A/N: Ah, one plot milestone down, a few more to go :) The next release of chapters will be 64-73. I have absolutely no idea how long it will take me, but I have to rewrite most of them, so it won't be quick. See you all as soon as I can. Happy reading! (Also, I apologize in advance for the sexual cliffhanger that is this chapter. You'll have to fill in the fun with your own imagination, because there's no resolution.)
"I guess you're just what I needed."—The Cars
Sighing deeply, grateful for a quiet moment alone after such a confusing morning, Lucius glanced up from his tea, his eyes almost drifting closed in the hazy evening light—only to have all the relaxation flee his body in a startled jump as a Snape materialized from the shadows. Bloody hell! He wanted to reprimand Severus for sneaking about like a cat burglar, but the animation in Snape's black eyes derailed his train of thought. That mad gleam hadn't been seen since their days at Hogwarts—which could only mean one thing. "You've figured out what's going on with Hermione, haven't you?"
Severus oozed into the room like ink across parchment, his movements fluid and graceful, but the ebullience his energy preceded him, almost knocking Lucius flat. Lowering his chin, Snape gave him an almost imperceptible grin, a grin that would have appeared sinister on anyone else. "Have you noticed any improvements in your life since we started seeing Hermione?"
"I take it you mean other than immense sexual relief?"
"Yes. Improved health? Clearer thinking? Fortuitous business dealings perhaps?"
Lucius leaned back in his chair. "Yes, now that you mention it. I'm sleeping better than I have in years, and I feel better in general. Not as tired . . . or angry. As far as my business dealings, I've had nothing but huge returns on all my recent investments. That money for Hermione was a drop in the proverbial bucket."
"Same here," Severus replied, his grin growing. "I've been sleeping soundly, and my work in the lab is going extraordinarily well."
"Are you insinuating that our improvements are due to our little Gryffindor?"
"I think they're just the tip of the iceberg."
Draco chose that moment to burst through the door, interrupting Snape's big reveal with his usual blithe cockiness. "We're home!" he announced as he strutted across the kitchen. "Hermione's playing with her new books in the library."
"How did it go?" Severus asked. "What did she see?"
"She said everyone still has auras, but she can't see anything in their eyes. So I guess that's just something she can do with us. And she said her sense-sensitivity has calmed down, so no more bloodhound jokes."
"Did you find anything helpful through the private dealers?" Severus pressed.
"Not about sexually-induced psychic powers. But she bought some other books that struck her fancy."
"Is she still a normal temperature?"
"As far as I could tell. I was going to get her some pumpkin juice—but not because she's burning up or anything." He took a glass from the cupboard and summoned the juice pitcher from the icebox.
Severus leaned against the counter, his eyes on Draco's back. "Have you noticed any improvements in your life since Hermione moved in?"
Draco's brow furrowed, and he gave Snape a confused frown. But then he shrugged, as if peculiar questions were to be expected when conversing with Snape. "Yeah, of course."
Severus rolled his hand, gesturing for him to elaborate.
Draco poured the juice and set down the pitcher before continuing. "I'm sleeping far better than I used to, and . . . I used to have nightmares all the time, but since we started sharing a bed, they've stopped."
Severus met Lucius's eye, and Lucius nodded. His nightmares had dissipated as well. And it would appear Snape was in the same boat. Was Hermione a human dreamcatcher?
"I feel better too," Draco said thoughtfully. "Less anxious. Especially in the morning. I used to wake up on edge—like I was under attack. But now it's like . . . I'm finally relaxed."
Lucius knew exactly what he meant. He use to leap out of a dead sleep and search the room for danger, but now he just spent his mornings studying the washed out freckles on Hermione's nose until she opened her eyes and reminded him what happiness looked like. The desperation and panic that had once ruled his life had faded to nothing more than a niggle. And judging by the expression on Snape's face, he was experiencing the same thing. How interesting. "Well don't keep us in suspense."
"I want to wait and tell Hermione at the same time."
"You figured out what's going on?" Draco asked, his pensive scowl reversing so dramatically his eyebrows shot up his forehead.
"I'm fairly certain I have. I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts on the matter though."
"Well why the hell are we hanging about in the kitchen then? Let's go ask her." Draco swiped the glass off the counter and strode out without a backward glance.
Severus and Lucius both hurried after him.
In the library they found Hermione reclining on the couch, studying a thick book in her lap. When she looked up, her smile lit the room like the sun, and the roiling excitement in Lucius's gut melted to easy contentment.
Draco handed over the glass and bent down to kiss her head.
"Thank you, Draco. How's the search going, Severus?" Hermione's eyes slid over the strewn mess of books Snape had left on the floor.
"I found something."
She jolted upright, half her juice sloshing down her arm. "What!"
Severus waved her back down and sat at the other end of the sofa, beside her feet. After cleaning her spill with a flick of his wand, he pulled a book from under his arm and, pressing open the pages, handed it to her. "Read this last section and tell me what you think."
Hermione scooted closer and took the book. Her brown eyes flew side to side, and her pink tongue crept out the way it did when she was concentrating—which caused Lucius's trousers to tighten to an uncomfortable pinch. That girl was going to turn him into a regular bibliophile if she insisted on reading like that.
When she finished, she lowered the book and stared at Severus. "This sounds just like us."
"I thought so too. Pass it to Draco and Lucius. Let them read it for themselves."
Hermione gave the book to Draco, and Lucius leaned over the back of Draco's chair to read it over his shoulder.
The more he read, the more unreal the words appeared. A Quartet? He'd never even heard of such a thing. Triads were rare enough—three people so perfectly attuned their magical cores became linked; the likelihood of coming across not one but two other people, who all happened to align with one's magical signature, was about as likely as coming across two four-leaf clovers . . . that had been pissed on by unicorns . . . and preserved by pixie dust for five thousand years: not impossible but highly improbable. It spoke of something beyond luck.
Finding four people who fit together that perfectly sounded like madness. "Is this Museburg saying we were made for each other?"
In unison, Hermione and Severus both answered with a firm "no."
Hermione took the book back and flipped through the preceding pages. "Triads aren't destiny, they're just . . . extraordinarily compatible. They're in sync with each other's energies in very unique ways. I don't think we're any different."
"I concur," Severus muttered. "This isn't destiny or I would have experienced a boost of magic whenever I was with you, Lucius. Our sex lives have always been intense, and we've always been very close, but I didn't feel anything out of the ordinary until I moved into the manor. Which makes me suspect we're affecting the magic as much as it's affecting us. It's a two-way street, and our free will is an important component—we chose to be together. Also, it leads me to wonder whether our affinity is also contingent on time. I don't think this could have worked at any other point in our lives. I mean, the rudimentary ingredients were there, but the way we play off one another and integrate seems situation specific. That would mean it's not only our personalities and individual magic that influence the connection, but the current circumstances—our current selves. Hermione's love of 'who we are now' as she said this morning might be more accurate than we could have guessed. Ten years ago I doubt any of this would have been possible."
As Hermione reread the passage, her pretty forehead puckered with thought. "Severus is right. We became these individualized expressions of the aspects over time—with each other . . . maybe for each other. It's just really lucky that we all got together when we did. Oh!" She clapped a hand over her mouth and glanced at Lucius, her eyes wide with horror. "I didn't mean it was lucky Narcissa . . . is gone. I just meant . . ."
Lucius hadn't thought she meant anything of the sort, but his heart twinged at the reminder. Sweet Merlin, what would Narcissa think of all this?
"We know," Severus assured her when Lucius just sat there frozen in his memories. "No one was thinking that. But I was thinking along the same lines you were . . . about us transforming over time—with each other. I think there's even more to our compatibility and connection than Museburg mentions."
Hermione studied him, her eyes narrowing. "What do you mean?"
"There's no mention in the book about how they functioned as a cohesive unit, how they complemented each other. Our own dynamic is rather . . . unorthodox. Plus our members include a father and son, who aren't intimately involved."
"But they do love each other," Hermione cut in. "Love magic isn't limited to romantic love. Just look how Harry's mum saved him. Maybe Lucius and Draco have a stronger bond than we can comprehend. Maybe they have a stronger bond than any of us."
Lucius looked down at his son's blond head. Of course he loved Draco, he just didn't like to go on about it and make a fuss. Did people honestly question his devotion to his only child? Merlin's beard! He'd spent his entire adult life doing everything he could to ensure Draco's success and survival. Just because he didn't go around building him up with false praise didn't mean the boy wasn't loved.
Severus nodded. "I thought so too. It's obvious whatever love they have works, or there would be no magic to affect us. But when I said dynamic, I meant something more. We all . . . have very specific needs the others are fulfilling."
Hermione's brow knitted tighter. "You mean why I can't get by without each of you?"
"Partly. Have you ever considered that, maybe, it's not just you who needs us?"
"No, I understand you need me too. I . . . " She blushed. "I can see it."
"Yes, but I meant more than that. Perhaps each of us needs the others for similar reasons."
Her face brightened. "You mean like how Lucius is kind of a brother to you?"
Severus smiled softly.
"And Draco is kind of like a son."
"And Draco is literally Lucius's son. And . . . I'm your little girl."
"Exactly. And you're Lucius's wife, and Draco's . . . nanny."
She grinned. "We're one big happy family."
"In the most disturbing way possible, yes."
Lucius saw it all in a sudden flash of understanding, the truth revealing itself like thunderbolt to the brain: she was every woman to every man . . . wife, mother, and child—their multi-faceted goddess. But she wasn't simply playing a role—she was their balance, she was what they hungered for in the deepest recesses of their souls. Severus needed to care for someone, Draco needed to be cared for, and Lucius needed a partner who would both love him and keep him in check, someone he could shower with adoration, someone he could give the best of himself. "Wait, wait. Go back. What did you say about us becoming the aspects over time?"
"I meant we're the elements," Hermione explained. Then she stopped short and looked at Snape. "That's what you thought too, right?"
Severus nodded. "As soon as I read it, it seemed rather obvious. And this explains your heating and cooling issues."
She grinned. "Come on baby light my fire?"
"Indeed," Snape replied with a chuff.
Draco tipped his head to one side and rubbed his jaw. "If we're each an element, which one am I?"
"Water," Hermione and Severus answered at the same time.
Draco seemed to be turning that over in his mind.
Lucius slid into the seat next to Hermione and pressed his leg to hers. Resting his hand on her thigh, he stroked the firm planes of the muscle beneath; he needed her body to gather his thoughts. "I'm afraid I don't remember much about elemental magic, but if I recall correctly, air is intellect, is it not?"
Hermione nodded. "Snape's air. You're earth."
Hermione laughed and shook her head. "You're stable and physical. You're the realm of senses and pleasure. And money. Oh Merlin," she whispered, knocking her fist to her forehead. "You're right, Severus. It was staring us in the face the whole time. Lucius is the rock-solid provider. And he loves the grounding connection of human touch. Are we bloody blind? How could we not see this?"
"But I like to be touched too," Draco pointed out. "We all liked to be touched."
"Yes, we're all human beings who need touch," Hermione confirmed, "but you need it for different reasons. You crave the emotional connection; Lucius, the physical connection. And you two go out of your way to get the touch you need. Severus and I have spent years alone—Severus in his head, me in my causes—but you're always out with someone. And the only time Lucius went without touch was after Narcissa. And look what happened; it was hell for him."
Lucius looked at Snape, his mind snapping back to the day Severus had shown up unannounced and rescued Lucius from his death-spiral of despair. And his memory had no problem pinpointing the moment the relief had hit: when Snape put his arms around him. And Severus had spent the whole weekend holding him, never letting go.
"That's why I would feel so much better after Severus visited on the weekends," he said to himself. "He was grounding me enough to keep me sane."
Severus sat back, his mouth pressed into a contemplative line. "Probably. Whether part of a Quartet or not, everyone gravitates toward an element; and you've always been fond of the physical realm. But looking back, I don't think it was just the grounding of my touch that helped you. Sex encompasses many attributes that fall under earth's domain: sensuality, pleasure, solidity, manifestation, beauty. And notice the change when Hermione was added to the equation. With me you weren't providing for anyone; you were missing a large piece of your own puzzle. We were fucking, but it lacked some important requirements."
"Soul," Draco said. "That's why I need Hermione so much."
Severus rolled his neck in a vacillating nod of agreement. "Hermione is an important part—but that's true for each of us. If one of us were missing, we'd all be unbalanced."
"Then why is everything happening to Hermione if we're all equally important?"
Severus looked at Hermione, and the corners of his mouth curled into a sly smile. "Because she's our little cum queen."
Draco blinked a few times then comprehension dawned in his face. "Oh. So I was right about the magic semen," he laughed.
"I believe so. She's getting the constant benefit of all of our elements. But look how much more powerful the magic became when we mixed inside her. And when we all come together."
Hermione sat back and smiled to herself. "There's one more ingredient that's making a huge difference."
Draco sat up straighter, suddenly sure of himself. "Love."
Hermione nodded. "Even before we admitted it out loud to each other, the magic knew. It changed as we grew closer, just like the book said."
"And that combined magic is running through all of us." Snape told them. "It's why we're all sleeping better and feeling better. It why work is going so well. But Hermione's making these huge leaps and bounds because she's housing all of our energies on a regular basis."
"So if we all started 'housing' the others' energies, the same thing would happen to us?" Draco said with a grimace of mild revulsion.
"I don't know if the magic would manifest in each of us the same way it has in Hermione," Severus replied, "but yes, I think we would also experience drastic changes of a similar nature."
Lucius wasn't too keen on the idea of "housing" Draco's seed. "Are you suggesting I suck my son's dick? I think I'm willing to forgo superpowers for my own peace of mind."
Severus snorted. "I thought you might say that. While I have no compunctions about ingesting or absorbing either of your ejaculate, I can see how this might get complicated. But just as a suggestion, I believe Draco has already eaten our semen out of Hermione once before. I'm curious if you noticed anything unusual at the time, Draco."
Draco's brow lowered. "I can't recall. But I do remember that it didn't taste bad. On the contrary, it was disturbingly good. Almost addictive."
"I suspect all our fluids taste exceptionally good to the other three. And I suspect the results are cumulative, so it's doubtful you'd notice anything on the first try. But Hermione's been absorbing our energies for quite some time now. It would take us years to catch up . . . if we ever could."
"For the good of the Quartet, I'm more than willing to let all of you eat each others' cum out of my pussy whenever you please," Hermione said brightly.
"How magnanimous of you, love," Snape drawled, his thin lips twitching at the sight of her devious leer.
"I suppose I'm willing to lick our cum out of her," Lucius conceded. "How are we going to decide who gets to do it?"
"We'll take turns," Severus said with an absent wave of his hand.
Draco began to unbutton his shirt. "Well, now that we know what the hell's going on, I say we capitalize on it. The more shagging the better. We'll just divvy up the proceeds so Hermione doesn't get too much at once."
Hermione immediately lifted her T-shirt over her head. "Hear, hear," she said from inside the cocoon of cotton.
Lucius looked over at Snape, who was chuckling to himself as she emerged looking like a deranged ball of dandelion fluff. Malfoy's own mouth curled at the corners, caught up in Snape's exaltation as if it were his own. Which perhaps it was. He didn't know how Quartet magic worked. Did he feel what the others felt, or was he merely delighted to see his mercurial friend in a rare moment of pure boyish jollity?
Did it really matter? He was happy for Severus—and happy for himself. Hell, he was even happy for Draco. For a moment all his defenses vanished: all his competitiveness, all his judgement and fear. And in their place he found acceptance. They weren't four people dealing with an overly complex living arrangement; they were simply themselves. Exactly as they were supposed to be. And while that sense of unity was gone before he could get acquainted, it left him grounded in a way he'd never felt before. A way that felt right. A way that felt innate to his being. It was as if, after a lifetime of turmoil and upheaval, he'd found his place in the universe.
And in that place lay the promise of peace.
Hermione wiggled out of her knickers and tossed them over her head as she lunged for Draco's bulging zip with a rebellious giggle.
Severus snatched her pink panties from the air and brought them to his nose, his eyes rolling back as he inhaled their magic. His hand trailed down to his trousers, and in a frustrated rush, he ripped open his flies. An obelisk of black boxers sprang forth, and Severus grunted out a dry, "When in Rome," as he sank into a boneless heap
Lucius couldn't help laughing at Snape's relieved expression. "When in Rome, my foot. You're gagging for it."
Snape's eyebrow inched up his forehead, and he turned to Lucius with a languorous smirk. Not saying a word, he reached across the empty seat and covered Malfoy's crotch with his palm, his fingers methodically "searching" for the zip. As he lowered it, he caressed the distended bulge within, making it clear that he knew Lucius was equally aroused. And had been for quite some time.
Lucius wrapped his hand around Snape's and thrust into the warmth of his fist, unabashed by his state of readiness. "What can I say? You and Hermione have converted me to Biblioism. I can't even come in here anymore without getting hard."
Snape's smirk grew to a smile, and he leaned in for a kiss. "You're one of us now," he whispered, his teeth grazing Lucius's lower lip. "One of us, one of us."
Lucius chuckled, never more appreciative of Snape's warped sense of humor than he was in that moment.
They both had finally figured out where they belonged.
And for the first time in their lives, it happened to be exactly where they were.
Interpretation—The expression the performer brings when playing his or her instrument.
"Just What I Needed" by the Cars. Written by Ric Ocasek (vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the Cars) in 1978. [Link on AO3]
The line "One of us, one of us" is from the movie Freaks (1932), and has been referenced in many modern days shows/music. [Links on AO3]