Summary: Harry is approached by Hermione with a most unexpected request.
Pairings: SS/HP/HG, brief mention of Harry/Oliver, Severus/OFC
Warnings: Contains het, slash and M/M/F combinations. Shifting POVs during sex.
Disclaimer: The brilliant characters belong solely to J.K. Rowling. The plot and typos are my own. No profit is being made.
A/N: Written for the "First Time For Everything" fest on Snape_Potter. Many thanks to my excellent beta, Winoniel, for her spot-on edits, and heartfelt gratitude to classyblue, who helped me in ways she doesn't even know. This is for you.
~ Make it a Triple, Barkeep ~
It was a grimy old pub, but Harry loved it anyway. It was the place where he'd been getting together with his friends – or his family, as he liked to think of them – nearly every month for the past three years. He and Ron had discovered it after a Quidditch match one night, nestled deep in the high street of a charming Muggle town. Sweaty and in need of a drink, they stumbled in and grabbed the only empty table in the place: a large round one that would have easily seated ten. One of its legs was slightly shorter than the others, which caused the table to dip to one side, and its marred surface told of countless altercations with blunt objects and sloshed beer.
Initially, Harry thought it was just the circumstances surrounding their celebration that night – a raucous affair that went until nearly dawn – that made him look back on the place with such fondness. It had been their championship game, after all, a victory they'd managed to steal from Puddlemere United by only ten points. But as his visits became more regular, so too did his understanding. As with people, it was the character he fell in love with.
It was a smaller-than-average pub, by Harry's estimation, but intimate in a way that only old pubs could be: scuffed, plank wood floors; a coffered ceiling, the dark beams of which also framed the corners of the walls; a hard-won collection of spirits from all over the region; and an owner who'd stopped counting the years he'd stood behind the counter after the number sailed past forty. But as charming as those things were, what Harry loved most was the aging walls. Every inch was covered in yellowed newspaper clippings and vintage beer labels, candid snapshots and the occasional signed photo, and memorabilia from cricket and football games of yore. It was like a living history: a place where you came to remember, not forget.
To Harry, it was perfect.
And the particular Saturday in July that found him there once again was no different. Even though the calendar had since flipped to 2003, and the creases around everyone's eyes were a bit deeper than they had been the first time, little else about their gatherings had changed – save for Fred's dates, that is. The pub was still as bustling as ever, a comfortable din of companionship and frivolity; the remnants of a savory meal littered the surface of their table (which still dipped to one side); and all around him, crowded together in a space slightly too small for their group, were the people who meant the most to Harry in the world.
Top of that list was probably the man on his right. Harry glanced over, taking in the distinctive silhouette of his partner of four years. At times it still seemed strange that Severus Snape was his lover, but everyone had seemed to take their relationship in stride. Except for Fred and George, who'd claimed they'd had bets on it for years, though the two could never agree on who had made which bet, exactly. Still, it never failed to amuse Harry to see Severus in this context, sitting in a pub amidst the tight knot of his friends – their friends, he amended – watching the room with a detached sort of interest and nursing a dark ale.
Harry smiled to himself, enjoying the brief moment of being unobserved, and then took in the scene around him, looking to each face at their table in turn.
To the right of Severus were Neville and Hannah, who had recently married; the former of whom always took the seat next to his old professor. In the beginning, it was merely as a favor to Harry, who had hoped some overlapping interests would make Severus feel more comfortable at these monthly gatherings. Harry wanted to continue attending, but only if it wouldn't be awkward for everyone. Ironically, Severus and Neville had ended up getting on quite well, and often spent large portions of their evenings debating various facets of herbology, the potential culinary uses for non-traditional herbs like hyssop, orris root and elderflower, and the politics of regulating medicinal plants. Neville had eventually become the primary herb supplier for Severus' restaurant, which said something about the esteem in which they held each other. Harry knew both men had an extremely high standard for their work, and felt that Severus was even pickier as a chef than he'd been as a Potions Master. Still, they seemed to be a great business match, and Harry was pleased he had made the connection.
Next to Hannah sat Angelina and George, still dating but effectively married for anyone who cared to keep track. Their heads were bent together in animated conversation, as was common when one of the twins was involved. Harry thought he'd overhead the word 'shop' often enough to know they were probably discussing their favorite topic. Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes had become wildly popular over the years, and as its dedicated proprietors, the twins seemed keen to keep it that way. Next to George was Fred (never too far apart, those two), who presently had two fingers in the air and a lopsided smile on his face, no doubt trying to signal the barkeep, and then next to Fred was his new girlfriend, an Asian woman whose name Harry couldn't remember – Darla, Dana, something like that – a sculptural artist who had moved to the UK from America.
Then it was Hermione's chair, although it was currently empty (she was probably in the loo). More often than not, she was the odd person out in their group, the one without an 'other,' yet it was never odd having her there. If anything, she probably belonged there the most, having been one of Harry's best friends and his primary confidante for the past twelve years. Of all his friends, she had also been the most interested in his relationship with Severus – especially recently – but he supposed having been single for a couple months now, she just needed someone else to focus on, so he didn't mind.
Which brought Harry to the last two chairs at their table, occupied by Ron and his wife of two years, Sophia. She was the manager of a competing Quidditch team, a blonde woman with a great laugh and a healthy sense of humility about their shared sport. At Ron's urging, she was attempting to toss popcorn into his mouth, but so far had only managed to hit his forehead and chin – a fact that kept sending the pair of them into fits of giggles and half-hearted do-overs.
Hermione chose that moment to return to her seat, and Harry looked across the table at her. She had seemed quieter and more withdrawn tonight, as though something was on her mind, and Harry had caught her casting more than a few looks in his and Severus' direction. Even now, as he was watching her again, she looked up and met his eyes. Chewing her lip for a moment, she seemed to decide something, and then stood.
"Harry, can I talk to you for a second?"
Harry was about to nod when he realized she was already making her way over to the bar. By the time he'd excused himself to join her, the bartender had already set a small shot glass in front of her. Without preamble, she threw it back, making a face as she swallowed. Harry arched a brow.
"Don't look at me like that," she admonished, causing him to chuckle.
"Why, are you fortifying yourself for something?"
"Actually, yes." A slight flush mottled her cheeks, though whether it was from the sudden rush of alcohol or something else, Harry wasn't sure. "You know what, could we get some air? I think I just need to go outside."
"Is everything okay?" Harry asked, concern suddenly lancing through him.
"No, no, it's nothing like that. I just wanted to… to talk to you about something. Something personal."
They wove their way back through the crowded pub and towards the front door. Harry caught Severus' eye and shook his head in answer to the look of inquiry, then pointed to indicate they were headed outside.
The summer air wasn't much of an improvement over the stale air in the pub, however. It was still warm even for the late hour and the humidity clung to Harry's face and arms. He followed Hermione as she walked several paces away from the door, presumably to be free of the smokers lingering around the entrance, and then she stopped and turned.
"Okay, if I don't say this now, I don't think I ever will."
"What is it?" Harry asked.
Hermione closed her eyes for a long moment, then took a deep breath and let it out audibly. When she looked back at Harry, her eyes shone with determination and trepidation. "I've had something on my mind for awhile now. At first I thought it was just some ridiculous notion that had got stuck in my head, but now I've found that I can't stop thinking about it. After Phillip left – he wasn't satisfied because I wouldn't let him, you know, do it from behind – so I started to—"
"Oh, for the love of—Harry, do I really need to spell this out for you?"
"What?" he asked. She simply fixed him with one of her looks while he traced back through what she'd said. "Oh! Oh. Never mind, go on. Wait, that's why he broke up with you?"
"Well, no. Yes. Not entirely. Anyway, that's not the point." She waved her hand dismissively. "It just got me thinking, I guess. Maybe it is time to act on some of these things. You know, broaden my horizons a bit, perhaps try out some of my…" She lowered her voice and looked around again, although both were unnecessary since they were still alone. "…fantasies."
Harry blinked at her a moment, then grinned. "Sounds good to me. Did you want some ideas or something?"
"What, a practical lesson, then?" Harry laughed at his own joke, but stopped short when he saw her bite her lip and look away. He was about to clarify when Hermione cut across him.
"It's just that I see you with Severus and how you two touch each other when you don't think anyone else is watching; how you look at each other, practically undressing each other with your eyes, even when you're in a crowded room."
"Yes, you do. I don't think either of you are aware of it, but it's really… hot," she admitted, her cheeks pinking.
Harry found he could only grin. "You'll find someone like that, Hermione, I know you will. Just because Phillip was a complete tosser doesn't mean all your dates will be. Do I need to sic Severus on him?"
Hermione giggled. "No, that won't be necessary. And it's not that, it's just…" She suddenly looked discomfited. "I'm sorry, I just don't know how to ask this. I can't believe I'm about to ask this. I have no right to—"
"Just spit it out, will you?"
Hermione sighed and then scrunched her eyes closed. "Okay. One of my fantasies is to be with two men. At the same time, I mean. And I'd really like those two men to be you and Severus."
When she opened one eye to check for Harry's reaction, she must have seen his look of surprise – though it wasn't a bad surprise, just an I-didn't-think-that's-where-you-were-going-with-that surprise. It must not have translated the same for her, though, because her other eye shot open and she grimaced. "Shit, I'm making such a mess of this! Never mind, just forget I said anything!" Her face was fairly flaming by now and she made to walk back into the pub, but Harry grabbed her arm.
"Hey." He felt her entire body cringe. "You didn't bollocks it up, you just surprised me. No one's ever asked me something like that before, and I sure as hell never expected it from you." It would certainly explain her recent interest in his relationship, though. He tipped his head to contemplate his long-time friend. "You're serious, though, right? You really want to… to be with both of us like that?"
"Yes! Do you think I would embarrass myself like this if I didn't?" She put her hands over her face, her bark of laughter skirting the edge of hysteria. "Oh my God, what am I even doing? I can't believe I just asked you to do that!"
Harry laughed and pulled her into a loose, friendly embrace. "Well, who else would you ask? I can't see you putting an ad in Swish and Flick or something." This made Hermione laugh, too.
"God, no. It needs to be men I can trust, and who won't think less of me for wanting to try it. Of course, it also helps if I find the men attractive, too…" Her smile was a bit more salacious than Harry was used to seeing and it caught him off guard. He'd not had a lot of reasons to consider her sexual side before, and certainly wasn't used to seeing it directed at him.
"So… what do you think?" Hermione's expression sobered, as though she was bracing herself for his mockery, or perhaps just an outright dismissal.
"I think someone has run off with the real Hermione and left this sexed-up one in her place."
She gave his shoulder a shove. "Very funny. And I believe the point I'm making here is that this version isn't sexed up!" They grinned at each other for a moment and then her serious expression was back. "Honestly, I wasn't sure how you were going to react. I was afraid you were going to laugh at me, or maybe just be grossed out."
"Grossed out? Why would I be grossed out?"
"I don't know, because I'm your friend? And I'm not a man? I wasn't aware you routinely slept with women."
"I don't," Harry said, "I mean I haven't, but – I don't know, this is different. It's not a relationship; you're just looking for a new experience. And if that's something I can help with, I'm willing to try. Severus is probably the one to convince, anyway."
"Well, I don't want you to feel obligated or take pity on me, and if Severus doesn't want to, I completely understand. And it would just be the one time, remember, I don't want to get in the way of your relationship. I see how possessive he is of you already—"
"Hermione," Harry interrupted, a slight grin on his face. "It's fine." He wasn't used to seeing Hermione so flustered, but also knew this was a vulnerable thing she'd just laid bare. He was pretty sure he wouldn't have had the gumption to ask if the situation had been reversed, and that made him want to protect this even more. "Let me talk to Severus about it and I'll let you know, okay?"
"Okay." She heaved a sigh and nodded, the tension dissolving from her shoulders.
"But if he doesn't agree to it, you have to promise me – promise me – you won't take it personally."
"I won't. I promise!" she added, smiling at the stern look he was giving her. "And thank you, Harry. Really. For even considering it." She looped her arm through his, turning them to walk back up the sidewalk.
The Hermione-of-old seemed to be back, much more at ease and confident than she'd looked all evening. Secretly, Harry wondered how long she'd been carrying this around with her, just waiting for the right opportunity to ask. He felt rather chuffed that she trusted him and Severus enough to bring her fantasy to life. After all, it would be a first for them, too.
"If nothing else," Hermione added, her airy voice nearly obscured by the wave of sound that hit them when she opened the door to the pub, "maybe I can just watch you two together."
Harry nearly tripped on the step. "When did you get so kinky?"
"Maybe there's just more to me than meets the eye," she said, a sly edge to her voice.
There always was, Harry thought. Curious now, he allowed his gaze to sweep the length of her body, wondering what it'd be like to be with a woman – and his closest female friend, at that. Would he like it? What if he didn't?
It wasn't until he was back inside the pub and had Severus in his sights, the man's gaze already searching Harry's face for information, that he wondered if he'd ever get the chance to find out. And how the hell he was even going to ask.
Harry stepped out of the Floo and into the flat he shared with Severus, dropping his Quidditch bag on the hearth with an inelegant-sounding thump. As he passed through the kitchen, he grabbed a large apple off the counter, eating nearly half of it in his first two bites. He was always ravenous after practice, though not always just for food – exercise of any sort tended to put him in the mood for… certain other physical activities as well.
However, those would just have to wait. Today was the day he'd decided he would talk to Severus about Hermione's request. He'd been putting it off for over a week now, but knew it would only be a matter of time before Hermione started pressing him for an answer. And he couldn't blame her – it was probably torture knowing this question was hanging in the air between them, unresolved.
Having barely set foot in their sitting room, Harry was about to take another bite of his apple when two hands grabbed him and pushed him up against the wall. His grunt was quickly followed by a grin. He knew Severus had a thing for him when he was sweaty and smelling of physical exertion. But as pleasurable as it was having Severus softly undulating against him, nibbling along his jaw and neck (especially that spot right behind his ear), he knew he had to focus.
"Severus, wait," Harry said, one palm against the man's chest. In response, Harry's buttocks were squeezed and his body was pressed tighter against the wall. Severus always had a way of making it hard for Harry to concentrate, but this time he needed to focus. When Severus' kisses had almost made their way around to Harry's lips, Harry quickly jammed the apple in his mouth, waiting for his lover to notice. Sure enough, Severus kissed the skin of the fruit, but pulled back abruptly to see what had happened.
Harry grinned like a fool around the apple. "Sobwee," he said, but Severus seemed less than impressed. Probably not the best way to start this conversation, Harry, he chided himself. He removed the apple. "Sorry, I was just trying to get your attention. Before this goes any further, I… there's something I need to talk to you about."
Severus' expression was a mixture of things, none of which seemed good: concern, suspicion, wariness.
"Not about us," Harry countered, hoping to set Severus' mind at ease. "Well, actually, it's sort of about us." God, he was already mucking this up. He'd felt much more confident about it earlier, but that was before Severus was standing in front of him, scrutinizing him like a lab experiment. Hermione had been right to be nervous – how did you broach the topic of a threesome to someone? Especially to a prickly lover who seemed to have no interest in women nor in sharing his partner?
Harry sighed. "Remember our last get-together at the pub, when Hermione pulled me aside?" He watched as Severus' expression shifted to one of cautious intrigue. "Well, she confided in me about a few things." Harry cast his mind about for where to begin, then decided it'd be easiest to back his way into the topic. Forgiving himself the bad pun, he shook his head. "I, uh, found out that Phillip broke up with her because she wouldn't let him do it from behind."
"From behind what?"
Harry burst out laughing. "Yes, thank you!" he exclaimed, almost wishing Hermione could have been there to hear their exchange. The quizzical and slightly annoyed look on Severus' face almost sent Harry into another fit of laughter, but he tempered the urge. Barely. "No, from behind, as in anal sex."
"I am familiar with the concept," Severus said, situating himself on the sofa.
Harry shrugged with a grin. "Her words, not mine."
"I would prefer it if you used yours." It appeared Severus was making himself open and available for the conversation, which was a good sign – it meant Harry had done at least one thing right so far. He sagged in relief and plopped down on the sofa next to Severus.
"Okay. So, the reason we ended up outside was because Hermione wanted to ask me something. A favor, really." Buck up, Harry, just throw it out there. He took a deep breath. "She wants to have a threesome with us. Just once. Or if not that, then she wants to watch us together. But I'm not sure if she was serious about that part or not."
Harry braved a look at Severus and saw… nothing. His expression hadn't changed. Instead, Severus asked, "Is this something you wish to do?"
Severus sighed. "That is not an answer to my question."
"I know, I just wanted to know what you think."
"I think you should answer my question."
Harry bit his lip, remembering back to the conversation with Hermione and how he'd felt about it at the time. The same sense of protectiveness rushed over him and he realized that regardless of his turmoil over asking Severus about it, his answer really hadn't changed. "Yeah, I would like to do it."
"Then I would be amenable as well."
"You're really not going to argue with me about this?"
"Is there some reason I should?"
"I don't know, no. I guess I just figured you wouldn't be interested."
"Why would you assume that?"
"Because she's female…?"
"Gender makes no difference to me."
Harry blinked. "What? You mean… are you bi?"
Severus gave an indifferent shrug of his shoulder. "As a rule I despise labels, so no, I do not consider myself bisexual. I have, however, been with a woman before. Two, in fact, though not at the same time. It is merely a different facet of sexual experience." He turned his body to regard Harry closer. "Am I correct in assuming you feel threatened by this?"
How did Harry feel about it? He wasn't quite sure what to do with this new information. Did it mean Severus would eventually leave him in order to be with a woman again? How had he not known all this about Severus before? He had assumed they were both of the 'men-only' persuasion. This conversation was not going at all how Harry suspected it would.
"Harry." A warm hand cupped the side of his face and he looked up into Severus' eyes. "Just because I have slept with women does not mean they are my preference. The circumstances surrounding those encounters were far from romantic, in any case. I would have thought it obvious by now that you are my preference."
Well. Harry bit his lip but the pleased smile forced its way out anyway.
"You said yourself this was a favor to Hermione," Severus continued. "That does not change what we share together, it merely enhances our realm of experience, both together and with a third person." Here Severus paused a moment, his thumb idly stroking Harry's cheek. "To be honest, I am quite enjoying the thought of seeing you with a woman."
Harry looked up at his lover again, expecting that to be a joke, but saw only a keen, dark gaze looking back. He realized for the first time there was probably a lot more at play here – for all of them – than he had originally assumed. Perhaps some airing of fantasies was in store for each one of them.
"Have you never been sexually curious about women before?" Severus asked.
Harry thought about that. "Not really. I don't really think of them that way. I've kissed a few, but that's all."
"Did you enjoy that aspect?"
It was Harry's turn to shrug. "It was all right. Nice, I guess, but it didn't excite me – not like kissing you does. I still want to try being with a woman, though, just to see what it's like, and this might be my best chance to do that. Plus, it's something we'd get to do together, but it's also for Hermione, and I like that."
The hand against Harry's cheek slipped lower until the fingers of Severus' hand settled at the junction of his neck and shoulder.
"Very well, then. Set it up, Mr. Potter. But later, if you don't mind. I believe I was in the middle of something here before you… diverted me." As though to ensure he wouldn't be blocked again, Severus sought out what was left of the apple in Harry's hand and tossed it across the room.
Harry had just enough time to flash a grin before he was being pressed back into the sofa and soundly kissed.
"Just come out whenever you're ready, Hermione," Harry called through the bathroom door.
Ready? How does one become ready for something like this? To sleep with your best friend and his partner – who was, in fact, your former professor? It was beyond surreal. Hermione took a deep breath, reminding herself she was the one who'd instigated this. She had wanted to liberate herself in the bedroom, to stop feeling so inexperienced. And she still wanted that, but couldn't help wondering if perhaps this baptism-by-fire method might have been a bit too much at once.
When she'd arrived at Harry and Severus' flat, they'd started with some light conversation and a drink in the sitting room. It had done little to calm her nerves, but she was grateful for the gesture. Then, in less time than she would have thought possible, the wine glasses were empty and the conversation had reached its natural end. In its place, anticipation settled in, a weighty, expectant thing that prickled along the tops of her arms. It was time. Severus must have taken that as his cue, for he stood and looked between Harry and Hermione.
"Shall we adjourn?" Severus had asked quietly. Then, without waiting for an answer, he'd turned and walked out of the room.
Hermione remembered thinking that her heart was going to beat its way out of her chest. She couldn't believe she was there, about to do… that. It was like watching her life rush towards her, only with nowhere to run.
"Ready?" Harry asked, immediately drawing her gaze. His voice was quiet and familiar and it brought her back to herself. By way of a response, she asked if she could use their shower, just to freshen up. It would be her third shower of the day, but they didn't need to know that. She was just nervous. Truth be told, she was finding the transition between the familiar setting of 'drinks and conversation' to the unfamiliar setting of 'what was to come next' a bit daunting, and thought some time alone to re-center might ease that.
It seemed to have done the trick, for she was standing over the sink, staring at her reflection in the mirror not twenty minutes later. Well, she encouraged herself, tightening the sash around her bathrobe. Time to put that vaunted Gryffindor courage to the test!
She switched off bathroom light and opened the door. The bedroom was warm and dimly lit, the illumination a combination of a low-burning fire and several lit candles, all charmed to float mid-way up the room. She wasn't sure if this was normal for Harry and Severus or if it was just for her benefit, but the effect was comforting and romantic, and she was glad for it.
Once her eyes adjusted, the scene that presented itself nearly took her breath away. Both men were already on the bed, locked in a deep kiss. Harry was kneeling over Severus' lap, his dark blue, form-fitting athletic briefs his only article of clothing. A soft moan floated over to where she stood and she realized it was Harry who had made it. She could see why: Severus, minimally clad himself in a white undershirt and black boxers, had gripped Harry's buttocks and pulled him closer. Harry adjusted to the position by draping his arms over Severus' shoulders and resuming the kiss, a slow, exploratory thing where Harry repeatedly captured Severus' lower lip between his own. A warm-up rather than a seduction, she realized.
Not for the first time Hermione was struck by the beauty of these two men together. She'd long admired the way they interacted together, their constant snarky banter almost a love song between them. Well, there was no 'almost' about it – they were in love. It was never more obvious to her than in that moment: the way Harry melted into the embrace, relaxed and happy, and the proprietary and desirous way Severus held him in return. Sometimes they seemed almost a singularity; she wasn't sure where one began and the other ended, it was just one continuous circle of masculinity and rightness and hard flesh, and Merlin it was turning her on.
She had always found Harry cute in a boyish way, with his youthful features and compact frame. But Severus, he had long been an enigma for her. Lulled by the sound of his deep, resonant voice, she had always felt he was like a forbidden and dangerous fruit – a challenge – qualities that had always tickled something within her depths. Now, the realization that she was likely going to find out if he was as thorough and meticulous in the bedroom as he'd always been in the classroom sent a zip of electricity straight between her legs.
Distracted as she'd been, she barely registered Harry getting off the bed. As he approached, his steps slow and measured as though testing his welcome, Hermione couldn't help but appreciate the view. Quidditch really had kept him in excellent shape. As a Seeker, he couldn't get too bulky, but that wouldn't suit Harry's build anyway. He'd always been lean, but being a professional athlete had given his muscles – especially those on his arms, chest and legs – obvious definition. Really, with those hypnotic eyes, thick black hair (the kind that made her itch to dig her fingers into) and his toned body, it was amazing Severus kept his hands off Harry at all.
She remembered many times in her youth when she'd felt a flare of attraction for her friend, though thankfully it was usually a fleeting thing, as it never seemed to be reciprocated. At the time she hadn't realized it was because Harry's head was turned by men; she had assumed it was something to do with her – that she just wasn't Harry's type. But now, as he stopped in front of her, all of that history melted away. It didn't matter if his arousal tonight would be superficial, or if it was more about the situation than because of her gender. It didn't matter because the look in his eyes spoke volumes: You are safe here. I am curious, too. Thank you for trusting us with this.
It was that, more than anything, that gave her the confidence to proceed. Which was good, as Harry didn't seem content to wait. He reached out a hand and gently grasped one of hers, then leaned closer, his lips hovering above her mouth. Instantly she became aware of his scent, a combination of warmed skin and a fresh-smelling soap. She filled her lungs with it, relishing him for a moment, then nodded back, staring into his eyes.
At the first press of his lips against hers, she felt her body begin to relax into it, all the while thinking I'm kissing Harry, I'm kissing Harry! Oh, so this is what it feels like to kiss Harry! His lips were softer than she'd expected – not that she'd known what to expect – but his tongue was firm where it slid against the seam of her mouth. A question. More than anything, she was pleased to discover that kissing her best friend of twelve years – and inviting his tongue into her mouth to tangle with hers – wasn't weird at all. In fact, there was something familiar, yet sweetly taboo about it, and it was having a rather pleasant effect on her.
The feeling compounded when she felt a strong hand slide around the small of her back and pull her closer against him. She sighed and slid her hands up his arms, gripping firm biceps beneath her fingers. He felt so sturdy; so solid. She had always felt safe around Harry, but hadn't anticipated how much she'd enjoy that security in a sexual context.
She was about to protest Harry pulling his mouth away when she realized why he'd done it: Severus had moved off the bed to stand beside them. Having shed his shirt, he stood there only in his boxers. There was something unaccountably sexy about seeing him in such an extreme state of undress, as her strongest memories of him were always in full teacher's robes, with only his face and hands exposed. She had often wondered what lay beneath them, and now she was getting to see: a slender but trim body, pale skin (though not the pallor she remembered from her youth), and an enticing trail of dark hair that led south of his navel and into the waistband of his shorts. His eyes, which she had always assumed were black, seemed softer now; in this light, or perhaps in this mood, they were actually pools of the deepest brown.
Severus slid a hand around her cheek, the tips of his fingers cupping the back of her neck, and gently pulled her face towards his. His kiss was immediately discernible from Harry's. His technique was more calculated – where Harry's had been eager, Severus' had finesse. The tip of his nose was more angular when it pressed against her cheek, and his stubble caused a light burn where it rasped across her skin. The effect was masculine and heady, and terribly, terribly arousing.
For a moment, she was lost in the sensation of warm flesh and strong arms and questing lips. Lost in the who, and what, and where of what she was about to do. She was trying hard to stay present, to take in everything she could, but these two men were making that so damned difficult. Already she was on near overload with lust and nerves and a whole host of other sensations. She was determined to remember and enjoy every aspect of this encounter, however, and so forced herself to refocus as Severus pulled back.
"What all did you two discuss doing?" Severus asked, his voice soft but oddly jarring against the energy that had built in the quiet of the room.
"We didn't, really," Harry answered and Severus cast a withering look in his direction. "I'm sorry, I'm new to this!" He offered an impish grin and Severus turned back to Hermione.
"I am positive I do not need to elucidate all the activities we can perform together. Is there anything you are uncomfortable with or opposed to, and want off the table from the start?"
Hermione couldn't help thinking he sounded like her professor again. Far from it being a turn-off, it ignited something of a sub-fantasy in her. She found herself with the urge to grin but decided it would be best not to share this new development in case she made them uncomfortable by it. "No, I think anything is fine. I'd like to try whatever you have in mind."
"It is more about whatever you had in mind, Hermione."
She felt a flush of warmth at the attention and care they were showing for her. "Well, just do whatever comes naturally and if I don't like it, I'll tell you. Does that work or do you need something more specific?"
"That will work," Severus acknowledged, drawing her hand into his and leading her over to the bed. "Would you prefer we explain what we are going to do at each stage or not?"
Hermione was about to turn and sit on the bed when Severus stopped her, his hand dropping to the sash around her robe. For a moment, she was distracted by seeing his fingers slowly unwinding the knot, knowing she was about to be naked in front of these two men. A shiver passed through her. "No, I don't want this to be too academic, I just want to feel it. For once—" she cleared her throat when her robe fell open "—I just want to turn my brain off."
"Very well," Severus purred, sliding the robe off her shoulders. She blushed at the appraising look he gave her before he turned to drape it over a nearby chair.
Watching him twist his body like that fixed her with the sudden urge to kiss along the waistband of his boxers. Before she knew it, she was bent over and her lips were on him. She felt him startle slightly, but he turned back around and relaxed into the attention, settling his hands lightly upon her back. She gripped his hips and mouthed her way along the warm flesh of his abdomen and stomach, up around his navel, and back down to his waist.
She wasn't sure what made her slide her tongue underneath the elastic band, but could feel more than hear his intake of breath. She grinned. She really wanted to touch him through his boxers but wasn't sure on the etiquette. This was someone else's partner she was handling. Even though they had given her permission to join them, that didn't necessarily mean it included any and all liberties she cared to take as well. Asking outright felt like it would be awkward, so she settled on a quick look up at Severus, waiting until she met his eyes.
He must have understood something in the look, for he gave a subtle incline of his head in return.
"I'm not sure I'm much good at this," Hermione said, and Severus' expression seemed to soften at that.
"Shy of teeth, there is little you could do that would not please me."
Hermione flushed at his generous assessment, but kept on with her task, slipping her fingers underneath the top of his boxers and easing them down slowly. He smelled earthy and warm and, while he was not yet erect, she could see he was definitely gaining interest in the proceedings. She sat on the edge of the bed, putting herself at a more comfortable angle.
At the first press of her tongue against him, he sighed, caressing her back with one of his hands. By the time she had wrapped her lips around him, she could feel him hardening in her mouth, and it made her suck in earnest.
"God, that's hot," she heard Harry say from somewhere above her. She had almost forgotten he was there; he'd been so quiet. Soon after, another hand joined the one already on her back and she heard kissing above her. Even though she couldn't see it, she could picture it, and she let the imagined visuals of it fuel her attentions on Severus.
He stopped her a few minutes later with a gentle grasp of her shoulder, and then pulled free of Hermione's mouth. At first she thought she'd done something wrong, but when she looked up at him, his face bore a smirk.
"Not so fast, my dear. There is still much to be done yet."
She swallowed, her stomach fluttering with excitement and nerves. He was fully erect now, that much she could see, and it caused her mind to blur with ideas of how, and where, he might be planning to use it.
Severus stepped forward, easing Hermione back onto the bed. Once she was comfortable, he lifted one of her legs and began kissing down the length of it, switching to her inner thigh once he'd passed her knee. She squeaked and made to cover herself, but he gently pulled her hand away.
"I am merely returning the favor," he murmured, so quiet she almost didn't hear it. She could feel the vibrations of his voice against her skin, though, and she squirmed, trying not to feel embarrassed that she was growing very wet.
"Are you typically multi-orgasmic?"
She nearly choked at the question. Severus' lips were still next to her skin and he was kissing lightly as he spoke, sending tingles all down her leg.
"I… I don't know," she admitted.
"Do you orgasm at all during intercourse?"
The simplicity of the question caught her off guard. She had, of course, but not every time and not with every lover. She assumed that was normal. "Sometimes, yes," she answered.
"'Sometimes'?" Severus repeated, looking as though he had something sour in his mouth. "How appalling. Your lovers hardly deserve that title if they cannot at least put your pleasure on par with their own."
"Women can have more than one orgasm in a session?" Harry chimed in. "That hardly seems fair."
"Yes, Harry. With the proper technique and attention, some women can have a great deal more."
"One is fine, Severus, but thank you," Hermione interjected.
He scoffed. "One is a given. I had hoped to try for three."
"Three?" This time Hermione did choke, but tried to cover it with a cough. "I… I don't know if I can do three."
"Well," he said with an air of academic curiosity, "let's find out, then, shall we?" She had just enough time to catch the gleam in Severus' eyes before his face disappeared between her legs.
"Oh, God!" she cried when she felt his tongue press into her folds, his lips not far behind. Large hands grabbed her hips and began rotating her pelvis with subtle back-and-forth movements, the motion of which kept causing his nose to… oh… to keep bumping… just there.
At a loss for what to do with her hands, she settled one on Severus' head, threading the soft, fine hair through her fingers, and the other she flailed around a bit, looking for something to grab, when Harry finally reached out and rescued it, his palm warm against her own.
He leaned down close to Hermione's ear. "Please tell me this isn't the first time you've let someone do this for you."
"No… just the… first one… like this," she said breathlessly.
Harry grinned. He hadn't the first clue how to perform oral sex on a woman, but figured if anyone was bound to be good at it, it would be Severus. Harry at least knew firsthand what thorough use the man could make of his tongue.
He squirmed just thinking about it, his cock giving a sympathetic throb. To distract himself, he decided to explore Hermione's body, and began by smoothing his free hand along her abdomen.
"You're so soft," he said with surprise, for some reason delighted by this discovery. Her small-but-full breasts bounced on her chest as she moved, and his hands itched to grab them. He wasn't sure if he could squeeze them, so he settled on a gentle massage, rolling her nipples between two fingers. It seemed to be the right thing to do because Hermione gasped, arching up into his touch. Curious, he leaned over and sucked one of her nipples into his mouth, wanting to see what that little peak of flesh felt like against his tongue – so different than the flat nubs on his and Severus' chests.
The twin assaults upon Hermione's body elicited a series of needy sounds, and she eventually moved her hand off Severus' head to draw the sheets beneath her into a clutch. Shortly after, her whole body stiffened and she moaned, squeezing Harry's hand hard enough to bruise. He gasped, shocked by her strength, and gently tried to loosen her grip so he could free his hand. He only grabbed at something that tight was when his climax was particularly intense, so it made him happy to know they had just given her one like that, too.
She was still lying there panting when Severus sat up and dabbed his face dry with a flannel. One, he mouthed to Harry, who grinned back, somehow even more turned on by the man than he was five minutes ago.
Once Hermione had recovered, Severus pulled some pillows over and readjusted her on the bed. She still had that just-shagged smile on her face, which he took as a compliment.
Turning, he pulled Harry into his arms and began kissing him. He could feel the initial startle, as though Harry was surprised it was his turn, but he immediately kissed back, making that tiny whimper of need that wore Severus' defenses down every time. He turned them slightly so Harry's front was out of view of Hermione, who had begun to idly watch them, and slipped his fingers around the base of Harry's cock.
He could feel Harry tense at the contact, likely wondering what was next, and Severus answered it for him by stroking just how Harry liked. Sure enough, Harry hardened quickly under his touch. Severus was looking forward to pairing his lover with Hermione, to give him his first sexual experience with a woman, but he wanted to make sure Harry was good and hard before approaching the bed again.
Elongating and slowing the strokes, Severus put his lips next to Harry's ear and used his voice to full effect. He began to describe, in detail, what he was looking forward to seeing, making sure Harry had something to be turned on by in case being with a woman didn't prove to be enough. The last thing Hermione needed in a revelatory experience was to become doubtful of her appeal, should Harry's interest appear to waver. Severus didn't want to over-stimulate him, though, and stopped just as Harry's knees were starting to soften, his posture leaning too much into the contact.
With the phantom touch of Severus' hand still on his cock, Harry climbed into bed. He was surprised at how nervous he was. He was about to have sex with a woman – and not just any woman, but his best friend. Would he do it right? Would she like it? Would he?
Parting her legs, he moved to kneel between them, and she gave him a shy smile. Yet there was also something else there, too – a keenness in her eyes that told him the nerves were entirely on his side.
Well, guess that answers that, he thought.
Harry tried to line himself up, but didn't really know what he was aiming for. A small hand suddenly gripped his cock and all focus narrowed to that one sensation. Hermione was guiding him.
He looked down into her eyes, needing that last bit of encouragement. This seemed like a seminal moment – one you couldn't take back. He was about to be as intimate with Hermione as it was possible to be, and for some reason it was important to know she still wanted him to. When she gazed back up at him, her eyes began to darken, and then in one swift motion, tightened her legs around his hips and pulled. Before he knew what was happening, his cock was plunged into the hottest, wettest space he had ever experienced, her inner walls gripping him like so many silk fingers.
Harry groaned, a long string of curse words trailing behind it, and Hermione chuckled, which caused her insides to clench and ripple around him more.
"Oh… fuck… wow… Hermione…" he said between breaths, then opened his eyes to look down at Hermione again. "I'm not hurting you, am I?"
"Not in the least," she said, grinning. "Just move!" she added, punctuating her command with a sharp slap to his arse.
Harry didn't need to be told twice. He tried a few slow, experimental thrusts, keen to watch Hermione's face for any sort of reaction, and to see if angle or depth made much of a difference. It was a bizarre but good sensation. Better than good, it sort of reminded him of Severus' mouth, only… not. He bit his lip and closed his eyes again, enjoying the feel of that smooth slide before settling into a comfortable rhythm.
He couldn't believe he'd never tried this before. He'd already made the discovery that Hermione felt good everywhere. Not that Severus didn't – it was just a different good: something more delicate and soft. However, he knew the fascination would have a short shelf life, as it was more of a novelty than a turn-on. When he was with a man, there was something so raw, almost animalistic about it. He loved that feeling of wanting to consume, of wanting to be consumed, of all that hard, angular flesh…
He glanced over at Severus and saw the man was slowly stroking himself as he watched Harry and Hermione together, and it was all Harry could do not to come just from that visual alone. Severus knew it, too, for he stopped when he saw Harry's reaction and shot him a look that said, Don't you dare. We are here for Hermione.
Groaning in frustration, Harry turned his attention back to Hermione, and snapped his hips in tune to her increasingly enthusiastic pleas. Severus moved from his chair to sit on the bed, leaning over Hermione. He began kissing her in a way that made Harry ache to participate, to feel Severus' tongue against his own like that while also mingling with hers. Then Severus whispered something close to her ear, something low and rumbling that Harry couldn't hear. She bit her lip with that same shy smile as before.
The next thing he knew, Hermione slipped one of her hands down between their bodies, resting it just underneath where his abdomen pressed against her. Every time he rocked into her, she let out a breathy little moan, the skin on her face flushing a bit more.
When she finally gasped and held her breath, it took him a minute to realize what was happening. The flush on her face bloomed all down her chest, a mottled pink against the slight sheen of sweat. Then her body seemed to clench around him, rhythmically squeezing his cock within her folds. He froze, not sure what to do, until her hands on his hips jolted him, urging him to move. When he did, she moaned, low and deep in her throat, her knees squeezing around his hips. Her whole body was tense for an endless moment and then she finally exhaled, collapsing where she lay, her breathing hard. First time or not, there was no question in Harry's mind what had just happened.
And even if her orgasm was due to whatever she had been doing with her fingers (and despite the fact he hadn't climaxed with her), Harry still felt inordinately pleased with himself. A wide grin split his face and, delighted, he looked up at Severus.
Two! They mouthed it in unison, and Harry had to stifle a laugh.
As they all readjusted, Severus settled himself on his back, his head propped up with a couple of pillows. He held his cock while Hermione straddled over him, and as soon as he'd lined himself up, he shifted his grip to her hips. She gasped as she slid down onto him. It was the first time Harry had ever seen Severus with someone else and he found it vicariously arousing. He knew what it felt like to be spread open by that glorious prick.
Harry looked up at Severus, his look saying, I don't really know what to do here. In response, Severus levitated a bottle of lube over to him and gave his head a quick nod in Hermione's direction. Harry grinned. Well, that he knew how to do.
"Both," Severus murmured.
Both? What was Severus on about? There was only one opening left— Oh. Ohhh. Harry watched as dark intent ignited behind Severus' eyes, an understanding that made his cock jerk in anticipation. With newfound resolve, he set to both of his tasks.
Severus was already circling his hips, bouncing Hermione lightly, when Harry inserted his first finger. She squeaked and jerked forward, but didn't go far because Severus had anchored his hands on her hips.
"Okay?" Harry asked.
"Yes, it's just… I wasn't sure what to expect. It feels a bit… weird…" She smiled over her shoulder.
"I know," Harry said, smoothing his free hand along his own arse before dipping a finger inside. "But that'll change in a minute."
Fortunately, preparing a woman seemed to be the same as a man, except that this was a first for Hermione. He tried to remember what his own first time was like and to mimic the preparation Oliver Wood had used on him. Of course, that had been a frantic tussle behind the Quidditch broom shed, not a lazy fuck in bed where they still had their wits about them. Still, Harry remembered his first fondly, and wanted Hermione to as well.
Harry re-lubed his fingers and slid a second one in this time. She grunted a bit, but at the edge of it was a moan. Harry smirked. Severus was doing an admirable job of keeping her distracted with his own shallow thrusts, ensuring that the sensations stayed pleasurable and not jolting. Once Harry felt she was accommodating two fingers well, he set about slicking up his cock and then half-kneeled, half-crouched on the bed behind Hermione.
He liked the way her arse looked speared on Severus' cock. It was not a view Harry ever got to see, but he decided he very much liked it. He smoothed his hands across her buttocks, discovering the roundness of her hips was not only perfect for gripping, but also soft against his pelvis once he'd slowly but fully seated himself inside.
They only managed an awkward rhythm to start, but it didn't matter. Feeling Severus' cock slide in counterpoint to his own, not directly, but against what felt like a thin barrier, was erotic as hell. While one of them was pulling out, the other was pushing in, with half of each thrust meeting somewhere in the middle. They weren't actually touching, but Harry still felt everything. He couldn't help but think of it as fucking Severus via Hermione, a kinky notion that he found quite to his liking.
Harry continued going slow, partially because he was afraid of hurting Hermione and partially because the balance needed for his angle of entry required it. Severus must have read something on his face, then, for he eased Hermione down on top of him, his arms cradling her back. At first Harry couldn't figure out why he'd done that, but then realized what the new position would afford him: easier access. He grinned back at Severus, who acknowledged it with an arched brow and a twitch of his lips – his signature smirk.
Harry readjusted himself by scooting closer to Hermione's backside, mostly kneeling now, something his thighs were already thanking him for. Experimentally, he slid his hips forward – still as gently as possible – only to notice Severus joined him, pushing his hips up in a series of short, rhythmic thrusts. It was likely the extent of his range of motion in this position, but Hermione didn't seem to mind; on the contrary, she began to moan, her hips making small movements in tune to the two men inside her. Harry could only imagine what the dual penetration felt like; part of him was a little envious he'd never get to find out, at least not in the same way she was.
After that, it was mostly a blur. He remembered lacing the fingers of his free hand through Severus', helping to anchor his position, when Hermione suddenly started grinding herself down onto Severus. There was no other word for it. All Harry could do is try to keep up with the motion of her hips, but everything escalated so fast he wasn't sure how successful he was. She came shortly thereafter with a shout, a sound that trailed off into a series of airy noises, and Harry slipped out by accident – though it must have been okay because she let out a breathy gasp at his retreat, then collapsed, sweaty and panting, on top of Severus.
Harry looked over at Severus, but neither felt the need to say it – the smug gleam in Severus' eyes was enough. He had always been a man of his word, after all.
After extricating himself from Hermione, Severus held out a hand for Harry, who grabbed it, only to find himself yanked forward and into the man's arms. After a kiss that was way too chaste for their evening's activities, Harry found himself being flipped over onto all fours.
Harry's cock got the message long before his brain did. He'd almost forgotten that he'd be tasked with the job of preparing himself along with Hermione. He grinned back over his shoulder at Severus, who was slicking himself with the bottle of lube he'd retrieved from somewhere in the bed. Harry realized he'd had yet to come tonight: a fact his cock hadn't forgotten and was now letting him know in no uncertain terms. Harry wiggled his arse impatiently, and received a sharp smack in return.
The noise startled Hermione. She didn't think she'd been sleeping, exactly, but she hadn't been precisely conscious, either. She was floating around somewhere in her mind, now just a cavernous space, empty and clear as it had rarely been before. She smiled; it was a lazy, languid thing, much like the speed of her thoughts.
Was that a spanking? She wondered at the sound absently, from whatever small corner of her mind was still thinking. She was almost afraid to open her eyes, lest they had something else planned for her. She didn't think she could take any more tonight, not with her limbs like dead weight and her body thoroughly exhausted.
Then the bed shifted and she heard what sounded like a low growl. Opening her eyes, she saw that Severus was positioning himself behind Harry.
She sat up quicker than she intended and felt the room start to spin, then groaned and grabbed her head, easing herself back down. She rolled onto her side to face them instead, her heart pounding a bit with the realization.
They're going to let me watch? Neither man had acknowledged her directly, but she could tell they knew they had an audience; had not only intended it, but wanted it.
Harry sat up on his knees and braced his arms on the headboard as Severus moved in close behind him. Harry closed his eyes when Severus started to push forward, his mouth slack. Hermione thought she could understand that sensation now. She swallowed, transfixed, as she watched them get closer and closer together, until finally there was no space between them at all. Severus was whispering in Harry's ear, nipping at his lobe, but she couldn't hear what was said. When Harry finally nodded, Severus pulled his hips back a few inches and then slid back in, a maneuver that was met with a relieved-sounding groan from Harry.
It didn't take long before they developed a practiced rhythm. One of Severus' arms was cradling Harry's chest, the other curled around Harry's hip, stroking him at the same time. Severus pressed his face against Harry's shoulder, a combination of teeth and lips and breath, a melody of exertion and pleasure beginning to echo between them.
Hermione thought she could probably have a mental orgasm just from watching these two men together, if such a thing were even possible. Part of her ached to join in, her body covered in fiery tingles despite the pleasures they had already shown her, but she didn't want to spoil the moment. As it was, Harry was practically climbing the headboard, one arm anchored around the top of it while the other grasped the hand against his chest. His face was contorted into a look of intense concentration and feeling, and he was chanting Severus' name in tune to the pleasure being pounded into him.
And then, before Hermione was ready for it to be done, it was done. Then again, they'd both done quite a few things that evening without release, so they were probably overdue. They both froze amid growls and other low noises, their knuckles white where they gripped each other, before they resumed moving, albeit slower and more halting than before. Harry had come all over Severus' hand, and painted a nice stripe across the headboard as well.
Pulling out, Severus flipped Harry over and began cleaning him up, that nimble tongue tracing over Harry's softening cock before moving to his lips, where Harry seemed intent on tasting himself on Severus' tongue. Somehow the gesture seemed more intimate than anything they'd done all night and it suddenly made Hermione feel like she was intruding. She was the visitor in this bed, after all, she just hadn't anticipated how out of place and bereft it would make her feel. Perhaps now was the time to sneak out unnoticed, while they were preoccupied with each other?
Hermione turned slowly, intent on slipping out of bed, when Harry reached over and stopped her, his fingers warm around her wrist.
"No… stay." He was still trying to catch his breath, likely not helped by the fact that Severus was lying on top of him, kissing along Harry's neck and jaw. "Stay with us tonight. Please."
She looked at the two of them, wondering if they'd guessed how she was feeling. She didn't want their pity, but she also didn't want to feel like their dirty little secret, gathering up her things in the middle of the night and Flooing home to an empty bed. The way Harry was looking at her seemed earnest, but this was Harry – he always looked that way.
Then Severus sat up and held out his hand, effectively inviting her to take the spot between them. "I do not cuddle," he remarked, something like amusement underscoring his deep tone, "but I am sure Mr. Potter will oblige."
It was a Saturday in late August when Harry once again found himself at the old pub for another monthly get-together. Hugs and handshakes met him on all sides, followed by exuberant bursts of conversation and an early, if not ambitious, drink order.
It had only been a couple of weeks since their night with Hermione, and maybe it was just a mark of them maturing, but it hadn't been weird at all seeing her again. If anything, Harry felt closer to her now, as if he understood something about her that he hadn't before.
From the moment Hermione had walked in, Harry could see that she was carrying herself differently; there was a rare contentment about her, something he hadn't witnessed in a long time. No longer did she seem slightly uncomfortable at their table, as though acutely aware she was the only one there by herself. Now she just seemed… at ease.
When Hermione looked up at him, he raised his glass minutely. She smiled back, a knowing look in her eyes. She grabbed a fresh pint from the tray going by and lifted hers a fraction in return.
At the other end of the table, the raised voices of the twins interrupted their moment, making both of them turn to listen.
"She was right in front of you all along, mate!" teased George, and Fred chimed in, quick to agree.
"I know. Can you believe she came three times?"
Hermione suddenly spat out her drink, a quick blast of liquid that sprayed the table and prompted a coughing fit. By the time everyone turned to look at her, her face was bright red. She waved it off with an apology, saying it had just gone down the wrong pipe, but Harry knew better. He buried his grin behind the rim of his glass while Severus arched a brow at the two of them, the only evidence of his complicity.
Hermione shot a look at Harry, her accusation evident, but as Fred's story rolled on, it quickly became clear the joke was on her. Harry hadn't told anyone; Fred was simply recounting the tale of how he'd met Sari, his new girlfriend. She was the buyer for a Wizarding toy store in Dublin who'd come to Diagon Alley hoping to source new product lines, but had left hoping to source Fred Weasley instead. Apparently, Fred had been rather thick about the whole thing, a fact George seemed keen to belabor.
"You still have a bit of cream," Severus observed of Hermione, his voice pitched low. He made a discreet gesture above his lip to indicate where.
Hermione looked horrified for a moment, her face even redder than before, but wiped it off as quickly as she could. "It's foam," she corrected.
Harry couldn't stand it anymore. He burst out laughing, much to the confused delight of everyone at the table. A few joined him as best they could, though it soon became obvious they hadn't a clue what was so funny and stopped. Hermione eventually joined in, too, but hers was more likely an act of desperation since the ground had refused to swallow her whole. Even Severus regarded the proceedings with glittering eyes and a small smirk, which, for him, was effectively a guffaw.
The rest of the evening seemed only to devolve from there, at least where the humor was concerned, but Harry found the camaraderie brought him back to his earlier thoughts. That's when he realized what Hermione had been projecting earlier: it was belonging. It was as though something in her – perhaps her friendships, her desires, even her sense of self – had been validated by what they'd done.
And it was no different for him, he realized. Whether it was a victory drink with Ron or a monthly get-together with the whole gang, or even a new experience with Severus or Hermione, he wasn't alone in his experiences. Perhaps that's why this place had resonated with him so much. There had been so many times in his life when he'd felt like the walls of the pub – an overflowing collage of photos and stories and history, paraded about for all of the world to see. But here, with his collected family, he was protected from all that.
Maybe that sense of belonging didn't come from places – Hogwarts, The Burrow, Grimmauld Place, or even a little pub in Gullane – as Harry had always assumed. Maybe the sanctuary came from the people, the ones brave enough, loyal enough, brilliant enough, to support him along the way.
Harry reached under the table and threaded his fingers through Severus', settling their hands against the man's thigh. It earned Harry a sideways look, though the fondness there was evident in the way the corner of Severus' mouth twitched. He gave Harry's hand a squeeze and then continued his conversation with Neville, having barely missed a beat.
Harry smiled. Hermione may have been the one to voice the fantasy, but she wasn't the only one who'd been affected by it. Perhaps Harry had been right – there really had been something in there for all of them.