Hermione awoke the next morning from their full moon run feeling wonderfully rested and refreshed. What she'd not expected was to open her eyes and find one of her mates staring at her, appearing quite grumpy as he waited for her to pull herself entirely from sleep.
Three months had passed since their escape from the chateau, and he'd seemed to enjoy roughing it with Hecate's pack—if anything, Antonin was the one insistent they charm every cave the came across into livable quarters to make things easier on himself. So she could not, for the life of her, imagine what was making Thorfinn so very, very sour this morning.
"Sunshine?" he started with a frown.
"Viking?" She swallowed a yawn and dragged herself to sit up. "What have I done this time?"
"This time? No, no, my frustratingly adorable wolf-witch. Not this time. I'm still cross with you for not warning us!"
Throwing back her head, Hermione uttered a long, ugly-sounding groan. Meeting his gaze, she only shook her head. "For the last time, my heart, I am a unique breed of werewolf. I had no way of knowing unprotected shagging would pass along my curse. O' course . . . might not even be so much the unprotected bit, as the astounding frequency of said shagging."
Standing from where he'd been perched on the edge of her cot, he propped his fists on his hips, a scowl marring his features as his brows shot up. "Is that a complaint I hear?"
Her chestnut eyes widening, she pouted. "Well, no, I'm only saying—"
"Because if it is, we can always go for less frequently."
As fast as her eyes had widened, they narrowed, now, making for a lethal expression. "Oh, don't you dare threaten me."
"Ah, so you don't actually have a problem with—"
"I never said I did!"
Thorfinn rolled his eyes in thought as he moved a little closer to her. "So . . . would you, maybe, be in the mood right now?"
Letting the quilt drop to pool around her waist, she mirrored his stance, propping her fists on her hips. Fine scene they' made, arguing about shagging without a stitch of clothing on either of them. "Maybe I am."
Smirking, he moved a bit closer, still. "Then you'd better get your arse off that cot, you know how the other one hates it when we break his furniture."
Hermione tilted her head to one side, smirking right back at him. "Maybe I'll just stay right where I am!"
"Well, gee, Sunshine, I don't know. Maybe . . . ." He let his voice trail off as he burrowed his arms into the quilt and clamped his hands over her hips. "That would seem more of a threat if I couldn't do this." Plucking her straight up out of the bundle of fabric, he set the naked witch on her feet before him.
"Well . . . ." Standing as straight as she possibly could, Hermione folded her arms beneath her breasts and glared up at him. "Maybe I'm not in the mood for a shag, now."
His smirk fading, Thorfinn narrowed his eyes. After a few strained heartbeats of quiet between them, he said, "You're lying aren't you?"
She rolled her eyes as she let her shoulders slump and her arms fall to her sides. "I am. I really, really am."
Grinning, he pulled her against him, ducking his head to seal his mouth over hers. In a whirl of motion, Thorfinn found himself on his back on the floor. His fingers once more slipping down along her skin to cover her hips, he lifted her over him.
"Wait," she nearly shouted, bracing her palms against his chest. "My wand."
Thorfinn chuckled, giving her a sidelong look. "Rather certain the one I've already got on me's the only one we need for this."
"No, no!" Hermione leaned close to him, snapping her teeth on his nipple. When he let out a hissing breath, she eased back, once more meeting his gaze. Because, really, what a man already as impressively built as Thorfinn Rowle had needed was the added strength of being a werewolf, allowing him to suspend her atop him so effortlessly like this with nothing more than his hands on her hips. "I mean we forgot the silencing charm. You promised Antonin, just like he promised you, that you'd always—"
He cut off her words, forcing a loud, throaty moan from her, instead, as he lowered her over him, moving to meet her in a quick, sharp thrust. For the first few moments, he was breathless at the way her body gripped around him.
When she managed to open her eyes and look down at him, he granted her a savage, satisfied smile. "Let him hear," he said, his voice a rich, gravelly whisper.
Faster than she could react—some alpha he was letting her be, doing all the hard work for her like this—he used his hands on her to rock her against his thrusts. She fell forward against him, lapping and biting at his throat as they lost themselves in each other's movements.
He knew it was something about werewolf instincts that caused the shivers wracking him from something so simple as her teeth scraping his skin. He'd always liked a little bit of pain, always loved the feel of a woman's mouth on any part of him, but not so much that it rivaled the fine tremors running along his muscles from the sensation of being inside her.
Uttering a growl in the back of his throat, he slipped one hand from her hips and up into her hair. Gripping a fist into her wild locks, he all but tore her mouth from his neck, capturing her in another hungry, brutal kiss.
He might've awakened her by yelling at her for the circumstance, but God, did he love being a werewolf.
The way he could smell the delectable scent of her arousal winding off of her as she whimpered and ground her pelvis against his. How he could hear the rushing of her pulse as she tensed against him, and the way her breath caught in her lungs . . . .
Catching that quick flash of amber in her eyes as she came and knowing it was reflected in his own.
By the time she collapsed against him, sweating and spent and scrambling to catch her breath, he was aware—distantly—of muttered Russian cursing somewhere outside the cave.
Snickering, he only lowered his gaze to meet hers.
Hearing the same displeased voice, she shook her head against the Viking of a wizard's chest. "You did that on purpose." The competition between her mates seemed unending. Not that she didn't enjoy the perks of it, but she did often wonder when they'd come to terms with each other.
Thorfinn closed his eyes, tightening his arms around her. "Prove it."
The following afternoon—she couldn't say she was all that surprised that Dolohov had sourly avoided both her and Thorfinn after that little adventure—she had retreated to the quiet of the spring they'd discovered in the depths of this latest cave. They were likely to be here a while, given the convenience of that.
Trying to fill a tub with magically created water took for-bloody-ever.
The languid rush of the spring obscured scents, but only dulled sound a little bit, so she heard his footfalls clearly as he entered this section of the caverns. She didn't know if he was willing to talk, yet, so she stayed as she was. Her head tipped back against the stone ledge, she continued splashing herself with gentle handfuls of water.
She heard the rustling of fabric, and the soft lapping of him slipping into the cold pool. There was a sweet, giddy little flipping sensation in her belly as she became aware of him moving closer to her. Dear God, months they'd been together, and she still got butterflies in her stomach with them.
"There will be no silencing charm," Antonin announced, and she opened her eyes to find him standing there, expression stoic, and his arms folded across his chest. His pale gaze was fixed on her face, and his tone was as stern as she'd ever heard it. "If he breaks promises, I will, too. It'll serve him right."
Lifting her head, she couldn't help but smile. She wasn't pleased that he was unhappy with something she'd done. But she did appreciate that neither of them held her responsible when the other one did something deliberately thoughtless.
Hermione straightened up in the water reaching for him. "Now, Antonin, you know tit-for-tat never goes well with you two."
"Shut up, you . . . tiny accomplice in his attempts to infuriate me."
Her brows shot up. "Tiny accomp—?" She cut herself off, resting her hands on her hips. "You're trying to rile me up, aren't you?"
Antonin glanced away, shrugging. "Seems to work for him, thought I'd give it a shot."
Pouting, she sighed. Though he didn't react—she could tell he was fighting not to, she could smell it from him—she slipped her arms around his waist and rested her head in the hollow of his shoulder. The position was a bit awkward, what with his own arms still crossed so stubbornly.
"Don't, okay?" she asked, her voice low, the sound of it nearly mingling with the lapping of the water. "Don't do that. You know what you and I have is different than what I have with him. And it's because you're different, so I'm different with you, don't you get that?"
"Actually, that part of it still gives me a headache," he answered, arching his brow.
She lifted her head, meeting his gaze. "I don't want you to be Thorfinn, or Thorfinn to be you. And you both knew this was going to be a confusing situation at times. I've tried my best to make things seem . . . normal, and for the most part they actually feel normal. But I know it doesn't always work."
His shoulders slumped as he dropped his arms to his sides. Cursing lightly under his breath, he cupped her jaw, lifting her face to drop a kiss against her lips. "You're right, you've been trying, and I don't think we let you feel you're accomplishing it very often." Antonin's features pinched in a thoughtful expression as he shrugged. "Suppose all the shagging and running about the woods kind of clouds things."
She sputtered a laugh and slapped his chest.
Though he smiled in response to the giggle that had bubbled out of her, his expression sobered just as fast. "So . . . you really like gentle just as much?"
"I really do."
His eyes drifting closed, he lowered his head, his mouth brushing over hers. She shivered at the feel of his tongue tracing over her lips before darting between them. He adored the way she sighed into his mouth as he explored hers.
Hermione pressed herself tight to him, loving the sensation of his water-dappled skin against her. She slid her hands over him as they kissed, along his arms, down his sides and around his hips. Slipping them down, she gripped his bum with splayed fingers.
He broke the kiss, smirking. "Might want to let go, you're inhibiting what I want to do to you."
"Oh?" Again, she laughed, pulling back her wandering hands. "Pardon me. And you were going to . . . ?"
His smirk broadened, taking on a wicked gleam, as he once more lowered his head. Kissing her, he wrapped his arms around the witch and lifted her against him.
She found herself settled on the stone ledge, following his guidance as he parted her legs to stand between them. Hermione knew she could just as easily demand that he stop the foreplay and bury himself inside her right this instant—in fact, part of her trembled with the desire to do exactly that—but she let herself be at his mercy. She knew he wouldn't allow her to regret giving control over to him, he never did.
He broke the kiss, drifting from her mouth and along her jaw. Antonin pushed her wet hair out of the way, catching her earlobe between his teeth and nibbling.
Letting out a shivering whine at the sweet little pulse that sent through her, she sank her fingers into the dark, longish hair at the nape of his neck. She shifted forward on the ledge, enough to press herself against him, but he clamped his hands over her hips and pushed her back.
Retreating just a little, he met her gaze, that flash of amber shining in his eyes as he said, "You're exactly where I want you."
The breath caught in her throat at both his tone and the intensity in his gaze as he said that. Swallowing hard, she nodded.
Assured she wasn't going to interfere further, he lowered his head to her throat. He dragged his teeth along her collarbone and down to her breasts. The way she shuddered in his arms as he closed his lips over her nipples, teasing them with his teeth and his tongue until they hardened, was exquisite.
He glanced up, noting that she had closed her eyes and tipped back her head. He grinned against her skin. That was the sign that she was giving herself over to him.
Slipping his hands over her shoulders, he pressed her slowly to lay back against the stone ledge. She followed his urging, but didn't relinquish her hold on him, her nails raking his scalp and her fingers twisting in his hair.
Antonin ran the tip of his tongue down across her abdomen, and lower, still. He loved the way she held her breath as he neared her thighs. Teasing her with the tips of his fingers, he made a rumbling sound of approval in the back of his throat as she assisted his efforts by slipping her legs over his shoulders.
He parted her, sparing a moment to look up at her face. She was staring at him, that intoxicating mix of wildness and innocence in her eyes. How she could do what she did with them and still manage an air of innocence undid him.
Holding her gaze, he lowered his head, tasting her in a few teasing laps. When she let out a moan, shifting against the stone to try and get closer to him, he let his eyes drift closed and buried his mouth against her.
"Oh, dear God," she said, in a whisper, a breathy laugh edging her words.
He worked the sensitive flesh with the very edge of his teeth and the tip of his tongue. He didn't think he'd ever tire of the feel of her fingers gripping into his hair, or the way her body tensed around him as she came. Antonin adored the taste of her.
She thrashed in his embrace, trying to get closer to him, trying to press more firmly against his mouth as the orgasm tore through her. She couldn't stop herself from screaming, wanting him to stop and keep going at the same time. She knew he loved bringing her to this.
And he rewarded her for that, again and again.
By the time he stood up, a wonderful ache in his jaw from seeing to her so thoroughly, his alpha was a beautiful mess. Her eyes gleamed amber in the dull light of the cave, her damp, wild hair was plastered around her, and her skin was flushed. Magnificent creature that she was, she somehow looked dignified to him, even as she struggled to catch her breath.
"No rest for you, yet," he said, not waiting for her to respond as he pushed forward, burying himself inside her.
She arched her back, too exhausted just now to sit up. Wrapping her legs around his waist to keep herself locked with him as he thrust into her again and again, she shook her head. "I think you've actually broken me this time, Antonin. I can't . . . I'm spent, there's n—nothing left."
"You say that like it's a bad thing," he said with a grin, lowering his head to kiss her throat as he pushed himself just a few moments longer.
Though she was correct—she didn't have another orgasm left in her—the way he moved, his hips jerking and erratic as he was nearly at the edge, caused her to shiver violently while she forced herself to meet his motions. The way he thrust into her so wonderfully hard that final time before he stilled, his muscles locking against her as he came, brought another scream out of her.
The sound died on her lips as he slowly relaxed, wrapped in her embrace.
"All right, you made your point!" Thorfinn's voice echoed through the network of the cavern. "No more forgetting the silencing charm!"
Antonin smiled in triumph, even as Hermione covered her face with her hands. "Thank you," he said, showing the good grace not to laugh.
The next night was chilly, and Hermione found herself glad for the excuse to snuggle between her mates. The wolves weren't especially fond of fires, but they understood that sometimes, the strange, unfurred ones needed it.
The three were curled up together under a thick quilt when Hecate loped up to them. Antonin and Thorfinn patiently awaited Hermione to translate whatever their conversation was. Though they now understood the wolves better, themselves, they still did not completely understand Hecate, just as Hermione did not completely understand the other wolves.
Whatever the connection between the witch and the wolf was, they all seemed to understand—wizard and wolfpack, alike—that it was not only unique, it was special.
As the wolf strolled away from the fire, Hermione snickered somewhat derisively and shook her head.
"What was that about?" Antonin asked, though he didn't lift his head from Hermione's shoulder. He knew they made a strange picture, his head on Hermione's shoulder, Thorfinn's head atop hers, but it was strangely comfortable. Perhaps wolfs were onto something with their constant need to sleep in big piles of bodies and limbs.
"She wants to know why we're so reluctant to have pups."
"You're not serious."
Hermione laughed at how much Thorfinn sounded like he was in utter disbelief. "Well, it's not like it's not obvious what we get up to. And she knows that because of our magic we have control over certain things. She figured out that we're using magic so that I don't get pregnant. But . . . I guess it wouldn't be so bad. You know, some day. It's all still too soon to even think on that. However . . . ."
Both males raised their heads to look at her. "However?" they asked in unison.
The witch shrugged, grinning. "She believes when I do, um, pup, as she thinks of it, I'll have twins. You know, like a human version of a litter without being overly-adapted to the whole wolf physiology-thing."
"Twins." Thorfinn nodded, frowning thoughtfully. "Wait, like, each time?"
Hermione's brows shot up. "Oh, like I'd know?" She laughed, shaking her head. Just as fast, though, her expression grew serious. "But, um, when I do have that first set of twins, I think I already know what I want to name them."
Antonin and Thorfinn already knew what her answer would be, but they asked, all the same. "What?"
"Hecate . . . . " She paused, feeling her eyes water and that damned lump lodge in her throat. The pain was still so raw, like she'd lost him only yesterday. "And Fenrir."
Antonin nodded, pulling her against him as she started crying. "Yeah," he said, nodding and meeting Thorfinn's gaze over the top of her head. "Yeah, I think those are good names."
Thorfinn nodded, crowding around the quietly sobbing witch, as well.
There it was, the wound that would never truly heal. But they knew that just perhaps, by letting Fenrir live on in some way, she could at least find a bit of peace about his absence from her life.
About the absence from his rightful place in their pack.