Short chapter this time. My apologies, but there might need to be short chapters on this fic from here on out, in order to keep it moving forward. This does not mean there will not be longer chapters in the future, but for the time being, please do not expect them.
Fenrir started awake. It was just as well, he supposed, as he could never really rest in his perpetually wounded mode of being. Pain was nothing new for him, but now . . . now it was a constant companion, edging his every breath, joining along in every heartbeat.
What had woken him, however, was something he was not quite accustomed to. His other companion stood at the bend in the wall between their chambers, just as she had that first night. In the twilight darkness of the chateau's dungeon-like cellar, the dim illumination granted him a glimpse of her features. She was focused, yet also appeared in a mildly-dreamy state, like she was half asleep, even as she stood there.
But her attention was not on him. Her gaze was fixed down the wide main corridor, toward the chamber at the end.
They could both hear it, the muffled whining of that snowy-furred wolf. A majestic canine, kept against its will. He tried not to laugh at the irony—that three fierce creatures such as they should be so completely helpless.
As usual, his bizarre, seemingly constant amusement won out, and a chuckle rumbled out of him. But, also as usual, the mirthful sound ended in a pained, rattling cough.
"You know it takes far too much out of you to laugh at everything," she said, her voice low and calm.
"Oh, stop your fussing, or I might think you're actually concerned for me."
Finally turning her attention on the incapacitated werewolf, Hermione frowned thoughtfully. "Maybe I am . . . ." She shrugged. "Just a little, anyway."
His brows shooting up, he shifted beneath his restraints, trying to get at least little comfortable. Of course, that never worked, but he kept trying. "That's unexpected."
Again, the witch shrugged. "Not really. We've been stuck down here together for weeks, and forced through traumatic situations together. That sort of thing can foster understanding, and even a feeling of kinship between even the most stalwart of enemies."
"You're aware that sometimes talking to you is a bit like carrying on a conversation with a text book?"
A smirk curved her lips as she nodded, sparing a moment to scratch at her ankle—or at least, at as much of the skin beneath her manacle as she could reach. The iron clamp was loose enough that she could get her fingernails under it, but not nearly so much that she could slip free. Well, not unless she was of a mind to gnaw off her own foot, and she wasn't nearly wolf-like enough for that sort of behavior to seem a viable option, yet.
"I like to think that's my charm, thanks very much," she said, a tone that was a mix of whimsy and exhaustion in her voice.
Fenrir laughed, again, earning him a smirk from her as it caused him to cough, once more.
"What is it this time?"
"Oh, just thinking that if I can gauge by your pretty-boy wizards' reactions around you, lately . . . . Well, lets just say bookishness isn't your only charm."
Hermione entire demeanor seemed to shift, then. She swallowed hard as she darted her gaze about. "I'm sure I've no idea what you mean."
The werewolf rolled his eyes. As much as he enjoyed their banter, as much of a little thrill as he got from toying with her, this had been going on for weeks, and since he was hardly in a position to shag the witch, himself, he was fast running out of patience with all three of them.
"What I mean, you terrible liar, is I'm fairly certain either one of them would be quite happy to offer you a seat . . . on their face."
Her shrill tone brought another excrutiating laugh from him. Though, she had to know playing ignorant would only go so far, what the that curious, heady little hint of a scent curling off her just now, after she'd had a split-second to register his words.
"No, you're right." He nodded, his expression thoughtful. "Dolohov would welcome the face-sitting, Rowle does seem a bit rougher, doesn't he? Probably more likely to throw you down on the nearest surface devour you, that one. I mean, it's what I'd—"
"Fenrir Greyback, you are just horrible!" Despite her words, she was keenly aware of the teasing shiver she'd gotten listening to him.
"I think you've gone and mispronounced honest, there, Mudblood. And you may deny it, but your scent tells me you're very much liking the way I think."
Hermione could feel a growl rumbling in the back of her throat. What was worse, her stupid heightened instincts, that seemed intent on forcing her toward both of them as it was, had images to match his words running through her mind.
And it was hardly as though she could lie to Greyback—not when he could tell what she was really feeling so easily.
"I can't help it, all right?" she said in a pleading voice, even as she tried to push away the sweet, rippling warmth that tormented her as she pictured kneeling over Antonin Dolohov . . . . Seeing those cool, pale eyes drift closed as he lost himself in the taste of her.
Of Thorfinn Rowle demanding her attention in that almost brutish way of his, plucking her up, straight into the air off of the other Death Eater, and throwing her down on the bed. . . . . Of not giving her even the space of a heartbeat to catch her breath before he dropped down and buried his face between her thighs, emitting wonderful, gruff noises as he devoured her.
Forcing a breath, she gave herself a shake. Ignoring the knowing smirk curving Fenrir's lips, she said, "It's infuriating. I barely have control of my own thoughts. Why am I feeling this way?"
Again, he shifted in discomfort beneath his bindings. "Mudblood, please, you're thinking on this entirely too hard. Look, it's simple, you're attracted to them, you've been around pretty much only them for weeks, now, and you're turning unsettlingly fast, so its only natural your instincts are pushing you to look at one of them as your mate."
"Mate?" she echoed, once more with that borderline screeching tone.
"Fine, to work out frustrations with? Shag your brains out? Whatever makes it more palatable for you. Point is, yes, you already want to shag them, plain and simple, and that tiny little glimmer of a wolf growing inside you is wondering why you've not just picked one, yet, and had at him."
She shook her head, the words tumbling from her lips before she'd even thought her response through. "Because I want both."
Fenrir's brows shot up, but he bit his lip—hard—to hold in another chuckle at her expense at the way her eyes shot wide. He couldn't help that he found it hilarious how much she'd just surprised herself, because it was hilarious.
"That . . . sounds like a you problem, there. But, seriously, get your shit straight."
She didn't want to choose between them. Worse? She didn't feel the slightest bit selfish or guilty for wanting them both. Hermione forced her thoughts away from her reluctance to pick one of them over the other—from her steadily growing desire for each of them, altogether.
Her shoulders slumping, she sagged against the bend in the wall, ever so slightly. "Why does this even matter to you, at all?"
He sighed. "In my state, there's not much more I can do than live vicariously through you sad lot."
The witch frowned, nodding as she sighed, as well. "That makes a depressing amount of sense, actually."
"Doesn't it just?"
Silence fell across the subterranean chamber, punctuated only every few moments by the faint, subdued whining of the white wolf. Hermione shuffled her feet as she dropped her gaze to the ground. Fenrir started making a bored, smacking sound with his lips.
She tried to ignore wondering what their imprisonment might be like, were he not restrained and perpetually injured. More so, she was trying to ignore the strange sense that he was wondering the very same thing.
"So, another book?"
"Yes, please," he said, his always exhausted voice edged with relief.
With a nod, and a wash of relief of her own coursing through her, Hermione turned on her heel and started for her bookcase.
Sometime later that day, Thorfinn and Antonin descended the staircase, as per usual, to bring her a meal and examine her in the wake of her fever breaking.
Though they rarely startled her, as they neared her chamber to see her sitting on the floor, the book open in her lap, they found her staring up at them. The most curious flare of color bloomed in her cheeks as she darted her wide-eyed gaze between them over and over.
Antonin and Thorfinn both arched a brow, sharing a confused glance, before returning their attention to the witch.
Neither of them were certain they wanted to know what Fenrir was laughing at this time as his familiar, pain-tinged snickering filled the air.