Most people who thought they knew Hermione well – a group that consisted of pretty much everybody who knew her, except for her parents, her husband, Ginny and Severus Snape – would have answered the question "Is Hermione a rule-breaker?" with a resounding NO! Different people would have given different reasons, of course. Harry Potter and Ron Weasley would have started enumerating situations where Hermione had nagged on and on about the dangers and risks of breaking rules. Her former teachers (with the notable exception of her Potions Master) would have sung her praise not only for being a top student and the brightest witch they'd ever had the pleasure of teaching, but also for her discipline and respect for rules.
Only those who truly knew her would have explained that, yes, Hermione knew all the rules by heart and generally respected them, but was ready to break them if the breach was worth a calculated risk.
Telling one's husband that one fancied a threesome with him and his best friend wasn't exactly the equivalent of infringing a regulation or law, but it certainly meant that one had to cross a line. The thought of stepping over that invisible line was all the more daunting, as one had to expect consequences but couldn't – as after breaking the law – be sure of their nature.
It was this uncertainty that made Hermione hesitate to tell Lucius. Not least because she was unable to exclude the possibility of such a confession seriously damaging their marriage.
When she'd accepted his proposal she had been very fond of him, besides being physically attracted to him to a degree that almost frightened her. She hadn't proclaimed that she loved him, but been reasonably sure that love would come with time. And so it had. After almost nine months of marriage she loved her husband and was in love with him. She knew he loved her too.
Hermione was happy, in one word, and most unwilling to risk that happiness for a passing fancy.
Only it wasn't a passing fancy.
It wasn't an obsession either. It wasn't something she lacked or needed. It was, as she had recently found out, quite simply the desire to see a side of her husband that would never be revealed to her otherwise. And curiosity of course.
At the beginning of June Ginny announced that she was pregnant. The child was due in December. A temporary replacement had to be found and trained for Ginny's job, and thus Hermione had to wave a regretful goodbye to her and Lucius's plans for an extended summer vacation in July.
The replacement arrived towards the end of June, in the person of Cho Chang, who had returned to her native Muggle world after the war, to study law and work for a multinational company, but had never completely severed her ties with the wizarding world. She'd married a Muggle and decided, a year after the birth of their first child, that the somewhat slower pace of the wizarding society was what she needed to dedicate herself to both her job and her daughter without neglecting either.
Hermione had never really liked Cho and found out that her feelings hadn't changed in the intervening years. She had to admit, though, that her work was impeccable, which was all the more appreciated as it gave her and Lucius the possibility to take their holiday during the second half of August. They'd originally intended to celebrate their first wedding anniversary with friends and family, but decided to simply drop the project and celebrate together, just the two of them.
Given that the journalists had more or less lost their interest in the elder Malfoy couple – pictures of Ginny, proudly carrying her belly while unashamedly snogging her husband in public were a much juicier subject than the politician and the lawyer – Hermione suggested a trip to wizarding Italy, where Lucius would finally be able to do a bit of genealogical research on the Malafede branch of the family (extinct since 1475) she was eager to help him with. Sticking to the wizarding world also offered the possibility to take three House Elves along on their trip. House Elves were something Hermione had learned to truly appreciate since she'd moved to Malfoy Manor, the square footage of which made her shudder at the thought of having to clean and maintain even a tenth of it. Having to host dinner parties on a regular basis had been another reason for her to acknowledge that House Elves were as useful as they were indispensable. The adage 'bandaged like a Malfoy House Elf' was beginning to go out of fashion, though.
They thoroughly enjoyed their stay in Genoa. Hermione grudgingly accepted that, in spite of his fair colouring, her husband's skin became slightly (and very appetizingly) tanned whereas hers was prone to burning. This led to the discovery that the lightest of caresses on sunburned skin were able to bring her to hitherto unknown heights.
Hermione had never before set foot on a yacht, and so they spent their last Italian evening out on the sea, watching the sunset and having a truly fantastic dinner.
Whether it was the effect of the sun, the wine, or of the gently rocking movement of the sea, suddenly Hermione felt that this was the right moment to broach the subject of Severus Snape.
She held her glass out for Lucius to pour her more of the crisp white wine and waited until the House Elf had left them alone with a large ceramic platter, on which seafood and grilled fish had been piled in a mouth-watering pyramid.
'Lucius,' she said, watching him while he elegantly negotiated a couple of grilled sardines, 'I'd like to make a somewhat... well, unusual suggestion.'
He inspected the bread basket and selected a chunk of white bread studded with olives. 'Unusual?' He smiled at her. 'If you deem it unusual, it's probably outrageous.'
'That's what most people would say, I suppose.' She returned his smile and helped herself to some delicious-looking prawns. Explanations could be given later, she decided. Right now, she was going to say what she wanted to say, as plainly as possible. 'I'd like to have a threesome with you and Severus.' There. She'd said it. Only now did her stomach show a certain desire to retreat into her toes.
'Just once?' Lucius asked without missing a beat, 'Or would you like to make it a permanent arrangement?'
He couldn't fool her of course. Hermione doubted that even Voldemort, so apt at reading people, would have been able to discern the signs. But Voldemort hadn't been married to Lucius and, more importantly, Voldemort hadn't loved him. She also knew that Lucius never wore his mask of imperturbable calm when alone with her, except if he needed it. Sooner or later it came off, but in his very own time. 'Just once,' she replied equally calmly, 'unless of course we unanimously decide to make it permanent. I don't think I'd like that, though.'
He slowly raised his head to look straight into her eyes. 'Call me a fool,' he said, 'But I'm willing to bet my right hand that there is nothing wrong with our marriage. Which makes me wonder' – he speared a grilled squid – 'why you are making this suggestion.'
'I wouldn't have made it if there was anything wrong with our marriage. Would you...' She hesitated briefly, but then continued, 'Would you like to have a look for yourself?' Offering him a look into her mind was the ultimate proof of trust. Hermione knew that he knew it.
The mask came off – a slight widening of his eyes, a line on his face infinitesimally less deep, his mouth a trifle more relaxed. 'You are being very generous, my love.'
She smiled. 'I don't think of it as generosity, really. But this matter is too delicate for words alone, and since we're lucky enough not to have to rely on words alone, inviting you seems the logical conclusion.'
'Whenever you wish.'
Lucius took her hand, and she rose from her chair, to move around the table and stand before him. He pulled her down to sit on his knees. 'Are you sure?'
'You know me well enough to know I'm sure.' She put a hand on his shoulder for balance, when he let briefly go of her to pull his wand out of his sleeve. 'I'm ready.'
He nodded and cupped her chin, his eyes locking with hers. She heard him pronounce the incantation 'Legilimens!' and then had to deliberately relax, in order to allow him to sift through her memories, thoughts and feelings. He searched methodically, although not in a linear progression. He followed her associations and let himself be guided by her thought processes.
Hermione felt her mouth curl into a smile when he quickly sorted through some childhood memories. She sensed his surprise when he came upon a first cautious wish to have a child. He arrived at their wedding day – ah, so he obviously remembered their conversation and knew where to start – and continued from there. Glimpses of Severus and himself through Hermione's eyes, her talk with Ginny after they'd built the snow castle, fantasies of both lust and intimacy, insecurities and, again and again, her love for him, their lovemaking and moments she cherished.
The wine glasses were still covered in misty condensation, no droplets had yet formed. His tour of her mind couldn't have lasted more than one or two minutes therefore, although her subjective perception had told her it had gone on for hours.
He kissed her, wordlessly, and she returned to her chair.
'If Severus agrees,' he said, taking up his cutlery and cutting a piece off his squid, 'I insist that you wait at least half a year before you stop taking the contraceptive potion. He's a powerful wizard, his sperm may live for weeks, and I refuse to have a black-haired, hook-nosed Malfoy dangling from the family tree in addition to Draco's ginger-coloured spawn.'
'I hope you won't mind frizzy-haired children. It runs in the family, and I'm afraid it's a dominant gene.'
'Children?' He raised his brows, the warm smile he gave only her back on his lips. 'I suggest we have a look at the prototype before we decide on further reproduction. Try the squid, it's excellent. Practically melts in your mouth.' He refilled the wineglasses. 'How do you intend to tell Severus?'
'I thought we ought to do that together. Apart from that, I'm sorry but I really don't know how to go about such things. Is there any kind of etiquette for similar situations?'
A lesser wizard would have laughed at her, but Lucius merely frowned in concentration. 'Interesting question. But I don't think there is.'
'Then we'll just have to improvise, I suppose.' She drank deeply from her glass. 'Is there a particular reason why you aren't telling me how you feel about my, uh, suggestion? I mean, you agreed, but do you like the thought?'
'I find the thought... intriguing. Arousing. I shudder to think of the emotional implications, and I suppose that we'll both have to offer Severus a look into our minds in order to convince him that he's not being used.'
'Uh-huh. Penetration on every possible level.'
His smile grew feral. 'You'll be surprised, my dear.'
The subject of their threesome with Severus wasn't brought up again in the weeks to come. They had agreed to improvise, and Hermione was sure they'd both recognize the perfect moment once it had arrived.
It arrived on a rainy Saturday in late October. Ginny Floo-called her friend only a few minutes prior to their appointed meeting time to tell her that her feet were killing her, and that she was so tired that she wanted nothing but to lie down and give herself to Draco's tender care. When Hermione turned away from the fireplace after wishing Ginny a nice evening, she almost ran into her husband who was standing behind her.
'What a lucky coincidence,' he murmured, taking her into his arms and nuzzling her ear. 'Ginevra cancels your girls' night, and Severus is going to arrive in half an hour...'
Suddenly feeling a little breathless, Hermione nodded. 'You would tell me if you had changed your mind, wouldn't you?'
'If I had changed my mind, my darling, I doubt I would have brought up the subject. Just one question, the rest will be up to a combination of improvisation and sheer dumb luck: Our bed or a guest room?'
'Our bed. The guest room might give him an entirely wrong impression. I'll, erm, go and freshen up a bit.'
'You do that.' He smiled down at her. 'He likes to see cleavage, and he likes the scent of roses.'
'Oh.' Hermione felt heat creeping up into her face. 'Thanks for the hint.'
'In case you change your mind, please make sure to mention the Quibbler. As will I, should the necessity arise. Give me ten minutes to test the waters.'
Hermione descended the stairs at a quarter past seven, dressed in simple robes of dark burgundy with matching underwear and flat, dark grey slippers which matched the single strand of almost black pearls around her neck. She'd done up her hair very loosely and dabbed a few drops of rosewater on strategically important pulse points. She was absolutely sure that she'd never felt so excited and so totally out of her depth at the same time.
The two wizards were sitting in the library and rose when she entered the room. She greeted Severus and gave her husband a peck on the cheek when he handed her a glass of Firewhisky.
'To a historical moment,' Severus said, raising his glass. 'Thank you for joining us, Hermione.'
'The pleasure is all mine.' She took a sip. 'Are you sure you don't mind? This is usually a males-only evening, so I wouldn't want to intrude.'
'You are being very considerate, my dear,' Lucius said. 'But I assure you that we both most warmly welcome your company.' He lowered his eyelids a mere fraction.
So he had tested the waters and found them free of sharks. Hermione decided to try an opening gambit, so as to do a bit of testing herself. She quickly emptied her glass and signalled for Lucius to stay seated. 'You never pour me enough,' she said, rising from her armchair and approaching the large, oblong table on which bottles and glasses were arranged. After splashing a rather generous measure into her tumbler, she wandered over to Lucius's reading table and picked up a small volume. 'Severus, has Lucius already shown you his newest treasure?'
'I think he meant to' Severus replied
'May I do the honours?'
'Of course,' Lucius said, crossing his legs as if preparing to watch a scene playing out on a stage.
Keeping the book behind her back, she went to stand directly in front of Severus. 'Close your eyes.' He cocked an eyebrow but did as she'd told him. Hermione bent down to take his hand and close it around the book's spine, careful to make a little more contact than strictly necessary. She saw his nostrils flare when he caught a whiff of rosewater mixed with her own scent. 'You may look now.' Severus's eyes lingered on her cleavage for a long moment before he dropped his gaze to the book in his hand.
'Flamel's treaty on Blood Magic? Where the hell did you...' He shook his head. 'I never thought I'd see this.' The look of utter surprise he cast Lucius was answered by a finger pointing in Hermione's direction.
'I'd rather not say. It was slightly, er, illegal.'
Severus looked up at her and gave her one of his rare smiles. 'You may trust me, Hermione. It will remain between the three of us.'
The three of them. Hermione didn't know why, but she felt it was her cue. Bending down again and catching him completely by surprise, she kissed him lightly, brushing his lips with her tongue. Severus's eyes narrowed. 'What kind of game is this?' he asked in a low voice.
'Not a game, Severus.' She moved a little to the side, so Lucius had a better view, and kissed him again, longer this time, and felt his lips part slightly under hers. 'It is... an invitation.'
'Issued by both of us,' Lucius remarked, uncrossing his legs and leaning forward, elbows resting on his knees.
If the purpose of Hermione's kiss had been to bring a look of speechless surprise to Severus Snape's face, she may have deemed herself successful. She smiled down at him, admiring how fast he regained control of his features.
'An invitation,' he repeated, his voice flat and expressionless.
'Which you may, of course, decline,' Lucius said. 'But rest assured that, whatever you decide to say or do, it is going to remain between the three of us.'
Hermione felt that it was time to give the wizard more space and straightened up, briefly brushing his cheek with the back of her hand before she returned to her chair and sat down.
She took a sip of whisky – this definitely was a moment for a bit of Dutch courage – and silently studied the two men. Lucius was scrutinizing Severus with the merest hint of a smile playing around his lips. Severus was the very image of stillness. He could have been made of marble; his eyelids didn't flicker, he didn't even seem to be breathing. 'Why,' he finally said.
'I want to be equally close to both of you, for a while,' Hermione said, marvelling at the steadiness of her own voice.
'Mmm-hm.' His gaze flickered towards Lucius.
'Yes,' Lucius answered the unspoken question. 'I told her about our mission to the Giants. Some of it,' he added.
The tension between the three persons in the room increased; Hermione was unsure for how long she could bear it. But she kept her silence.
'What about you?' Severus leaned back and absentmindedly inhaled the fumes of whisky rising from his glass.
'I... have to admit that the idea tempts me.'
Severus nodded. His lips quirked briefly. 'And what then?' He looked from Lucius to Hermione.
She shrugged. 'We'll have to see. Do you think there might be any emotional complications?'
'Not as far as you and I are concerned, no. As for Lucius and myself... If it were to be only the two of us, there might be. With you participating it seems quite safe. As safe' – he took a gulp of whisky – 'as such a harebrained scheme can possibly be.'
He put down his glass and rose, his movements mirrored by Lucius.
Hermione felt her heart hammer against her ribs when both wizards stood before her, each extending a hand. She swallowed and downed the remaining contents of her glass in one go. A deep breath, and she took the proffered hands. Her left bearing the wedding band was resting between Severus's fingers, she noticed.
Nothing, not even her wildest fantasies – and the ones she'd been nursing for some months now had been quite racy – could have prepared Hermione for the real thing.
The beginning, when they undressed each other, had seemed like a slow, exotic dance, the first exploring touches choreographed by caution and curiosity. Lucius had taken off her robes and stood behind her, caressing her breasts through the silk and lace of her bra, while she slowly peeled layer after layer from Severus's body. Her hands had learned the lean lines of his body, her fingertips played with the sparse black hair on his chest.
While she had raised her arms and risen on tiptoes to kiss him, she'd heard Lucius divest himself in a rustle of silk and wool. He was naked when he pressed against her again and pushed her closer to Severus. She closed her eyes and let her head fall back against Lucius's chest, feeling his cock rub against the small of her back. The hands now teasing and stroking her breasts were definitely Severus's. A flash of lust shot through her when the men embraced around her and finally kissed.
'Bed, I think,' Lucius murmured. He walked backwards and sat down on the edge of the bed, watching Severus and Hermione approach him. His finger teased her clit, and he lipped at her breast before leaning forward to circle the tip of Severus's cock with his tongue.
Eyes widening at the sight, Hermione put her right foot on the bed next to Lucius, in order to give him better access. Her hand encountered Severus's when they both simultaneously grasped for the ribbon binding Lucius's hair. She smiled and sneaked her left arm round his waist to maintain her balance, as she reached out with her right to cup his balls.
Lucius retrieved his hand just before she came. With a last sweeping lick, he let go of Severus's cock and slid backwards on the bed, so that he wasn't perching on the edge anymore, but sitting. 'Come here,' he said to Hermione, directing her to straddle his thighs with her back to him. 'And now sit, like a good girl.' His arms tightened around her ribcage when she lowered herself onto his cock.
Severus, who had been observing them with glittering eyes, knelt down. Moving his legs a little further apart, Lucius spread Hermione's thighs wider. She groaned and gripped Severus's shoulders when his tongue started to brush her clit. Lucius sat still, merely holding her in position and caressing her breasts, while Severus did his best to dive her crazy with slow, deliberate strokes of his tongue. She tried to move, but Lucius held her down, not allowing her to get the release she so badly wanted. 'Not yet, my love,' he whispered into her ear. 'We want to make this last as long as possible, don't we?'
She moaned and shook her head, and he chuckled.
With a wicked smile, Severus stopped and rose to his feet. He bent down to kiss first Lucius, then Hermione. 'I think,' he drawled, 'the lady ought to earn her pleasure.'
'By all means,' Lucius agreed. He leaned forward, thus bringing Hermione's mouth in contact with Severus's cock. 'Do oblige our friend, my dear.'
The movement had made her feel Lucius even deeper within her, and she whimpered. But he still didn't allow her to move. 'Damn you both,' she growled and devoted her full attention to Severus's cock, feeling Lucius's hand creeping down and stroking her cunt. He made her come seconds after Severus, and then finally allowed her to move and bring about his own release.
They moved to lie on the bed, limbs entwined, in hazy contentment.
'That was...' Hermione sighed. 'Unbelievable.'
But that, as it turned out, had only been the beginning.
During the small hours of the morning, all three of them sated and wrung out with pleasure and fatigue, they had agreed to have breakfast together. Severus had excused himself – although the bed was large, and the sheets had been changed by a bleary-eyed House Elf while the three indulged in a hot bath, he preferred to sleep in one of the guest rooms. Lucius and Hermione had returned to their bedroom for a last round of languid, sleepy love-making.
When Hermione woke up late in the morning, Lucius had already left. Swearing under her breath when she felt the soreness in muscles she hadn't even known she possessed, she rather inelegantly scrambled out of bed, showered and dressed, and then gingerly descended to have breakfast. After last night's activities, she was feeling slightly apprehensive about how things were going to develop between the three of them. Not that any of the participants had been less than willing, and Severus had been quite clear on his own feelings about their erotic adventure. But anticipating how one was going to feel after spending the night exchanging body fluids, and having to face each other after one had actually done so, were two very different things.
Severus was already sitting at the table, when she entered the breakfast salon. His plate and cutlery were still untouched, and he was drinking coffee with obvious relish.
Hermione gave him a peck on the cheek and squeezed his shoulder before sitting down opposite him. 'Did you sleep well?'
He gave her a sardonic smile. 'Like a stone. Unsurprisingly.' Pouring coffee for both of them, he asked, 'Lucius still primping?'
His movements lacked some of their habitual fluidity, but she chose not to comment on that. 'I suppose so.' She deeply inhaled the aroma before taking the first, live-saving sip. 'Ah, that's better.' She drank again. 'He didn't dry his hair properly after our bath. I suppose he'll have to cast a lot of de-tangling charms. Not that I'm one to talk,' she added.
'Well...' He smirked. 'Courtesy forbids me to comment on that. We are working on a new product line, though. It might interest you.'
They were discussing the merits of Potente Potions Ltd.'s entirely new concept of potions whose effects were intensified by charms infused into them, when Lucius entered the salon. He bade them both a good morning, briefly patted Severus's shoulder and gave his wife a very chaste kiss on the lips. 'I don't know about you,' he said, sitting down with a wince, 'but I feel as if I'd been trampled by a herd of behemoths.'
The other two nodded sympathetically.
'What a relief. I would be loathe to assume that it had something to do with age.'
'I am sure there is no need to worry,' Severus said politely, 'It merely seems to be an effect of fucking each other senseless.'
'Really, Severus.' Lucius patted Hermione's back until her coughing fit subsided. 'Such frankness at the breakfast table...' But his eyes were alight with mirth. 'Are you all right, my dear?'
She nodded. 'Fine, thank you. Since we're obviously being so frank this morning – any regrets, either of you?'
Lucius merely shook his head, and Severus said, 'No. No regrets. It was a...' His half-lidded glance went from her to Lucius. 'A most memorable night. And, as I am sure you'll agree, not something we ought to repeat.'
'A historical moment, to quote your words,' Lucius said. 'They cannot be replicated, because they only occur once in a lifetime. I quite agree.'
Hermione merely nodded. Historical moment, indeed. She'd managed to snaffle all of the poached eggs with Sauce Hollandaise for the first time ever.