Phoenix Fire, Chapter 36: Reciprocity

DISCLAIMER: The characters described in this story are the property of the incomparable J.K. Rowling. I make no money from this story, which exists as a work of tribute.

A/N: Firstly, big thanks to the two wonderful people who were generous enough to alpha read this chapter for me: Steggie and Dressagegrrrl, you're thoughts and comments were much appreciated and (with the exception of the word chutney!) taken very much to heart.

Secondly, this chapter is for Luna de Papel, weeblz-kat, and JeniDRalph, all of whom wrote to me about the way this story has resonated with their real lives, and also for Curious Psyche, for a PM that was wonderfully, deliciously incoherent in its enthusiasm.

And lastly—but not leastly—to those of my readers who are under the legal age of consent I feel obligated (as the mother of a young daughter) to preface the imminent sex scene with a few comments. First and foremost: CONSENT IS SEXY. You should feel free to do whatever you so desire with your own body, on the single condition that any other bodies involved in the act need to consent as well. You also need to feel free to refuse anything that you're not comfortable with. It can be awkward and embarrassing to talk about sex, but words are power, my friends; when everyone concerned is on the same page the sex will be better and more rewarding! Also make sure that the people you are intimate with will respect your boundaries outside the bedroom as well as inside it: who are they going to talk about it with afterwards and how will you feel about that? Be bold, be brave, and don't be ashamed of yourself or your desires.

Second, I want to remind everyone that you shouldn't—ever—be having sex with your teacher. If you think you might be the exception to this rule and that honestly, truly, you are in love with someone who just happens to be your teacher, then you still have to wait until your high school reunion to make a move. Quite seriously, a good friend of mine is happily married (with a beautiful child) to one of her high school teachers; they got together at the REUNION. Okay? Okay. On that note, I think we're ready to proceed . . .

Severus danced and concentrated on the details: he catalogued her smell, the silky feel of her dress across the small of her back, the press of her against his chest. He had Hermione Granger in his arms, and he fully intended to remember every goddamn second of their interaction.

All too soon he could hear Fudge behind them, trying to cut in. His voice was a blunt instrument he tried and failed to ignore.

Severus looked down at Hermione and searched for the words that might convince her to keep dancing with him instead. "It's the happy ending everyone has been waiting for." The memory of her words knocked painfully against his breastbone. If only she'd meant that the way he wanted her to.

Hermione had leant in so close that her chin was against his chest; her head was tipped right back.

"Let's run away," she whispered.

So close were her words to his own desires that he had to laugh at himself. There wasn't a straight man in the room—with the exception perhaps, of Harry Potter—who wouldn't have wanted to take her home.

"I'm serious," she added.

"Can you imagine the papers?" Severus allowed himself a crazy vision of them both Disapparating from the middle of the dance floor—to hell with social niceties. "They'd have a field day."

Severus steered them away from Fudge, who followed. Fudge's aggressive behaviour and their lack of response was starting to draw attention. Severus would have to let her go soon or start a scandal.

"Snape! Unhand Miss Granger immediately!"

People were staring, but Hermione seemed unperturbed. "Well," she said with a small smile that gave no indication that she wanted to be unhanded, "they'd have worse things to say if I were to transform here and now and terrify everyone in clawing distance."

"They'll start calling me the Heir of Slytherin," he said. He knew it was a disservice to Hermione to let rumours about them gain traction, but he just couldn't bring himself to let go when she was willingly dancing in his arms.

"You can just correct the error: 'Father to the Heir of Slytherin'."

His eyes narrowed as he words hit home.

"Did you realise that Jocelyn was a Parselmouth?" she asked, a delightful curve turning up the edges of her mouth at both sides.

"No," he said. He thought about Jocelyn—his daughter—and swelled with pride.

"Yes," said Hermione, grinning. "I've got big plans for her. Between the two of us I'm pretty sure we can change the world."

"I'm imagining a large, Hollywood-style sign in the main square of Hogsmeade: MUDBLOOD PRIDE."

"Now, that's an excellent idea!"

Far from giving up gracefully, Fudge was still following. He was getting louder.

Hermione slid her hand from his shoulder, upwards, until her hand cupped the back of his neck. His knees felt weak. To anyone looking, it must seem—

He broke the thought off, determined not to cross that line, determined not to read too much into her actions despite the urgings of his traitorous heart.

"Come on," she said quietly, "let's get out of here."

It was going to be a public relations disaster, but he couldn't turn her down.

"If you insist," he said.

They might as well do it with style: he lifted her entirely off the ground and spun with her, twisting just far enough to be out of Fudge's reach, then he Disapparated. They arrived to the sound of Hermione laughing. Severus held onto her as she caught her balance, then he reluctantly let go.

"Where are we?" she asked, one hand still resting on his arm.

"Beside the Thames," he said. He'd Apparated them under a bridge—where the dark and the shadows ensured that no-one would notice their arrival. Anyone who did see them huddled together in the dark would assume they were just another amorous couple.

The thought was enough to make his stomach clench.

The desire to kiss her was overwhelming. He forced himself to think of something else.

Severus' eyes were beginning to adjust to the dark. He drew his wand and Transfigured his dress robes into a tuxedo. He needed something Muggle, yet of a scale that would match her own incredible outfit.

"I should change, too," said Hermione.

"No," he said, too quickly. "You look"—he swallowed the word amazing and substituted—"perfectly fine." You look perfect; you look damn fine.

He could feel that she was looking at him, but in the dark he couldn't read her expression. He saw the pale smudge of her shoulders, saw her shift position.

"Where now?" she asked.

He shrugged in the dark, suddenly nervous. He didn't want to fuck this up; he wanted the evening to drag on into morning: long conversations about the status of the world, her hand in his, her head on his shoulder. He was a fool. "This is your escape fantasy, Hermione," he said. "The choice is yours."

"Okay." She gave a breathless laugh. "Let's walk. If we see somewhere to have a drink, we'll do that."

They wandered out from under the bridge, mingling with the crowds of late Spring. It was a mild evening, and the street lamps cast puddles of light on the stone promenade and on the water below. No-one recognised them. The passers-by accorded them nothing more than the glances and stares they shared with everyone else: noticing their formal dress, admiring Hermione's clothes, admiring Hermione.

"Just to be clear," she said, leaning into him as they walked, "I am very happy to negotiate the terms of this escape fantasy to include your desires as well."

Severus swallowed.

They strolled along, Hermione's arm still threaded through the crook of his elbow. Severus tried not to think about the fact that they looked like a couple. He tried not to think about his desires or about Minerva's advice or Hooch's anger, all of which were rattling around his head.

Undoubtedly both women knew the risks and rewards of confessing love to a female friend, yet still, they didn't have his regrettable history of wanting more than was offer. He tried to tell himself that whatever Hermione was prepared to give was enough. If she wanted a dance partner to stand guard between her and the bedazzled hordes of Ministry wizards, captivated by her power and her beauty, then he was there to help. If she wanted company on the night in which her ex declared his sexuality and advertised a new relationship, then here he was. He would rather be her friend than lose her entirely.

"How about there?" Hermione was pointing at a pub. Golden light spilled out from inside and there was a largish crowd making use of the picnic benches on the patio. Music and laughter bled from the open doors.

They turned their steps and walked inside. There was a wait to order drinks, but it didn't take inordinately long before he procured a glass of champagne for her and a glass of whiskey for himself. They found a small piece of bench at which they could hover. Hermione continued to stand right next to him; she left her hand on his arm.

Everyone there assumed they were a couple.

Hermione was gazing out towards the back of the pub. There was a DJ and a small but crowded dance floor, packed with sweaty bodies writhing and jerking to the music.

She smiled a little wistfully. "I don't suppose you dance like that, do you?"

Severus eyed the revellers with a slight sneer. "Not quite like that, no." Hermione pulled a resigned face and tried to hide it behind a smile. "I like to believe," he said, "that I dance a lot better than that."

Severus lifted two coasters from a pile in the corner and laid them over their drinks. "Come on," he said, and taking her hand for the second time that evening, he led her towards the dance floor.

He pushed his way into the crowd, carving out a tiny niche with his shoulder. He let the imperative of the bass drive its way into his bones and he started to dance. In the press of bodies, Hermione was close against him. She smiled with delight.

It was a long time since Severus had danced like this: all hips and body, no fancy footwork, no spins or twists. Instead this was about the pulse of rhythm, about sweat and melodic hooks. He didn't want to think about the future, and this music was just noisy enough that he didn't need to think about anything at all. It was a relief. Through it all, her presence was a magnet to all his senses: he was achingly aware of her body when it brushed against him, he was keen to every strand of hair that had come loose, to every boy that glanced their way, every jolt of her body as she abandoned herself to the music.

After several upbeat numbers, the DJ slipped in a ballad, and Hermione leant forwards, threading her arms around his waist. Almost automatically, his arms closed around her, defending them both against the jostling of the crowd—right next to them were a pair of drunken dancers who lunged at each other in a parody of romantic affection, laughing and joking. He felt Hermione fumble and looked down to find that she had her wand out, pointed upwards, but held close against his chest where it was unlikely to be seen. He heard the bubble of silence that sprouted from it, swelling out to encompass their heads, creating a puddle of noiselessness around them, through which the music, the laughter and the shouts of the pub could be heard as if at a distance; he felt the rush of magic as she sent a spell wooshing past his cheek.

Slowly, half afraid of what he might see, Severus tilted up his eyes and examined the ceiling above him. The dance floor was festooned with paper chains. There were a half dozen mirror balls of various sizes and a handful of coloured lights. There was also, directly above his head, a small branch of greenery, hovering in midair.

He could think of only one reason to conjure mistletoe.

Infinitely slowly, genuine terror clutching at his heart, Severus lowered his eyes to Hermione's face.

He knew she was going to kiss him, but he couldn't believe she was going to kiss him.

Hermione had her lower lip between her teeth, and her eyebrows raised. She was searching his face.

Severus swallowed awkwardly. He tried to find the means to speak.

"Mistletoe," she whispered. Moving slowly, she lifted her head to his, she raised herself on tiptoe, her eyes fluttered closed.

They had been here before. But last time, he turned his head.

Infinitely gentle, she pressed her lips to his. He could feel her softness and her strength in the curve of her mouth. His eyes closed of their own accord, and the world narrowed to the feel of her hands on his chest, her mouth on his, her lips insistent against him. Severus lowered his head into the kiss. He raised a hand, wonderingly, and let it brush against her cheek. His fingertips skidded over her cheekbone and tangled in the curves of her hair. For the briefest of seconds their lips parted, but he leant forwards, pressing his face against her, kissing her again. He felt her smile against his mouth.

She was kissing him.

What . . .

He wondered what she meant by it, about how much he could infer—about how much he wanted to infer from her actions.

Though his fingers caught in her curls and clutched at her waist, though his brain was shouting at him, kicking him for his own stupidity, he pulled his mouth away.

"Granger," he groaned, and though he was struggling for some distance it came out almost absurdly intimate. "What are we doing?"

He knew himself too well: he should be kissing, not talking, and no doubt he would regret this interruption later. But he knew, too, just how much he was hoping for more. He just needed to know what this meant; he needed some context with which to curb the optimistic leaps of his heart.

"I'm kissing you, and you're kissing me." The answer offered no guidance.

"That much is obvious," he said. He voice was pulled thin with despair. Why had he spoken?

Hermione asked him a question of her own: "Do you know why Sympathetic Magic is so difficult to predict?"

He blinked at her. Gods but he wanted her to kiss him again. "Why?" he managed, thrown by the turn the conversation had taken. Beyond their bubble of silence someone was ringing the bell for last drinks; the lights were flicking on and off.

"The participants have to want the same thing," said Hermione quietly. "They have to want the same thing from each other, in the same way." She ran a hand over the pleats of his dress shirt. "I know what you want from me, Severus, because I know what I want from you—and we want the same things."

Severus was speechless. He knew what he wanted from her. He wanted to kiss her; to pull down the neckline of her dress and put his mouth around her nipple. He wanted to spend long hours in his Potions lab, bent over a bubbling cauldron while she scribbled Arithmantic equations nearby, her hair frizzing in the humidity. He wanted to lie on the couch, reading, his head in her lap.

He wanted her.

And if she wanted the same thing then—


It's the happy ending everyone has been waiting for.

Hermione shrugged, dropping her gaze. "I want to kiss you," she said, the tip of one finger pressed against a shirt stud, "and read with you and argue with you and wake up next to you in the mornings. I want to know that you're right behind me, catching me when I fall, and I want to save you when you need me, and I want to take you back to Grimmauld Place right now and shag you rotten."

Severus still couldn't speak.

Hermione closed her eyes. "Of course," she added, "having a desire is not the same as acting on it. You are free to make your choice, free to act or not. Just know that whatever you choose to do, I'm a willing participant."

Severus was stretched thin with new knowledge: Hermione wanted what he wanted. She had kissed him, and meant it.

She wanted him.

All he had to do was to consent.

His hand was still caught in Hermione's hair and he reached out with his thumb to stroke the full curve of her lower lip. Her eyes opened and she searched his face. Whatever it was that she found caused a tremulous smile. She squeezed him around the ribs.

"Come on," she said quietly. "Let's get out of here."

Hermione led the way out of the bar and he followed in a daze.

They wanted the same thing.

The idea buzzed along his veins, it fizzed under his skin. His heart was beating to the sound of it. His lungs filled and expelled air: they wanted the same thing.

On the esplanade he pulled her back towards him; she slid against his chest, clicked into place. He kissed her, feeling her warmth, the quick pulse of her life. He felt her hands against him, felt her fingers slide up into his hair. He gasped against her mouth, and she laughed. She laughed and he laughed with her, rocking her body against his. Fuelled by the proximity of their bodies, desire was quickening. He wanted to prolong this moment for ever, wanted to end it instantly so as to get somewhere where he might take off her clothes.

She wants what I want. The words were a revelation that erased his shame. Whatever his inadequacies, she wanted him—in the same way, to the same earth-shaking, mind-blowing degree. The proof of that thudded along his veins, jumped at his throat where her song had once sung torn flesh back together.

They hurried towards Grimmauld Place in fits and spurts, stopping for long moments to kiss under the bridge, and then in the square, and then again at the top of the steps. Severus had a brief moment of panic as the door swung open—suddenly convinced that the shade of Albus Dumbledore was about to rush at him and bind him up in his guilt and grief, but the hall was blessedly empty. They stole past Old Mrs. Black's portrait, and tiptoed up the steps. Laughing and shushing each other, they stumbled into the safety of Hermione's room, and the door shut behind them.

Panic returned. Overwhelmed and nervous, Severus watched with his heart in his mouth, as Hermione drew her wand and matter-of-factly enlarged the single bed. She locked and warded the door, and ensured that their sounds would not be heard by anyone else. There was no doubt about her intentions. Severus needed to get a grip.

The transfiguration of his dress robes into a suit had left the pockets intact. Severus palmed the potion he'd been carrying around since the previous week. "I made you something," he said, and his voice sounded rough.

Hermione glanced at him, curiosity tilting her head to one side and lifting up one corner of her mouth. She reached out, and he relinquished the small bottle into her hand. She examined it, holding the phial to the light and tipping it up to watch the deep purple liquid inside slide along the glass.

"What is it?" she asked. "I don't recognise the colour, although"—she shot him a glance—"I do believe that I have seen this potion once before."

Severus folded his lips around his teeth before he answered. "The colour changes depending on the recipient," he said.

A delighted grin pulled at her face. "You made me a contraceptive?" she asked.

He nodded.


He nodded again.

"So . . ." She looked up at him under her lashes and leant the top half of her body towards him. "You were thinking about having sex with me back in February?"

He narrowed his eyes. "I was thinking about you having sex with Weasley," he corrected her.

"Sounds terrible," she teased, pressing her hands against his chest, pushing him back against the inside of the door. He could feel the cool glass of the bottle, trapped between them. "I love you, Severus Snape," she said, and the shock of her unexpected confession left him winded, gasping for air.

Hermione thumbed the cork from the bottle and drank down the potion. He watched the line of her neck, the jump of her throat as she swallowed, and he reached out and placed the palm of his hand over the hollow at the base of her throat. The ball of his thumb sat on her collar bone; his fingers on her neck. When she went to lower her chin he stopped her, pressing kisses along the underside of her jaw.

"Come to the bed," she whispered, her fingers tangled in his hair.

They moved across the short gap without separating. She turned his body, pushing him down so that he sat; then she stood between his legs and took advantage of the height advantage to plant kisses on his brows and nose. Severus stepped on the back of his shoes and kicked them under the bed as Hermione slipped his jacket off his shoulders and began an assault on the buttons of his shirt. When he let go of her long enough to pull his arms free of his clothing, she hiked up her skirt and climbed onto his lap.

Severus could feel the shimmery softness of her dress against the bare skin of his chest, the weight of her on his thighs. He gasped as she ran her hands over his back, her fingers pulling at his skin, learning the ridges of his spine, the curve of his ribs. He pulled her closer, fingers closing behind the fold of her knee, then sliding up her thigh, skidding over the silk of her stockings, snagging against lace, and then pausing on the warmth of her flesh. His whole body froze.

"What?" she asked into the stillness, her lips moving less than a breath from his.

"You're wearing suspenders?" he managed around the short-circuit of his brain.

Her face was so close to his that he could feel her smile. "Yeah," she said. "I thought you might like that."

Severus made an inarticulate noise. He lifted her enough that he could turn and lie her back on the bed. Up on his knees on the mattress he pushed up her skirts and allowed himself to run a hand from her thigh down to her ankle. Hermione lay propped on both elbows, watching him looking.

"Push your hair back," she said. "I want to see your face."

He did what he was told. He was shirtless—all skinny ribs and pale skin—and his pants were uncomfortably tight, but exposing his face still felt like the most radical move. He took a breath and met her eyes. Hermione was smiling—her brown eyes shone. He took in her hair, messed up, but still twisted and plaited up around her face; her incredible dress, and the lacy underwear she had on underneath.

"Hi," she said, and grinned at him.

"Hello." His voice came out deeper than he'd expected.

Hermione lifted a stocking foot and rubbed the ball of it on his thigh. "Why don't you come here and ravish me?" she asked.

For answer, Severus closed his fingers around her ankle and leaned forwards until his face was pressed against her hip, right where the silk of her underpants crossed over the strap of her suspenders. He drew his hands up the sweep of her leg and slipped two fingers under the fabric at her hips. He folded it back just far enough that he could kiss the same spot, but this time his lips met flesh. Hermione sighed and lifted her hips encouragingly. He took the hint and the opportunity she offered: pulling her pants down past the curve of her bum and pressing his face into the join where her leg met her body.

Severus took in a deep breath, inhaling her warmth and the briny, apricot chutney smell of her.

He wanted—

It took a few moments of awkward rearrangement: her wriggling, him lifting and pulling, till her underpants were off completely and he was back between her legs. As he gently opened her up with his fingers, wonder pushed at his chest and his throat. His kissed along the folds of her body, marvelling at the rasp of hair and the incredible, impossible softness at her heart. And he pushed his tongue into her creases, he felt her tense and release against his mouth; he savoured the salt and the sweat and the taste like almond skins that was hers alone. He opened his mouth against as much of her as he could, lapping and circling the protruding end of that long bundle of nerves they call the clitoris; he thought of how far those nerves ran deep inside her pelvis, and pushed up again and again against the small bit that stuck out into the world.

Hermione telegraphed her response in the cadence of her breath, the grip of her hand in his hair, the jog of her hips. Right at the end she sighed—a long, drawn out vowel, a groan at the close. He lifted his head to smile his triumph, and she gave a breathless laugh.

"Don't move," she said as he was rising. She grabbed him by the wrist and pulled his hand to cup between her legs. She pressed his fingers up into the slippery wetness of her, her eyes closed and head tilted back, she pushed her hips against him and he felt her muscles clench.

"Still?" he asked, the word spilling out without thought.

"Just," she said, "the aftershocks."

Severus held his breath for the next forty-five seconds as Hermione rocked her hips against his hand. The muscles deep inside her marked out the time in ever-increasing increments; then she was done. Her face relaxed, her eyes opened, and she smiled at him—the long, slow smile that he loved to receive.

"Kiss me."

"My face is a mess," he demurred.

"You've only yourself to blame," she replied, leaning in towards him regardless. He kissed her gently, and she sighed as they drew apart. "I think we're both wearing altogether too much clothing," she said. "Help me out of this dress?"

The dress undid down the back. Hermione wore no bra, and as she finally stepped clear, she watched his face from the corner of her eye. He wondered at the sheen of bravado.

"You are so beautiful," he said. Honesty robbed his tongue of any dissemblance.

She laughed. "Was it so obvious that I wanted you to say it?" she asked.

He reached out and brushed his fingers over her breast; he let them trail down over her ribs.

"I love you, Hermione Granger." The words came out without thought or censorship.

Her face was suddenly serious. "I know," she said. Then she smiled. "Now take your trousers off."

Severus stepped off the bed as she perched on the edge to roll off her stockings. He unbuttoned his trousers with some relief and let them drop to the floor. He hooked his thumbs in his shorts and as he lifted himself clear, standing entirely naked in front of her, he caught himself casting a remarkably similar glance at her up through his hair. She caught his eye and grinned. She was naked, too, and she scooted back up the bed.

"Come here," she said, beckoning with her near hand, "and put that rather impressive erection to good use."

Severus climbed onto the bed beside her and put his arms around her. His head swam with gratitude and desire.

The feel of her nakedness was indescribable. His skin touched hers at every point, and she was warm and soft and pliable.

Severus throbbed with desire.

Hermione reached down between them and wrapped her hand around him. His head dropped back and she pressed a kiss to the flesh of his throat. The insecure, unloved little boy in him wanted to ask if she was certain she wanted to keep going, but under the circumstances the question itself was laughable. Severus had never felt so wanted, never felt so safe in his life—even as he trembled on the edge, almost undone, painfully vulnerable in her hands.

Hermione rubbed him in the damp patch between her legs, then tilted her hips until he rested right there at the opening. Severus took his weight on his arms and moved his hips an inch or two closer to hers. The tip of him slipped inside; he could feel the infinite smoothness of her insides against the taught, swollen warmth of his own flesh.

He stopped, his face screwed up with effort.

"I've got you," she whispered. She didn't move.

Slowly, excruciatingly slowly, Severus slid in until his bones lay pressed against the cradle of her bones. He dared to open his eyes and look at her face. Her lower lip was caught between her teeth, but as his eyes met hers it popped free. Hermione's breathing was shallow and rapid. Her breasts rose and fell against his chest. She nodded at him, encouraging him onwards.

"Hermione," he breathed.


He started to move, as slowly as he could manage: this time he wanted to watch her face.

"Hermione," he said again. He pulled out and pushed back in, faster this time.

"Severus," she stuttered out.

The sound of his name on her lips, her flushed cheeks, the slippery tightness of her, her lowered lids; he wasn't going to last long. Her fingers pulled hard against the small of his back.

He kept saying her name so that she would keep saying his. He held out as long as he could, but sooner rather than later, he reached the point of no return.

"Hermione!" It was more of a shout this time, and her response even more a sound and even less a recognisable word. The edge rushed up at him, faster, higher, closer than he'd expected, and he tumbled down, crashing onto the rocks below. Severus came undone into her and against her. She moved with him, rocking him, holding him close. When they were done he lowered his head into the sweaty crook of her neck and swallowed back tears.

"Severus," she whispered into his hair, "oh, Severus. I've got you."

After a few minutes they pulled apart enough to roll on their sides and to focus on each other's faces. Severus brushed his fingertips over the near side of her face, skidding from her eyebrow to cheekbone to jaw.

"I love you," she said.

"I love you, too."

Hermione smiled. "In the morning," she said, "we can do it again."

Severus took in a shaky breath. As his chest expanded, his heart went with it: hope and possibility stretched out before him in the infinite, cuddled as close as the woman in his arms. She leant over him, groping on the nightstand until she'd recovered her wand, heedless of the way her breasts rubbed up against his bicep. Hermione cast cleansing charms on them both and pushed her wand away once again. Lifting his arm, she turned in his grip, wriggling herself back until their naked bodies were spooned tightly.

"Goodnight, Severus," she said.

"Goodnight, Hermione."

Severus lay there with a face full of hair and listened to her breathing deepen towards sleep. He could feel her heart beat against the palm of his hand; he could feel the swell of her lungs against the muscles of his arm. He filled himself up with the scent of hair, and he dared to believe in the coming of day.

A/N: This is pretty much the end, my friends. There is an epilogue to come, so look out for that in a week or so. Then we're done. Several people have asked what they are going to read now, so feel free to leave suggestions! I know I've mentioned it before, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Kristin Cashore's books; I would never write a fanfic of any of them because they're pretty much perfect exactly the way they are. I also really like Megan Whalen Turner's Thief quartet—the first and last book are pretty good, the second and third are (in my humble opinion) OH MY GOD AMAZING. I also still love Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series. Any other suggestions?

Oh yeah, and don't forget to let me know how this chapter went down. I've never written a sex scene before, so I'm feeling a bit nervous about putting this out there. If I failed horribly, you'd better let me know!