The Coachwhip

[Characters are the creation of JK Rowling. I am not claiming them as my own, nor attempting to make money from them, and neither should you.]
The Coachwhip

a story by Scorpio Grudge


Go home, Hermione. Go see your parents.

I don't want to. This is more important; they're fine.

Of course, but they're frightened for your safety. You should see them, spend some time with them.

She had sighed and shook her head. Her parents, once the war against Voldemort had broken loose, had become so mistrustful of the wizarding world, they had wanted her to withdraw from it completely. How could she leave everything she loved behind? Everything... and everybody.

They don't like you. They don't trust--

He had kissed her then, leaving her objections behind. I know. See them. He had cupped her face in one hand. Don't worry.

Against her better judgment, she had agreed to take a brief respite from her job with the Ministry to visit her parents. It would only be a week defending her choices to them, and then she would return. As many others, she was no great fan of the Ministry political machine, but she liked her job. Though results were not often easy to come by, she knew she was making a difference.

Charms, transfiguration, potions, hexes, defense, anything they needed. If Hermione didn't know it already, she could find it, she could learn it. In many cases, just knowing where to look, understanding the history of it all, being able to look at things from the point of all the different disciplines helped as much as any one master.

There was art in being a master of Transfiguration or Charms, but there was art in being able to analyze those things too. Hermione had her niche, and no one had been able to wedge her out of it. That was the thing that allowed her to steadfastly resist her parents' efforts to return her to the Muggle world.

Taking a deep breath, tightening her grip on her suitcase as the worn leather handle slipped in her sweaty hand, Hermione rang the bell.

The door opened almost immediately, and she was greeted by the sight of her mother. Familiarity washed over Hermione, and though she steeled herself against their disparaging words, a smile grew very easily on her lips. "Mum," she said quietly.

"Oh, Hermione, we're so glad you decided to visit for a bit," Roselyn Granger, who would always be Mum to Hermione no matter their ages, said brightly. "Come in, of course. This is still your home. I've just started some tea, and if you're hungry--"

"Tea would be lovely, but I'm afraid I've already eaten at ho--" No, this was her parents house now, not her home. Her home now was outside of Hogsmeade. Home... where her heart was. "I've already eaten."

Mum's smile faltered, but didn't fail. "Oh, well, just some tea then. Why don't you settle yourself, freshen up a bit first. Your old room will suit, won't it?"

"Of course." Hermione's smile was completely genuine at the thoughts of her room. Her sanctuary. She wondered how much it had been changed, how much she had changed. Mum stepped aside, and Hermione entered the house. "It's... good to be back," she said, and gave her mother an awkward, one-armed hug. "It's good to see you."

"You don't know how much we worry about you," Mum whispered, returning the hug painfully.

As awkwardly as the hug was administered, it was released, and Mum's cheeks had a few tears on them. "Well, you go on and freshen up. I'll call you when tea's done."

Hermione's smile had waned slightly, but she wouldn't get annoyed the first moments she was there when she had to spend the entire week. "Thanks, Mum." It was important to control her reactions, not get overly defensive. When that happened, her parents just got more insistent that she was in danger. They didn't realize...

"Roger, Hermione's home! Come say hello."

"That's not necessary. He's probably busy, and I look a mess," Hermione insisted, and began smoothing down her hair with her free hand. As if Apparation ever mussed it.

Mum just tsked and ushered her in as the door was closed. The latch engaging sounded very final in Hermione's ears. How could this house, these people be so intimidating now, when she was an adult?

"Hermione?" Dad's voice came from the sitting room. A creak of that old chair that had been his favorite since Hermione could remember. "I didn't expect you so soon," he said as he entered the foyer. He gave her a bear hug. "How have you been?"

"She needs to freshen up, Roger. She's just gotten here."

"It's incidental small talk, Rose. I'm sure Hermione can do that without needing to put on a fresh coat of lipstick." Dad gave her a conspiratorial wink, and Hermione couldn't help but grin back.

Some things never changed.

"I don't," Hermione said, breaking up the debate, "but my bag is starting to get heavy."

"Right, right. We'll catch up on things over tea, shall we?" Dad said, and placed his hand on her shoulder.

It was a comforting weight, but Hermione wasn't quite ready to let her guard down. "I'll be back down shortly," she said, trying to sound as chipper as possible though dread was starting to bloom in her belly, and made for the stairs.

The second stair from the top still creaked. For some reason, she expected things to change every time she visited the house. That nick in the banister would be gone, the stair would be fixed, all the little things that she had grown up with... It would have been strange if they had been gone, but she also realized how odd it was that they were still there. The house was... static, unchanging. She didn't find that encouraging.

The same was true of her room. It was still the same, and she cringed at how immature it seemed now. Oh, yes, when she had still been in school, it had been very adult. Or so she had thought, but now... In a way, it was embarrassing to see the money her parents had spent on her. Money spent that was now just going to waste in this room. Hermione frowned before she closed the door behind her and set her suitcase on the too-small dresser.

She opened it and retrieved her brush. Her hair had transformed from the bushy mass in childhood to a thick and glossy mane now. She prided herself in it, and was almost obsessed with its care. Sighing softly to herself, beginning a familiar ritual, she sat down at the simple, old-fashioned vanity she had used for a better portion of her life, and began to brush.

***

Though spending time with her parents frustrated her, Hermione went to bed that night and forced the tension from her body. This was not her home now, but her bed was so pleasantly familiar, she easily allowed it to escort her to sleep. A sleepy chuckle escaped as she considered that she had never gone to bed in the kind of dress she was currently in. Staid little nightgowns had been her evening stable, not lace or satin.

Yet, lace and satin was no replacement for whose embrace she wished for that evening. Thoughts of him firmly in mind so she would dream of him, she relaxed, slowed her breathing, and drifted to sleep.

Some point in the night, while Hermione remained in the grip of Morpheus, movement occurred in her suitcase. It was slight, and would have been hardly noticeable to anything outside an owl.

From underneath the clothes that were carefully folded, a sleek, black head emerged. It tested the air with its sensitive tongue, then emerged further, coming over the lip of the case. For a moment, it hung there, testing the air, then began to lower itself to the floor.

Black gave way to dark brown, and 130 centimeters later, it was on the floor and headed for the bed. It easily lifted its whip-like body up to the level of the mattress, slipping under the covers, and continued until it was completely concealed.

Slowly, it slipped along Hermione's bare skin, venturing up and over her leg repeatedly until it draped completely over it. It stilled when Hermione shifted suddenly; if she rolled to her side, it would be crushed. Yet, with a simple incoherent mumble, she stilled, and the snake continued its journey.

Across the lace of her panties it moved, its tongue flickering rapidly with keen interest. It paused at her bellybutton, its nose under her satin camisole, but retreated slightly. Free of the camisole, it continued upward until it was at her neck. Pulse steady and strong, so warm, it would have been simple enough to sleep there, but not yet.

Across her throat, up to her ear, and there, with its tongue testing the delicate flesh of her lobe, it waited.

"Did you enjoy hiding in my underwear?" Hermione said suddenly, no longer asleep.

A slight shift, and he was there, breathing seductively in her ear, his lips poised to begin nibbling. "I enjoy everything in your underwear." He nibbled then, one long-fingered hand exploring the exposed flesh of her midrift.

"My parents are right down the hall."

"Then don't scream."

She turned her head, pulling her ear free of mouth, and kissed him, taking control of his mouth. Though the kiss was heated, their tongues engaged tenderly until they had to pause to take breath.

"You like it more when I try not to scream," Hermione said, smiling now while her eyes smouldered with desire

"Merlin's beard, yes."

"Make me not scream, Severus."

End

[AN: A coachwhip is, of course, a kind of snake. Very long, 127 - 200+ cm, thin and whip-like. They are fast on the ground, agile climbers, non-venomous, and harmless to humans.]