Warnings: Foursome (MMMF), silliness, molecular pillow talk
Author's Notes: Written for the hpcon_envy community at LiveJournal for dacian_goddess, who requested, Bill/Lucius/Severus/Hermione and function/conformation equilibrium in enzyme dynamics.
Disclaimer: © 2008 Mundungus42. All rights reserved. This work may not be archived, reproduced, or distributed in any format without prior written permission from the author. This is an amateur non-profit work, and is not intended to infringe on copyrights held by JKR or any other lawful holder. Permission may be obtained by e-mailing the author at mundungus42 at yahoo dot com
Hermione felt a telltale frisson run up her spine and stiffened. "You're back."
Her damnably charming partner swept over to her bench, grinning. "The presentation went well and Beijing's fun, but it lacks the myriad attractions of home. By the way, I brought some of that wonderful tea you discovered when we were gathering plants in Woolong."
He went back to his office whistling. Hermione took the tea tin- still warm from being in his pocket- opened it, and took a deep breath of its fragrant contents. Damn it, it even smelled like Bill.
She couldn't go on like this.
"What's that, Herms?"
"I'm investigating changes in H2's quaternary structure during serine-122 phosphorylation."
"At the very least. My working title: 'Residues and Residon'ts.'"
"Yes, I am."
"Shame, that. So there's welterweight mud wrestling tonight and Fred's holding me a box. Want to come?"
"I'm not sure that's the best idea."
"You're an adult. I'm an adult. We are co-investigators and we are friends. That's not going to stop just because Ron's a prat." He paused. "Unless you'd rather not."
"It's not that-"
"It's fine, Herms, really."
She could not go on like this.
Hermione approached the reference desk with trepidation. The last time she'd sought Severus's help, he'd been so obnoxious that she'd lost her temper and forgot her book entirely.
At her ring, the scowling librarian emerged from the stacks behind the desk. It was as if the man had soured with age.
"What do you want, Granger?"
"Information about a potion." She slid a piece of parchment across the desk.
He glanced at it, smirking. "Looking to cool the ex's ardor?"
"The potion's for me."
He placed an "Out to Lunch" placard on his desk.
"Won't you step into my office?"
"Look, I didn't come here to have you harp on my brewing skills. I just need the recipe."
Severus crossed his arms and scowled. "Try Alembic's book."
"As you well know, that version is fundamentally flawed. Alberich's Unguent was once made successfully and reproducibly. It stands to reason that there is another source."
"Of course there's another," he snapped, "but it's not in the Ministry library."
Hermione's patience was wearing thin. "Where is it?"
He sat back with a self-satisfied smirk. "I'll tell you if you'll allow me to brew it when you get the book. Have we a bargain?"
Work was impossible when Bill was around, but even more difficult when she couldn't stop herself from wondering when he'd return. He was a distraction, a beautiful, kind, thoughtful, brilliant, insightful, well-read distraction, and thanks to her pillock of an ex-husband, completely off-limits.
It would be easier to suppress her infatuation using Alberich's Unguent, even if there was a one in twenty-five chance that she'd never feel love again. Her career and peace of mind were worth the risk, even if it meant having to ask Lucius Malfoy for the recipe. Still, she dreaded what he might ask in return.
Lucius smiled insinuatingly. "If you would step into the bedroom, you'll understand what I expect in return for the use of my book."
Hermione expected manacles over the bed but instead found a painting of a shepherdess. The painting opened her mouth and let out a horrid screech that Hermione belatedly realized was singing.
Lucius ushered her into hallway and closed the door, which barely blunted the shepherdess's shrill shrieking.
"Great Aunt Matilda may have been adept at Permanent Sticking Charms, but she had abysmal taste in art. Remove or destroy the horrid thing, and the book will be yours."
"What's up, Herms?"
"What do you know about Permanent Sticking Charms?"
He whistled. "They're a right bugger. Is the caster dead?"
"Buggering bugger. You couldn't just cover whatever it is with a dust cloth, could you?"
"Sorry, but no."
"I'll take a look."
"I don't want to inconvenience you."
"Your projects are never an inconvenience, Herms."
This could NOT continue. And she'd said that aloud.
His look was too understanding by half. "My family'd get over it, you know."
"But I might not."
His smile made her heart swell. "Who says you have to?"
If Lucius was surprised to find Severus scowling on his doorstep, he was too well-bred to show it.
"Where is she?"
"The west bedroom with the Mr. Weasley. Really, Severus. Alberich's Elixr?"
"Bugger off, Lucius. The Elixr's for Granger."
"Really? She and Mr. Weasley were getting on so well."
Lucius smirked. "Don't tell me the Gryffindors have one up on you."
"Don't be absurd. What possible motive could they have for getting us together at the same-" Severus cut off abruptly and red suffused his cheeks.
"Perhaps we should check on their progress," suggested Lucius mildly.
"By all means."
"I must say, Herms, this was quite a coup."
"Thanks to you."
"All I did was cast a few wicked countercharms."
"You inspired me to mix business and pleasure. I simply took our research to the next logical step."
Bill grinned. "Testing our various active sites?"
"We embodied the mechanics of multiple bindings in protein-protein interaction."
Another sleep-roughened voice whispered in her ear. "I admit to being impressed with the various reactions' complexity. Care to see if they're reproducible?"
"I've no idea what any of you are talking about," said Lucius, stretching. "But I daresay I'm starting to enjoy biology."
Author's Notes: Smooches and love to Mr. 42, who helped me transform this into someone nearly readable despite his ban on the discussion of proteins at the dinner table.