted in the affirmative.

"Even if it's really bad?"

Again, Erika affirmed in the positive.

Hermione began to cry at this, and she began to choke as she tried to suppress her own sobs.

She noticed vaguely that the bed creaked near her foot, and she felt Severus ease himself down at the end of the bed and stretch out. She couldn't get a read on him right now, and she didn't care.

"What is it?" Erika prompted, and Hermione buried her face in Erika's shoulder.

"I'm feeling so deeply guilty about this," Hermione confessed. "My parents... they've changed. And as we know, on a biological level. They literally aren't the same anymore, because of me. And I think I just... left them there... even though I knew that I had overextended myself when I did all those memory modification charms and even though I knew I'd put them in great danger."

"Shh," Erika said, and Hermione felt Erika rocking slightly, back and forth. "It's called cognitive dissonance, or post-hoc rationalization, or whatever. And it's all right. If you were a computer then I'd be concerned, but this is a foible unique to human beings. I've done the same sort of thing a lot."

"But ever of this scope?" Hermione asked dramatically, feeling a fresh wave of tears emerge.

"...perhaps not," Erika said, wisely not trying to engage Hermione in some convoluted and irrelevant story, "but Severus has."

"Thanks, Erika," drawled Severus, and it became clear to Hermione that he was raptly attending to every word. She opened her eyes and looked down the bed, and she saw him laying across the bed, looking immensely casual as he propped up his head on his folded elbow. His belly jutted forward with a sense of careless pride, and at any other moment she'd want to eat him up - particularly given the intense way he was staring at her.

But at the moment, Hermione could no more think of sex than commit it, and she drew Erika in a tighter embrace. "I guess so," Hermione acknowledged, and she felt Severus readjust himself and touch her foot. Her foot was covered in blankets, but he grasped it firmly, and began to massage it through the quilt. It was quite comforting and cozy.

Hermione drew a few deep breaths. "But I don't know what to do now," she said, and as she voiced this fear, her sobs bubbled up again, and she began to cry outright. "My dad cried today. I've never seen him cry before. What do I do now? And my mother might never speak to me again because she's suffering delusions that I'm a monster. What can I do?"

"Nothing," Severus said, and pressed his lips against the top of Hermione's foot to kiss her. "And that's the tough bit. We have to wait for the evals to be done tomorrow by the specialist, and until then, we merely wait."

"But what if I *am* a monster?" Hermione asked, and she began to sob incoherently in Erika's shoulder.

Severus heaved himself up - Hermione felt the bed creak underneath him - and moved himself up to cuddle Hermione on the other side. "This talk I will not tolerate," he said firmly. "Hermione, not only are you the most intelligent and most hard-working witch of your generation, you've made an impact on the world incomparable to anyone else I've ever met. And your humility and good humor are still intact, which is more than I can say for lesser wizards."

He pronounced this last word with significant distaste, and Hermione could read between the lines that he meant Harry and Ron, but was holding himself back, for her.

She felt his breath against her neck, and his arm drape below the curve of her luscious tum, and she felt the way his soft, sumptuous body melded against her like a warm soft lump of clay against a mold.

She responded by holding Erika closer, and as she moved slightly away from him, he tightened his own grasp on her, following her across the few inches of the bed until he was just as firmly holding her.

Hermione didn't say several of the things that she was feeling that night - that she wasn't worth it, that she was a terrible person for doing what she had done to her parents and being so cavalier about it, that she was so burdened with guilt that she was physically pained - but somehow Severus and Erika persevered and clasped Hermione until she drifted off into an uncomfortable and unhappy sleep.

............











Notes:

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Old 11-15-2015, 09:02 PM   #70
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I love your story. I'm a huge harry potter fan and I love the depth you're bringing to the characters. It feels more like an addition to harry potter with a touch of weight gain than a weight gain story. If I had to add anything it would be a little more description of the weight gain. Hermione put on 14 pounds but I didn't get a sense of what that change did to her body. But it was inconsiquential to my enjoyment of the story. Write more please!
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Old 11-20-2015, 05:23 PM   #71
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Chapter 53: menage a trois

Chapter Text

Predictably, after so much extra sleep during the rest of the day, Hermione found herself awoken at two in the morning. She stared up at the ceiling for a few minutes. It was charmed to take on the ombre of the night sky outside, giving a subtle suggestion that one was sleeping out of doors. It glittered at her, indicating that it was probably clear outside, with sighting of stars.

She was well wedged in between Severus and Erika, and Erika had one arm draped around Hermione, holding her tight, while Severus was turned towards the wall, but as if to make up for it, his foot had snaked around her ankle, and he was also hugging a pillow profoundly.

Hermione unwound herself from Erika's arm, feeling a desperate need to use the bathroom, and she saw Severus' head turn abruptly. His eyes met hers, though she only knew from the slight glisten where they caught the light of the moon from outside.

"Been a ruddy awful day, hasn't it?" Hermione whispered, as Severus slipped out from under the covers to allow her exit. "How are you faring?"

"Not well," he responded carefully, "mostly bored, though. I swear I've been staring at that wall for an hour."

"I'm sorry, that sucks," Hermione said quietly, getting up from the bed. She was satisfied with the little extra heave she had to put into that particular operation - her belly was starting to get in the way of things like standing up from sitting. "I need to use the loo - do you want to play a game or something in the main room?"

He frowned, as if he'd had something else in mind entirely, but on the face of it he agreed, "Certainly. Whatever you'd like to do."

She could hear him practically screaming that he wanted something else, but whatever it was could wait.

She dashed on tiptoe into the bathroom, completed her ablutions, and returned to the main room where Severus had pulled out the chess board charm and was impatiently waiting for her to make the first move.

"We don't have to play if you don't want to," Hermione said, sitting down on the sofa next to him instead of at the opposite side of the board. "Penny for your thoughts?"

He appeared initially disgruntled at the change in plans; perhaps he was not as awake as he thought he was. In either case, he let his arm drape around her shoulders, and he sighed, letting his head turn down and his hair fall along his cheeks, hiding his eyes and framing his chubby face.

"I'm glad you're getting on with Erika so well," he said, after several moments where he seemed to fight with himself about what he wanted to say. "But I'm worried that you're upset that I left with her while you were sleeping earlier."

Hermione did a quick mental check-in with herself about this. She'd been lonely, true, but not really upset. Also according to Erika, he'd come to check on her an excessive amount, which was probably because of his feeling guilty. But it wasn't an unproductive loneliness; she'd pleasured herself like she imagined they had been doing, and while it was somewhat alienating, it was also relaxing, and the neurochemicals she'd earned then had helped her cope with the rest of the tumultuous day.

"Don't worry," she reassured him, wrapping her arms around his waist and appreciating the way his multiple rolls of belly sloshed and jiggled as she pressed against him. His muscles seemed tense, as if he'd been ruminating on this for hours. "I wasn't jealous. I needed to get off, so I did, and while I was a little bit lonely, it ended up being exactly what I needed."

She felt his diaphragm expand underneath her arm, and he seemed to relax just the smallest bit. But not entirely. "Thank you," he said softly, not looking at her. He stared straight ahead at where the chess board emanated indigo and blue light, the only light in the room.

Hermione, for her part, simply drew back his hair - it was in some ways one of Severus' juvenile habits that she'd began to see him doing more frequently as he let her get closer to him. He could be honest with her, unlike the rest of the world, but sometimes that vulnerability meant that he needed to hide his face - and she kissed him on his soft cheek, letting her lips linger, breathing on his gentle (if somewhat chronically oily) skin.

Severus' body began to tense in a distinctly different way, and then he smirked, and looked straight into her eyes. They were close enough that his angular nose was just a hair's breadth away from her own.

Hermione, for her part, relished the intense spike of adrenaline she got whilst waiting for him to kiss her. He held off for several minutes more than she could have - his breathing was steady, but she could see he was trying to keep himself from pursuing her lips, to build up the momentum.

Then, the exact moment that Hermione felt she couldn't wait anymore, she blinked and he pressed his lips into hers. He was hot, and rough, and he nipped and sucked at her lower lip with passionate energy.

This kind of game meant that he'd been very horny for a very long time. Chances are he never fully got to sleep, Hermione mused as her hand wandered down south below Severus' massive belly overhang, given the hardness and eagerness of his cock.

He moaned as she touched him, grasping his cock through the fabric of his nightgown. "Gentle," he admonished through his pleasurable noise, "I won't last long, and I'm close to the edge now." In a more seductive tone he added, "Just feeling your incredible bosom pressed against me has got me entirely too excited."

Hermione raised her eyebrow, and pecked him on the cheek with a kiss. "What would you have me do instead?"

In response, he pressed his lips against hers once more. This was a short kiss, and then he kissed her on either side of her delicate mouth. Even these kisses were strong, full of conviction and flavor. They were enough to make anyone woozy and giddy.

"I've got something fairly important to attend to first," he said.

Without another word, he threw off Hermione's grasp and struggled his body into sitting on the floor.

"Open wide," he said with a grin, and it took her several minutes to realize that what he wanted was to *pleasure* her, not examine her. Though examining was indeed part and parcel of their usual practices!

She then proceeded to remove her own pyjama pants, which were pleasingly tight around the middle and she had to squeeze herself out of them. It was particularly difficult because she was bound and determined not to move her fat arse from the seat of the sofa. She grabbed the unhappy elastic of the waist and yanked over one buttock cheek, then with some maneuvering managed to get the other one off as well.

Severus, for his part, was already as deep into her crotch as he could get. He was on all fours - the only way he was going to be able to access her where she sat, given the ponderousness of his belly would get in the way. Once she got the trousers off the butt, he yanked with his teeth. It was incredibly sexy to watch him drag it off her feet, like a huge fat dog, even though he pulled a few of her hairs.

Soon her clothing was discarded, and he was having his way with her clit and labias, sucking and biting and licking, licking, *licking,* *LICKING...*

"Oh fuck," Hermione cried out, moaning with pleasure and ecstasy as he brought her to climax. He kept at it like a workhorse, not giving up or even slowing down for a moment.

Hermione found herself practically screaming, "Merlin's balls thank heaven oh gods!" as she climaxed again, a rush of hormones coursing through her body as she relaxed into the pleasure she could scarcely contain.

But then, suddenly, Severus stopped just as she was about to get over a third orgasm, and Hermione begged, "No, now is not the time for teasing, keep going, keep going!"

"Yeah," she heard a feminine voice answer from the bedroom door. "Keep going."

Severus appeared somewhat confused, but as Erika added, "Go on!" he began to do as he was told. There was less fervor to it, but that was all right. Hermione was too abashed to enjoy it.

"I'm sorry, Erika," she said, feeling like a terrible hostess, "I'm... I'm so sorry. Did we wake you up?"

"Yeah," Erika said, "but my sleep's all fucked up anyway with the time zone change. Besides, I should be thanking you - sounds like things are too exciting out here to miss!" She paused. "Unless you'd prefer some privacy. I can go back to bed if you want."

"Oh, erm, no!" Hermione said, and Severus stopped licking abruptly, and sat back on his (plump, delicious, oversized) haunches.

"What?" he asked, and Hermione met his eyes. He had a sense of panic in his eyes, but there was something else - desire?

He cast a glance back at Erika, then back at Hermione, then back at Erika, and then back to Hermione. And then he seemed to come to some inner conclusion. "I suppose, if you like, I have no objections."

Then, with a sense of pride, he began to lick Hermione with renewed effort. He seemed likely to burn out a bit soon, though - she felt drops of sweat fall on her buttery thighs from his brow. He was really too fat to be good a this for very long, and she was impressed with how far he'd trooped.

"Let me give you a rest, dear," Erika said, and Hermione felt Erika sit on the ground next to Severus with a thump. Severus, for his part, gave a final flick to Hermione's clit with his tongue, and he sat back again, panting hard. "Hermione, do you mind if I pick up where he left off?" Erika asked, and Hermione nearly swooned at the thought.

"Erm, yes, please," Hermione said, and she felt her body tense up with anticipation.

Erika's tongue was smaller than Severus', more dainty. Her lips were more soft, though, and she seemed to prefer quality of strokes to quantity; she had a way of waiting just a tiny second or two between strokes, which left Hermione ravenous for more.

Erika wasn't an amateur at working with the vaginal equipment, that was for sure!

Hermione found herself flooded with beautiful sensations and feelings. Severus' cunnilingus was robust and effortful, like a reliable engine. Erika's was more like a dance, full of artistic effortlessness that made Hermione squirm. She didn't necessarily prefer one over the other - in fact, at some moments Erika's was slightly annoying because of how unstable and unpredictable it was - but bring her to climax it did, and Hermione found herself riding a rush like she'd never had before.

Erika pulled back as Hermione screamed with pleasure, and she patted Hermione's delicious thighs. "Mind if I continue putting my mouth to good use?" asked Erika warmly, and all Hermione could do was nod consent.

Erika's fingers were exploratory and well practiced. Her tongue seemed like it wanted to taste every morsel of Hermione's thighs. She licked and nibbled at Hermione's soft flabbiness, pulling at it here and there.

In short order, Erika made her way up to Hermione's breasts.

"You should know," Erika sad as she pressed her face between Hermione's breasts, "I've wanted to touch these since first I saw you."

"Oh gods," Hermione responded as Erika's lips latched on to one of her nipples, and it was sucking ravenously. Her left hand clasped Hermione's other boob, or so Hermione thought - until she realized that there was another pair of lips on her other breast.

She opened her eyes from where she was reeling with pleasure, and in her dreamlike state she saw Severus had taken up a post on her left breast whilst Erika worked the one on the right.

Hermione had never, ever experienced anything like this before - and she figured she probably never would again, so she might as well enjoy it.

This was certainly enough excitement to put her to sleep, and when one of her lovers put their mouth down under for a final takeoff, Hermione felt like it'd nearly been too much. She felt utterly decadent and spoiled.

Severus' tongue was on her sopping wet cunt, however, and she went along with it until she reverberated with a final earth-shattering climax that topped all the others she'd had that night.

As she recovered, she waved both Severus and Erika away from where they eagerly tried to resume giving attention to Hermione's breasts. "Enough," she beseeched, feeling as high as a kite on a windy autumn's day. "Give me a moment to breathe, you two."

Erika didn't wait a second before rushing Severus, who was panting with his most recent exertions. No sooner was he gasping for breath than he was gasping with pleasure as Erika had found her way underneath the hem of his nightgown to loosen his rock-hard erection with her mouth.

"Oh Merlin," it was his turn to gasp, and he fell backwards from his crouchng position onto the carpet, where he lay prostrate and spread-eagle while Erika sucked at his wily.

As he tumbled over, looking every bit an adorable bear and not at all like a scary famous potions professor, his stomach rumbled audibly. And then, Hermione knew she had a role she could play while Erika teased their boyfriend.

"Mmm," Hermione said, struggling up from the couch. "Let's find something for your hungry tum. That stellar job you did on my cunt cost you a lot of calories."

"Will it be cunt flavored?" asked Severus foggily, and he shuddered with pleasure on the cusp of arriving.

"Not unless you want it to be," Hermione said.

"Please!" he responded urgently.

Well, shit. She wasn't going to be able to do all that much if he wanted it cunt-flavored.

She hurried to the kitchenette, her feet landing with an unfamiliar poundy-ness that was satisfying to hear. She opened the freezer and there sat the unlimited bowl of ice cream that she could have sworn had disappeared.

Well, no matter. She ushured as much as she could into her vagina using the transmutation method he'd taught her, and soon she felt it the sticky vanilla dripping down her legs.

In no time, she was over Severus' face, and though his eyes were closed, it took him no effort at all to reach up and start licking out her ice-cream filled pussy when she hovered over him in a squat.

"Oh gods." Whether the ice cream or the short break had helped rejuvenate her, she wasn't sure, but Severus' tongue was hungry, and he wouldn't stop licking and sucking at her dripping cunt.

The combination of cunt flavored ice cream and Erika's attentions finally drew Severus up the wall, and he orgasmed with a long, shuddering moan that Hermione wasn't entirely accustomed to.

"Oh gods" Severus whimpered again, "Get me some more?" The ice cream was a bit more messy in this position than in the bed when they'd done it, as it kept dripping a lot.

Hermione accio'ed a spoon and the remainder of the bowl - of which there was plenty - and began to spoon it into his greedy mouth.

"You've got quite a bit of space in there," she purred, giving the bowl and spoon into Erika's accommodating hands. Hermione then moved down to hover over Severus' enormous belly. "But is it enough for all the ice cream in that bowl?"

"There is," moaned Severus between bites, "there is."

"Hmm," Hermione said, and she began to scrutinize him; through his nightgown it was inconvenient, but she drew it up and rested the hem of it on top of his large tummy, below his flopping breasts. Then his stomach reigned with its immense glory, and Hermione bent down to worship it.

"It seems like you might," Hermione said teasingly, "but sometimes I worry, Severus, that your eyes might be bigger than your stomach."

Severus just snorted in response - Erika wasn't giving him much chance to say anything between her swift offerings of ice cream on the spoon.

"Hmm," Hermione said, poking his belly with one finger and letting her finger sink as deeply as she could manage into Severus' flab. "You do have quite a bit of stomach here, dear. Have you thought about perhaps going on a diet?"

"What," said Severus, "are you saying I'm fat?"

"Well, yes, actually," Hermione confessed, pretending sadness. Erika laughed. "I think you've gotten a bit too ample around the tum, Severus - and eating ice cream is only going to make you fatter."

"Oh well," he responded, and slurped at the spoon audibly. "As you said, I'm fat. Nothing's going to change that."

Hermione responded by putting her hands on top of his belly and moving her hands in a relaxing motion, pressing against the sides of his stomach, helping to move around the contents of his tum and make it easier to squeeze down the last bit of ice cream.

Severus, for his part, was eating as if he hadn't eaten all day, and Hermione was impressed by the amount Erika efficiently fed to him.

Soon enough, the ice cream was gone.

"Damn," Severus said, and belched. He had never done that before without covering his mouth and hiding it with embarrassment, that Hermione could recall - this one he bore proudly, as he might a battle scar. "I'm still quite peckish."

"See," Hermione said, laboriously standing up, "you just ate enough to feed an entire army barracks, and what do you want? More! How are you ever going to lose weight this way, Severus?"

"I won't, I imagine," Severus said, and Hermione saw Erika move to rub his belly in Hermione's stead.

Hermione, for her part, went to the kitchen and found some biscuits in a tin, and some strawberry preserves. She proceeded to bring over the entire tin and jar over to Severus, and she dipped one biscuit in jam and put it into his mouth before he could snark at her some more.

"Mmm," was all he could say, as he chewed hungrily.

All remained quiet for the next quarter hour, as Hermione stuffed Severus' mouth every second, and Erika relaxed Severus' increasingly bloated tum.

Finally, after reaching nearly the end of the biscuit tin, Severus covered his mouth with his hand and shook his head. It was the signal that he'd eaten more than he should have, and couldn't speak until it compressed a little bit in his overstuffed tum.

"Good work," Hermione said, as Erika continued to rub Severus' belly. "You...seemed a little quiet."

Erika grinned in response. "Yeah, well, this is something I can file under as 'your kink not mine,' but I'm happy to do what I can. I wish I could say I wasn't surprised when Sev told me about it this afternoon - I mean, medication makes people gain weight, but his weight ballooned to unreal proportions, you know? So I should have been able to figure it out, particularly since there's a lot of little clues he left me over the years to try and get me to see... it all makes sense, but I couldn't have guessed on my own."

"Mmmmph," growled Severus with his mouth closed. There was a certain peacefulness about him, though, that Hermione hadn't detected before. He was replete and lazy, and overstuffed with food, and he had two beautiful women to take care of him, it seemed.

Oh. Thinking about it that way, Hermione could see why he liked this so much. Feeding him was a way of taking care of him - something that, apparently, he craved, after so many years of alienation and loneliness.

Hermione didn't mind taking care of him, as long as he could do the same for her sometimes.
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Old 11-20-2015, 05:25 PM   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinkerbell_22 View Post
I love your story. I'm a huge harry potter fan and I love the depth you're bringing to the characters. It feels more like an addition to harry potter with a touch of weight gain than a weight gain story. If I had to add anything it would be a little more description of the weight gain. Hermione put on 14 pounds but I didn't get a sense of what that change did to her body. But it was inconsiquential to my enjoyment of the story. Write more please!
awwwwwwww thanks I'm glad it feels true to the original author's intent. I suppose part of it is I just wanted a story with fat Hermione and fat Severus, and there's a kinky scene every couple of chapters. It's enough to get flames but apparently not enough to satisfy my horny gluttonous readers Don't worry at all, I try to intersperse a sexy chapter for every 2 of plot. thanks for the comment made me feel good
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Old 03-13-2016, 02:03 PM   #73
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Chapter 54: slytherin games

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Severus lazed about, his overstuffed stomach protruding above him like a monument to his gluttony, and he lay there with his eyes closed, replete with satisfaction.

Hermione couldn't help but keep touching him, and her hands roved over the tautness of his belly, feeling the way his skin stretched to accommodate the vast quantities of dessert he'd engulfed.

Then she realized that she had missed something - Erika was sitting, as stony as a cat observing prey, and even in the dark, Hermione could see that there was the hint of sadness about her features.

"It's your turn," Hermione said, patting Severus' stomach one final fond time, and she hoisted herself up, using the side of the couch as support. She was rather hungry herself now, but she put that aside for the moment. Erika needed some attention, particularly after her willingness to indulge the two of them so deeply in a kink that she didn't share. "How can I best pleasure you, if you want me to?"

Erika took a deep breath of relief, as if she'd worried that no one would ask her. "I mean," she said, looking at Severus outstretched on the floor, "What I'd like most of all is a firm hard fucking from our friend here -" And then she poked Severus' big belly with a smirk. "But I don't think that's likely to happen. Will you do the honor instead?"

Hermione frowned. "Erm, how, exactly?"

Erika's eyebrows shot up with interest. "You mean, you've never used a strap-on before?"

Hermione had to sadly agree.

Erika huffed a bit. "I expect it'd be too much to hope that you even *have* a strap on."

Hermione was about to respond - of course she didn't have one, who'd she use it on? - but was interrupted by Severus, who answered in a mumbly fashion, "I do."

"Ah," Erika said, and made eye contact with Hermione. Hermione felt that Erika was trying to make some educated guesses. Then, looking a bit pleased with herself, Erika said with an even greater smirk, "So Sev hasn't told you how much of a little slut he is for anal, has he?"

"What?" Hermione asked, finding herself laughing at the preposterous idea of Severus being a little slut in any sense of the word.

"Not yet," admitted Severus, and with great effort, he sat up, and he rolled his eyes. "Oh, don't look so amused, Granger. You know what they say - once you've tasted crack, you never go back."

"I think you made that up, dearheart," chortled Erika, who was finding the proceedings even more hilarious than Hermione did. "Because I don't know anyone else who says that."

"Same difference," Severus said with a shrug of his beautifully rounded shoulders. There was a sense of quiet shamelessness about this confession, perhaps even pride. "But I never like it on a full stomach, and with Hermione, that's a rare occurrence indeed."

"What can I say?" Hermione said, a bit of pride entering her own voice. "I like to keep my men well fed."

"I think that's obvious," Erika said, her eyes twinkling. "So, Hermione, do you want to have a go at fucking me with a strap-on?"

The way she said it was so casual, as if she'd said, "So, Hermione, do you want to have a go at this light-hearted friendly croquet match?"

And, well, to be frank, it was a very inviting invitation. "I'll try it," Hermione said, "though please reserve your high expectations for a future, better practiced me."

"Well, there's some chutzpah," Erika said with a grin. "Sev, where's your toy - and some condoms?"

"My room," he said, attempting to ease himself up off the floor and not having a great deal of success. "But I could use some assistance."

Hermione and Erika both stood, and for the briefest of seconds they hesitated, trying to see which should help their fat-arse boyfriend get his aforementioned fat arse off the ground. But with a sense of mutual decision, they both extended their hands to help him.

"You'll need us both," Hermione said, feeling her own belly pinch with hunger pains. "You're getting too heavy, my dear."

"So you keep telling me," mused Severus with acerbic scorn, but he was poorly hiding a smile.

With a few heaves - and, well, truth be told, there was a little playacting on both Severus' part and the girls' - Severus stumbled into a standing position. Now, he made an effort to be more dignified, and he smoothed out the wrinkles in his flowing nightgown and pulled a silk dressing gown around him. It was barely successful at tying around his protruding belly.

"I'll be back presently," he said, and, slipping his feet into his velvet house slippers, he toddled off to get the items in question.

As soon as the door closed, Erika practically bounded into Hermione's arms.

"Tell me," she said, as she pulled one of the furry throw blankets off the couch and wrapped them around the two of them as they sat on the floor rug, "how ever did you get him so comfortable with his nakedness? It used to be such a struggle just to get him naked - he'd use every conceivable excuse to cover himself up, and hide his body. But ever since I've arrived, I've done sex with him twice, and he didn't hide at all either time."

Hermione felt herself relax into the warmth of the blanket - and the warm coconut smell of Erika's soft arms.

"I don't know," she said softly, "he just never did that with me."

"So," Erika said with a smile, "real talk. May I ask how you two started going out? He only ever answers those kinds of questions with half-answers and evasion, and I'm really quite curious to hear your perspective."

"Oh?" Hermione asked, and was immediately puzzled. Erika had always seemed such an important part of her adult relationship with Severus that it hadn't occurred to her that Erika might be a little more clueless about it than her. "I mean, you were there from the beginning, basically. Severus and I only started being really interested in each other once he apologized at your recommendation for the thing he did back in August."

Erika frowned, clearly also puzzled. "What thing? What recommendation?"

Hermione was deeply surprised that Erika couldn't remember. Did she have some form of amnesia?

But then something clicked into place. "Oh," she said, with a sense of realization. "Oh, that manipulative Slytherin arse."

"What?' Erika asked, and her eyes betrayed no recognition.

"Okay, here's what must have happened," Hermione said, chuckling aloud. "Severus did something back in August that was a violation of professional conduct and trust. It is also something he knew better than to do, and he did it anyway. Whether or not it was voluntary, or not, I don't know. But either way, it resulted in me attempting to file a sexual harassment claim against him, and lucky for him, I got stonewalled by McGonagall, who was trying to ensure that he got a second chance."

Erika looked horrified at all this, and her eyes were wide.

"Well, then the thing is," Hermione said, "he came crawling back to me with apologies, telling me that you'd gotten him to see that what he'd done was egregious and wrong. And he begged for forgiveness in a very convincing fashion. And I gave it to him. And this conversation was what led him to confess that he had a girlfriend, and then he proceeded to flirt shamelessly with me, until he confessed that your arrangement is a non-monogamous one, and that he'd be interested in dating me."

Hermione took a deep breath. "I see now that there must have been something else that made him apologize, since you don't know anything about this."

Erika nodded, seeming a bit spooked at the whole thing.

"What that precisely was," Hermione said, "I don't know. But I suspect that Severus played me. Now the question is - what does all this mean?"

Erika carefully unwound herself from Hermione and stood up. "I'm really not okay with all this," she said, "and we all need to talk about it. Now."
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Old 03-13-2016, 02:04 PM   #74
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Chapter 55: always

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Severus was startled to see the two women with clothes back on and the lights all brightly shining in the living room of Hermione's flat.

"What's the matter?" he asked, putting down a silken red bag that made a suspicious clunk noise on the table.

"We need to clear up a small matter," Erika said. She'd pulled her kinky hair into a tight bun, held with one of Hermione's spare clips, and she looked very serious and professional as she sat on the sofa next to Hermione, even though she was in her pyjama pants. While Erika radiated strength, Hermione felt like she herself was bleeding a little bit on the inside, and she felt herself melting just a little bit as Severus' look of genuine confusion writ across his face.

He settled down in one of the armchairs opposite the sofa, since clearly he wasn't welcome there, he stared very seriously back at Erika in response. However, the fatigue showed in his face. He was weary, which probably meant he'd cut to the chase and continue to play games, which Hermione was grateful for.

Erika's voice was flat and somewhat aggressive as she said, "Why did you tell Hermione that you'd consulted me in regards to the violation you committed against her back in the beginning of the school year?"

It was clear that Severus had nearly forgotten about the incident - as had Hermione, really - and his face was deeply crestfallen in response.

"I shouldn't have done that," he said with a sense of regret, "And I apologize, Erika."

"Thanks for your apology," said Erika stiffly. "Now, the question is why - and what does it mean?"

Severus eased himself back in his chair, and rested his hands on top of his distended tum. He stroked it a bit, fondly, as he contemplated the two women. Hermione didn't feel inclined to give him an inch, and she stared him down until he gave up. He demonstrated this by tipping his head upward and staring mutely at the ceiling for a few more minutes. Hermione admired the way his neck fat uncreased and stretched, the little ribbons of color gently demarcating the places where his skin folded and rolled. He was breathing deeply, too, and the way his too-full belly moved as he did so was hypnotizing.

But not hypnotizing enough. Neither woman was willing to fall prey to his usual teacher tactic of waiting for the other person to speak first, and thereby lose. Finally he said, and there was a sense of ruefulness to it, "I did it because: I didn't think you'd believe me if I told you, Hermione, that I had reviewed my own actions and found them wanting."

Hermione huffed.

He lowered his chin, and his face was devoid of color and emotion. "Exactly. Just like now, you don't believe me."

Neither Erika nor Hermione was willing to say anything to dignify that with an answer at first. Erika looked like she was evaluating a used car - skeptical, and as if she were disinclined to buy it. For Hermione, the jury was still out. If he was able to cobble together something sufficiently convincing, she might be able to chalk this up to early stage dating games and give it a pass. She felt fairly sure that Severus hadn't made a habit of lying thus far in their relationship.

Too often he simply said he'd prefer not to talk about certain things, and she'd always respected that.

Then again, maybe he had, and she just hadn't noticed. He was a master spy, after all.

Severus looked a trifle older than she usually thought of him, now that she was looking at him in the brighter light. She noticed a stray gray hair or two that she hadn't observed before, but that wasn't all. There was an overwhelming sense of weariness in his spirit, and he looked between the two women. It seemed as if he were calculating something, for the briefest of moments, but then his eyes closed off with the overwhelming silence of occulmency. She recognized it because she'd been practicing it with him, and had gotten to know how his eyes looked when he closed off all his important emotions (the same way he'd done when at the hand of Voldemort).

Shit. If he was occulmencing, that was definitely not good.

"Hey," Hermione said, and stood up, and walked over to him. "Hey."

She extended her hand to meet his. He listlessly gave her his hand, but there was no warmth in his gesture. It was like he were offering a corpse's hand.

"Hey," she said, and she snapped her fingers in front of his eyes. "Come on. Don't panic. I'm not going anywhere."

The snap got him out of the glazed look, and all of a sudden he was back again, and his dark black eyes began to fill.

"How many times do I have to do this?" he asked softly, ducking his head down sharply and hiding his face behind his hair.

At first she thought the question was directed to her. She glanced back at Erika in confusion, but then Severus went on, as the question went unanswered, "How many times do I have to prove that I'm a better person than I once was?"

"What are you talking about?" Erika asked, and she stood up and joined Hermione and Severus. She wasn't quite as warm and responsive as Hermione was to Severus' mood, and indeed she looked a bit like a fish out of water. Or, rather, a fish that had long ago learned how to live above water, but hadn't been above water for quite a while lately, and was emerging again for the first time. Had the world above the ocean changed? In what ways? And how should she adapt?

Hermione, however, was well practiced at comforting Severus, and she knew by now what he was talking about.

"Come on," she soothed, putting a hand on his shoulder and rubbing it slowly, consistently. "This isn't at all like that."

"Isn't it?" he asked, not moving. "A boy does something incredibly stupid and bad, out of panic, towards a girl he fancies, and then when he tries to apologize and tell her he was wrong, she writes him off?"

"Did you really fancy me, at that point?" Hermione asked, inappropriately curious.

"Yesssss," he hissed, and he turned his head up to look into her eyes. "Since that first moment I caught you watching me, when I was stuffing my godawful fat face in the Great Hall."

"So why did you lie in this particular way, though?" Hermione asked, not breaking eye contact. She felt a blush creep up over her cheeks as she remembered that first pivotal moment where Severus was choosing pastries. *He'd put on so many luscious pounds since then,* she thought, *and many of them because of me.* "You went through great lengths to tell me how you changed your mind about the incident. Why bother?"

"Again," he said firmly, his face drooping towards the floor again, "because I have a history of pretty girls not accepting my plain apologies."

"I don't understand," Erika said, shaking her head. "Is this about Lily?"

"Yes," Hermione said, and Severus said at the same time. Severus remained quiet, and Hermione added, "It's pretty much always about Lily."

Severus seemed to refuse to speak any more after this, and Hermione added, "She's the knot that ties everything in his brain together."

Erika sighed. "I guess I knew that, but it's been a while since I was really elbow-deep in Severus' brain about it. I kinda thought it'd gone away."

"Always," Severus said, his voice low and almost growling.

"Well, shit," Erika said, and she put her head in her hands. "Forgive me, my dear, but that's fucking nuts. And I say that in the kindest of ways."

All he could do in response was shrug.

"Well, I think we've done enough of this for one night," Erika said, shaking her head. "I vote we go back to bed, and sort it out later."

"We?" asked Severus, and Hermione's heart broke as she read into the single syllable the connotation - he'd been expecting to be abandoned tonight.

"Yes, you silly goose," Erika said, turning and scooping him up in her arms as well as she could. "It's clear that whatever reason you had to do this shitty thing, it's pretty intense, and I know I'm too tired to deal with this affair tonight. I suspect you all are as well."

Severus didn't respond to her efforts, however - instead he raised his head and stared at Hermione. His eyes were glassy and his breathing was tense. He swiped at his hair with his free hand, pushing some of the front strands behind his ear. "Hermione?"

"Of course," said Hermione, holding him close to her, wrapping her arms around him.

He proceeded to bury himself in her shoulder and cry - huge, breathless sobs. Soon she was pressing him close to her as his tears wet her shoulder, and she rubbed his back and cradled him as best she could from her angle sitting on the arm of the chair. "Shh, shh," she whispered, stroking her hand through his hair. "I think this has been too much, tonight, overall."

"Yeah," Erika said, and yawned. She planted a kiss on Severus' head, and stood. "I'm gonna leave you to it, if that's all right," she said, her voice growing soft. "I... I hope I didn't cause this."

"No, no, hush," Hermione responded, and waved at Erika to return to the bedroom.

Erika proceeded, and in a second, the door was closed, leaving Severus and Hermione alone.

Severus had a lot of tears in him, but soon they died away, and he was hugging Hermione tightly.

"Are you feeling better?" Hermione asked, continuing to stroke his hair.

He didn't answer the question directly, but instead said, without moving from her grasp, "I refuse to lose you. I thought if I said someone else told me to apologize and get my head screwed on straight, you'd believe it better than if I apologized straight off. I've spent so many countless hours thinking of what I could have said to make Lily love me again - and that's the one I settled on as being most likely to work. I thought I'd try it on you, since the opportunity came up."

"So," Hermione said, feeling warm and somewhat humorous despite this draining confession, "you weren't just trying to use any means necessary to get in my pants?"

"Well, the answer to that is yes, somewhat," Severus said. "But only somewhat."

"I'll take it," Hermione answered, and she kissed him on the cheek.

"I... feel so foolish, now," Severus said, pulling away from her, but still holding her hand tightly. "I shouldn't have fallen apart like I did."

"No, don't say that," Hermione said, "it's all right. It's a function of your disease. It's just the way it is."

He sniffed, and rubbed his eyes on the back of his sleeve. "Thank you for understanding," he said softly, and he embraced her with a hug that made her giddy with tightness.

"I... I love you," he said, and kissed her on the cheek. "And believe me when I say, I'll do anything to ensure that you're satisfied with me."

"Well," Hermione said, "just... don't lie, all right?"

"I never have," he said, his eyes gazing into hers solemnly. "I spent too many years lying to too many people; it lost its lustre after that. Since we began exploring each other as adults, I have done that only once."

"Then let that be the last," Hermione said, and pressed her lips to his, trying to communicate forgiveness with every ounce of her kiss.

Severus' lips were a bit stiff as she kissed them, but then she realized the reason for this: otherwise, they trembled.
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Old 03-13-2016, 02:05 PM   #75
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Chapter 56: losing a mother

Chapter Text

The next day, Hermione went back to St. Mungo's after work. She was exhausted and fatigued, but that was what the time turner was for - catching up after a day away from her students.

She sat there with her father. Erika and Severus had, at her suggestion, remained at Hogwarts. Neither of them could do much of anything, Hermione felt - and she did want some time alone with her father.

It was nice to sit there with him, holding his hand, as they waited to be admitted into the Ward for Unfortunate Muggles. He didn't seem well, and she wanted to make sure she was there for him as much as she could be.

As they sat there, watching the healers and medi-elves that attended the hospital flow by, Oliver said, softly, "I don't know if I can make that kind of medical decision for her. We've talked at great length about our wishes - and have signed comprehensive advance directives - but of course that stuff never took into account this sort of magical problem."

"I wish I knew how to help," Hermione said sadly, and she stared at a painting of a potted fern. It was charmed to wave in the breeze, and it was endlessly relaxing.

Oliver shook his head. "In the regular hospital, when your mother had her heart surgery, there was a social worker around to help smooth out these sorts of things. I asked them if they had that kind of person here, and they just looked at me funny."

"I don't think things like that are covered in Muggle studies, unfortunately," Hermione said, though it did plant the germ of an idea in her brain. "But you're right, dad, there should be someone like that for St. Mungo's. I'm surprised there isn't one, already, some sort of person to be a liaison for those Muggles who were so Unfortunate as to end up here."

"That's a capital idea," her father said, and sighed. "I just don't know what your mother would prefer, if she were in her right mind. When she's all right, she'd prefer to cut off an arm or a leg rather than lose you, and everything you have meant for her. Having to choose on her behalf whether or not to surgically seal all her memories of you, forever... or to lose herself in an illness that would take over her life within a few years... that's such a burden. Too much of a burden to rest on my shoulders, even."

"I know," Hermione said, and a knot was tied up in her throat. "But... to some extent," she said, her voice growing softer, "this is my fault. Losing my mother would be a just punishment for my hubris."

"Look," Oliver said, and he wrapped his arm around Hermione. "From everything you told me, it wasn't hubris. You did some quick thinking on the spot and didn't think through the ramifications. That's absolutely normal for your age. In fact, it's to be expected. So why your former headmaster thought it was a good idea to put the burden of saving the wizarding world on the shoulders of three teenagers - that's absolutely mind boggling. From everything you've told me, I don't blame you. I blame him."

"Perhaps," Hermione said, and she sighed. "But even if I was used as a pawn - which I *wasn't,* by the way - I still made the choice to proceed without caution and getting help as appropriate."

"Because that's what he conditioned you to do!" Oliver said, and Hermione felt a sudden rush of strength below his doddering persona. He turned to face her, and she was struck by the fierceness in his eyes. "He conditioned you with positive reinforcement to solve puzzles on your own, and even when he gave you very little data to work with, you passed with flying colors - you are your mother's daughter, after all."

Ah, yes. It's never completely truthful to say that a child bears the marks of each parent in their personality - but if Rachel Wilkins was the source of Hermione's intelligence, Oliver Granger was the source of her conviction and bravery. And it shone through here, as he argued in Hermione's defense.

"Perhaps," Hermione said, still struggling to acknowledge that her mother's illness was not completely due to her foolishness, and at least partially could be sourced back to another irresponsible adult. "Or perhaps not."

"Ms. Wilkins will see you now," said a medielf who presented themself to the pair, and with a brief strengthening hug, Oliver and Hermione went in to see how Rachel was doing.

...........................

"We did it," Hermione said as she collapsed into the sofa. Severus was on the computer (and Erika was in the shower) but he pushed the laptop away as Hermione made room for him next to her. He moved himself over and wrapped his pudgy thick arms around her, and she relaxed into his embrace. She felt the tiniest of kisses at the nape of her neck. "We wiped her memory. My mother no longer remembers who I am."

"I'm glad you're home," Severus said, cradling her closer to him. "Try not to think about it, if you can."

"I left her some flowers," Hermione said, and she began to sniffle. "From the hospital gift shop. I couldn't watch as they did it. My dad will be back when they finish. I'm under strict orders not to see her for a full year, to ensure that the memory remains cemented, and then I can reenter her life in an orchestrated fashion. Like pretend to be a neighbor or something."

"That's so difficult," Severus said, and his hand wound its way into her bushy hair. It rested there for several minutes, rubbing her scalp and gently stroking her curls. Then, his voice rumbled lowly in the quiet of the room, "How can I help you, my love?"

"Just tell me that you love me," Hermione said, and she began to cry a little bit. "Just tell me that over and over again, and tell me that I'm not the worst person in the universe."

"You certainly are not the worst person in the universe," Severus said sadly, "why would you say that?"

"For letting my mother get to a stage of illness where it's either she has to forget me, or die." She felt like she was being just a little melodramatic but it didn't matter anyway. He had no right to complain! "I'm so profoundly stupid. Why do even like me? You like smart girls, not stupid girls-"

Hermione found herself crying harder at that, and Severus just rubbed her more gently, and hugged her close. "-Hush, hush," he whispered tenderly, and as she sobbed, he began to whisper in her ear, "One poor choice does not a stupid woman make. You're the brightest witch I know, and I love you. I love you. *I. Love. You.*"

It heartened her to hear him say it. He seemed so begrudging with his affection sometimes that she often wondered if she'd imagined it, and this was all some sort of complex mindfuck. But tonight, she was more peaceful on this matter.

Perhaps, tonight, she needed to hear it so much from him because she didn't feel like she could love herself, at this point.

....................

That night, they all had dinner together. Oliver looked somber, but attempted to tell punny jokes he seemed to have been saving up for all these years, and anecdotes about the hospital. He couldn't get over how many things healers could do with their wands - things that Muggles needed enormous machines to do, or could not even yet do.

Severus grimaced at most of the jokes and appeared irritated at most of the stories, but a few times he coughed into his napkin in a way that suggested he was trying to hide a chortle.

Erika was the most loquacious at the table, and indulged Oliver well - she seemed to have some skill at social matters that both Hermione and Severus lacked, and it was a pleasure to watch her. She was almost artistic in the way she danced around the conversation, trying to integrate folks and bring in other ideas, even when both Severus and Hermione were a bit recalcitrant.

And oh, Hermione. She found herself smiling sadly at most of her father's attempts to lighten the mood, and only felt awkward when Erika tried to do the same. She held Severus' hand frequently, seeking reassurance and support. He would sometimes kiss it airily, until Erika told them to cut it out, lest she be sick all over the table.

In the end, Hermione and Severus returned to Hermione's room, while Erika and Oliver sat up late. Hermione wasn't sure if Erika came back or not - she fell asleep to hearing the low voices of Erika and Oliver out in the sitting room, and Severus' slow, heavy breathing over her shoulder.
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