Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize belongs to me. Just borrowed. Will be returned. Snape is welcome to stay, though.
A big Thank You goes to my beta-reader and brit-picker, Melusin, who transfers my babble into language, sorts my random punctuation and is a good friend. This story was written for an anti-doom-and-gloom challenge by Melusin.
Several people asked about Hermione's pseudonym in the last chapter. Perdita is the name of Hermione's daughter in 'The Winter's Tale' and Scharlach is German for scarlet.
Two days later, Hermione met Severus in front of an old, inconspicuous little shop in Diagon Alley. The shop window had several paintings on display, and the sign over the door said, 'Dean Thomas, Artist and Photographer.'
"You're writing a book with pictures," Severus murmured after Hermione had met him at the appointed time. "That'll be popular. Finally, something that meets the intellectual level of the average reader."
Hermione laughed. "And there was me thinking you'd lost your sarcasm completely—the way you're charming the socks off your female acquaintances ever since you returned."
"Am I charming your socks off?"
"Of course you are. Mine, and… let's see… those of several hundred other witches."
"If I didn't know better, I'd detect a hint of jealousy there," he mumbled, glancing at her sideways.
Hermione frowned. Of course there was a hint of jealousy there. How could he possibly doubt it? She saw him clench his jaws. Apparently, he had said something he hadn't wanted to say. She'd better let it rest; she didn't want to ruin what they had. Their relationship, if it could be called that, was still rather fragile. Severus, while obviously enjoying her company and their activities, never mentioned feelings of any kind, and plans for future meetings were only made tentatively, from meeting to meeting. There was no agreement, no pledge, and no promise. It left Hermione feeling insecure and unsatisfied. She wanted more; she wanted a chance with him, a future.
Her own feelings had become clear a short while ago. When Severus had laughed about her pseudonym, it had hit her completely unawares. This man shared her sense of humour. He understood what she was saying without her having to explain. He wasn't only a breathtakingly dedicated and patient lover, he'd also turned out to be good company––the kind Hermione considered to be good, in any case; the same couldn't necessarily be said of other people. And so, after spending several weeks in each other's company and beds, Hermione had become aware that she was in love. She wanted to keep Severus, but she wasn't sure how he felt about her, and she didn't want to ruin what they had by rushing in and confronting him with her feelings too soon.
"Let's go in," Hermione said and opened the door. She talked briefly to the shop assistant, who pointed upwards and smiled.
"We're going upstairs," Hermione told Severus, who had been studying the landscapes and portraits on display with a critical eye. With a polite nod at the elderly witch in the portrait––she had recognized him and engaged him in conversation––he turned around and followed Hermione to the back door.
"Were all these pictures painted by Mr. Thomas?" Severus asked while they climbed up the narrow stairs.
"Yes. Talented, isn't he?"
"He has potential…"
Hermione grinned and knocked at a door on the third-floor landing.
"Hermione?" Dean's voice sounded from within. "Do come in. The door's open."
Hermione had been in the flat before and knew that it was overstuffed with paintings. She noticed how Severus looked around curiously. There was a narrow corridor with doors left and right and a large glass door at the end. Every available space was covered with pictures: some were covered with cloth, some were facing the walls, others were arranged for display.
The glass door opened into a large studio with skylights in the sloping ceiling. Just as in the corridor, every available space was covered with pictures, but there was also some furniture. A large ottoman stood under one of the skylights. There were easels, cupboards with brushes and paints, shelves with paper and stacks of stretched canvas.
A large easel was placed underneath the largest skylight, and Dean stood in front of it, loaded palette in one hand, brush in the other, and a spare brush tucked behind his ear. He wore a long, grey smock that was speckled with paints of all colours.
"Pro… ah, Mr. Snape," Dean Thomas said and nodded.
"Mr. Thomas," Severus replied, sounding curious.
Hermione felt tense; she wondered what he would think about her project. She looked around and noticed that not all was as it should have been. "Where are Sandra and Kevin?" she asked after briefly kissing Dean on the cheek. "I wanted to see how you're progressing with them. Why aren't they here? Is there a problem?"
Hermione was speaking very fast, now; she had to know what was going on. She didn't notice Severus melting into the background, an amused smile on his face.
"Hold it, hold it." Dean had put the brush and palette down and was making calming gestures with his hands. "Don't get into a fit over it. They both send you their regards, but also the message that they need a break. They don't think they're getting paid enough for what you want from them."
"What? They get…"
"Let me finish. They asked me to tell you that if you… How did they put it? Oh yes, wait. If you can prove that these positions can be assumed safely by normal people without dislocated joints and slipped discs, then they might return, but only then."
"Oh, bollocks!" Hermione swore. "They can't leave us hanging like that. Why didn't you…?"
"Hermione..." Dean tried to sound calming. "They do have a point. Sandra can't walk on some days, her joints and muscles are so strained. Tell me, have you ever tried any of them yourself?"
Hermione felt sheepish. "Only a few, but…" She looked around helplessly until her glance rested on Severus, who had been following the conversation with a frown. "Why don't we let Severus be the judge? I still say, they just wanted more money. What a low way to…"
"Maybe you can enlighten me first," Severus said quietly, "before you get all worked up over nothing?"
Hermione nodded and took a calming breath. "I told you about the book. Well… it's basically a modernized version of the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana. Magical people usually have a thing for the classics—for old-fashioned things. A classic like the Kama Sutra, adjusted just a bit to fit into the modern world, would be more appealing than something entirely new, I thought."
"The Kama Sutra?"
"Yes. With the main focus on the embraces and ways of congress. I'll only briefly refer to all the sexist claptrap of the ancients—about how women should be enjoyed, and all that."
Severus smirked. "I see."
Hermione smirked back. "Yes. If someone is interested in all the other arts and skills in there—how to decorate a house, make flower arrangements, and all that—they can read the original. My own focus, here, is on the giving and receiving pleasure for both witch and wizard."
Severus nodded and glanced at Dean, who was leaning against a table, arms crossed, listening attentively.
"The original comes with illustrations, but they are Muggle, rather old and stylized—and static. I thought with some wizarding illustrations, things would be clearer for the reader. Dean, here, agreed to try his hand at the pictures."
Dean grinned and winked at Severus who, quite predictably, scowled. "I see. And where is the problem?"
"It's the models. We hired two models for Dean to paint in the various positions, but now they want more money.
"I'm only about half-finished with the project," Dean threw in while he sorted through a stack of small paintings. "Here––do you want to see one?"
"Not again…" two faint voices came from the canvas. The picture was of a naked man and woman. Looking very tired, they glared at Hermione and then turned towards each other.
"What they're about to do is called the 'suspended congress'," Hermione explained while Severus stooped down to take a closer look.
The man in the painting supported himself against the wall. He grabbed the woman's bottom and lifted her up in a way so that she was sitting on his hands, which were joined together and held underneath her. She threw her arms around his neck, and putting her thighs alongside his waist, moved herself by her feet, which were touching the wall against which the man was leaning. They kept moving like this for as long as Severus watched.
Hermione noticed with amusement how Severus' cheeks flushed. As a test audience, he wasn't bad, and this reaction was quite promising. The display in the picture was rather hot, and she saw how he had to force himself to look away.
"I can see how this could… ah… entice the readers to try it out," he said after he had cleared his throat. "But why are they so tired?"
"I, ah, forgot to put them away while some other customers were giving me their submissions earlier, and they were stared at for quite some time. The others had no idea what it was all about, of course," Dean added hastily when he saw Hermione's face. She was very annoyed; she didn't want the word being spread about the project just yet, and she was not prepared to give up her pseudonym.
"I understand," Severus murmured and glanced sideways at the couple in the portrait. They were still at it.
"If we could at least finish off," the woman in the portrait complained. "But no, each time someone looks at us, we have to start anew. Demonstrate the technique, and that's it."
"This is supposed to be art, not pornography," Hermione hissed.
"Hypocrite." The man huffed. The couple had stopped their activities now and were standing side by side, hands on hips, glaring at their audience.
Hermione mumbled something incomprehensible and turned the picture to the wall. A faint "Despot!" could be heard, but Hermione paid it no heed and turned to Severus.
"The models find some of the positions too difficult, which is nonsense," Hermione took the conversation back to the point.
"You know, some of them are quite twisted," Dean said. "You really should try them yourself. If you don't have a partner, I'll gladly volunteer." He grinned insolently.
Not again Hermione thought. She had been warding off Dean's attentions ever since the ball at Christmas. Dean was an old friend, but there simply was no spark between them.
"Idiot!" She laughed. "Give it up, will you? It's not going to happen."
"Worth a try," Dean said, ogling her. "You looked so delicious at the Ministry ball, you know."
"Forget it," Hermione said. "I'll think about the problem and get back to you. We need to go, now."
Dean stared after them with a puzzled frown. "Say," he cried before Hermione closed the door. "Are you two an item?"
"None of your business," Hermione snapped and closed the door. The nerve…
Severus' mood had been thoroughly ruined by the time they had dinner together at a small restaurant around the corner from Hermione's house. He was lost in thought and merely glanced at her from time to time while they ate. He wondered how much longer she would put up with him. There were other, younger wizards who were interested in her. Dean Thomas was a case in point.
Later, they were sitting in Hermione's lounge and sharing a bottle of wine. "You are awfully quiet this evening." Hermione looked at him with a puzzled frown.
"Perhaps you should take up Dean Thomas' offer of trying out the Kama Sutra with him," he blurted out, silently cursing himself for not letting it rest. "From what you've told me about your preferences, he sounds like the ideal partner. He was brought up by Muggles; he's attractive, young, unrestrained…"
"Are you tired of me, already?" Hermione asked. She didn't look happy.
Severus wondered if he had gone too far and got too personal.
"I was rather hoping…" Hermione swallowed the rest of her sentence. "He is not my type. There is no spark. We've known each other since first year; we were in he same house. He's a friend, and that's it." She glanced at him pensively.
Severus knew that he should have been relieved, but he wasn't. Jealousy had attacked him unawares. He had no right to be jealous; there was no attachment from her side. Hermione had never indicated that she wanted more from him than a bit of friendly company and sex. They were more than fuck buddies, but he wouldn't call them 'an item', exactly. There were just too many insecurities on both sides; there was never a mention of feelings or any long-term plans.
"He's right, though," Severus said. "You should have tried those positions before you asked the models to perform them. That way, you'd also know what you can safely include and what might be too difficult, or too risqué, for the average couple."
"I've tried a few of them in the past," Hermione said, still with that thoughtful glance. "But, if you think it's a good idea… let's try them together, then." She flashed him a small smile.
Severus blinked. This was his chance to spend more time with her, on a regular basis. This was his chance to find out if she had any feelings for him. She'd chosen him over Dean Thomas, after all, hadn't she? But he had to be certain. He would not let her break his heart.
While he'd been looking at her, silently pondering the implications of her suggestion, her own expression had changed. The slightly flirtatious smile was gone and had been replaced by an expressionless mask. Only a slight nibbling of teeth on lower lip belied the pretence of indifference.
"Ah, maybe it wasn't such a good idea then. Forget I asked…"
"Oh, no." That was not at all what he had in mind. "I should be delighted to, ah, work on this project with you." His smirk caused her to smile, and her eyes lit up. "I was just thinking that perhaps, for the full experience, we shouldn't restrain ourselves to the embraces and ways of congress but include some of the preparatory rituals as well."
Hermione's lips opened slightly in astonishment, and Severus thought that he'd much rather kiss her than lead this discussion, but she was all agitated now.
"But that's an excellent idea!" she exclaimed. "Atmosphere is important. We could include some of the more general arts, adapt them to our time and place. That'd get us away from being too technical and make the whole thing a lot more sensual."
Her eyes were shining, and he gave her a small smile and a nod. She wasn't finished yet, though. "We could… let's… ah, but this could take a while, you know. The whole Kama Sutra consists of seven parts, thirty-six chapters, and sixty-four paragraphs. Are you certain that you want to commit so much time and effort to the project… to me?"
"Would I have suggested it otherwise?" He smirked, raised an eyebrow and was rewarded with a radiant smile.
"You won't regret it," she said and stood up, holding a hand out to him. He took it and followed her to the bedroom where they continued their project planning––among other things.
Hermione was looking forward to their first project meeting very much. Here was a chance to show Severus, subtly, how she felt about him. He didn't have to understand; they could both pretend that her actions didn't mean anything, but maybe, just maybe, Severus would take the hint and give her an idea about his own feelings in return.
When she knocked on the door to Foxglove Cottage, Spunky answered and let her in, grinning a friendly welcome and then going about her business. Hermione walked down the corridor to the lounge. Severus jumped up when she came in, looking expectantly at her. "Ah, there you are."
Hermione merely nodded and walked up to him, attaching herself to him. She took his head in both hands and bent it down to hers, slightly making the sound of 'sut sut'. Then she embraced him and looked lovingly towards him.
Severus shook his head, suppressing a grin. "You know, the 'twining of a creeper' is all well and good, but the 'sut sut'––" He couldn't suppress his snort any longer. "I'd say it's a bit counterproductive. What does the sound 'sut' mean, anyway?"
"Beats me." Hermione laughed. "Oh, very well, then."
She didn't let go of him but instead stepped on his foot and raised the other leg, trying to climb up his thigh.
"Ouch, what are you doing!" He gently pushed her away and massaged his foot.
"You're supposed to kiss me, not push me away." Hermione pouted. "It's called 'the climbing of a tree'."
"I suppose it might work with a Levitation Charm, Hermione."
"Are you saying that I'm fat?" This wasn't going as expected.
"No, not at all," he said quickly and finally bent down to kiss her. She took advantage and kissed him thoroughly back. "I just think for these acrobatics, you need a very small woman and a very tall man."
"Those were only some of the more basic embraces. If you're complaining about them already, how are we going to complete the more difficult ones?"
"Don't you want to get comfortable first?" he asked, leering theatrically while he led her to the bedroom.
"After you," she said and attacked the buttons of his shirt.
The re-enactment of the 'suspended congress' turned out to be mutually satisfying. Severus proved to Hermione that she was not too heavy for him, and she convinced him that they'd both have more fun if he cast a Levitation Charm on her. They both liked that version so much that she decided to include the Levitation Charm as a suggested variety of the classical position.
Over the following weeks, they went through the positions of congress with various degrees of success. Very often, Hermione was afraid of putting Severus' back out from all the lifting and twisting, and he seemed a bit unreasonable at times, not wanting to show his age, she thought. On those occasions, she took great care to not hurt his feelings and find a way to make the acrobatics less strenuous.
His repeated complaint, "I'm not a contortionist, woman," was laughed away by her regularly, and she praised his fitness and flexibility. However, when they reached the 'fixing-a-nail' position, Hermione was forced to reconsider.
Severus had the book open in front of him and was reading it out loud. "The woman lies back and places one of her legs behind her head and stretches out the other leg. This is known as fixing a nail and is a difficult posture. It should not be forced: it should be perfected by practice."
"I'd say," Hermione said, desperately trying to move her leg behind her head. "Ouch!" With a pained yell, she let go of her leg and stretched out. "I can't do it," she moaned. "I think I've strained the muscle."
"We'll have to massage it, then," Severus said and started to stroke her upper thigh with both hands.
"Maybe kiss it better, too?" Hermione suggested.
A week later, Hermione was studying the Kama Sutra intently while Severus, already undressed, lay on his bed and watched her.
"What will it be today?" he asked.
Hermione looked up and smiled. "After last week's acrobatics, I need a little rest for my leg, so nothing too strenuous. I was wondering if I should include the Acharyas." She walked over to him and stroked his thigh, seeing with delight how eagerly his cock responded to her touch.
"Some women don't like it, but all men do, I think," he said lazily, his eyes half-closed.
"Vatsyayana says that in things connected with love, everybody should act according to the custom of their country and their own inclination. I think we can leave all that purity stuff out and just include a few suggestions. Like this, for instance…" She kissed his thigh, slowly moving upwards.
"I'm all for including… aaaaah…" he moaned when she gently licked his balls.
Hermione really enjoyed giving head when the man wasn't too demanding, and Severus proved to be the perfect gentleman. His moans of gratitude and delight fuelled her own passion. He caressed her hair but never pushed or urged her to deep-throat, which she couldn't do very well. But she could suck and nibble and stroke, and soon he was moaning, "Almost there.. Watch out."
Hermione kept going, sucking with even more fervour until he came in her mouth.
"Acceptable?" she asked after she'd swallowed.
"Quite," he said and took her into his arms.
"When a woman stands on her hands and feet like a quadruped, and her lover mounts her like a bull, it is called the 'congress of a cow'. At this time, everything that is ordinarily done on the bosom should be done on the back.
In the same way can be carried on the congress of a dog, the congress of a goat, the congress of a deer, the forcible mounting of an ass, the congress of a cat, the jump of a tiger, the pressing of an elephant, the rubbing of a boar, and the mounting of a horse. And in all these cases, the characteristics of these different animals should be manifested by acting like them.
"This is ridiculous," Severus growled after he'd read the passage out loud. "You're not expecting me to prance around and snort like a stallion, are you?" He looked at her. She was grinning insolently.
"As long as I don't need to whinny."
That got a snort from him.
"There we go." She laughed. "Now all you need to do is a bit of prancing before…" She glanced at him sideways.
He noticed her insecurity and found her irresistible, all of a sudden. Maybe this role-playing lark did have something going for it, after all? And she did have such a lovely arse.
He went to her and stroked that delectable arse before slapping it lightly. "I wouldn't mind a bit of mounting, mind you," he whispered and was more than pleased to feel her shudder.
"All right, then," she said, starting to undress. He followed suit and soon they stood naked, facing each other. "Let's get right to it then, I don't suppose horses have foreplay, do they?" she asked, staring at his already erect cock with a hunger that continually amazed him.
"Not that I'm aware of," he murmured, gently holding her hips to turn her around.
She sank to her knees and bent forwards, now resting on all fours, her head slightly lowered. He stroked her arse and probed. Her wetness told him that he was welcome, and so he did indeed mount her without preamble, thrusting slowly but deeply. It elicited a long sigh from both of them. When he was inside her as far as he could go, he bent over her back and gently pushed her hair from her neck.
"However, I do think that horses do this..." He nibbled at that sensitive spot at the nape of the neck
She let out a startled shriek that turned into a giggle.
"Not bad for a whinny, but you need a bit more practice," he mumbled and continued nibbling and biting neck and upper back.
She shrieked again, from laughter this time. He had started to move in and out slowly and was almost pushed out by the contractions of her abdominal muscles while she laughed. "You're killing me here," she snickered.
"I'll have to revive you, then," he murmured while he watched the tantalising jiggle of her buttocks. He moved in a steady rhythm until she sighed and they both started to breathe faster. Then he bent over her again, softly rubbing her nipples with his hand. "I doubt that a horse can do this…" he whispered in her ear while she pushed back at him, urging him to move faster. "Or this." His hand moved from her breasts to her clit and started rubbing and stroking.
Her moans got louder. "Much, much better that way…" she gasped out and rocked back against him while he increased the speed and depth of his thrusts.
Merlin help him, but this felt so incredibly good. The sight of her, flushed and sweaty, breasts swinging and buttocks jiggling, turned him on like nothing on earth. The sound of skin slapping on skin—something he had found embarrassing in his youth—now only increased his enjoyment, just as her moans and soft cries did. His own sounds now did indeed resemble the snorting of a stallion, he thought, but the slight amusement didn't break his rhythm.
"Severus, more, more…" he heard her gasp and put all his effort into this last phase of their coupling. He felt her muscles clenching around him and noted her breathing getting erratic. She was close, and that thought made him ready as well. A bit of extra attention to her clit, a few more deep, twisting thrusts, and she was coming with a loud "Yes!" The spasming of her vaginal walls around his cock was something he always looked forward to when they were together. He often forced himself to last through this to be able to give her a second wave of pleasure shortly after, but this time he was too far gone. She ground herself onto him, rotating her hips and prolonging her pleasure, her walls massaging his cock. That sent him over the edge, and he groaned out her name, despite his better judgement.
A moment later, they both collapsed. Breathing heavily, they rolled onto their sides, and Severus held her in his arms for a little while, but not for too long. They were working on a project together, and as much as he would have liked it to be more than that, he couldn't be certain. She was sending out mixed signals.
She stayed in his arms a long while, though. "Quite playful, those ancient people, weren't they?" she murmured. "Damn, that was good. Thank you, Severus."
"I have to thank you," he murmured, and let go of her, standing up. While he cleaned himself and got dressed, he asked, "Next paragraph, tomorrow?"
"Oh yes, please." She beamed.
He kissed her lightly on the cheek and left.
When Hermione arrived at Foxglove Cottage the next day, Spunky didn't lead her to the lounge but straight to the terrace. Hermione caught her breath. Severus was standing in the middle of something that looked like a tropical paradise. A faint fragrance of peaches and orchids was in the air, and the terrace was completely covered in flowers. An impressive use of the Orchideus charm, Hermione thought. A warming charm had been cast over the area, and Severus stood barefoot and in his shirtsleeves. He smiled when he saw her, took her by the hand and kissed her. Then he led her to a low table, sat at her side and invited her to eat and drink.
Hermione was delighted. She knew what this was all about. This was the prelude to congress, according to Vatsyayana. She smiled when Severus started to play with her hair and leaned into him, slowly opening the buttons of his shirt.
"This is lovely," she murmured. "It makes me want to take off your clothes even faster than usual."
"Tut, tut," Severus said. "You're not supposed to be so passionate, yet. Vatsyayana says that the man's passion is strongest in the beginning—when the woman's is weakest. And in the end, when the man is tired, the woman's passion is at its highest. You're supposed to eat and drink, sing and talk until you are overcome with passion and desire."
"Quite right," Hermione said. "But he didn't know me. My passion is quite strong already, thank you very much. "
"Should I be afraid?" Severus asked, nibbling at her ear.
"Very." She grinned and offered him better access to her neck.
"You'd better not want me to sing," Severus murmured, kissing a trail down her neck until he reached the hollow of her throat. "But I have a Wireless." With a wave of his wand, soft music began playing in the background.
"I suppose that instead of playing an instrument and singing with and without gesticulation, we could dance instead."
"That sounds like an acceptable variation," Hermione agreed and let herself be led into a slow waltz. After a while, she started to play with the buttons of his shirt again. "You know, I'm already overcome with love and desire."
"Yes." Hermione looked up at him, sincerity in her eyes. Severus lacked his customary smirk and stared back at her, questioning and searching. Hermione's heart hammered. Was he giving her a hint? Slowly, take it slowly, she thought and smiled at him invitingly.
He smiled back. "Goal achieved, then," he said hoarsely and led her to the bedroom.
The position they chose this time was simple, almost meditative. It was called the Kama's Wheel. Severus sat with his legs outstretched. Hermione lowered herself onto his penis. She also extended her legs. He then stretched out his arms along either side of her body. This position was supposed to combine sex and meditation and to bring the lovers to a higher level of awareness. Both enjoyed it very much and were in a calm and happy mood when they'd finished.
After taking a shower, Severus led Hermione back to the terrace. He sat down, pulling her down to his side where she lay with her head in his lap. "I'm supposed to show you the moon and star constellations, now," he whispered. "Alas, the sky is overcast."
"It's the thought that counts," Hermione whispered back. "This is so incredibly romantic. Thank you so much for this, Severus."
"It sets a certain mood," he murmured. "It would certainly be worth inclusion in your book, don't you think?"
"Absolutely." Hermione nodded not wanting to ruin the mood by talking too much. She'd never forget this night, no matter how their mutual feelings developed. None of the men Hermione had encountered in the past were very romantic. She still marvelled that Severus had prepared this romantic setting and gone through with it. It was casting a completely new light on him, and Hermione allowed herself to hope that he'd done that for her, not only for the project.
After a while, Severus led her back to his bedroom. Since Hermione had agreed to stay for the night, they could fall asleep in each other's arms.
"There's that whole section of scratching, biting and hitting," Hermione said when they met the next time. "I don't think I'll include any of that."
Severus stood at her dressing-table, studying the book. He looked up and studied her reflection in the mirror.
"It's too dangerous," she continued. "You can seriously hurt a person when you don't know what you're doing. Remember that whip down there in your 'pleasure room'? I shudder when I think about how badly you can hurt a person when you don't know where to hit."
"Quite right," Severus said. "And such, ah, kinks should perhaps be left to the more specialized literature. But I had been quite looking forward to being spanked by you until my arse is all red, and you're panting from excitement."
Hermione's face flushed. That thought was indeed exciting––but only with Severus as a partner. She looked at him staring back at her in the mirror. A slight smile lit up his stern features, and Hermione's heart ached at the thought that she might lose him. She'd have to get things clear about their feelings; she had to know…
But that didn't make the decision about the inclusion of this kind of erotic games any easier. Hermione still suffered from nightmares from when Bellatrix Lestrange had tortured her during the war and got all excited about it. Pain and violence was something Hermione didn't find erotic, at all—the thought of Severus' reddened arse, notwithstanding.
He was still watching her in the mirror. She glanced at him from under lowered lids and saw him gently stroke her reflection in the mirror. Her breath caught. That was, according to Vatsyayana, a sign of love. Was he giving her a sign? Why else would he have done that?
She was now almost certain that he had feelings for her. Maybe she should be more blunt and show him that she loved him, too? She knew that he was a careful and private man who didn't trust easily. He would guard his heart and not give it away lightly. Hermione had to show him how serious she was. And she had just the idea of how to go about it.
"You shouldn't include it if you don't feel comfortable with it," he said after a while.
"I don't think I could write about pain and pleasure in an unbiased way… But since you seem to like the idea so much, let's just try the spanking part…" And so they did, and Hermione found out that she did like it, after all.
Their next meeting took place at Hermione's house. After their last meeting, Severus now felt that something had changed. He didn't think that he could stand the uncertainty about their involvement for much longer. There was a tension in the air every time they met… It made his hairs stand on end, but he didn't think it was erotic tension alone. Something had to be resolved soon, for better or worse.
Hermione greeted him with a passionate kiss. The way she looked at him almost took all doubt away. Swallowing, he let himself be led to the bedroom where she undressed him and urged him to lie back on the bed. She undressed herself, slowly, provocatively, while he watched, his throat going dry.
She sat down at his side and kissed him, stroking his chest. "Tonight, I want you to remain passive for a while."
"All right." He sighed in delight when she blanketed his chest with soft, wet kisses and gently teased his nipples. Stroking his chest, she straddled him and took his erect cock in her hand. "May I?"
He nodded, not certain that he was understanding the message right.
She sank down on him slowly and sighed, but the look she gave him was an odd mixture of expectation, insecurity and…hope? So maybe he did understand her correctly.
"Though a woman is reserved, and keeps her feelings concealed; yet when she gets on the top of a man, she then shows all her love and desire." he quoted. Now it was his turn to look at her insecurely.
"Yes" was all she said before she started to move.
"Typical that there is a way for the woman to show her love clearly but not for the man. There's only that indirect hinting; it's as if his feelings weren't important," he quipped through gasps. It was now or never, he had to know. "So, what does a man have to do…?" He put his hands on her breasts, stroking and squeezing them lightly.
He saw her eyes widen before she threw her head back and pushed her breasts more firmly into his hands. A long, shivering sigh escaped her while he treated her breasts to all the attention they deserved. Such pretty breasts and so responsive to his touch. A shudder went through her, and she sped up her movements. Lowering her head, she looked at him again earnestly. The look in her eyes was searching, and he wondered if he had misinterpreted her gesture, after all, and had gone too far. He looked back, as open and unguarded as he never had before.
"Perhaps he just needs to say it," she murmured. "It would be good enough for me."
The last part was said so softly that he almost didn't hear it. He had heard it, however, and knew that this was the moment. If he let it pass, there wouldn't be a second chance. If he used it, his old way of life would end. No more lonely brooding, no solitude, no self-loathing, no wallowing in the past. No more regrets, no more repentance, no more loneliness. If he used this moment, she'd be in his life, and he would do everything in his power to make her want to stay there for good. You fool, he thought. What are you waiting for?
"I love you, Hermione."
"Merlin, Severus!" She spasmed around him, but this time he was in control. After she came down from her peak, he gently turned both of them around and made love to her again, in the most traditional way, tenderly, passionately, until she screamed his name again and he hers.
"I take it that you won't be leaving me when the book is completed," she whispered while he held her in his arms, covering her face with kisses.
"There's another project waiting, you know. There's that pleasure room in my house; it needs to be examined thoroughly. Those velvet-lined handcuffs are giving me ideas…"
Hermione laughed. "That sounds intriguing. And after that, I'm sure we can find another project…"
"Absolutely. I'm clingy. You'll have to kick me out when you're tired of me."
"Not a chance, love," she murmured, thinking about how ill his love and loyalty had been rewarded in the past. "Your heart is safe with me." She lay her head on his chest and fell asleep.
Severus was a very happy man.
A/N: As a reference, I used 'The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, translated by Sir Richard Burton (1883),' formatted at . It's in the public domain and can be downloaded at or , and probably several other places.