Chapter 4:

It was almost sunset before Sirius found Hermione again. She was sitting on the windowsill in one of the less visited parts of the house. She had the window open and a few leaves had drifted in, settling in her hair and on the faded rug in front of her. She had a hand propped up under her chin, still lost in the soft grey wool of the jumper he had given her. She wasn't crying, but her eyes betrayed her sadness.

Pausing to take in the sight, he smiled softly to himself. She was like coming home.

He began walking toward her, the sound of his bare feet on the dark wooden floor only audible due to the prevailing quiet. She looked up at him and smiled, beckoning him over to join her.

Sitting down beside her, he placed a companionable hand on the arm wrapped around her legs. She shifted slightly and placed her free hand over his.

"You alright?" he asked.

"Yeah, just, you know..." she replied softly, a dull smile creeping across her lips.

"Yeah, I know." He squeezed her arm comfortingly.

They sat in comfortable silence for a while, staring out into the wilderness that was the garden below them.

"He accused me of cheating on him you know," she said with feigned nonchalance. "Said it must be the reason I've been so uptight with him lately."

Sirius' eyebrows shot towards his hairline in shock.

"What? Did he say what evidence he had to prove it?" he demanded.

She let out a snort of laughter. "This," she replied, plucking at the front of the jumper. "You don't need to worry; he doesn't know its yours," she supplied quickly.

He let out a bark of laughter in response.

"You really think I'd care even if he did? That boy needs to learn to sort his priorities out." A sudden smile crept across his features.

"Want a shirt to match?"

She laughed then, a genuine, rich, hearty laugh.

"Yes that would go down wonderfully. Perhaps we can match the colour to my favourite pyjama bottoms too?" she replied with a hint of sarcasm.

"I don't have a lilac shirt unfortunately," he replied with a convincingly heartbroken expression.

"How do you know the lilac ones are my favourite?" she demanded.

He gave her a slightly incredulous look. "I'm a man?"

She looked at him with a puzzled crease in her brow.

"Honestly?" he asked meaningfully.

She leaned forward slightly in anticipation.

"Promise you won't be offended?"

She nodded eagerly.

He leaned towards her, their faces inches apart.

"They're my favourites, too. In those oh, so wonderfully form fitting little bottoms, I can't take my eyes off you." His heart was suddenly in his mouth. Do or die. This was it.

Would she be disgusted, would she be angry, would she even feel betrayed? He had, after all, used her rocky relationship with Ron to get close to her; had deliberately gone out of his way to be there whenever she needed someone; had wanted, from the outset, to lay claim to her.

Her eyes widened briefly, and then closed. A shiver wracked her body—whether from relief or repulsion, he couldn't tell. He made to move back a little and her eyes flew open. Her grip became like iron as she held him in place, searching his eyes with her own, her gaze intense and uncertain.

She licked her lips. "If this is a joke..."

"Well that depends..." he began slowly, his face still close to hers.

"On?" she asked quickly.

"Whether you want it to be," he returned, his eyes tracing the curve of her lips, flicking back up to meet her gaze.

"You're not like Ron," she blurted, hoping he would take it the way she meant it, rather than the way it sounded.

"No I'm not," he agreed slowly, "You're not the first woman I have ever been attracted to, I am not sweet and innocent, and I won't pretend otherwise. I have a terrible track record, I smoke too much, I am far too old for you, and I am everything he isn't," he concluded. "I know who I am and you get what you see."

"How much of it do I get?" she asked breathlessly, leaning closer still.

"All of it, chick. It's all yours if you want it," he growled softly.

She let out a shuddering sigh and slowly smiled. Her eyes found his again and the look she sent him was smouldering. She leaned in to kiss him but paused when he placed a finger over her lips.

"I won't play second fiddle to a slip of a lad Hermione. All or nothing. You want everything? I want the same."

He leaned to the side of her face and placed a soft kiss on her throat. He could feel her heart hammering against her skin. It only served to deepen his arousal to know she felt this every bit as much as he did.

"I thought you didn't do commitment," she groaned softly.

"Neither did I. Yet here we are. There is an exception to every rule, and you're it."

He trailed hot kisses over the skin revealed by the too large neck of her clothing. He felt her hand tangle in his hair as she pressed herself closer to his lips.

"How do I know you aren't just after the thrill of it?" she managed between the quiet moans he was eliciting.

He shifted slightly and the stiffness in his groin pushed against her hip. She clutched at his shirt in an effort to close the gap between them.

"How do I know this isn't just to get back at Ron?" he countered.

"When he kissed me, I imagined it was you," she gasped as he nuzzled her ear.

He paused and smirked, drawing back to look at her again.

"I haven't been able to look seriously at any other woman for six months," he confessed.

She looked at him, genuinely surprised. Her eyes softened and she reached up to gently take his hand from her lips, leaning forward to kiss the corner of his mouth.

"Take whatever you want. I don't think I could deny you anything anymore."

He groaned and cupped her face tenderly. Becoming suddenly serious, he leaned in and very deliberately kissed her. Her hands came up to rest on his chest, cleaving utterly to him, her body curved forward in aching harmony with his.

Hermione shuddered with the force of the sensations coursing through her. She had never dreamed that a man could evoke such a myriad of emotions or physical responses in her; she hadn't even known it was possible. Every touch was reverent and simultaneously consuming. He was like fire and she was the fuel—every bit of her burned with his heat. His lips on hers, oh, so slowly tracing a path over her cheek to kiss the corners of her eyes, shockingly gentle fingertips mapping the bare flesh of her back, and the subtle but heady way he unrepentantly ran the palm of his hand from her neck to her stomach was intoxicating.

Lust was not ever a word Hermione had thought she would attribute to herself, but here was a completely irresistible urge to give herself to him; the overpowering desire to be marked as his, an almost primal need. She had never before understood just what her friend had once told her about men. There were those who went through the motions and were at best satisfying, and there were those who took everything, unabashedly stripped you bare and poured body and soul into the coupling.

It was men like that who made you scream, and every bone in her body now cried out for his touch. She now understood.

"I am going to make love to you," he whispered in her ear, his hand already caressing the soft, delicate skin between her breasts, as though reminding her that she was only feeling a fraction of what was possible.

A shot of pure desire wracked her body. There was no question in that statement.

"I am going to make love to every bit of you. I am going to make every inch of skin mine." His voice was deep and husky, the distinct thrumming tone of a man at his peak; a raw masculinity which was hypnotic.

"Gods, yes!" Was the last intelligible sound that left her lips until some hours after.

A/N: I would just like to thank you once again to my diligent BETA Dr. Rae... she did a fantastic job and I am exceedingly grateful for all of her help.