Author's Note: Sorry for the delay, but here's the next instalment of Nargles. Meg's computer is all fixed (hopefully) so we should be back on track with new stuff every week like we were before.
This is dedicated to Helen.
Summary: RemusHermioneSirius – When a dinner at the Burrow turns into an unqualified disaster, the three inhabitants of Grimmauld Place try to come to terms with the consequences of their arrangement. Part 4 of 5.
For the Love of Nargles – Part IV
"So…Eamon, was it? You're a Healer, eh? What do you do for fun?" Sirius said coldly to the man who – to his view – seemed to be sitting entirely too close to a very distracted Hermione.
"Oh. Um…well…I enjoy playing Quidditch. And I love to read," the man replied politely, his green eyes showing his confusion at the tone in Sirius's voice.
Harry looked up from where he had been concentrating on his roast chicken.
"You like to play Quidditch? Perhaps we can set up a game…"
"You didn't go to Hogwarts, did you?" Sirius interrupted, making no acknowledgment toward his godson and instead casting his flashing grey eyes unblinkingly to the man across the table.
"I…well, no," the man stuttered with a slight blush. "My parents thought it better that I go to Beauxbatons."
"Really? How extraordinarily stupid of them."
Sirius winced slightly as Hermione kicked him hard under the table. Remus, who had been seated to Hermione's immediate left, tried to restrain his laughter as Mrs. Weasley shot the animagus a hard glare. Jaw set and nostrils flaring, Sirius met the Weasley matriarch's gaze defiantly, only to receive another sharp kick to the shins from his lover across the table.
When Hermione, Sirius, and Remus had walked into the Burrow – slightly tardy due to the activities of the morning – they had barely had time to breathe before Mrs. Weasley had whisked Hermione away to the kitchen. Slightly confused by the woman's alacrity, Sirius and Remus had followed curiously behind their lover, only to find Mrs. Weasley thrusting Hermione toward a tall, devastatingly-handsome man with dark auburn hair and sparkling emerald eyes.
Eamon Prewitt – Mrs. Weasley's relative and a wizard of not-inconsequential fame – was a twenty-something year old Healer visiting from his native Ireland for a Ministry conference on legislation as it pertained to Muggle family members of wizards. He was dashing, polite, humorous, and intelligent – everything Hermione wanted and respected in a man.
Unfortunately, someone had failed to inform Mrs. Weasley that he was gayer than Peter Pan on ice skates.
Sirius, too, seemed unaware of this fact that had both Remus and Hermione giving each other amused glances. A dark look had passed over the pureblood's grey eyes, and most of the cocktails had been spent with Sirius shooting optical daggers at Eamon while Mrs. Weasley made every effort to enumerate Hermione's extensive list of accomplishments to her second cousin thrice removed.
Eamon had smiled bemusedly, each time looking at Hermione and silently pleading that she not attach herself to him. She had given him a knowing nod, which seemed to calm him slightly, but did not deter Sirius in his bid to discredit his would-be competition. Sirius clearly hadn't noticed that Eamon's attention was far more concentrated on Remus than on Hermione.
It wasn't until the twins had arrived with deceptively-mild smiles on their faces that Hermione's amusement had been replaced with something akin to dread. Their Cheshire Cat smirks could only mean trouble, and as Hermione thought back to the mayhem of the morning, she found herself getting angrier and angrier at the twin sources of her and her lovers' exile to the Black family library.
By the second course – which was around the time when Hermione had realized Sirius's motives against Eamon and took appropriate action against his shins – Hermione was positively livid with the silent-yet-plotting twins who sat angelically next to Sirius. Glowering at Fred as he genially accepted a bowl of boiled eggs from his twin, Hermione shifted uncomfortably in the straight back chair. Remus tried to place his hand comfortingly on her knee, but he received a scathing glare for his efforts and found himself also becoming more and more frustrated with the two mischief-makers who were sitting across from him.
"Chicken?" Ginny asked at Remus's elbow, passing another plate around. Remus jumped, almost startled to see the youngest Weasley blinking ingenuously up at him from his left proffering a plate of roast meat. He had been too absorbed trying to understand the growing agitation of the woman to his right to notice the bubbling conversation of those blissfully-ignorant people to his left.
"Yes…thank you, Ginny," he said with a smile, putting some of the meat on his plate even though he wasn't entirely sure the butterflies in his stomach would allow him to eat any of it. Placing a few slices on Hermione's plate and ignoring the fact she hadn't eaten the food she had already put there, Remus offered the chicken to Eamon, receiving a grateful smile and a mild blush.
"You look a little tired, Granger," George mused aloud, causing both Remus and Hermione to tense slightly as Sirius – still glaring at Eamon – seemed unfazed by the loaded comment. "Been getting much sleep lately?"
Hermione pursed her lips as she struggled to swallow her anger.
"Actually," she managed to bite out. "No. I haven't."
"You should talk to Eamon about that. He did a course in sleep deprivation, didn't you, dear?" Mrs. Weasley chirped merrily, oblivious to the ulterior meanings.
"Yes, but I don't think…" Eamon started but Fred cut him off.
"I don't think it's anything medical," he said with a grin. "What with all the Nargles running around Grimmauld Place, it's a wonder anyone gets any sleep."
Hermione shot them both glares that would ordinarily have the twins heading for the hills, but it was Harry who surprised her by joining the conversation with a scoff.
"Nargles? There's no such thing as Nargles," he said.
"I wouldn't be so sure," Sirius muttered quietly, finally understanding the twins' intentions and turning his building frustration on them.
"What's a Nargle?" Mrs. Weasley asked, looking at her children with a slight frown as she realized something wasn't quite right with the subtext of the conversation she was hearing.
"Yes, I'm curious too. I've never heard of such a beast," Mr. Weasley said, abandoning his discussion with Bill and Percy to focus on the dialogue in the middle of the table.
"They don't exist," Remus explained, his eyes locked on the twins in similar warning to the two pairs that were already glaring at them. "But there is something in Grimmauld Place and we have yet to discover what it is."
"Really?" Bill asked, tapping his chin in thought. "Perhaps it's a Bogart. Wasn't the house full of them when it was still headquarters?"
"It was, but it isn't a Bogart," Hermione said. "It's something in the walls. There's been a scratching sound for days. Luna Lovegood…er…dropped by…and she seems to think they're Nargles but regardless the noise was becoming almost unbearable until – "
" – until somebody decided to let loose a rabid pack of Cornish pixies," Sirius finished, a growl threatening in the back of his throat as Fred and George's grins grew into full-blown, mischief-ridden smirks.
"We thought it would be a bit like that Muggle story, where the lady swallowed a fly," Fred said happily.
"See, what happens is, she swallows a fly, but then she swallows a spider to catch the fly," George explained.
"And then she swallows a bird to catch the spider."
"And a cat to catch the bird."
"And a dog to catch the cat."
"And a – "
"I don't care if she swallowed a ruddy Hippogriff to catch a flobberworm! You had no right to let loose those agents of evil in my house!" Sirius exploded, directing his irrational anger for Eamon's presence toward the twins, effectively wiping the smirks off their faces.
"It was just a bit of fun. Thought they could catch the Nargles," Fred murmured.
"But there's no such thing as Nargles," Harry insisted, his brow knitted in confusion as he failed to understand why the Weasley twins would think otherwise.
"Fred! George! You should know better!" their mother scolded, her eyes wide with the shock that her twenty-three year old sons could still act like such children.
"You also left this behind," Hermione added, still scowling at the twins as she reached into her bag to pull out the pink and purple pygmy puff. The creature let out a small huff, but stayed sleeping as she placed it gently in the middle of the table.
"Is that a pygmy puff?" Eamon asked curiously, leaning in for a closer look and in the process gently brushing Hermione's shoulder with his.
Sirius whipped around, his eyes ferocious.
"Of course it's a pygmy puff! What else could it be?" he railed, causing Eamon to jump back and Hermione to deliver another, harder kick to his already-bruised shins as Remus gave his best friend a soft shake of the head before sending Eamon an apologetic smile.
Eamon blushed again.
"It's so cute!" Ginny said, dispelling some of the tension with a squeal of girlish delight as she scratched the pygmy puff softly on the head.
"My sister has one," Eamon said, avoiding Sirius's eye as he looked at the twins. "I thought they only came in either pink or purple?"
"They do," George said, sharing a look of confusion with Fred as they both leaned in to look at the snoring puff.
Fred scratched his head.
"This isn't ours, Granger. We just left the pixies and the – "
"You're sure this isn't yours?" Remus interrupted, cutting them off before they revealed to the whole table that Grimmauld Place was suddenly in possession of a store's worth of magical sex toys, most of which the pixies had absconded with and were wreaking havoc through the house while he, Sirius, and Hermione camped out in the library.
"We know our handiwork when we see it," George said stoutly, picking up the sleeping puff to examine it closer. "Perhaps it's a friend of your Nargles?"
"Yes, because I'm certain of the many humanlike attributes Nargles have, keeping pets is one of them," Hermione deadpanned.
"Well, it's not ours," Fred repeated, placing the puff on the table and watching as Ginny whisked it away to cuddle. "Sorry to disappoint."
"I wouldn't believe them if I were you," Percy sniffed, watching Ginny's glowing adoration with ill-disguised disapproval. "It was probably a failed experiment and they're just dumping it on you. They have filled my room upstairs with fireworks that don't work."
"They work!" George defended.
"Sometimes," Fred added.
"Anyway, regardless of that, the puff isn't ours. We've moved on to slightly more mature toys," George finished, the gleam starting to stir in his eye again.
"We know," Sirius mumbled darkly, rubbing the back of his head at the memory and scowling.
"Where did you find the pygmy puff?" Harry asked as he nudged Ginny from her silly grin and flicked his eyes, urging her to return the puff to its proper owners.
"You can keep the puff, Gin," Hermione said, smiling in spite of herself at Ginny's sigh of delight. "And we found it under the portrait of Mrs. Black. I rescued the poor thing while the pixies surrounded Crookshanks with – "
"Malice. While the pixies surrounded Crookshanks with malice," Remus interrupted, shooting Hermione a look. "Anyway, with the pixies and the scratching it's amazing we're able to get here to scold the twins on their behaviour," he added, smiling slightly as Hermione pouted, having hoped for more of an opportunity to confront the twins.
"I don't see why you need to live under those circumstances," Mrs. Weasley said and Hermione groaned inwardly as she saw the light return to the meddling woman's eyes as she glanced at Eamon. "Eamon, dear, didn't you get an Outstanding on your Care of Magical Creatures OWL?"
"I…er.." Eamon stuttered, a flush creeping up his neck as the whole table turned to look at him.
"That won't be necessary, Mrs. Weasley," Hermione said, giving the older woman what she hoped was a grateful smile. It wasn't that she didn't appreciate the woman's efforts to get her married to someone from her family. It was just that she had enough lovers on her hands at the moment, and if Eamon were to get involved with their threesome, she wouldn't be the object of his interest.
"Nonsense! Eamon, your mother always bragged how brilliant you were with magical creatures. You'd be happy to help out, wouldn't you?" Mrs. Weasley insisted, and the handsome man seemed slightly panicked.
"Really, Molly, we'll figure it out eventually," Remus said, casting a kind smile toward Eamon and watching in mild confusion as his blush grew even more.
"Yes," Sirius said through gritted teeth. "No need to impose on the poor boy."
"Oh I don't think it would be an imposition, would it, Eamon?" Mrs. Weasley asked, and once again Eamon pinked.
"Honestly, Molly, I don't know when I'll have the time," Eamon said, shooting Hermione and Remus an apologetic smile.
"Oh well. Too bad. Now that's settled, what's for dessert?" Sirius said, smirking in personal triumph and lounging back in his chair.
Mrs. Weasley, however, was not about to be out-manoeuvred.
"But Eamon, dear, you were just telling me that you had no idea what you were going to do with yourself while you were in London, since the conference is only for three days," she said sweetly.
Eamon's gave a brave smile.
"I did say that, didn't I?" he mused.
"Well then. It's settled. Eamon will come by the house and have a look," Mrs. Weasley stated, ignoring Sirius's dark glare as she assumed it was all finished.
"I wouldn't worry too much, Eamon," Fred said with a conspiratorial wink. "Hermione keeps a very nice house. She's very…hands on."
Remus almost choked on his potatoes.
"Yeah," George said, smirking. "You'll love it over there. She's a benevolent tyrant, our Miss Granger."
"Keeps her underlings in line."
"And…er…on top of things."
"It's those types of qualities that men look for in a wife, you know," Mrs. Weasley said beaming, her eyes shifting rapidly between Eamon and Hermione, completely missing the less-than-subtle innuendo.
"I'm sure Hermione will be well and truly out of Grimmauld Place by the time she is ready to get married," Ron said, a mouth full of wax beans, as he watched the witch in question flush red, looking both embarrassed and furious at the turn of conversation.
Sirius shot her a look across the table, as if the concept of her moving out one day had never occurred to him. Remus, too, seemed to become overly absorbed studying the wood grain of the ancient table.
"I-I like Grimmauld Place," Hermione stuttered, carefully choosing her words, trying not to offend the woman who had practically raised her in her teen years and to keep the twins from grasping the slightest thing from her and twisting it again. "Besides, who said anything about marriage?" she added, giving a weak laugh.
There were quiet murmurs of agreement broken by Mrs. Weasley standing up to flick her wand at everyone's empty plates. The dirty dishes marched themselves to the sink, stacking into neat piles ready to be washed later. Dishes of chocolate mousse, decadent cheesecake and a steaming pudding soon replaced the empty spaces.
"You know," George said around a spoonful of vanilla ice cream, waving the silverware across the table at Hermione. "I pity the poor man who ends up married to you."
"What?" she asked, offended.
"I would envy him," Fred countered wistfully, his eyes closed as if lost in a daydream.
"What are you two on about now?" Sirius growled, reaching the end of his tether as far as civility toward the twins went.
"Well," George said, leaning forward as if confiding some great secret. This only proved to capture more attention to the conversation. "Rumour has it that our prim and proper Miss Granger here…"
"…is a bit of a wildcat, if you know what we mean," Fred finished, with a waggle of his eyebrows.
Hermione glared at the two, pursing her lips and dropping the spoon into her bowl.
"And where did you hear that?" she asked quietly.
"Oh, you know…here and there," George replied flippantly, ignoring her twitching fingers which were heading for her wand.
"The reason we say we would pity the poor man who ends up married to you…"
"…is because we have a theory."
"What theory?" Remus asked, looking as if he was afraid of the answer.
"Glad you asked, Professor," George grinned, winking at Hermione and pointedly ignoring Sirius, whose grey eyes were fixed upon the twins with dangerous attentiveness.
"The theory?" Hermione found herself asking, shooting a glance toward Mrs. Weasley, who seemed to be absorbed in fussing over Bill's ever growing ponytail.
"Well, what one man could satisfy a brilliant, passionate witch such as yourself?" George almost whispered, his teasing smile becoming a knowing smirk.
"Indeed, if the rumours are to be believed, it would take two men to satisfy…" but Fred never got to finish.
"Holy shit!" Ginny suddenly cried, causing several people to jump in surprise.
"Ginevra Weasley! I will not have that kind of language at my dinner table!" Mrs. Weasley scolded, flushing scarlet. Ginny, however, was not paying attention to the familiar lecture. Instead, she was looking between Hermione, Remus, and Sirius.
"Well fuck me with a bicorn horn," she breathed, her mouth hanging open in disbelief.
"Ginny!" Harry admonished, as the entire table watched the youngest Weasley recover herself, a deep, throaty laugh filling the kitchen a moment later.
Hermione groaned and dropped her head to her arms, wishing she was back at Grimmauld Place with magical creature infestation. Anything would be better than the confrontation that was about to occur.
"I'm going to kill both of you, and it will be worth another twelve years in Azkaban," Sirius growled at Fred and George. The twins merely smirked happily, their mischief caused for the evening.
"So it's true. Oh my God. How long? How? When? Why?" Ginny asked, firing off each question rapidly, practically bouncing in her seat.
"Is that really any of your…" Remus started to say, trying to deflect the conversation.
"What's…" Harry started to ask when Eamon interrupted him.
"Really? I could have sworn you were gay," the young healer burst out, looking at Remus, who flushed a deep pink and murmured something.
Hermione raised her head and looked around the table desperately. So far it was only Eamon and Ginny who had realized what the twins had just revealed, but by the rapid whispering between Fleur and Bill and the small frown Charlie was giving them, she knew it wouldn't be long before the metaphoric you-know-what went flying everywhere.
"I demand to know at once what is going on. This behaviour is entirely inappropriate. And you call yourselves adults," Mrs. Weasley scolded, giving them all her most disapproving look.
"By the rate Colin and Luna move, it won't be long before it gets in The Daily Prophet," George said happily when Sirius placed his wand carefully on the table.
A silent warning.
"I can see it now, front page of The Quibbler, right next to the headline 'Nargles – Yes, They're Real!'" Fred joked.
"What. Is. Going. On?" Mrs. Weasley demanded finally, when the table became a silent stand off.
"Isn't it obvious?" Fleur said with mild impatience. "Zey have formed a ménage-a-trois."
"A-a what?" the ageing matriarch spluttered, looking to Hermione with disbelief in her eyes.
"You know, Mum, when three people…" Fred started to say.
"I know what it is Fred Weasley!" she snapped back.
"Well, you asked…" Fred murmured but said nothing more as Mrs. Weasley's eyes went straight to Hermione.
There was a moment of stifling silence as the two women looked at each other, before Mrs. Weasley started laughing awkwardly.
"Oh…you all…having me on like that…" she said, her voice pitched significantly higher than usual.
Hermione's brow furrowed, and George arched an eyebrow.
"You don't believe us?" he asked, somewhat amused.
"Don't. Say. Another. Word," Sirius hissed, grasping at the hope that Mrs. Weasley's denial would get he and his two lovers out of the house unscathed.
"Well of course I don't believe you," Mrs. Weasley said, her voice still high as she gave a shrill laugh. "Our Hermione Granger? Enter into…into…such an arrangement? With Sirius, of all people."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Sirius barked, his head snapping to look at the flushing matriarch.
"Really, Sirius, you're not at all Hermione's type. Now, Remus I would believe if I wasn't so sure of his moral standards…"
"Molly," Remus said darkly, noting the veins in Sirius's neck starting to strain against his skin. "I had hoped it wouldn't come out like this, but it's quite true."
Hermione looked at him in disbelief, wondering why on earth the man would admit the relationship to the conservative woman, but one look at Sirius – and the proximity of his twitching fingers to his wand – made her realize that Remus's admittance was more for Mrs. Weasley's benefit than anyone else's, as no one wanted to be on the receiving end of an angry Sirius Black.
"I…she…it's true?" Mrs. Weasley stuttered softly, her brown eyes falling uncomprehendingly on Hermione.
Hermione closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and opened them again, meeting the woman's questioning stare and nodding.
"Yes, Molly," she said. "I am in a…er…relationship with both Sirius and Remus, though I fail to understand why it's anyone's concern," she added, glaring at the twins. Fred and George, noting that the information was not as amusing to their mother, Harry, or Ron as it had been to them, seemed slightly remorseful at their part in the unveiling.
"You…and Sirius and Remus?" Harry asked softly.
"Er…yes," Remus said. "Now Harry, we were going to tell you eventually, but…"
"Bloody hell!" Ron said, his face flushing slightly. "You mean to tell me that you've been fucking two men, 'Mione?"
Unable to take anymore, Hermione stood quickly.
"I don't understand how my…my…sex life is of any concern to anyone around this table except me!" she said, grabbing her purse. "What I do in private is really no one's business, and I don't care what you all think! I am twenty-one years old and fully capable of making my own decisions, including the people I sleep with, so the lot of you can go…go…"
Her jaw clenched as she struggled with the words, but one look at Harry's angry gaze was all she needed.
"The lot of you can go fuck yourselves!" she said before turning on her heel and walking briskly out of the kitchen and into the drawing room.
Pandemonium broke out around the kitchen table as Remus and Sirius exchanged glances.
"How dare you corrupt such a lovely girl!" Mrs. Weasley started to scream at Sirius just as Harry shouted: "I thought you would know better, Professor!" to Remus.
"I did no such thing!" Sirius shouted, standing.
"Harry, it's very complicated," Remus added.
"She would have never entered into such an agreement if she hadn't moved into your…your…your den of iniquity!" shouted.
"I bet it's bloody complicated, but the two of you just can't keep your dicks in your trousers, is that it?" Ron roared.
"You treat her like a child, Molly! She's not a child anymore!" Sirius shouted back.
"It really isn't like that, Ron. This is between the three of us," Remus pleaded.
"Oh, shut up! The lot of you!" a shrill voice carried and everyone stopped to see Ginny, bright red, standing on her chair fuming.
"Do you all realize what you're fighting about?" she said. "Hermione is a grown woman! The only people who have any say in the matter are the two men she has deemed worthy enough to start a relationship with! And since when have you all stopped trusting her judgement?"
Harry, his emerald eyes still blazing, started to open his mouth but Ginny's fierce gaze stopped him before he was able to say anything.
"We were having a lovely dinner before this whole issue was brought up! I take responsibility for my part in it, as should others," Ginny continued, shooting a deadly glare at her twin brothers, who had the good grace to look guilty. "But we are a family and if we can't learn to trust one another then what's the point? Now, I suggest we let these fine men go home to their girlfriend, and we should apologize to Eamon, who is going to go back to Ireland absolutely stricken by our behaviour."
There was a pause before Percy sniffed.
"I, for one, agree with Ginny. Distasteful though I think it is, what those three do in their bedroom is not any of our business. Eamon, you have my full apology for my family's behaviour, and I hope…"
"Oh shut up, Perce," Bill said, rolling his eyes before looking at Remus and Sirius. "Go. She'll need you both right now. And not in that way, Ron, do grow up," he added as Ron made a gagging sound from his throat.
Shooting Mrs. Weasley one more glare, Sirius motioned for Remus to follow him and without another word, the two men left the kitchen to join Hermione – who had heard every word her friend had said and was silently rejoicing that at least one of her friends wouldn't disown her – in the drawing room.
"You ready to go home?" Sirius asked, wrapping a comforting arm around her waist.
Hermione heaved a sigh.
"Yes," she said before taking a handful of floo powder, walking to the fireplace, and saying "Black Family Library, Grimmauld Place!"
Hermione lay on her back, staring at the library's vaulted ceiling and the shadows cast by the low burning fire. Sirius's soft snores beside her, the occasional whisper of paper on paper as Remus turned the pages of his book, and the random thumps from inside the walls made up the music of the night.
It wasn't the lack of silence, however, that was keeping her awake. It was her traitorous brain. The organ that was often envied by others and abused by some currently refused to shut down, and no matter how much she wished for sleep, the Sandman was nowhere in sight.
Dinner had been a disaster.
Actually, 'disaster' was a gross understatement. Molly Weasley was probably cursing her soul to eternal damnation as she lay there. The looks of hurt, betrayal and disgust on her closest friends' faces were enough to make her question just how much her actions affected others. The only positive was that she at least had Ginny on her side.
Sirius snuffled and pulled away from her, the arm that had been flung over her waist slowly dropping away as he turned to his other side. He had barely spoken when they had gotten back, choosing instead to head straight for the liquor cabinet and consume a great deal of Ogden's Finest before passing out. Remus too, had become withdrawn, taking a glass of the amber liquid to his favourite armchair and absorbing himself in a novel.
Hermione had made a vague attempt at working on her papers, but quickly gave up, realizing her mind was elsewhere. When Sirius had collapsed onto the bed beside her, she took his advice and decided to see if things would look better in the morning.
Sitting up now, she knew that notion was impossible.
Remus glanced over at her movements on the bed and gave her a weak smile, which she returned. Climbing to the end of the long mattress, she slid off and padded over to him.
"I can't sleep," she said, stating the obvious.
He reached out, grasped both her hands in his, and tugged her down to straddle his lap.
"I'm not surprised," he murmured, putting his book on the table beside the chair before wrapping his arms around her waist, letting her settle down against him.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, leaning her head against his chest and wrapping her arms around his neck. She felt like crying.
"Hey, hey. None of this was your fault, and nobody was really upset, just surprised is all," he soothed gently, his big palms running up and down her spine, comforting and warming at the same time.
"They don't understand," her muffled reply came up from his chest.
He lifted her chin to look deeply into her eyes, his face serious.
"No sweetheart, they don't. What we have is ours, and they can speculate and make accusations, but in the end, it's about us, not them. Don't let the opinions of others shape the way you think."
Hermione stared back at him, realizing that his advice was probably something he had practiced his whole life. She often forgot just how different he was to the rest of them, but clearly he didn't. Feeling another wave of guilt pass over her as she thought of how she had just added another reason for his friends to fear and revile him, she instantly knew that she wasn't the only one who needed comforting after the night they just had.
Leaning forward, she kissed his lips softly, her upper body moulding against him as they both sighed. His kiss had become almost as familiar as Sirius's, and it wasn't long before she felt the pull at her navel. Becoming bold as her need rose, she deepened the contact, her tongue seeking his as she shifted restlessly against him.
"Remus," she sighed when his hands came up to raise the short nightgown she had managed to rescue from her bedroom in a mad dash for supplies. His rough palms cupped her thighs, his fingers digging into her flesh when she ground her naked core against his growing arousal.
He growled low in the back of his throat, gripping her arse with both hands and pulling her forward to meet his thrusting hips. Their kisses took on a new urgency and she brought her hands from around his neck, tracing the scars down his bare chest. Reaching between them, she fumbled with the button and fly of his pants, feeling his unchecked strength when he lifted them both up and wriggled out of the confining fabric.
She gasped and bit his lip when he thrust into her, her body resisting at first before his grasping hands and demanding mouth had her yielding. He was almost too big from the angle he had them perched at, and her fingers dug into his shoulders as he surged into her again and again.
His mouth moved from hers, both of them gasping as his lips traced a path down to her bouncing breasts, taking one straining nipple into his mouth and giving it a sharp tug.
"Fuck," she hissed, her fingers spearing into his soft hair, tugging and pulling, holding him to her as he caused the most delicious ache between her legs – an ache, she was quickly learning, that only he could cause, and only he could satisfy.
He growled again, switching breasts, his fingers digging into her hip as he held her poised above him. Hermione rose and fell, rolling her hips and thrashing her head from side to side, loving the almost violent nature of his lovemaking. Sirius was never like that, but at the same time she didn't want Sirius to be like that. She liked him as playful and sexy, but never rough or needful.
Remus handled 'rough and needful' beautifully.
He shifted his hand from her hip, comfortable with the rhythm he set, and moved his fingers between her legs to pinch her throbbing bundle of nerves. That was all it took for her pulsing walls to clamp down on him fiercely, her soft cries echoing off the silent shelves as her orgasm washed over her.
Remus pulled away from her breasts, grasping her head roughly as he kissed her again, crying out against her as his whole body became taut and he found release within her sweetly grasping folds.
Breathless and panting, Hermione pulled away from his lips to gaze into those endless amber eyes. There was a softness there that she had taken for granted all the time before when they had finished their debauched, exhilarating rutting. There was a vulnerability that made her lean in and kiss him tenderly, letting him know that she would care and nurture him despite the reaction they might get from others.
A harsh intake of air had her pulling away, her head whipping around to meet Sirius's fathomless grey eyes across the room. His expression was unreadable as he stared unblinkingly at her, perched so intimately upon his best friend's lap. Looking at Remus, she realized that this was the first time she had had sex with Remus without Sirius involved – it had all just felt so natural at the time. Now, however, as she looked back at her raven-haired lover, she thought she saw a flicker of betrayal behind his gaze.
Unable to take another fit of drama, Hermione pulled herself away from Remus and with a quick turn, apparated away.
"Where the bloody hell did she go?" he demanded.
Pulling his trousers back up, Remus listened carefully for their lover. He heard the muffled groan of a door three flights up.
"Bathroom," he said simply. Then he heard the sound of the taps turning. "Shower."
When he straightened up, he looked at his best friend, who was looking at the ceiling in contemplation.
"We didn't intend to have sex without you," Remus said softly. "It just…it happened and…"
Sirius looked at him.
"Do you think I'm angry?" he asked.
"I didn't know if it was okay. We didn't specify what the rules of this… arrangement… are."
Sirius's brow furrowed.
"Moony…she isn't mine," he said, tilting his head. "I thought we had straightened that out?"
Remus sighed in frustration.
"No, Sirius. If anything's come of tonight, it's that we haven't straightened anything out and I, for one, don't know how much longer I can stay in this without getting… well… emotionally attached."
"Don't kid yourself, Moony," he said dryly. "We're already emotionally attached."
Remus sighed again.
"Sirius, tonight just proved that we are not in a conventional relationship. Hermione is a beautiful, intelligent, wonderful girl, but sooner or later we've got to come to terms with the fact that she's twenty years younger than us and has a lot of her life ahead of her. You heard what Molly and Ron said about her moving out of Grimmauld Place and getting married. It's bound to happen sometime and I just…I don't know if…I'm not sure if…"
He couldn't put the right words together, but somehow, he didn't really have to.
"I know," Sirius said. "But Fred and George had a point…though I do want to kill them too," he added as Remus's eyes darkened at the mention of the ginger-headed trouble-makers. "Hermione is too passionate, too brilliant, to belong to just one man. You've seen her, mate. She comes alive in our arms. Both of us. Together. Maybe…" His eyes lightened with hopeful possibility. "Maybe we can do this for…awhile."
"And what if no one else accepts it?" Remus asked. "What if Molly refuses to allow us back into the Burrow? What if Harry and Ron refuse to talk to her? You're asking her to walk away from her family, Sirius. Are you willing to ask her to do that?"
"Oh, they'll come around," Sirius said, though he didn't feel as confident as he sounded. "And if they disown her, then were they really her friends to begin with?"
"Would you be willing to give Harry up?" Remus asked softly, knowing how much the young man meant to Sirius as the animagus's last, desperate tie to his dead best friend.
"No," he whispered. "But Ginny's on our side, isn't she? And she'll make sure Harry comes around, won't she? And if Harry comes around, then he'll bring Ron. No one else matters, really."
"It's an awfully large risk you're asking of her, Sirius," Remus said. "I'm used to being ostracized – it won't be a great deal to me. You've had your share of social rejection, so you'll be all right as well. Hermione, on the other hand…"
"Yes, I see your point," Sirius mumbled. Then he glanced at his best friend. "Would you mind if I went up to talk to her right now?"
Remus gave a knowing smile.
"Whatever happens, happens," he said honestly.
"Go on. I think I'm going to turn in."
"Alright. We'll be down shortly."
"Take your time," the werewolf said.
Sirius stood and apparated up to the third floor bathroom.
Hermione was lost in her own world as she let the hot water flow over her, soothing her body but not – as she had hoped – washing away the doubts and worries that plagued her about the tenuous situation she was in with her two housemates. In the past 48 hours, she had developed such strong ties to the two, drastically different men. It amazed her that in the course of one dinner, the rather comfortable situation had turned into something darker than she had ever thought possible.
She knew she couldn't give just one of them up. She was in way too deep for that. And under no circumstances was she willing to give them both up – not unless they asked her to.
And she certainly hoped they would never ask her to.
But somewhere deep inside, Mrs. Weasley's thoughts of her moving out of Grimmauld Place and getting married rang true. In the past, she had thought of marriage – of a family and a life with a husband. But she wasn't sure she could see her future without either Sirius or Remus, and though tolerant of most things, she was certain the wizarding world would frown upon bigamy.
The sound of a soft 'pop' penetrated through her thoughts and with a deep breath to brace herself to face whatever inevitable judgment was in front of her, Hermione pulled back the shower curtain to face Sirius. He was leaning against the sink, his eyes on her silhouette but for some reason Hermione got the distinct impression that his mind was not on the attractive figure she cut against the shower curtain.
Clearing her throat, he looked up at her and gave her a large, sincere smile.
"Hey," he said, not moving as he took her in.
"Hey," she replied, unsure of how to kick off the discussion.
There was a moment of silence as they looked at each other.
"I'm not mad at you for sleeping with Remus without me, you know," he said finally, pushing himself up and taking a few steps towards her. "I mean…I like it when I'm involved but I don't mind if I'm not."
Her brow furrowed.
"I just…I thought…I mean, we never said…"
He smiled at her stuttering.
"Hermione," he said softly. "Remus and I both care about you deeply. You are…such a phenomenal woman. But we don't want you to feel pressured to stay with us if you...if you…want something else."
"What?" she asked.
"I know that Molly…and Ron…brought up the idea of you leaving Grimmauld Place and I suppose, in effect, us as well, and I just want you to know…well…you shouldn't feel like you have to stay if…if you don't want to."
Hermione looked at him and couldn't help but smile. The look on his face as he tried to reason with himself about their situation was far from laughable, but the fact that he was assuming that she might tire of them – well, the thought was hysterical.
"You silly, silly man," she said, giggling slightly as she extended her hand to him. "How could I get tired of you two? I have two of the sexiest men on the planet willing to do any and every manner of sordid things to my body whenever I want. Do you think I'd be willing to give that up?"
"We won't be young and good-looking forever, Hermione," he said softly, his grey eyes forming a vulnerability she didn't usually see.
"Sirius, if sex was all I wanted, I could go to any number of other people. I could go to the Weasley twins."
'Again,' her brain added.
Taking his face in the palms of her hands, she kissed his forehead lightly.
"What the three of us have doesn't have an expiration date. I can't say that it will last forever, but right now I couldn't imagine living without it. No matter what anyone says."
"Harry and Ron will come around. Trust me, sometimes I wonder how those two function without me. They'll show up here in a week or two, tail between their legs, apologizing so I can help them decipher some document that they need for work. It may take a little while for Mrs. Weasley to come around, but with Ginny and the twins, and I assume Bill and Charlie on our side, she'll cave."
The soft look in his eyes made her heart start to quicken.
"In the meantime," she whispered, leaning in and brushing her lips against his. "Why don't you come in and help me wash my back?"
With a wicked smile, she pulled back and stepped under the water again.
Sirius gripped the hem of his shirt, tugging it over his head and shaking out his hair with a grin when he caught her enraptured look. He made fast work of his pants, stepping out of them and straight into her arms. Their kiss was slow, unhurried, and as passionate as the first time he had ever made love to her. She found herself sighing against his lips as the water slowly cascaded around them.
Sirius's hands were everywhere, her flesh slippery, and her curves pulling him in. She didn't feel the hurried urgency she had with Remus earlier. Now she was just content to let Sirius sweep her up into the slow burning passion she had come to know and expect from him.
Their time together had given him the knowledge of where to touch her, how to kiss her and how, in every way possible way, to gain her arousal. It took only moments before they were both soaked through, hair drenched and bodies slippery. When he pulled away from her lips he had her gasping his name and then they were kissing again as if they would never get enough.
"Sirius, please," she sighed, pulling his hand from her breasts, guiding it between her legs as he felt a different kind of wetness there.
Hearing her impassioned plea and feeling the extent of her want, he slowly dropped to his knees, kissing a path down her torso, across her quivering stomach and straight to her core. She gasped and moaned when he parted her folds, tasting her sweet nectar. He groaned and fell on her like a man starved, worshiping her body as she came hard against him, clutching at his hair and tugging him back to his feet.
Sirius growled softly and tugged her harder against him. He kissed her again, pouring all his complex, not-entirely-understood feelings into that simple touch. He couldn't seem to stop his hands from roaming wherever they could reach, so absorbed was he in his witch – their witch – that he barely noticed the water growing cooler.
He felt her small hand reach between them, caressing his length with a touch so gentle he almost came out of his skin. She had the power to do that to him – to bring him to the brink with a single touch. He knew Remus felt the same way when he was in the hands of this slip of a witch, and something in him marvelled that she could cause such a reaction out of two powerful men. But the vulnerability they had with her as well only added to the intimacy that the two men had never felt with another woman before.
It was liberating.
Her hands, her mouth, her whole body drew him in until he found himself turning her around, her back facing him, her palms spread high on the wall. Entering her in one thrust, he held still, wondering if his nerves were going to explode at the overwhelming sensations.
Hermione let out a deep moan, her head falling to the cold tiled wall, her body aching in all the right places. She was sore, she was tired, and she knew she would probably end up feeling ridiculously tender in the morning, but she didn't care. All she wanted now was to feel the familiar passion of one of the men who had claimed her as his lover.
His whispered endearments became incoherent as he slowly thrust in and out of her, savouring each and every twitch of her body, pausing at every gasp and biting his lip when she began to thrust herself back onto his cock. The water was well and truly cold by the time they had both reached the point where they could take no more.
Hermione felt her body tense once more, her inner muscles clenching around his throbbing arousal, bringing him over the edge with her when she finally found release. His howls echoed off the tiny room, his fingers curling against the damp tiles as he rested his head against the back of her shoulder. It wasn't until her body sagged, her knees buckling under her that he was able to catch his breath.
Turning off the shower, he pulled her into his side, helping her step out of the tub and wrapping her in a big white towel the moment the cold air hit her.
"I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted," he said, kissing her lightly before bringing the towel up to her head to rub her curls vigorously.
Her laughter was cut short by a loud yawn.
"I bet Remus is getting lonely in that big bed all on his..."
"Fuck," Sirius sharp explicit cut her short. His grey eyes were focused over her shoulder, as he used the towel to pull her to him tightly, protectively.
"What?" she asked warily, scared to turn around. She had almost forgotten about the current infestation of questionable beasts.
Sirius didn't reply. Instead, he slowly lowered himself until he could reach his pants, extracting his wand.
"Pixie," he mouthed at her, moments before yelling a disarming spell and apparating them out of the small room.
Hermione barely had time to close her eyes, let alone breathe when they popped downstairs, tumbling onto the bed in a mass of tangled limps and wet hair.
"What the..." Remus mumbled, startled out of a light sleep, his lovers practically falling on top of him.
Hermione tugged the towel out from under Sirius's leg, quickly scrambling off Remus's arm and apologizing.
"I swear, the next time I see Fred and George…" the animagus was growling, staring up at the ceiling with a murderous glint.
Hermione giggled and caught Remus's bewildered expression as she settled between her two lovers.
"The pixies are still awake," she explained.
"Oh," the werewolf said. Glancing at the two of them, he arched an eyebrow at his best friend. "Talking, eh?"
"I did say, whatever happens, happens," he said, causing Remus to chuckle.
Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.
"Oh sweet Merlin on a pogo stick!" Sirius grumbled, flinging a pillow across the room and watching it hit the wall with barely a sound.
Hermione arched an eyebrow at him.
"Effective, was that?" she asked, grabbing her wand from beside Remus and summoning it back.
"Was worth a try," Sirius mumbled.
Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.
"I think you just made them angrier," Remus said softly, the mirth behind his statement counterbalanced by his serious expression.
"Hey," Hermione said to her amber-eyed lover as Sirius wrapped his arms around her. "Are you okay? With this, I mean? With us?"
Remus smiled, taking a wet curl between his fingers and twirling it slightly.
"I'm willing to do this for as long as I have you. For as long as we have you. If that's just this weekend or for an infinitely longer period of time, it doesn't matter to me."
Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.
"Though, I refuse to share you with the Nargles," he said with a grin.
"They better not touch her," Sirius growled, kissing her shoulder possessively.
Hermione smiled slightly, turning and kissing Sirius lightly before turning back to Remus and repeating the gesture.
She heard Sirius sigh behind her.
"Louis," he said in an oddly dead-on Humphrey Bogart impression. "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
Rolling their eyes, Remus and Hermione hit him over the head with a pillow.
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