It took several days for Hermione and Severus to establish their cover in Paris as an ordinary witch and wizard holidaying in Paris. Hermione had used extensive spellwork to transform her hair into short, sleek auburn waves, and her eyes into a brilliant blue. And then there were all the little changes – lengthening her nose slightly, thinning her lips, adding a little fat around her breasts and buttocks.
When she was finished she looked at Severus for approval.
"What do you think?" She asked, twirling slightly.
"Very nice," he nodded. "I will miss the real you while we are here – although I could get used to this!" He pulled her towards him, his hands on her newly rounded bottom.
"What about you, Severus?" With an imperceptible sigh he waved his wand, making the complicated wandwork look easy. His hair shortened, becoming a salt-and-pepper mixture of dark brown interspersed with grey. His characteristic nose and prominent cheekbones were softened slightly, and his slightly crooked teeth straightened themselves.
"Very distinguished – and handsome." Hermione gave him her stamp of approval. Old insecurities rose within him at her words.
"You don't –" He faltered for a moment, then continued, "do you wish I would stay this way for you?"
Hermione gaped at him. "You're serious?"
Apparently he was.
"Severus! There isn't a single thing I would change about you. I hate that I can't have the old you here with me – the only consolation is that you still have your eyes."
She stood on tiptoe to look seriously into said eyes, black and intense, and kissed him slowly. Severus chuckled dryly.
"I know it's you in there, but I feel like I'm with another woman. It's horrible."
"It won't be for long, just until we find this contact."
Hermione regarded him seriously. "You honestly think the son of a Deatheater will be happy to help us?"
"If he is as anti-dark magic as we have heard, I expect nothing less."
They found the boy in a magical club in a small Parisian side road. The club made Hermione think of Andrew more than ever, and she was determined to find him.
The magic in this club was much more intense than in Mayfair; half-naked witches and wizards were dancing wildly, perspiration rolling down lithe bodies, and the only way to let out their pent up energy was through the ends of their wands. Red and green sparks flew up to the ceiling before raining down, lights crackling everywhere.
"He's at the bar." Severus murmured, nodding discretely towards a boy of twenty-one ordering a drink. "Wait here."
Before giving Hermione a moment to protest, he strode off and planted himself at the bar. Hermione watched across the room, frustrated that she couldn't hear what they were saying. She ignored the attempts of several men to come on to her, still staring at the bar. After about five minutes the boy got up looking angry and stalked away back into the throng of people on the dance floor.
Hermione went over to the bar and sat next to Severus.
"I don't know what went wrong." He admitted, angry with himself for getting off to such a bad start. Hermione grinned.
"You may be a master spy, but I have one thing in my favour that you don't. I'm a woman." Taking a large gulp of Severus' drink for liquid courage, Hermione slipped off her bar stool and disappeared into the crowd.
He saw her a little while later, dancing closely with the boy. Severus took the opportunity to look at the boy properly. He was tall and slim, muscles covering his lean form. He could see this because the boy had his shirt off, sweat glistening on his chest. His hands were on Hermione's hips, holding her tight against his half-naked body. She was laughing at something he had said, and the boy was grinning down at her, clearly very taken with her.
Severus scowled, and turned his back on them to order another drink. She may not have looked like his Hermione, but seeing another man's hands on her was too much for him to bear.
He drank at the bar for a good hour, alternating sulky glances at Hermione with staring moodily into his drink. A barman gave him a piece of parchment, and Severus looked up at him, waiting for an explanation.
"A lady asked me to give it to you."
Severus unfurled it at once, instantly recognising Hermione's handwriting.
'Severus,' she had written in a hasty scrawl. 'I am writing this from the bathroom – Richard and I are going to get a bite to eat in a creperie down the road. Don't worry about me, I will be back in the hotel in no more than an hour. H x'
That was it. He read it twice, then destroyed it.
Foolish girl for writing his name for anyone to see, he thought, and then supposed that she must have been in a great rush, panicking to get word to him before the boy suspected anything was amiss. It wouldn't do to scare him off.
He threw a few galleons at the barman at apparated back to his hotel. He was inebriated enough that he landed in a graceless heap on the floor, his head spinning. He must have had more to drink than he had realised.
Using the corner of the bed to pull himself to his feet, Severus got up and into the shower, standing under the steaming jets of water for a long time. A familiar pop of someone apparating in alerted him to the fact that either Hermione was back, or they had an intruder.
Either way, he had to get out of the shower. Reluctantly switching off the powerful cascade of water, he wrapped a towel around his waist and went into the bedroom.
Hermione stood there waiting for him impatiently. Seeing her standing there, recalling the image of Richard's sweaty hands on her, Severus caught her to him, capturing her lips with his in a violent, crushing kiss.
"I couldn't bear seeing that greasy weasel with his mitts on you," Severus murmured between kisses, his hands roaming over her body, trying to erase the memory. Before she knew it her dress was a shimmering heap on the floor, her bra joined it a minute later. His hands cupped her breasts and she arched into his touch, moaning softly. His mouth latched onto a nipple, his tongue teasing it into a taut, stiff peak. Hermione clutched at his short hair, her eyes rolling back in her head.
Wait – short hair? She opened her eyes, coming back to earth with a painful thud, remembering why they were there.
"Stop!" She gasped, regaining her senses with regret. With difficulty Severus stopped himself, taking a step away from her. He drew in a long, shaky breath. Hermione picked up his discarded white shirt from the floor, wrapping it around herself and holding it shut.
"We need to talk about what I found out tonight." Hermione said. "Andrew is more important than any of this."
Severus smothered a smirk. If he were with Andrew, the flamboyant man would have told him to get laid first; wild goose chase later.
He sat on the bed, Hermione joining him there.
"Tell me everything."
"His father is a Deatheater, and he had been trying to force him to join for years. If he doesn't come to the next meeting to be initiated he will be forced to – and if he still won't do their bidding, he will be sent to Germany and never see the light of day again!"
Her words came out in one long, breathless incoherent gabble.
"Say it again – slowly." Severus said to her looking amused.
Hermione repeated what she had said more slowly this time.
"Germany?" Severus mused. "What's in Germany?"
"Do you think that that is where Andrew is?" Hermione asked excitedly.
"It's a possibility," Severus said cautiously, not wanting her to get her hopes up only to be disappointed.
He put an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close to him, dropping a kiss onto her horribly sleek and styled hair.
"I will be glad to get your old hair back," he said, and Hermione chuckled.
She got up reluctantly, going into the bathroom to get ready for bed. She emerged wearing an old T-Heshirt of Severus' that she had long ago adopted as her favoured sleepwear. Severus was exactly as she had left him, still sitting on the bed.
He stood up, threw the towel to one side and got into bed naked. Hermione got in the other side, and he pulled her close to him.
"Not tonight." She said, feeling his growing erection against her side. Severus grunted in response, but he had not expected any better.
"Shall we go to Germany tomorrow?"
"Not yet, you should see Richard again tomorrow. See if you can get any more information out of him. But be careful – it's one thing when he's drunk and trying to get into your knickers, it's quite another when he is fully alert and wants to know why a complete stranger is asking him about Deatheaters."
Hermione smiled sleepily at him, yawning wildly as she nodded her agreement and quickly fell asleep.
Hermione tied her hair back into a loose ponytail, her face free of all make up as she surveyed her reflection dismally. Her face looked drawn and overwrought after a night disturbed by nightmares of Andrew being tortured, and Voldemort laughing evilly before turning into Lucius Malfoy, and then into Hitler.
"Be careful." Severus warned her as she prepared to meet Richard for brunch in the centre of Paris.
He didn't have to pace the room for long – she was back just an hour later.
"I didn't get much more out of him." She yawned, throwing her handbag onto the floor in her disappointment. "He said something about being imprisoned there until forced to change his mind, but then he remembered who he was talking to her and what he was talking about, and he completely closed up."
She shrugged her shoulders, dejected at the lack of information.
Imprisonment in Germany? To Severus that sounded suspiciously like the Deatheaters had claimed the abandoned wizard prison of Nurmengard as theirs.
"Have a rest now, we will discuss our options later." He suggested. Hermione nodded thankfully and climbed into bed still fully clothed, her eyes closed before her head had hit the pillow.
When she woke, refreshed and rejuvenated, Severus was lying next to her in the big bed reading a book.
"Feeling better?" He enquired.
"Much, thank you."
Hermione watched him reading for a few minutes, although it was clear that he was not paying any attention to the words of the book.
"What are you thinking about?"
Severus looked a little embarrassed. "It's nothing important."
He hesitated a moment. "I was actually thinking that the last time we slept together was over a month ago."
Hermione stared at him, and he flushed slightly, waiting for her disapproving speech about how there were more important things to worry about. It never came.
The corners of her lips curving into a sweet smile, she leant over Severus, pressing her lips to his before pulling back and saying,
"Well that is something we shall have to remedy."
He was taken aback for a moment, and then curled his hand around her neck, bringing her face back down to his. He rolled over so that she was beneath him, carefully manoeuvring them so that he wasn't crushing her.
He stared into the unfamiliar eyes. "I need to see the real you," he murmured, and Hermione reached for her wand, transforming back into her old self. Severus did the same. He pulled her hair from the elastic keeping it tied up, joyfully running his fingers through the wild curls. Her chocolate-brown eyes were warmer than he had remembered, looking at him with such a look of love that he knew at once the wait had been worth it.
He tugged the T-Shirt over her head so that it was just the long lengths of their naked bodies pressed up against each other. He caressed her breasts softly until he felt her nipples harden beneath the palm of his hand. She moaned and moved against him, sending a jolt through him. He thrust against her, feeling her wet and ready for him. Hermione jerked her hips up towards him, and Severus smiled.
"Patience is a virtue." He said, his eyes crinkling with laughter.
And then he moved further down her body, kissing his way down the soft skin of her stomach. She felt his fingers in her folds, and then he was holding her open to look at her. Hermione squirmed beneath his stare, desperate for him to touch her.
Warm breath blew on her clit, and then his tongue was in her folds, on her clit, inside her. She cried out in pleasure, not caring how loud she was, as he took her clit in his mouth and sucked on it, his fingers curling inside her, until she screamed out her climax, white spots exploding in front of her eyes.
Then he was back up at her face, kissing her lovingly as he entered her agonisingly slowly. Her muscles clenched around him, and he began driving into her, unable to control himself any longer. Her hips rose to meet his every thrust, her cries of pleasure mingling with his.
He climaxed with a roar and one final thrust, and collapsed on top of her. Their bodies were slippery against each other, and Severus knew that he should move off her. But for now everything was so perfect that all they could do was lie together, clutching at each other happily.