A/N: You're getting this early because I was asked really nicely.
To answer questions: yes, this is the final chapter, and, no, I don't plan on writing anything with this pairing in the future. But I really liked writing it, so never say never.
Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed.
He landed on her terrace and lowered her to the ground, and she slowly removed her arms from around his neck and took a couple wobbly steps away from him.
"Alright, Hermione?" he asked as the suit disassembled itself and folded into the suitcase.
"Not a fan of flying," she muttered, opening the door to her apartment and summoning a bottle of wine and a couple glasses.
"You're a witch," he laughed. "I thought that came with broomsticks and the like."
"It does," she said, sitting down on the couch and motioning for him to sit next to her.
"And you don't like flying?" he asked, sitting next to her.
"I was never a fan of heights, but my last few flying experiences weren't all together pleasant, and it's kind of ruined the experience."
"Should I ask?"
"Only if you want to know the full extent of what the magical community is keeping from you," she replied, handing him a glass of wine.
"I think that's one of those things best experienced in small doses, and I've had all I can handle for a while. Though, can I hazard a guess? Some kind of flying horse? I saw a picture of one of those at that bookshop you took me to."
"Think larger. With more teeth, well, maybe not more, but definitely sharper."
"I think that's enough hints," he replied quickly.
"Trust me, whatever you're thinking, it was much less fun to actually have to ride the thing," she smiled. "But, to change the subject: I wanted to thank you for everything today. It was very thoughtful of you, and I had a lot of fun."
"Thank you for not leaving me dateless in front of the press," he shrugged.
She took a sip of her wine, then swirled it in her glass, staring at it as she took a deep breath. "What are we, Tony?" she asked softly.
He swallowed hard before asking, "What do you mean?"
"I mean that I feel like we could sit here as we've done before, talking until one of us is too tired to continue. But all night I feel like something has been different, and for a good portion of the night I've been wondering what would happen if I kissed you."
His face dropped into a stony mask and he looked to the koi pond. "Hermione, you have to know I've wanted you since the moment I saw you, but you deserve better than a one-night fling."
"Why would that be all this is?" she asked.
"I'm broken," he said forcefully, his head jerking up to look her in the eyes. "I can't even handle everything I'm going through myself, how could I possibly be the type of man you deserve a relationship with?"
She smiled kindly, but shook her head. "Do you think you're the only person who is broken? You're not the only one who is broken on this terrace, for Merlin's sake. I'm not going to deny that you and I have very different experiences, have very different losses, and we're going to get over those differently. But if you are honestly telling me that you are never going to have another relationship because you think you're broken... that's on you. You're the one unwilling to let someone in to help pick up your pieces. I realized that recently. And if you never let someone in, it's you choosing to stay broken." She stood and walked toward the door to go inside. Just as she slid the door open his hand circled around her wrist, and she turned to look at him. For the first time since she met him the confidence he normally exuded was gone, and he looked vulnerable.
"I don't want to be broken, Hermione," he murmured. "I just don't want to put the burden of fixing me on you."
"It won't be," she shook her head. "Like the burden of fixing me will never be on you. We need to fix ourselves, but that doesn't mean we can't have support. And, I know you may not think it, but you have been a brilliant support."
Her words seemed to brighten Tony again, and within a second the vulnerability vanished and he was giving her the type of smile that twisted her insides into a knot. "I think I might be ready to see what will happen if you kiss me now," he said, pulling her arm around his waist.
"Are you?" she smirked, stepping closer to him.
"Only one way to find out," he replied. "Well, more than one, but perhaps we should try the one before we move to any of the others..."
"Shut it, Stark," she murmured before pressing her lips to his. There was a moment of hesitation where that was all it was, just a chaste kiss, but once the initial shock that they had finally crossed the physical barrier between them wore off they simultaneously threw themselves into the kiss, their mouths opening so their tongues could meet. She pulled him to her and he pushed her back until she was pressed against the brick wall. He shrugged out of his jacket, then slid his hands up the sides of her dress and around to her front to massage her breasts. She arched her back to press her chest into his hands, one of her arms snaking around his shoulders to steady herself. Breaking their kiss he reached behind her, undoing the clasp keeping the halter top in place, and let the fabric fall to her waist, exposing her chest and, to his surprise, the top of her wand that had been hidden on her side.
"Normally it would be you asking me if that's a wand in my pocket, wouldn't it?" he smirked, drawing the stick from its hiding place.
In response she wrapped a leg around his thigh and pulled roughly, so their hips slid together until she could feel herself sliding across his erection and he drew in a sharp breath. "That, Tony," she started in a husky whisper, "is so much more than a wand."
"Are you sure? I am willing to undergo an inspection," he replied, peppering the words with kisses on her neck.
"I'll take that," she said, prying the wand from her hand and pointing it skyward. A shimmering mist burst from the end, covering the area above them before seeming to dissipate into the night sky.
"Not the kind of release I was thinking of," he said with a smirk.
"Notice-me-not charm," she told him, pulling his head back to her so he could continue kissing her neck and collarbone. "Because I sincerely doubt we're going to make it all the way to the bed."
"My kind of plan," he murmured, and smothered her response with another long kiss.
She dropped her wand and ran her hands up his shirt until he found the bowtie around his neck, which she untied without breaking their kiss, wrapped her hands in the end, and used it to pull him even closer to her so she was completely pinned against the wall, then tossing it to the side and pulling on his shirt. Taking the hint he broke away long enough to rid himself of the garment and the undershirt beneath, and she pulled down a zipper on the side of her dress so it dropped to the ground, leaving her in the shoes and her knickers. He openly gawked at her for a few moments, eyes running over every visible inch of her, and she took the chance to look him over as well. While the reactor was distracting, the rest of his chest was muscular and worth tearing her eyes away from the machine. But both those things paled to the erection straining against his pants, and she brought him back to the moment by reaching out and running her hand over it, admiring his girth and length, bigger than she was used to but not so big she didn't think she could handle him.
"I do believe I've left you speechless, Mr. Stark," she murmured.
"Trust me, it's a compliment," he breathed before pressing himself back to her, lifting her off the ground so her legs were wrapped around his waist, mouth immediately going to her chest. He lavished attention on her breasts, kissing around her mounds before teasing her peaks with suckles, gentle bites, and softly blowing on them. She let her head rest on the brick behind her and savored in his attentions, which occasionally sent a jolt through her that caused her to buck her hips into his, rubbing herself against his erection.
"You keep doing that, Hermione, and I'm not going to be able to wait much longer," he warned.
"Oh, we were waiting for something?" she breathed, looking down at him.
An excited smile crossed his face as he hastily reached between them, unfastening his pants and pushing them and his boxers down far enough to free himself. He then pulled her flimsy knickers to the side and entered her in one quick thrust.
"Bloody hell," she moaned as he stretched her inside, leaving her feeling deliciously full.
"Shit," he murmured, head dropping against her shoulder as he took a few deep breaths and adjusted to the feeling of being inside her. When he started moving he started slow, kissing her as he pulled most of the way out, then pushed back into her. She gripped his shoulders tightly, wanting to feel his body rubbing against hers with each thrust. He started to speed up, tearing his lips from hers and kissing her neck and shoulders while she used her tongue to tease his earlobe. Faster he moved, and she adjusted her hips slightly until she could feel him rubbing against her sweetest spots both inside and out. He stopped kissing her, moving so he could look in her face as she began to tighten around him.
"I want to watch you, Hermione," he whispered, his breathing heavy. "I want to see your face as you come."
She locked eyes with him as her whole body tensed around him, her breath catching in her chest before she finally went over the edge with a loud gasp. She could feel him tense against her as he watched her and felt her pulsing around his cock, and a moment later he came as well, pushing as deep as he could inside her before releasing. They maintained their gaze for a couple seconds before his strength seemed to drain, and he gently let her down before collapsing against her, crashing her lips into hers in a passionate kiss. His fingers wrapped into the hair to hold her to him as he kissed her until both their breathing returned to normal.
"Thank you, Hermione," he whispered against her lips.
"Thank you as well, Tony," she replied. "That was bloody phenomenal."
"It was, but I think I might need to sit down before my legs totally give out."
She chuckled, and let him wrap an arm around her shoulders and guided him to the bedroom, where he laid on the bed, not even bothering to pull his pants back into place. She removed her knickers before climbing in and wrapping herself against him, placing a hand on his chest and resting her chin on it so she could look into his face. With a smile on his face he brought a hand up to trace the lines on her face, and to wind into and out of her curls, and she traced a finger lazily around the arc reactor.
"So, what does this mean, Granger?" he asked after a few minutes.
"I think this means I'm sleeping with my boss," she replied cheekily. "I feel like I should be asking for a raise."
"I will give you a raise as many times as I can manage a day, but I'm only a man, and I'll occasionally need some recovery time," he smirked.
She laughed and shook her head. "I do believe that counts as sexual harassment, Mr. Stark."
"I'm glad you took it as that, and not that I'm going to up your paychecks several times a day."
"Well, if you want to make that offer..."
"Hermione, Stark Industries does not make enough to pay you what you're worth. I got you for a steal. It was the best deal I've ever made, because it certainly got me much more than I bargained for, and more than I deserve."
She blushed and smiled. "What I truly think this means is what it means in pretty much any relationship. We get to know each other better, we have amazing sex, and do what we can to make this work out between us so hopefully it lasts a long time. I don't think we get to skip any steps based on history if we want this to work properly."
"I think that works," he nodded.
"Good. Because I've been wanting this for a while."
"You and me both," he smiled.
"I think we're all in agreement, then," she smiled, turning and looking pointedly down at his erection, which had grown once more, becoming long enough to poke her in the elbow.
"I wouldn't give him a vote if I were you," Tony smirked. "He really has problems controlling himself, he's extremely susceptible to feminine wiles, and he's kind of pushy."
She laughed again, then sat up and started sliding his pants off. "Pushy can be a good thing," she mused. "So long as it happens in appropriate places. Don't think this means I'm going to run off to have passionate dalliances during team training sessions."
"Actually I think we should talk to Cap about that, because I'm pretty sure what we just did out on the terrace counts as a workout," he paused and inhaled sharply as she bent to kiss his inner thigh just above his knee. "It really is the kind of workout I'm willing to do..." he paused again as she kissed a little higher. "It's, um..." She kissed him again. He fumbled for words as she kept kissing higher, and finally gave up. "Shit, that's the best kind of distraction," he finally groaned.
"That is?" she asked, kissing where his leg met his groin. "Or this?" she smiled coyly before running her tongue up the underside of his cock.
"Fuck!" he cried out, head falling back against the pillow before snapping back up to look at her. "They both have their charms," he managed. "I might need a little more research..."
She lowered her head to take him in her mouth, and was rewarded with another loud profanity before Tony seemed to loose the ability to speak. He propped himself up on his elbows to watch her, and it thrilled her to see his eyes eagerly drinking up the sight before him. It was even more thrilling to watch him lose control of even that, falling unceremoniously back on the bed as she sucked him hard and slowly, his eyes shut and his breath heaving in his chest. She could tell he was close, could tell he had to fight not to lift his hips and shove himself as far in as she could take him. Without warning his hand wound into her hair and he pulled her off him, staring into her eyes for a moment as he came back from the edge.
"God, that was good, Granger, but I think it's time I returned the favor," he said, pulling her up to kiss him before pushing her down on the bed and settling himself between her legs. Tony wasn't much for taking his time, his fingers immediately running through her folds until he found her nub. He circled it with his index finger a few times before lowering his head and replacing his finger with his tongue. She closed her eyes and let her head fall back as she reached out to twist her fingers in his hair. He took his cues from her moans, gasps, and the movements of her hips, and when she started to feel her orgasm coming on he redoubled his efforts, and she cried his name as her second orgasm of the night ripped through her.
He slowly kissed up her body as she came down from her high, and kissed her as he slowly entered her again. The frantic nature of their first coupling had diminished, and it was time for them to learn each others bodies better. Their kisses were slow and smoldering, their movements fell into an easy rhythm, and they pressed their bodies together to maximize their contact. By the time they came together each was holding tightly to the other, and when they laid side by side after they maintained their hold on each other. No more words passed between them that night, just the occasional kiss before they fell asleep, and for the first time in months each slept through the night without a nightmare.
8 months later
Hermione woke up first, feeling Tony wrapped around her nude body despite the heat of the summer morning coming in through the doors they had left open in an attempt to catch a breeze. She looked up at her sleeping lover, it wasn't often that she was awake before Tony, but he had gotten back from Los Angeles the night before, complaining about his difficulties sleeping while there was a country between them. The nightmares weren't totally gone, each would occasionally wake up in terror in the middle of the night, but the other was quick to soothe them, and more often then not they were able to sleep the rest of the night without a disruption. Hermione had noticed a difference in Tony over their time together, he drank less, his ideas were grander but more realistic at the same time, and he was quick to involve other members of their team where before he had preferred to work alone. Their days were spent in one of their labs bouncing ideas off each other or working in concentrated silence that didn't need words. Their nights were spent between one of their spaces, he enjoyed her place because of the privacy and the simplicity of it, but often they were too engrossed in each other to want to take the trip. For all the time they spent together they had kept the papers guessing if they were actually together or not, a calculated move on their parts as she preferred to keep things as low-key, or at least as low-key as possible when her lover was such a media darling. Their relationship was effortless, but those who spent time around them knew that their feelings ran deep.
She watched him for a couple minutes, then carefully extracted herself from his arms. She slipped a nightie over her head, went into the bathroom to relieve herself and brush her hair and teeth, then she quietly walked past the bed and went into the kitchen to start breakfast. On the table was a letter, one she had been neglecting to reply to for some time, but that she knew she'd have to respond to soon. Most of it was covered, trying to keep it from Tony's prying eyes, but she couldn't help but skim the few visible sentences:
You are coming home for your birthday, and we are simply no longer accepting 'no' for an answer. Mum is going spare, you haven't been by in over a year and she's worried sick about you living alone in that big city in a country so far away from your family. If you don't come here, we're coming there, don't think that's an idle threat, Harry has already gotten permission for three portkeys. I know what you're hiding, Granger, and I can't believe you have not at least written to give me all the sordid details of you and that handsome billionaire you brought to my Quidditch game. The papers have been guessing at it for months now and the best thing about it is the rumor that the Malfoys are fuming because he's got more money than they do, and that means you've bested Draco in pretty much everything...
She sighed and pushed the letter under a book so it was fully hidden. She loved corresponding with Ginny, but the woman was quite the gossip, and the last thing she needed was to wreck what she had with Tony by putting a label on it or making their lives seem more entwined than they were. They were quite happy with things the way they were going, and she wasn't keen on letting her pushy, brash redheaded friend spoil that via written word. Still, Ginny had a point, she hadn't been home in quite some time and she was starting to miss her friends greatly. Vowing to gently introduce Tony to the idea, or plan a solo trip, she got to making breakfast. She had just cracked a couple eggs into a pan when she felt arms wrap around her from behind.
"Morning, sweetheart," he murmured against her neck before giving it a prolonged kiss.
"Sleep well?" she asked.
"Very," he replied, kissing her again. "So... your birthday is in a few weeks," he mused, his hand running over her nightgown and slowly coming up to cup her breast. "I was thinking of taking a vacation. Where would you like to go?"
"Home," she answered without hesitation, but he immediately froze.
"We've been together eight months. I think it's the time we take that next step in our relationship."
"I'm completely in agreement with you there," he muttered.
"You are?" she asked in surprise.
"Yes. In fact, I had been thinking of just taking that step without talking about it. I think we're at the point in this that we can wear sweats around each other without things getting weird."
"Tony..." she groaned, but she was unable to stop herself from letting off a chuckle. "I'm serious. I haven't been back in a while because I've been busy with work and you, but I've been missing them. They are my friends, my family. They don't want or need grandiose displays of wealth or wit or anything like that. They'll want to meet you, and there's very little you could do to make them think ill of you. If we don't go over there for my birthday they're going to come over here, so it's going to happen, and I thought it would be best to be low-key about it. Besides, I have been craving Molly's Sunday dinner, and that's something that simply has to be done at the Burrow. Better than any five-star restaurant."
He was silent for a moment as he thought, resting his head on her shoulder as she turned the stove off, knowing what would soon be coming. She reached up to run her fingers through his hair, closed her eyes, and leaned against him.
"You liked Ginny," she reminded him.
"That redhead was all fire and snappy comebacks and it was like talking to a less-hostile Romanoff. You're talking about a much larger group," he countered.
"If you bring the suit, you could probably join in a game of Quidditch," she added.
"I thought magic interfered with technology."
"The Burrow has minimal spells now that it's peace time. There's not enough to make your suit malfunction if you keep it on the Quidditch pitch. It won't work in the house, but there's less in the field. I'll probably have to keep you out of the house proper as much as possible anyway, I don't know how your arc reactor is going to respond, though if you have a problem I promise we'll leave and stay in the Muggle world. I'll find a vacation house to rent if I must."
He thought for another minute. "Okay," he finally murmured. "But I get to pick the house we're renting and I get at least two... make that three days of playing tourist."
"Agreed," she murmured, turning her head to catch his lips. He seemed to remember that he hand a handful of her breast, and he began to massage the orb through the fabric, and she could feel him growing behind her.
"You already turned off the stove," he chuckled.
"A dozen or so burnt eggs later I've finally learned that when you come in like this I'm going to be distracted for a while."
"Well, now I'm feeling the pressure to perform."
"Luckily for me you consider that a challenge."
"I'm getting predictable," he said with a mock sigh.
"In this case predictable is desirable. Now, are you going to do anything, or..." she paused as she reached behind her and, finding him nude, took his erection in her hand, "... do I have to take matters into my own hands?"
"Both options have their own merits," he chuckled. "But I'm going to need a little more than you giving me a hand if I'm going to forget what I just agreed to do."
He pulled the snug nightgown up so it sat around her waist, and she guided him into her, letting off a soft moan as he pushed in and slipped a hand between her legs at the same time. She let her head fall back so he could kiss her neck and shoulders, his other hand playing lazily with her breasts as she let off soft moans of approval. When he started to speed up she grabbed the side of the counter and leaned forward to give him better access. He took his time bringing her to climax, letting her get close before slowing down, abandoning her nub and bending to kiss her back, then starting again, and repeating the process several times until he was close to the edge himself and he brought them to climax together. He held her for a while after, randomly kissing whatever skin he could reach.
"I'm pretty sure I let the pan get cold," she pointed out a few minutes later. "I'm going to have to start the eggs again."
"Let's go out," he said before giving her a final kiss and letting her go. "We can discuss vacation houses over brunch. And dates, so I can make sure the jet is ready."
"Don't want to take another Portkey?" she smirked, remembering their last attempt, as they were coming home from a Quidditch game, had him bent over the toilet for nearly fifteen minutes.
"Never again," he assured her.
She turned around and watched him walk back into the bedroom to get dressed. As she started to clean the pan she noticed a light on her cell phone blinking, indicating she had a message waiting. She opened it up to find a text from Fury, asking her to stop by and analyze something one of his team members had found hidden in some ruins in India. As she agreed to come by she realized that she hadn't heard from her former boss since a month after she and Tony had became a couple, when Fury had loudly lamented that "Only you two could take 'emotionally support each other until you're both in a better place' and turn it into fucking like rabbits!" Still, she knew Fury was pleased with the amount of work they were putting out, and knew her mission had been a complete success.
Tony came into view just then, wearing the pair of jeans she loved most on him, and ruffling his hair as he prepared to style it back into what he thought was an effortless look that she knew took at least ten minutes. Thoughts of Fury went out the window as she walked to the bedroom to delay brunch a little longer.