A/N: *takes deep breath* Okay...so...I know I haven't updated Playing the Players in a VERY long time, so I fully expect some people to be like "What the hell is she starting a new long fic for?!" (that is, of course, assuming you care enough to be frustrated by my abysmally lacking updates) but if all you loyal fans remember when I first started PtP, I was ALSO finishing up The Wolf and Little Red, so it IS possible for me to work on two at a time - providing I remember to update.
ANYWAY - this idea came about...well, I'm not entirely sure how it came about, but it did, so here it is!
I want to dedicate this story to Papplelifesaver and diamond-helen, both of whom celebrated a birthday in February that I was unable to actually finish birthday fics for. So I'm going to be a bit of a slag and dedicate one long fic to both of them, because they have been so incredibly supportive of my and my work. *bows low* Thank you, ladies. You remind me constantly why I enjoy writing fanfic.
And as always, THANK YOU, AMY! I love and miss you terribly!
Chapter One – The First Session
"The first thing I think you should know is that I love sex."
There was a smug arrogance to his tone as Sirius Black, last heir to the powerful pureblood House of Black, sat with an air of casual aristocracy in the plush, albeit moth-eaten, chair in the Black family library. Across the lacquered antique coffee table, his interviewer looked up from her parchment, defiant hazel eyes meeting his challenging azure-grey. Hermione Granger, bestselling novelist and brainy third of the "Golden Trio," showed no emotion, informing the smirking playboy that she would not fall for any of his shock tactics.
She knew him entirely too well for that.
"I suppose it started when I lost my virginity. I was twelve at the time."
This admission did make her squirm slightly. Consummate lover though he was rumoured to be – a fact that, in spite of vague whispers to the contrary, Hermione could not base on experience – losing one's virginity at the young age of twelve was hardly healthy.
Then again, she was speaking with a man who could boast almost two hundred conquests and still fall just short of the actual number.
"How did that come about, exactly?" she asked, quill at the ready.
A slow, self-satisfied smirk spread across his face.
"Would you like a detailed account, kitten?" he purred.
She rolled her eyes.
"You were twelve years old, Sirius. I hardly think you made her toes curl," she shot back.
"True enough," he said. "Though, she did allow me a few practice runs to…shall we say…train me."
The tone of his voice sent a sick chill down her spine and she shifted slightly, uncomfortable with the direction of the conversation. After all, what type of woman, or even girl for that matter, would agree to be the sexual tutor to an underage boy?
"She was a whore," Sirius explained, seemingly reading her thoughts with a disconcerting accuracy. "My father demanded I know the ways of love from a young age. It was the only useful thing he ever did for me."
Hermione penned this small revelation, making note of the subtle physical changes Sirius had undergone while speaking. His eyes were darker at the mention of his father, his body tense and his jaw set.
'Daddy issues,' Hermione wrote, underlining it so she would notice it later.
The whole experiment – and truly, the very idea to interview the man in front of her – had all started with a book review. A book review on her book. Her newest book. Her newest book in a long line of bestselling novels.
A book review that stated she seemed to be losing her touch.
It wasn't that the review was particularly critical. The reviewer had even gone out of her way to mention just how big a fan she was of Hermione's work, and actually spent most of the review highlighting all the positives of the newest book.
It was just that damn last paragraph.
'While Miss Granger has shown exceptional depth to her plucky yet wise female characters, this reviewer can't help but wonder at the slightly worrying trend of one-dimensionality displayed in her heroes. It's true that every woman loves a hero, but is that hero worth loving if there's nothing to them after the flush of initial passion has ebbed? This reviewer eagerly awaits Miss Granger's next work, hoping that she extends her depth of character to the men in her stories, to put to rest those unsettling rumours that the brilliant bookworm has lost her touch.'
"There'll be rumours now, you silly cow!" Ginny had all but barked at the Daily Prophet the day the review had come out. Harry, Ron, and Remus had also added some colourful language to the discussion, but the flippant comment had effected the Muggleborn nonetheless.
It had therefore not taken long for the young witch to decide to write her next book almost completely from the male perspective.
Sirius Black had, of course, been the perfect candidate. Knowing that she couldn't write about Harry or Ron for reasons of personal integrity – and writing about Remus, while fascinating, would be a little too difficult considering his monthly "issue" – it had been an almost natural decision for Hermione to choose Sirius.
He seemed to be the epitome of carefree masculinity. Attractive, wealthy, intelligent, charming and sophisticated, Hermione quickly became almost obsessive in her research. It wasn't until Remus had cornered her in the library to ask why his girlfriend was spending her time all but stalking his best friend that she finally admitted what she was actually doing. Remus – content that his relationship was in no real peril – had then gently suggested that simply talking to the animagus might be better research than watching his every move.
If only to put to bed the inevitable whispers that the exclusive attention would inspire.
It had taken almost a week for Hermione, strong, independent woman though she was, to approach Sirius with the request. She had only just gotten used to the smirks and innuendo that he had taken to using once everyone had found out that the bestselling author 'H.J. Granger' was actually their H.J. Granger. Since then, Sirius had taken to sharing particularly lascivious stories whenever he was in her presence, each one designed to make her blush.
Of course, as the lover of a werewolf and purveyor of smutty fiction, his attempts had – thus far – been for naught. The fact that she was asking him to regale her with sordid tales of his misspent youth, however, was hardly helping their already tenuously-tolerant relationship.
"Did you enjoy your first sexual experiences?" Hermione asked with an almost clinical, Kinseyan sense of propriety. She briefly wondered how the controversial American scientist had been able to conduct his research, especially when some of his subjects had been friends.
She definitely empathized with any discomfort he might have felt.
"I enjoyed them at first, before I came to the realization that I would enjoy it far more if the woman I was with enjoyed it too," he said. Then he leaned in, his eyes all but burning into her. "Have you ever had a man satisfy you so completely that your toes curl and your back arches and your entire body quivers so uncontrollably that you start to question whether the pleasure is real, or if you're just dreaming?"
Hermione couldn't help the shiver of desire that shot through her at his words, her mind wandering to the countless times Remus had made love to her close to the full moon, when the werewolf was at his most viral.
"That," he said, leaning back satisfactorily, "Is what I enjoy, Miss Granger."
Hermione swallowed hard and brought her eyes down to her parchment, her quill moving though the words she was writing were incoherent to her in her current state of mind. She just needed a distraction. A distraction from eyes and his seductive yet dangerous words.
"When do you think was the first time you realized you had a…er…talent for…um…pleasing women?" she asked, a blush starting to creep up her neck as she felt his eyes analyze her.
Seemingly content with finally getting a reaction out of her, Sirius gave a small shrug.
"I don't think it was a moment of revelation. It was just little things. The way birds would look at me when I walked passed. A flirtatious glance from the friends of women I had slept with. I figured it out myself from there."
Hermione continued to write, taking down every word with a precision that years of education had drilled into her.
"It all starts with confidence, kitten," he said, using the nickname he had coined for her that he knew annoyed her. "If a man walks around as though he knows he's a good shag, women just naturally gravitate to him. And since I've received no complaints thus far…"
He let the sentence hang, watching her for a reaction. She did nothing but write, her mind going once more to Remus. He didn't walk around with the swagger that personified Sirius but he seemed to have an understated confidence – as though he knew who he was and was as comfortable as he was ever going to get about it. Hermione begrudgingly admitted to herself that it had been one of the many things she had found attractive about her boyfriend.
"Of course, having an element of danger or mystery also helps," Sirius continued. "My theory is that women have to know everything, and a man of mystery will never bore them."
Hermione couldn't disagree with that observation either.
"Let's discuss your use of women as sport," she said, rapidly changing the direction of the subject to a place that wouldn't constantly remind her of the similarities between the two Marauders. "When did you start sleeping with women just for the sake of sleeping with them?"
Sirius arched an eyebrow.
"That's awfully judgmental, Miss Granger," he said.
"I'm merely making an observation, Mr. Black," she replied, trying to keep her tone businesslike.
"It's hardly a sport," he said easily. "A sport implies competition. I have no competition."
"You're hardly unique in your handling of women, Sirius," Hermione scoffed. "You can't possibly be the only womanizer in London."
"Nobody else has anywhere near my success record," he replied simply.
"Oh? And why is that?"
He leaned forward, a Cheshire cat smile upon his handsome face.
"Kitten," he all but purred, "I'm Sirius Black."
It was then that Hermione finally admitted to herself the real reason why she had picked Sirius over every other man in her life. True, he oozed masculinity and swagger, but truth be told, Charlie Weasley did so with less effort. And though Sirius was charming, Bill Weasley could stop a girl's heart with a well-placed comment.
And when it came to mischief and playfulness, well, Fred and George had that market covered.
Even though Sirius did display all of these qualities that she admired in the men in her life, Hermione knew the reasoning went further than his personality traits. After all, she didn't truly need a complete playboy – it was a 'happily-ever-after' romance, after all. If she had truly wanted to write a normal, fully three-dimensional male character, she could have observed her own boyfriend during his less canine moments – thus avoiding the risk of mockery and innuendo.
But she had chosen Sirius instead, and it had been at that moment when he leaned in, that smug, sexy grin making his abnormally-handsome face look years younger, that Hermione knew exactly why. There was a confidence with which the words "I'm Sirius Black" had rolled so elegantly off his tongue that reminded her of the deep, dark, dangerous secret that had her sitting on the moth-eaten couch in the library.
He had experience.
And that was Hermione Granger's dirty little secret that she couldn't share for fear of losing the respect and reputation she had worked so hard to gain. It wasn't a latent attraction, like the rumours implied, or even the quiet fantasy that most females within a mile of the attractive pureblood carried. It was his experience – his stories – that she needed.
He was her muse.
Odd as it sounded, Hermione had never actually been sexually attracted to Sirius. True, he was conventionally attractive – stunning, even, for a man of his age – but the attraction she had for him had always been for his stories. She hadn't realized it until he had started speaking candidly in her presence, but suddenly she was inspired by him. And considering she had all but exhausted her own, hardly-sufficient sexual past, she was starting to become more and more voracious in her curiosity about his hedonistic pleasures.
Hermione had had all of three lovers in her life. The first – a puppy love romance with Ron – had been awkward and uncomfortable the first time and fairly monotonous after the initial rush of experimentation had ebbed; Ron was fairly narrow-minded in terms of sexual proclivity. The second – a drunken mistake with Draco Malfoy – had barely been remembered but what she did remember she remembered with a mild amount of embarrassment.
Remus had been her third – and the only one who could ever satisfy her so completely.
As a romance writer, however, there was only so much that Hermione could write about, and while Remus was more than willing to try new things with her – for the sake of research, of course – there were still certain limitations that came between them, not the least of which was Hermione's hesitation to verbalize her needs, and Remus's quiet, consistent insistence on remaining honourable with his intentions towards her.
Suffice it to say, Sirius's tales of his pleasure-seeking past were glorious nuggets of information that she stored away for future reference. Prude though she was not, she couldn't even begin to fathom the treasure trove of helpful information that Sirius had the potential to unveil.
He was her ultimate research guide.
"So why me, kitten?" Sirius asked, his eyes still maddeningly focused on her as he once again seemed to read her thoughts. "From the plethora of men in your life, why did I warrant the attention?"
The lilt in his voice told her he was teasing, but she knew better than to take it just at that level. Sirius was clever – she would even go so far as to say 'shrewd' – and the penetrating quality of his silver gaze told her to tread carefully.
"You're a fascinating subject," she said simply. "You live the life of a reincarnated Giocomo Casanova and I'm writing my next book from the perspective of a reforming playboy."
Sirius shook his head with a grin.
"There's no such thing, kitten. Playboys don't reform. They're playboys for a reason."
"So why are you a playboy?" she asked.
His easy smile never faded.
"You can't simply pierce through all of my layers at once, Miss Granger. I'm an onion, meant to be peeled one layer at a time."
Hermione couldn't help her arched eyebrow.
"You're not exactly hard to figure out. You're charming, wealthy, not without cranial function and you don't exactly repulse women. I'm sure the pickings are far from slim."
"Always nice to know I can count on you for a good ego stroke, kitten," he deadpanned.
"I'm not here to stroke anything of yours, Sirius, ego or otherwise."
She could see the look of shock in his eyes at her rather bold comment, and she gave herself a mental pat on the back before pressing on.
"So are you going to answer my question?" she asked expectantly.
"And what question is that, love?" he replied, that same, easy smile upon his face.
"What drove the great Sirius Black to a life of debauchery?" she repeated. "Was it just something you fell into and you realized you enjoyed it? Or was there some deeper reason? Pride, perhaps? Fear of a latent homosexual urge?"
She had been teasing, but a look of deep pain passed over his eyes for the briefest of seconds before he looked away.
"There was a girl," he finally said. "Just after Hogwarts. She was a friend of the family so of course I didn't think much of her. But she joined resistance and it wasn't long before I realized…"
He paused, then looked at Hermione with a smile that she supposed was meant to be charming but the light in it didn't reach his eyes.
"It didn't work out," he said simply. "Anyway, I ended up in Azkaban just two years after graduation, so I suppose the reason why I do what I do is because I'm just making up for lost time."
She looked at him for a long moment before writing two words on her parchment that she never thought she would ever associate with Sirius:
"I think that's it for me now, kitten. It's almost time for me to go and meet this heavenly creature that I was introduced to last night."
It was an abrupt ending, and he didn't give her much room for discussion as he stood and walked confidently out of the room. Only a seasoned observer of human behaviour – which Hermione was – could see the slight slump in his shoulders and the calculation in his movements that informed her that there was more to him than met the untrained eye.
And Hermione knew then that she had her story.
I know it's not my usual fare - it's not nearly as snarky as I usually write. But I'd be interested in hearing your feedback! Please let me know!
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