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The ramshackle Victorian house looked even more dilapidated by night, but rosy light emanated from an upstairs window, and he could just make out the sound of voices.

At his knock, the hushed conversation ceased, and he heard the sound of feet padding down the creaky stairs. The door opened and Lucius found himself face to face with a statuesque beauty with short raven hair, knife-sharp cheekbones, and sporting under her silk robe the sort of bosom one saw most frequently adorning the fronts of sailing vessels.

He was about to excuse himself for disturbing her sleep when the strange woman gave a very familiar snort. "Took you long enough," she said, crossing her arms under her pert breasts.

There was something about the cadence of her speech that made him blink in surprise. "Severus?" he asked, grateful his voice didn't break.

"Of course it's me," she replied, gesturing for him to come inside. "You didn't expect us to sit around playing cards while waiting for you to cart off the last of your inebriated acquaintances, did you?"

Lucius followed her –him?- up the stairs. "I say, Severus, that's quite a new look for you."

Severus threw a smirk over his shoulder, one that would have looked obnoxious on a male face but was positively fetching on a female one. "It's not exactly new," he said. "But Hermione wanted to try a few things in the name of scientific inquiry, and she feared casting them on herself would interfere with her ability to be objective."

"That, and men have the disadvantage of requiring a refractory period between orgasms," pointed out Hermione, who appeared in the doorway in a silk peignoir that was clearly the under-layer of Severus's robe.

Lucius was well-bred enough not to stare at the abundance of breast barely concealed by the chestnut curls that tumbled over her shoulders, but only just. "Quite sensible," he murmured, removing his cloak and draping it over the chair near the vanity.

"Ah, good, you remembered the beer," said Severus, taking the crate and placing it on a low wooden dresser. "I know you prefer cognac, Lucius, but drinking the stuff with every meal has given me something of a taste for it."

As he set to opening the bottles and Hermione conjured glasses for them all, Lucius took the opportunity to examine the premises. Hermione's bedroom was both exactly what he expected and nothing like it at all. Predictably, there were bookshelves on all four walls, with a low window seat and a pile of pillows for burrowing into while reading. Her bed was a pleasant surprise. He expected something utilitarian, perhaps with a soft, worn coverlet. What he found was an enormous four-poster monstrosity large enough to accommodate an entire Quidditch team. The wood was dark with age, the duvet was covered with a silky fabric that shimmered in the light, and there were pillows of every shape that appeared to be chosen for some particular task rather than simple decoration.

There was a large armchair and ottoman in the corner, over which stood a gracefully curved floor lamp in a more modern style than Lucius would have chosen, yet it gave the room of mismatched furniture a kind of eclectic charm.

"What is this, Severus?" asked Hermione, who was swirling the glass he had given her under her nose.

"Just an experiment," he replied, raising his own glass and holding it up to the light. "Pieter was kind enough to let me try a few variations on the standard recipes, for academic purposes, of course."

Lucius accepted his glass and seated himself in the armchair, which afforded him a pleasing view of Hermione and Severus, who were both strikingly attractive, though nearly complete opposites. The tipple was reminiscent of the blond ale Severus had sent him upon first arriving at Westvleteren, though the golden sweetness was cut by an astringent character, like citrus and pine, which gave the mouthful a clean, crisp finish.

"I say, Severus, this is rather good."

"Thank you," he replied, seating himself next to the vanity. "It still amazes me the difference that an infusion of exotic hops makes."

"It's marvellous," agreed Hermione. "And now that Bunbury has retired from the Ministry, he's taken a job brewing part-time for the local brewery. I'm going to be terribly spoiled," she said, smiling sweetly at Severus.

"I didn't know Bunbury had it in him," said Lucius, raising his glass to Severus. "Now, as delicious as Severus's experiment is, I came here in the middle of the night because I was promised a real present. I should hate to think that I was lured here under false pretences."

Hermione and Severus looked at one another, Severus with a smirk, Hermione with a rueful smile. "Well," said Hermione at last, "this is part of it."

"My dear Hermione," said Lucius, "I wouldn't know what to do with both of you at once."

Hermione gave him a sharp look. He would have to tone down the fop act if he wished to get any additional mileage out of it.

"Three weeks ago, you asked me to verify the authenticity of your volume of Sappho," she said in a voice that brooked no nonsense. I am sorry to tell you that Severus kept the original that he found at an archaeological dig in Egypt and gave you a magical Duplicate."

"Disappointing, but not entirely unexpected," sighed Lucius.

"Given the disappointment you are undoubtedly feeling," said Severus with heavy sarcasm, "we've decided that it's only fair to add to your collection."

Lucius hoped his eyes didn't gleam with avarice. He hadn't expected to be given the original. "That's a very generous gift."

Severus took another sip of his beer. "You don't know the half of it."

"Or two thirds," chimed in Hermione, grinning.

Lucius knew he was missing something but was determined not to let Hermione and Severus know it. "If this is your way of telling me that your research will be even more dear than I was led to expect, it's only fair to tell you that this evening's soiree has put me in an exceedingly generous mood."

Severus tutted. "There's no use talking to him when he's like this," he complained. "He'll either wheedle his way into getting what he wants or imply that he's not been given his due."

"He's right, though; we did promise him a real present," said Hermione. "May I give it to him?"

"I suppose," grumbled Severus.

Hermione reached up to the nearest shelf and withdrew two plainly-bound volumes. Lucius, who had been expecting a new translation of Sappho's poems, preferably in a colour that went with his hair, stamped with gold, and adorned with bejewelled peacocks, was slightly disappointed, at least until he opened the front cover. He stared at the table of contents for a moment in silence, then took a deep pull from his glass.

"Is this what I think it is?"

"It's another Duplicate," said Hermione, dimpling prettily.

Lucius raised his glass to Severus in a sardonic toast. "You must have a Welsh Green somewhere in your family tree, judging from how successfully you concealed this golden hoard from the world."

"I did you a kindness," said Severus. "To have the full array of spells available but no-one with whom to use them is an exquisite kind of torture."

"And that's why you chose to cloister it and yourself with celibate men?" asked Lucius.

"I was attempting to mortify the flesh," said Severus. "Something that does a person with much to atone for a world of good."

"I do find the very idea mortifying," agreed Lucius. "I'm indebted to you, Hermione, for helping Severus see the error of his ways."

"You give me too much credit," she said, stretching her arms over her head. "I simply helped him find a new set of errors."

"To err is human," quoted Lucius, "but to live divine."

"I'll drink to that," said Hermione, raising her glass.

Severus scowled. "We're drinking to misquotation?"

"We're drinking to that which is far better than what's traditional," said Lucius.

Severus harrumphed. "I suppose that's a sentiment to which I can raise a glass."

"I do hope you'll raise more than just the glass," said Hermione, "though I suppose you'll need to raise a phial first."

"Let the man finish his beer," exclaimed Lucius. "For Merlin's sake, woman, we have all the time in the world."

Hermione raised an eyebrow at him. "You should try being in suspense for so long and see how relaxed it makes you."

Lucius looked at Severus hungrily. "My dear girl, what makes you think I haven't?"

Severus's snort took some of the wind out of Lucius's sails, and he tapped the open pages of Lucius's new volumes. "Now that you've exercised your penchant for melodrama, do you see anything here that arouses your interest?"

Lucius refrained from making the obvious joke in favour of examining his present. He ought to have known that Sappho was good for far more than pretty poems about flowers and incredibly hot wanking spells, but the book was still a revelation.

He flipped to the recipe for the potion that had transformed Severus. While he was intrigued by the change it had wrought in his friend, he was not in the least interested in trying it himself, and not only because the flavour of clematis would ruin his palate. Acquaintances had always remarked how similar he and Narcissa appeared, and the last person he wished to remind himself of when naked was his former wife. And while Severus made a beautiful woman, Lucius had just hosted an extremely lavish and strenuous party, and despite the fact that he had the energy of a man half his age, his energy was still finite. On any other day he might consider exhausting himself in pursuit of both women's pleasure, but today was his birthday, or rather, yesterday was his birthday, and the mountain of gifts had put him in a receiving sort of mood.

He briefly considered leaving Severus as a female and asking Hermione to take the lead as a man, but he quickly dismissed this out of hand. Her features and build were far better suited to the female frame, and he had been dreaming of her lush body since he first laid eyes on her in that diaphanous dress. Besides, he'd always found something coltishly handsome about Severus, with his long limbs and knobby knees and elbows, and seeing them together as themselves had aesthetic appeal, and he told them as much. Hermione was unsurprised, but the sweet almost-smile Severus gave him made Lucius want to kiss him soundly, for all that it would have involved moving from the extremely comfortable chair. Besides, Hermione seemed to have things well in hand.

Now that the easy decisions had been made- gender reversal would wait for another day- all he had to do was narrow it down to one or two spells from the appropriate chapter. Hermione drained the last drops from her glass and crossed to where Lucius sat, perching on one of the chair's arms to look over his shoulder.

"That one looks interesting, don't you think?" asked Hermione, tapping her finger next to a spell that seemed to have something to do with flower petals.

"If it's blossoms you desire, I'm certain I can provide something satisfactory."

Hermione shook her head. "I don't think it's literally about petals," she said. "In another spell, Sappho referred to the tip of the penis as a shirt in Phoenician red. We've got better at working out what the spells will do, but we still get surprises."

"Am I to understand that you haven't performed this particular spell?"

"We haven't tested any of the ménage e troisspells for obvious reasons," said Severus. "If you'd prefer stick to one- and two-person spells that we've tested, I'm certainly we can find a satisfactory combination."

"Think nothing of it, old friend," said Lucius with a wave of his hand. "I've only just begun to decide."

"Well, don't be all night about it," said Severus. "Hermione, would you be so good as to assist me with the transformation?"

"It would be my pleasure," she declared, slipping from the arm of Lucius's chair and lying down on the bed, her head propped up on her hand.

Lucius, who felt instinctively that this was a performance meant to be watched as much as the play he had produced, pretended to continue perusing the book, but watched the proceedings through his eyelashes.

Severus opened the drawer of Hermione's nightstand and pulled out a vial of thick green potion. He loosened the belt of his robe so that the front fell open, revealing pearly skin and ebony curls at the vee of his legs. He slid his hands beneath the silk and pushed the robe aside to expose his breasts, whose brownish-pink nipples were erect. He sighed, cupping them. "There is some truth to the old supposition that if men were women, they'd do nothing but play with their breasts all day."

Hermione stretched out on her stomach, which made a beautiful line between her shoulders, waist, and arse. "Tiresias?"

"Something like that," said Severus, raising the bottle to his quirking lips. He downed it in a single gulp, then let the robe slide to the floor. Lucius was grateful to have had an eyeful of his best friend nude in female form, but it was only a moment until the slender, graceful figure began to change.

Severus's eyes fell shut and he clasped his hands to his breasts, which were broadening and flattening into a thin chest with slightly more muscle definition than Lucius recalled him possessing. Perhaps that monastery had been good for something, after all.

His eyes were soon drawn to the area between Severus's legs, where the bush of curls was undergoing a remarkable change. The hips themselves were thinning as a proud erection rose from the shadowed cleft, and two bollocks descended behind them. It had been many years since Lucius had seen Severus in such a state of arousal, but his moans were the same, and Lucius fully expected Severus to take himself in hand, but he stopped his hands, which had begun to move toward his cock seemingly of their own accord.

Severus opened his eyes, and Lucius could now easily see the resemblance between Severus's male face and his female one, though his expression held a look of such raw hunger that Lucius temporarily forgot about the book in his lap, especially because Severus's needy gaze was directed at the luscious woman draped over the bed.

Lucius made a self-conscious show of turning the page, and his eye fell upon the following words:

my lover and my lover and i are vines
trellised upon poles; blooming, bearing fruit.

Something about the arrangement of those particular words attracted Lucius so much that he nearly missed the sight of Hermione sliding her peignoir over her head and Severus pouncing on her and burying his erect cock between her legs. Hermione cried out, though the surprise in her voice was quickly replaced by the moans of a woman who is being ravished and enjoying every second of it. He had never seen Severus this uncontrolled before, and though knew that part of the wildness was due to the magical transformation, he also felt instinctively that Hermione's presence had everything to do with Severus allowing himself to let go.

Their voices joined in unison groans, and Hermione was soon writhing and mewling under him, her feet and hands searching for purchase in the silky duvet and finding none. Severus came with a shout and he collapsed over her, and they both lay there, entangled in the robe that hung loosely from Severus's arms.

Lucius felt his face get hot, and his erection was straining against the brocade of his trousers. The whole process had taken about three minutes. Severus was the first to recover, and he raised his torso with his arms and looked down at the woman beneath him with a quizzical expression on his face.

"You were in suspense, weren't you?"

"As much as I adore your skilful tongue, there really is no substitute for your male attributes," she said, smiling in a way that would have been demure but for her just-shagged dishabille. She looked over at Lucius, and her smile broadened. "Thank you," she said, allowing her gaze to travel from his gold-threaded Turkish slippers, up his stocking-clad ankles, which he knew to be exceptionally well-turned, to his bulging groin, as she smiled in a terribly immodest way.

Severus, who was still lodged in Hermione to the hilt, was also looking his way with interest. "Am I to conclude that you've found a spell you wish to try?"

"I would hate to rush you," said Lucius, feigning indifference.

"Not at all," said Hermione. "What you just witnessed was simply magical discharge. I can feel Severus hardening as we speak."

"Incorrigible woman," grumbled Severus, who appeared pleased regardless.

"I'm relieved to hear it," said Lucius, removing his outer robe and unbuttoning his waistcoat. He brought the open book over to the bed, as Severus rolled off Hermione and Vanished the pearly trickle he left behind. "What do you think of this one?" he asked, toeing off his shoes and lying across the profusion of pillows at the head of the bed.

Lucius nearly laughed at the practiced way Hermione and Severus moved together to lie shoulder to shoulder over the volume. Clearly, their past two weeks together had not only been spent making love in every imaginable configuration.

"Do you think-?" began Hermione.

"It's possible," said Severus, "though it's equally possible that-"

"Oh, no," said Hermione, shaking her head vigorously. "That'd be too similar to the two-person spell we tried, and none of them have been redundant with-"

"Is it literally-?"

"We'll just have to find out, now, won't we?" said Hermione.

Severus gave the kind of sigh he had always used when he didn't want one to know he was anxious or excited about something. "I suppose."

"Good man," said Lucius, clapping his hand on Severus's shoulder. "I admire the sacrifices you make in the name of scientific inquiry."

"It's true," Hermione demurred. "Sometimes he sacrifices several times a day."

Lucius raised his eyebrows at Hermione. "I shall look forward to reading both volumes cover to cover. Now, both of you have done this before. This charming little diagram seems to show- goodness, now isn't that something? I seem to be overdressed."

"Allow me to help," said Hermione, reaching for his necktie and unknotting it with skilful fingers. Lucius took it as a sign of his arousal that his skin tingled where her fingertips touched his neck. She reached for his trousers button when Severus seized her hand.

"Don't help him too much," he said. "We do want him to last long enough to find out what the spell does."

"You give me too little credit," Lucius protested. "It appears that all I need to do is sample a bit of that lovely potion Severus drank."

"All in good time," said Severus. "But I really must ask that you stick to only one bit of magic at a time, otherwise we risk adulterating the results."

"As much as I disapprove of adultery," said Lucius, "the results would need to be duplicated numerous times before one could say exactly what the spell does, wouldn't they?"

"Only if we were planning to publish our results in anything peer-reviewed," said Hermione, smiling wryly. "Besides, what if you don't like what the spell does?"

"Has that happened?"

"Oh yes," said Hermione, wrinkling her nose. "One was a smell spell, and fragrances had to be much stronger back then because everybody had body odour. I had a raging headache until it wore off."

"I see," said Lucius smirking. "Then I had better get on with it, hadn't I?"

"If you would," said Hermione, resting on a pillow. Her breasts jiggled in a most pleasing way, and Lucius couldn't help himself. He slid across the bed next to her and buried his face between her breasts, cupping them gently with his hands so that the soft flesh pressed against his cheeks. He breathed in the warm sweetness of her skin.

Hermione gasped, taken by surprise, but she didn't object.

"Forgive me," he said, raising his eyes to hers, and pressing reverential lips to her left breast.

Her brown eyes were sparkling. "I may yet," she said, ghosting her fingertips along his jaw line.

"Really, Lucius," said Severus, sliding up behind her and placing his arm around her waist. "Do you think we would have invited you to participate in these experiments if both of us hadn't agreed on your suitability?"

Lucius raised himself to his knees and unfastened his cuffs, placing the cufflinks carefully on the bedside table. "And here I had credited your change of heart to the excellent wine I served."

"I should hate for you to labour under a delusion," said Hermione, who was methodically unbuttoning Lucius's shirt, "so I must confess that it was neither the wine nor the production of my play, which, while appreciated, would not entice me to dally with someone who was anathema to me. No, Lucius, what convinced me was your behaviour toward Severus."

"Was this the way he plotted to force me out of the place that had been my home for nearly a decade or the way he badgered us both into doing what he wanted?" asked Severus, kissing Hermione's neck in such a way as to elicit a delightful array of gasps.

She playfully smacked his hand, which had migrated upwards to her breast. "It was the way he gave you the space you needed to process what happened to you- what happened to us all, really. What's more, he recognised that something important was missing from your life by being shut away from the world, and in a way, I think he recognised that in me, as well."

"It didn't hurt that the whole thing suited his own libidinous purposes as well," commented Severus, whose voice was suddenly much raspier now that she was wiggling that luscious arse against his arousal. "Exactly how long have you been planning for this evening, Lucius?"

"I try to be prepared for all eventualities," purred Lucius, "though I must confess that this exceeds my wildest hopes."

This time it was Severus who clambered over Hermione and kissed Lucius soundly on the lips. Lucius sighed in contentment and lay down on his back, which allowed Severus to slide his torso atop Lucius's. Severus had several inches of height on Lucius, which always made Lucius feel pleasantly dainty when he was being kissed. This time, at the end of years of separation, was no different. Lucius particularly appreciated how clumsy Severus's hands were unbuttoning his trousers and yanking off his trousers and pants and tossing them aside.

When Lucius finally allowed him to break the kiss, Severus looked down at him with a confused expression that made Lucius want to cosset him and gather him close, for all that he knew Severus wouldn't stand for it, at least not without a large amount of softening up.

"You perverse, silly man," said Lucius, brushing his fingertips tenderly over the top of Severus's ear to stroke his short hair. "Is it such a strange idea that I should miss you?"

"Yes," said Severus. "However it's a condition that seems to be catching." He gazed at Hermione, who had take advantage of their inattention to move to Lucius's side opposite Severus.

"This is all very sweet," said Hermione, whose eyes were fixed on the erection that jutted from Lucius's nest of dark golden curls, "but we have work to do."

"You make it sound like manual labour," complained Severus.

"It is, in a way," said Lucius. "We're about to be labouring, and there's the manual," he said, gesturing toward the book that lay open on the nightstand.

Severus huffed and raised himself to a sitting position. "All right then, Lucius. Get on with it."

Hermione held the book in her lap for Lucius to read, and it took all of his willpower to look at the pages instead of her breasts.

The poem was accompanied by a picture of a naked man bent in half, his hands clutching his ankles. He read the words of the poem aloud, and then stretched his arms toward where his feet sat, grateful that his daily Hippogriff rides kept him reasonably flexible. His ankles felt considerably further away than they had been when he was twenty, but they were just within his grasp if he bent his knees slightly. He wrapped his fingers around them, then let his mind go blank, except for the words, just as he had done for the spells in the other volume.

my lover and my lover and i are vines
trellised upon poles; blooming, bearing fruit.

Lucius had half expected to find himself in a sunny vineyard, but instead he was in a heavy wood, dappled with sunshine. There was a goblet of red wine sitting on a rock, and, sensing that it was the correct thing to do, Lucius took it and raised it to his lips.

His tongue arched against the tannins, but the sweetness soon took over, flowing over his tongue like honey, mellifluous and warm. Lucius flexed his tongue, sending the wine swirling around his mouth, and inhaled through his nose. The bouquet was exquisite, filled with notes of honeysuckle and wisteria. Reluctantly, he swallowed the mouthful and took another sip.

As the wine passed his lips, he nearly jumped as he felt what was distinctly a caress on his ankle. He looked down and saw a dark green shoot that he could have sworn wasn't there before brushing his leg. He swallowed his second mouthful of wine, and to his amazement the shoot grew before his eyes, and the stalk split in half, and one tendril wrapped smoothly around his calf.

Lucius was slightly alarmed until broad, three-lobed leaves began to spring from the plant, which meant that it was neither Devil's Snare nor Venomous Tentacula. When the strange vine had wrapped around his thigh and begun to stretch its tendrils toward his genitals he held his breath, but the stalk didn't tighten, and its leaves were soft and slightly fuzzy against his skin. He belatedly realised that the wine goblet was still in his hand, and he drained the last of its contents with a single gulp so that he could have two hands free with which to extricate himself from the plant.

However, his action seemed to have the opposite effect, since before he could set the goblet back on the rock, the plant had grown at lightning speed to wrap its vines around his whole body, but with surprising tenderness. Lucius felt utterly helpless- he couldn't move without disturbing the plant, which he decidedly did not wish to do, and he had to admit, the plant's soft leaves felt wonderful against his skin. He swore that a dozen tiny tendrils were wrapping themselves around his most tender parts. He moaned at the strange, but not at all unpleasant sensation.

He opened his eyes to find Hermione and Severus watching with obvious trepidation as her four-poster bed began to sprout vines.

"You were right," said Hermione. "It was literal."

Severus sighed impatiently. "There's nothing for it. We shall have to play along."

"I'd hardly think you would resist, old friend," said Lucius, spreading his legs to allow the talented green shoots access to his nether regions. "I've seen too much evidence to the contrary."

Severus's face darkened suddenly, but Hermione grinned wickedly. "Interesting," she said, smirking at him.

"You never believed a word he said before," protested Severus. "Why start now?"

"Obviously because it confirms my suspicions about the nature of your prior relationship." She smiled at her paramour's scowl. "However, I am more than happy to suspend judgement of the veracity of Lucius's assertion until I have more evidence."

"Terribly good of you, Hermione," said Lucius, whose scrotum was being expertly fondled by the vine. He stretched his arms over his head, and two vines that had been waiting obligingly wrapped around his wrists, tickling the underside of his forearms with leaves.

"I must say, it's quite a pleasant surprise to see you like this, Lucius," commented Hermione.

"Were you expecting to be overpowered?" asked Lucius, revelling in the tender caresses at his ankles.

"I thought it was a possibility," said Hermione, who caught Severus's eye and blushed charmingly.

Lucius wriggled. "Perhaps another time. As for the present, would one of you be so good as to pinch my nipples? I somehow doubt opposable leaves would have the same effect."

Severus smirked at Hermione and proceeded to tweak Lucius roughly, but Hermione bent over the nipple on her side and began to nibble it gently with her teeth. The sudden jolt from his left and the warm tease from his right made Lucius hiss with pleasure.

His eyes, which had fallen shut, flew open when Hermione let out a shriek. She was jerking her arm in a most alarming way, attempting to dislodge the vine that had wrapped itself around her forearm.

Lucius reached to calm her, but his arm was stuck fast. He relaxed into the plant's grip, and the vine loosened, allowing him to seize her arm and gently stop her shaking.

"Hush, my dear," he whispered. "Don't fight it. There is power in surrender."

"The other entity's power," she retorted. Still, she stopped thrashing, and true to Lucius's expectations, the vine relaxed and let her go. Her jaw dropped, and she began to massage her forearm. "So is that how it works? Let the plant have its way with us?"

"I don't think so," said Severus, whose calm voice belied the fact that he was bound head to foot in vines.

"Well, what's it all about, then?" asked Hermione, who was clearly only just stopping herself from fleeing the bed.

"Patience," crooned Lucius. "And while you're at it, would you please do something to my poor neglected cock? The tendrils have gone away."

Hermione looked torn between amusement and discomfort. Thankfully amusement won out. "You seem to be enjoying yourself."

"He'd enjoy himself far more if you'd cease worrying about the vines and pay attention to him," commented Severus, whose hands were now free and stroking Lucius's hair.

"Your tone implies censure, but there is nothing for me to be ashamed of," said Lucius, arching into Severus's caresses.

Hermione finally smiled, and several leaves burst forth from the vine. Her body jerked as they tickled the gentle swell of her belly, but she relaxed into the vines, and they wound their way up her body, shiny green against pink. Just when Lucius thought she couldn't look any more beautiful, the vine burst into bloom with clusters of tiny white flowers.

Lucius's erect cock twitched at the sight of tiny tendrils wrapping around the tips of Hermione's nipples, and even she seemed taken aback by the plant's sudden change.

"What do you suppose-" she began before breaking off with a gasp. Lucius's free hand was suddenly between her legs, caressing the soft flesh of her thigh.

Apparently Severus was every bit as delighted by the sight as Lucius was, and Severus's hand was soon next to his, caressing Hermione's leg. Fortunately, Severus was also thoughtful enough to slid his hand beneath the small of Lucius's back and knead the muscles there. It was only fair for Lucius to slide his other hand amidst the vines that were wrapped around Severus to where his erection jumped enthusiastically against its restraints.

Severus moaned as Lucius's fingers encircled his shaft and several vines withdrew to allow Lucius's hand better access. In response, Severus's hips jerked forward and the tip of his penis brushed Lucius's hip, and he groaned loudly.

At the sound, Hermione raised her head slightly, and she wriggled closer to Lucius. He shivered at the wave of heat that emanated from her skin. He breathed in the sweet fragrance of her, which was twined with the indefinably masculine smell of Severus and something green and vegetal, the smell of green things growing with the warm musk of earth. The combination of scents sent him into a heady sort of ecstasy, and when he returned to himself, he realised that he was cradled between Hermione and Severus, her soft breasts and his insistent arousal pressed against him in the most delightful way, and their hands conducting a symphony of cupping, caressing, tweaking, and massaging. The leaves and vines soon joined in, and Lucius was becoming so aroused that he couldn't tell the magical enticements from the tender ministrations of his dearest friend and the woman he desired.

Lucius moaned and arched his body, and the majority of tendrils withdrew, leaving only a few thick vines, nearly as large as branches, securing his ankles, hips, and shoulders. Two more wrapped around his wrists, and he obligingly lifted his hands over his head. With the gentlest of motions, combined with Severus's gentle nudges, Lucius was turned on his side, facing Hermione. She smiled sweetly at him, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him.

Sweet Merlin, he was drowning in the feel of her, the taste of her, her fragrance. The weeks of need howled for him to claim her, but he ignored them, settling instead for teasing her lips open and exploring her mouth and lips. As he drew closer to her, he felt Severus's hot breath on the junction of his neck and shoulder and shivered. The moist air was soon replaced by hot mouth, and Lucius adjusted himself to accommodate Severus's fingers, which were insinuating themselves between his hip and the bedclothes.

Except they weren't Severus's fingers, as all ten of them were accounted for squeezing his bollocks and massaging his hip. He pulled Hermione tightly against him, his cock settling comfortably between his belly and hers, and Severus closed the distance between his hips and Lucius's arse, sliding his arm across Lucius's body to caress Hermione's waist.

The ersatz fingers, meanwhile, were pulsing and pushing beneath Lucius's body, until finally he felt himself being lifted gently. He forced himself to look away from Hermione and gasped with amazement at what he saw.

While they had been enjoying one another, the vines had twisted themselves into a dense wall around them, nearly two yards high and thick with woody stems. The young, green shoots were welling up beneath them like a roiling sea, lifting them gently on hundreds of curious tendrils. Lucius felt himself being pushed by the green shoots and guided by the larger vines, and before he knew it his ankles were pulled upward until his legs were pointing straight up in the air.

Lucius couldn't suppress a whimper at the loss of skin contact, but Hermione was soon lying atop him, her sweet breasts pressed against his chest and her hands caressing his face as she continued to kiss him as if he weren't being manhandled by a large plant. And really, when Severus moved around to cup his arse and massage the tired muscles in his legs, he came to the conclusion that the plant knew precisely what it was doing.

No sooner had Lucius closed his eyes and relaxed than something smooth unexpectedly brushed against his nose. His body jerked in surprise, but the vines held him firmly, and he opened his eyes to see what it was. When he recognised what hung before him, he let out a delighted laugh.

The smooth object was a grape. The amorous plant with bondage aspirations was a grape vine, and it had borne large, deep purple fruit. At the sound of his laugh he felt Hermione and Severus stiffen, attempting to determine the source of his amusement. Lucius lifted his head slightly, plucked a grape from the vine with his lips, and savoured the resilient skin for a moment before pressing into it with his teeth.

However, instead of crushing the juicy flesh of a grape, the skin popped like a sturgeon egg and filled his mouth with a delicious flavour that made the wine from his vision seem as plain as water. It tasted of fruit and flowers, of sweetness and salt in perfect balance. But underneath the fragrance there was something sensual and musky. It tasted of nostalgia and the memory of past amorous encounters. A thousand nights of passion flashed in his mind's eye, as if every moment of erotic bliss he had ever experienced had been distilled into a perfect liqueur.

He finally swallowed, reluctant to deprive his tongue and lips of the singular experience, and was delighted to find his tired body filling with energy. His erection bobbed enthusiastically, and he couldn't resist a wicked smile at Hermione, who was looking down at him with curiosity.

He lifted his lips to the cluster of grapes once more and pulled off another fruit, this time raising his face towards Hermione's. She looked as if she wanted to protest but accepted the grape. She rolled it around in her mouth for a moment before biting into it. Lucius heard the crunching pop of the skin giving way and watched as Hermione's expressive face went through an extraordinary number of changes as she experienced the flavour. There was another crunching pop from somewhere behind his raised legs. Apparently Severus had found a bunch of the glorious fruits as well. Lucius took the opportunity to devour another, since, he told himself, he needed the extra energy more than they did.

He had barely swallowed the mouthful of ambrosia before Lucius found himself being devoured. Hermione was lipping and sucking the side of his neck while Severus nipped his way down his thigh. He fancied he could feel their arousal deep in his stomach. He allowed the vine to pull his legs gently apart to give Severus access to his erection. Severus was taking his goddamned time kissing his way up Lucius's thigh, so Lucius turned his attention to Hermione, who was clearly getting the hang of the spell, since the grapevine had freed her hands long enough to pick a new fruit.

Instead of putting it into her mouth, she held it aloft and pressed with her fingertips. The grape burst, dribbling juice all over his stomach and pooling in his navel. The scent was nearly as intoxicating as the taste, and he hummed his approval as she began to lick it off him. Her mouth was hot, and the blade of her tongue made the most delicious swirling motions within the enclosure of her lips.

Another soft pop from below and a trickle of liquid between his buttocks indicated that Severus had found a bunch of grapes as well, and the flow of warm juice was soon accompanied by powerful but gentle fingers parting him.

Lucius felt himself being positioned, but he couldn't tell if it was Severus, Hermione, or the grapevine. Another dribble of juice down his fundament was followed by a tentatively probing finger, while Hermione's mouth on his chest playfully tweaked both nipples before proceeding inexorably southward.

Lucius gradually became aware that he was not as dispassionate an observer as he fancied himself, as he was emitting some of the most debauched-sounding moans that he had ever heard himself make. It was a conspiracy- it had to be. A premeditated scenario in which Severus and Hermione had tricked him into making love with them, only to work in concert to make his head explode.

As further evidence of this, Hermione's slid her lips around the head of his penis just as Severus's finger slid past his sphincter. Lucius let out a whine, and the vines dangled another bunch of grapes before him. However, Hermione's hand was there before his, and she had taken another fruit in her mouth before Lucius's shaking hand reached the grapes. She held the fruit in her teeth, and he could see the spherical object deform as she bit down, but not hard enough to break the skin. Her eyes sparkled as she lowered her face to his and placed it gently in his mouth. Her lips were maddeningly soft, and her playful tongue slid along his bottom lip before she seized another grape and returned to her capable ministrations below.

If Lucius thought the sensation of the ambrosia in his mouth was pleasant, it was nothing compared to the feel of it inside Hermione's mouth on his penis. What's more, her co-conspirator slipped a second finger inside him, and Lucius's body arched as the ecstatic sensations duelled for dominance. He was vaguely aware that he was howling and pulling against the vines at his wrists and ankles, but this only made him pulse with stronger arousal. He managed to raise his head enough to get a glance of Severus behind Hermione, and met the man's dark eyes.

"As appreciative as I am of your efforts on my behalf," rasped Lucuis, hardly recognising the thick, rough voice as his own, "I fear I may not be able to devote my full attention to them for much longer, as certain matters have become quite pressing."

There was dark amusement in Severus's face, and Hermione stared at him in disbelief before throwing back her head and laughing. "Appreciative as I am of your communication on the issue," she said, "acceding to your request would be rather against the spirit of the spell, don't you think?"

Lucius blinked in amazement. He wasn't used to being disobeyed, especially in bed.

"I'm afraid she's right, Lucius," said Severus, who was working a third juice-moistened finger into his opening. "You're just going to have to control yourself as best you can until we see fit to bring this tawdry scene to a close."

Lucius felt a flare of anger, which was met by an answering surge of adrenalin and arousal. He unconsciously pulled at the vines at his arms, which tightened around his wrists.

Hermione gave him a smirk that reminded him so much of Severus that he nearly smiled. "Remember, Lucius, there is power in surrender," she said cheekily, cupping her breasts and lowering them to his face.

As Lucius leaned his head back and took her nipple in his mouth, he realised that she might have a point. When she scooted herself up to give his mouth access to her sweet, hot cunt, upon which she was now dribbling fruit nectar, he briefly considered organising a religion based on surrender. However, when he had licked her clean and Severus decided to suck one of Lucius's bollocks into his mouth, Lucius became incapable of coherent thought beyond obeying Hermione's directive to control himself.

Mercifully, she and Severus soon took pity on his poor penis, which was fairly aching to be buried in something hot and wet. Hermione, whose voice was hoarse from moaning her appreciation for Lucius's oral skills, bent down to whisper some unspeakably filthy things in his ear, and as she did so, she began to slide her hot slickness down towards his erection, which gave a powerful jerk.

Not to be outdone, Severus burst several grapes in rapid succession, and Lucius was suddenly aware of the distinctive sound of liquid being massaged into flesh. He would have pondered this further had Hermione not positioned herself over his straining cock and slid, inch by agonising inch, onto him.

Lucius gave a shuddering gasp and yanked on the vines at his wrists for all he was worth, hoping that the discomfort would keep him from coming immediately, which it did. Hermione was almost completely still atop him, though he fancied he could feel her heart pounding through the pulse inside her. She appeared to be struggling for control as well. The nearly unbearable urge subsided, thankfully, and she correctly interpreted the change in his breathing and began to knead his hips between her thighs, which created the tiniest, most delicate thrusting sensation.

The vines tugged gently at his ankles, and he relaxed the muscles in his hips in response. This had apparently been the response the spell had been waiting for, because suddenly there were vines at Hermione's wrists, pulling her arms straight up in the air. She gasped, and her muscles contracted involuntarily, giving Lucius the most delicious sensation of being squeezed. The vines pulled her slightly forward so that only the head of his penis was still inside her and she was no longer resting on his hips. Her magnificent tits hung before him like ripe pieces of fruit, begging to be nibbled and sucked on. And really, he hated to see any part of a lady left wanting.

However, the vines were not yet finished. The tugging at Lucius's ankles became more insistent, and soon his hips were drawn upward, pulled by the vines and pushed upwards by the coiling tendrils. Hermione moaned as his penis slid up inside her once more, and she flexed her lower back so that she not only achieved the maximum amount of contact with him but also extended her erect nipples forward.

Lucius was about to take one in his mouth when Severus put his hand on Lucius's newly exposed arse. Lucius, suddenly aware that this had been the plan all along, had to dig his fingernails into the palms of his hands to stave off ejaculation. He whimpered as Severus massaged the muscles of his buttocks and dribbled the juice of one last grape on himself. Hermione, for all that the vines prevented her from seeing behind her, seemed to instinctively know what was happening and shifted her weight from Lucius's hips to her own creamy thighs.

Lucius felt the pressure of Severus's shoulders on his calves, and could just see a sliver of shiny black behind the aureole of Hermione's curls just as he felt the blunt thickness of Severus's cock nudge against his fundament, slick with moisture. Hermione, thank Gaia, understood the moment well enough to remain still while Severus nudged his opening, gently at first but with growing insistence. Lucius relaxed into Severus, and with a delicious, excruciating stretch, Severus slid into him.

Severus groaned loudly, and something strange began to happen. It started in Lucius's stomach as a warm flutter, so subtle that it took him a moment to notice it, especially given the number of other competing pleasant sensations. But then it wasn't coming just from his stomach; it soon spread to his chest, his lips, and it was surrounding his penis inside Hermione and Severus's penis inside him. It was even at his ankles and wrists, where the vines had slackened slightly, allowing him to lower his arms to Hermione's hips. Her eyes had widened in surprise, and Lucius met her gaze with a reassuring smile, and he raised his hand to caress her cheek.

She gave him a thoughtful look, then reached out for a grape. The vines still held her arms up, and when she crushed the fruit between her fingers, Lucius realised what the delicious feeling was. What had previously been translucent juice had turned to liquid gold. Lucius watched the drops fall, as if in slow motion, to spatter on his stomach, where they pooled like quicksilver for a moment before being absorbed. Where the droplets had fallen Lucius's skin fairly glowed with heat, and he was filled with energy. Lucius was not what one would call a spiritual man, but he was not above praying in a time of need. And with the infusion of magical energy came need so powerful that his torso flexed, raising his shoulders from the bed of tendrils, his teeth clenched from the effort of delaying his climax.

Severus, who had been watching them through the small space between Hermione's raised arm and her head, began to stroke Lucius's buttocks approvingly, and Lucius squeezed Severus between his buttocks in thanks. Severus nosed aside Hermione's wild curls to kiss her neck.

"I think Lucius has shown remarkable restraint, don't you?"

Hermione turned her head to accommodate his mouth on her neck. "I defer to your far greater experience as to what obedience from Lucius looks like," she said, giving Lucius's penis a squeeze.

"It's in his face," said Severus, kneading Lucius's cheeks as he nibbled the side of Hermione's neck. Lucius could feel her tighten around him in response to Severus's ministrations. "The moment he has an expression that doesn't look as if he's practised it in the mirror, you know he's losing control. If he goes back to looking perfect again, then he's making an effort to control himself."

"I'm surprised you can tell any of that from your current position," commented Lucius, who was enjoying the soft, pliant texture of Hermione's breasts as long as the vines at his wrists would allow. If her moans and whimpering were any indication, she was enjoying it as well.

Severus gave him a look that was pure mischief. "That was merely advice for Hermione," he said, his voice brushing the deepest, roughest notes of his speaking register. "I know your restraint from the way your body clenches desperately around my cock, from the way that your hamstrings quiver with pent-up energy, and from the way I can hear my name in the helpless hisses and moans you utter when I thrust into you." He lowered his voice to a stage whisper. "But I must confess that I had pity on you, Lucius. I left the deepest part of you untouched, knowing how demanding our mistress is and how disappointed you would be if forced to come against your will."

This made Hermione snort. "Well, if the two of you are determined to cheat on this test, then I'm afraid we shall have to repeat it some other time."

Lucius nearly climaxed at the prospect of being invited into their bed once more, but he bit his lip and just managed to hold on.

"I know how disappointing this must be for you, my dear," said Severus, sucking gently on her earlobe. "I do hope you'll let us make it up to you."

Hermione's smile made Lucius's heart swell. "Very well," she said. "But I get to pick the spell next time."

"Agreed," said Lucius, his voice grating and desperate.

Hermione stroked his jaw with her fingertips. "Good," she said. "Now, Severus and I are going to pound into you and ride you, respectively, until you ejaculate so hard your eyes cross. I trust this course of action will be amenable to you?"

Lucius let out an inarticulate sound of delight, and Severus smacked Hermione's arse playfully. "Cruel taskmaster."

She tossed an insolent look over her shoulder and began to gyrate her pelvis, lifting herself up and nearly dislodging Lucius, and then crashing back down on him, pressing him into her slick heat. Severus obliged by nearly withdrawing and sliding back inside in moderate thrusts which felt like heaven when he matched Hermione's rhythm. The golden heat of the berry juice acted like a catalyst, and a delicious fizzing energy shot through Lucius, as the slack vines pulled at his wrists and ankles once more, pulling him taut.

Lucius took this as permission to struggle, which he did with vigour and delight. He was keening his pleasure in time with their thrusts- Severus's push to Hermione's pull and vice versa. He felt as if he were a great bellows being inflated by eager blacksmiths, his body filling with glowing, ecstatic energy with every cycle of his lovers' action, until at last, he was filled to capacity.

There was a moment in which everything seemed to stop, and he clenched the vines in his hands in preparation for what was to come. The vines had fruited, and his iron grip burst a dozen different fruits, causing the warm, glorious juice to run down his arms just as a well-aimed thrust from Severus pushed into the tiny gland that was fairly aching to be touched.

Lucius let out a howl, and his buttocks clenched around Severus as his hips thrust upwards into Hermione, spewing forth in numerous spasms what felt like an obscene amount of ejaculate. As he filled her with his hot seed, he could feel her pulsing around him in powerful orgasm, feeding his hot liquid climax with her own paroxysms of ecstasy. Her stuttering gasps were soon punctuated by rhythmic groans from Severus, who seized Lucius's hips and drove himself in as deeply as he could. Lucius felt Severus swell within him, as his fingers tightened. He gasped for breath and let out a growl as he spilled himself into Lucius.

Lucius was being borne away on wave after wave of climax, both his and those of his lovers. He fancied that he now understood what the fruits they had devoured had felt like as they had burst. When the last of his climax had been wrung out of his exhausted body by the smirking satyr below him and the writing siren above him , the last thought he had before the blackness in his peripheral vision expanded was to wonder whether the aftermath of their climaxes would be the attractive gold colour of the berry juice. It would look lovely against his skin.


fox knows eleventythree tricks and still gets caught; hedgehog knows one but it always works


Some eleven months later, affluent members of wizarding society were somewhat dismayed when they heard through the grapevine that Lucius would not be throwing himself another fiftieth birthday party. The uncharitable said it was because Lucius was simply too old now, though anybody who had seen him during the past year knew that was not the case. Lucius had never looked better, not even when he and Narcissa were first married.

Those who knew him better socially argued that he was riding out the scandal caused by the extremely racy book of sex magic he was reputed to have published under the transparent pseudonym of "Lucian Malfait". It had already become a bestseller, though of course nobody admitted to having read it. Upon its initial release, it had been immediately banned by the Ministry until a surprise vote of the Wizengamot had reversed the decree, though it was only to be sold to wizards and witches who had reached their majority. That is, the Wizengamot's vote was a surprise to anybody who wasn't aware that each of its members had been owled a copy by an anonymous person. The publisher assured the public that the author was hard at work on a sequel.

Around the same time, Granger's Rare Books Ltd. published Aristotle's long-lost treatise on comedy, to the shock and admiration of the antiquarian world. Lucius Malfoy said his presence at the book release was simply to get to know the competition, though one classics scholar was horrified with how shamelessly Malfoy flirted with the lady of the hour, even though she was clearly on the arm of some forgettable nonentity. The beer, however, was truly excellent, with a hint of some sort of dried fruit, and left everyone in an extraordinarily good mood.

On the continent, the Abbey of St. Sixtus in Westvleteren received a crate of state-of-the-art bookbinding equipment, in addition to a small library of books on the subject of book craft. As there was no return address or any sign of how the crate got there, most of the monks chalked it up to a gift from the Almighty and thought no more of it.

The real miracle occurred when the crate was delivered to the library, and Brother Aloysius smiled for the first time anyone could remember.


the end


End Notes: The epigrams at the start of each chapter come from both Sappho and her contemporary Archilochos. Sappho's spells were assembled in more or less Sapphic stanzas of eleven syllables from the most fragmented of Sappho's fragments that consist of only a few words out of context. The Malecrit play is based on the bits from Fantastic Beasts, of course, as well as several extant farces cobbled together. Hermione's "added" lines are written in twelve-syllable Alexandrine couplets, after Moliere. The name "Bunbury" comes from Oscar Wilde. The comment about playing with one's breasts all day is from the film "L.A. Story."

Enormous thanks to Mr. 42, my beloved beta-reader, lifeasanamazon, my incredible Brit-picker and gamma-reader, and to the exchange mods and admins whose hard work and patience make the SSHG exchange the biggest and best out there.