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“Just knock,” Hermione muttered to herself. “You rap your knuckles against the wood. It’s not difficult. You’ve ridden a dragon. You’ve fought Death Eaters. You’ll not be bested by a bloody door.”

She lifted her fist and—maybe she’d come back later. Or tomorrow. Friday. But then there was the weekend…

Professors had precious little free time and the chances of him wanting to waste it on her were slim, even if he had extended the invitation back in August.

Feel free to come ‘round mine for a cup of tea whenever you’d like, Hermione. He’d probably extended the same empty offer to Ginny, too. Hermione pressed her knuckles into her breastbone, aching at the thought.

He was probably being polite. Kind. Which he was, without a doubt. Brave, too, and brilliant. Not that she enjoyed thinking about that final battle, but the memories were all around her, inescapable. No more than a foot from where she now stood, he’d taken out Dolohov with a silent spell as soon as the man had aimed his wand at her down the hall. Brilliant. And he was charming with a dry wit and great taste in—for Merlin’s sake. She huffed. “Get a grip.”

It was an invitation for tea, not a marriage proposal. Hermione glowered at the door. He was being kind to a student, a former student.

Eighth year was hardly compulsory, but Hogwarts had opened its doors to all those who wished to formally finish their education and, as Hermione saw it, edification. Harry and Ron had chosen to take Kingsley up on his offer to begin Auror training as soon as the dust had settled and no fewer than six departments within the Ministry had offered her similar clearances, but edification. Hermione Granger didn’t start things and fail to finish them.

She’d sat for her Defense N.E.W.T over the summer, along with Charms, Transfiguration, Herbology, and History of Magic, earning O’s across the board, her practical knowledge on those subjects far surpassing that of anything she might’ve learned within a classroom. The only classes she was taking were the subjects she hadn’t had much use for during their year on the run— Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, and Potions, hardly a full course load.

Hence her boredom and further hence the reason why she was staring at the gouged wood of Professor—no, Remus—Lupin’s office door.

Hermione shut her eyes and rapped her knuckles against the wood before she could talk herself out of it. A quick visit. That’s all she wanted. A break in the monotony of—

The door creaked as it opened, Remus blocking the sliver of golden afternoon light streaming through the window. He smiled, small but genuine, the sort that made the creases around his eyes deepen. “Hermione. A pleasant surprise.”

A lump had formed in her throat forcing her to swallow before she could speak. “Professor.”

His smile grew, a hint of his teeth appearing between his pink lips. Lips framed with more than five o’clock shadow though she had no doubt he’d shaved that morning. “I’m not your professor, Hermione.”

“Old habits.” Her face heated. On the scale of bad ideas, where one was failing to enunciate your Floo address correctly and winding up somewhere dodgy, and ten was casting an obliviate with a broken wand a la Lockhart, this was somewhere in the vicinity of a… seven? Like when she’d brewed Polyjuice with Millicent Bullstrode’s cat’s hair. Ugh. If she wasn’t careful, she might wish she’d cast a backfiring obliviate.

Remus ducked his chin, chuckling softly at his scuffed brown loafers before his gaze lifted, green eyes peering at her from beneath his soot-dark lashes. He stepped back and gestured to the room. “Would you like to come in?”

That was why she was here, wasn’t it? To come in? Pass the time? Be a little less bored? And yet, the familiar scent of bergamot and leather and old books and the sharp ozone smell of magic that clung to Remus made her regret her visit.

Did she want to? Unequivocally. Should she? No. She’d toed the line all summer, spent too many hours in Grimmauld’s ancient and noble and vast library with Remus for company, each day a reminder of what she wanted and couldn’t have. Knees knocking together on a worn leather sofa. Fingers brushing as they turned yellowing pages and reached for cups of milky black tea. Shoulders and hips pressed together as they poured over pages and shared secret smiles. Even Harry, sweet oblivious Harry, had begun to grow suspicious, going so far as to ask if there was something else afoot between her and Remus.

Was there? She’d denied it, but she didn’t really know what to make of those moments cloistered away in the stacks, curled up on the sofa in front of the fireplace, her socked feet in Remus’s lap because he’d lifted them there, one large, warm palm curled around her sole, keeping her from wiggling away.

Grimmauld was never truly private, but this, this was playing with fire and yet— “I’d love to.”

She stepped inside, arm brushing his chest as she passed, a flush creeping up her neck at the tiny point of contact, her shoulder against his body. Even though his shirt and her jumper, his warmth was palpable. Remus was heat and she was but a moth, drawn to that flame, stupid about him. His smile, his hands, his voice, his facial hair. Gods. She was a disaster.

Unaware—hopefully—of her turmoil, Remus shut the door and followed her into the small closet that served as his office, the door to his quarters mercifully shut so she didn’t have to think about how his bed potentially existed only feet away. If he kept his quarters at all like his bedroom at Grimmauld—not that she’d had the distinct pleasure of visiting his bedroom, but she’d seen it from the hall— his bed was probably made, his sheets a little wrinkled around the furthest corner. His scent likely still clung to his pillow and—not thinking about it.

His desk was shoved nearly all the way into the alcove beneath an oval window, behind it, his chair. There was barely space for one other chair, a hardbacked awful seat hardly designed for ergonomics let alone comfort.

Remus pointed his wand at the chair, casting a quick cushioning charm and the thoughtfulness of that gesture made her toes curl inside her shoes.  

Hermione perched on the edge of the worn upholstery made soft by Remus’s magic. “I hope I’m not bothering you.”

Remus collapsed into his own chair, the seat creaking beneath his weight. “Hermione.”

She pressed her lips together and lifted her eyes. Remus was staring at her, brows raised in clear exasperation.

“You, a bother?” He rolled his eyes. “I was beginning to worry I’d said something wrong when three weeks had passed and you hadn’t taken me up on my offer for tea.” His brow knit in a frown. “I didn’t, did I? Say something wrong? Because if I did—"

“No! I was—” she paused, mouth struggling to form the words that wouldn’t be a lie, but wouldn’t reveal too much of the truth, either.

“Busy?” Remus supplied.

She shook her head. “Bored, actually. But I know the beginning of term is a busy time for professors, so…”

Remus hummed, lips still turned down in that soft frown. “Bored? You?”

Hermione released a pitiful groan. “I know. I’ve finished my assignments several weeks in advance. I’m not sure if professors are being lenient this year or…”

“If you’re merely overachieving?” Remus teased.

She tucked a curl behind her ear. “Or that.”

“Don’t hex me,” he warned. “But isn’t school supposed to be about more than learning? Or did I hear you wrong when you were trying to sway Harry and Ron into returning?”

“I might’ve said that,” she admitted. “But here I am, so.”

“So?”

“So here I am.” She shrugged. “Harry and Ron chose not to return.”

“Hermione,” Remus chided. “You have other friends.”

“Do I?” she asked. “Ginny and I are…”

Remus waited, brow furrowed.

“We have little in common these days,” she admitted. “She and Harry are…she and Harry and I’m…”

Not with Ron, not anymore. That had fizzled within a week of the final battle, their kiss more of an end than any sort of beginning. Without Ron as a link, she and Ginny had little to discuss. Quidditch? Ha. No, she and Ginny would forever be friends, but they’d never be family and that somehow made a world of difference.

“Well.” The way Remus was staring at her, seeing her, made it hard to breathe. He did that, sometimes. Staring. Too close. Like he knew things other people didn’t. Or maybe she’d been spending too much time with teenage boys whose attention was fleeting. “You have me. Which is to say, we are friends, unless…”

“No!” There was no unless. Except if there was meant to be the caveat of something else, something…more attached. Wishful thinking. “We are. Absolutely.” She coughed, gesticulating around her with a frenzied open-handed gesture. “How’ve you been?”

Remus nodded slowly. “I’ve only witnessed three panic attacks in my classes so I’d say, decent.”

Her laugh was inappropriate, but his was, too, which made her feel a modicum better. “Three times in three weeks? You’re batting a thousand, professor.”

Remus arched a brow.

“Remus,” she amended.

He cleared his throat. “Pardon my manners. Would you like some tea?”

“If it’s not too much to ask.”

He rolled his eyes as he stood, his chair groaning. “You are such an imposition, Hermione. Whatever will I do with you?”

Whatever he wanted.

“Dash of cream, half a spoon of sugar?” he asked, already following through and fixing it.

She nodded.

Remus set the cup and saucer in front of her. “Cheers.”

“Thank you.” Hermione took a sip of tea, letting the hot Earl Grey slither down her throat before she spoke. Perfection. “I know you were kidding, but I do hope I haven’t dropped by at an inopportune time. I probably should’ve owled.”

“Hermione.” He needed to stop that. Saying her name. He put just the slightest emphasis on the second syllable, drawing it out, making it sound like some sort of claim. Mine. Like she was his.

He shook his head, settling back into his chair, the seat giving another low groan that made her bite her lip. He snorted. “No. You’ve saved me from the holy terror of grading fifth-year essays.”

Her brows rose. “Did you want any help with that?”

Remus stared over the chipped rim of his porcelain mug.

“I’m serious,” she said, flushing at the pun and rolling her eyes when he snorted. “I mean it. I’m—Gods, I’m bored, Remus. Out of my skull. I’m halfway tempted to test out of my classes now, but I promised myself I’d finish the year and I’m not one to back down. But Ginny and I have nothing in common, and Susan’s the only other eighth-year girl and she’s engaged to Ernie and do you know what she wants to discuss?”

“Floral arrangements?” Remus hazarded.

“Sex,” she hissed, face burning, hoping he’d have simply given a dumb shrug instead. “She frets worse than anyone I’ve ever met and keeps making me answer the most mortifying questions about Muggle protection. And don’t get me started on the younger years. They want my”—her face flamed further—“autograph. On chocolate frog cards.”

Remus grinned. “Chocolate frogs are delicious. Yours, I’ve found, especially so.”

Hermione gaped.

Remus’s cheeks darkened, a deep pink set against the setting orange glow of the sun. He coughed lightly. “Just—chocolate. Anyway. You, too?”

Her brows rose.

He gestured vaguely at his desk. “I’ve had several anonymous notes left that were of a rather…amorous? Persuasion?”

Hermione scoffed. Love letters. Honestly? She waved for him to pass her the essays.

Remus chortled, but mercifully handed her a stack of parchment. “Enjoy.”

She snatched the essays and gave a gentle harrumph. She would.

***

If she had to read one more essay using the wrong form of to or they’re she’d claw her eyes out. Don’t even get her started on the basic difference between then and than and affect and effect. This was their native tongue, was it not? Good Gods.

She huffed and shoved the stack of essays toward Remus, her red pen nearly dry. He capped his own pen and smiled. “Finished?”

“You’re an excellent Defense professor,” she assured. “But has no one been taught how to structure an essay? And the grammar and spelling.” She groaned.

Remus chuckled through tightly pressed lips. “Indeed. The content is decent but the elocution is—”

“Lacking.” Hermione rolled her eyes. “I can’t help but wonder why Hogwarts never saw fit to institute a class on literature.”

“Ah yes,” Remus said. “Pureblood families were chomping at the bit to teach their children Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte and Emily Dickenson.”

Point made. “Surely there were Wizarding contemporaries.”

“Beadle the Bard?” Remus grinned.

She scoffed. “No wonder Seamus’s idea of poetry is a dirty limerick.”

“Come now,” Remus teased gently. “Those can take effort.”

“There once was a man from Nantucket?”

He sputtered out a laugh. “All right. Fair enough.” Remus grinned, pink lips stretching taut against white teeth. “Who are your favorite poets?”

Hermione crossed her legs. “Honestly? My experience with poetry is regretfully limited. I find it easier to lose myself in a novel than in verse. Perhaps it’s the structure, the necessity for rhyme?”

Remus frowned and something inside her chest faltered.

He stood and crossed to one of the tall bookshelves that adorned the stone walls of the tiny room. Hands tucked into the pockets of his trousers, pulling the fabric taut across his rear—she wasn’t looking, she simply noticed—he scoured the shelves. With a soft aha, Remus plucked a thin, sapphire-colored volume with fraying edges from a shelf and spun to face her. “Here.”

She took it, scouring the front and back. No title, no author. She frowned.

“It’s a compendium,” he said. “Of poems. English, metaphysical. Seventeenth century?”

She ran her finger along the spine and just barely repressed the urge to crack the book open and inhale deeply. “I can—borrow it?”

He nodded.

Hermione bit the inside of her cheek. How far could she press? “I could…pick a poem and write an essay, maybe and—”

Remus shook his head, expression some mix of patience and exasperation and fondness. One warm hand covered hers where she clutched the book. His fingers traced the notches between her knuckles making her shiver. “Absolutely not. You can pick a poem—as many as you’d like—and we can discuss them, but I’m not marking any essays, Hermione.” Remus smirked, his teeth sunk into the flesh of his bottom lip. “If you’re that hard up for red marks and gold stars, I promise to praise your analysis, but no essays. Strictly in-person discussions, you hear?”

“You drive a hard bargain,” she rasped.

Remus pressed the book firmly into her hands. “Tomorrow. Seven o’clock? I’ll see you then?”

She swallowed tightly. “I’ll be there.”

There was no way Remus could’ve missed the blush coloring her cheeks, turning her neck a violent shade of red. No, his eyes lingered on her face, his nostrils flaring softly as he nodded.

She’d be looking forward to it.

***

Fuck.

John.

Donne.

She didn’t give a fig if the man was dead but damn him. Beyond the grave, the veil, wherever, he deserved a decent kick in the arse.

Remus answered the door, stepping back just in time for Hermione to brush past.

“Erm,” Remus started, hand held aloft, gesturing her to enter. “Right. Yes. Come in.”

With a huff, Hermione collapsed into the same wobbling chair with shoddy upholstery. “John Donne is an arse.”

Remus took a seat across from her, snickering softly. “Tell me how really feel.”

She scoffed. “What a load of bollocks. The Flea. I’ve heard more persuasive reasoning from randy fourth years than that—that tripe. My blood and your blood mingle in the belly of a flea. We might as well shag seeing as some of our—our fluids have mixed. Gah!” [1]

The corner of Remus’s mouth curved upwards, making her flush at her outburst.

“I have seen more artful come-ons from fourth years,” Remus chuckled in agreement.

Her shoulders sagged.

Remus didn’t miss it, his head cocking to the side. “Did you think I’d disagree?”

She shrugged. “Who’s to say? I thought it was rather elementary logic, but perhaps my analysis was—”

“Astute?” Remus grinned. “Despite being a classic, John Donne was but a man.”

“A misogynistic man,” she grumbled. “But no worse than Robert Herrick. To the Virgins to Make Much of Time?” [2] She shivered. “Ageist and sexist in one bundle. Hurrah.”

Remus smiled wryly. “Indeed.”

“I’d say thank Merlin times have changed,” she huffed, “but have they? Arranged marriages and—” she dropped off, scowling.

Remus frowned, head cocking in question.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Forget it.”

“No.” He leaned forward. “You’re upset.”

She tucked her hair behind her ears. “It’s just a letter I received from Molly this morning none too subtly scolding me for not yet patching things over with Ron because we were so good together.” She snorted. “Molly has no idea. But she saw fit to liberal mention of how I’m nearing twenty…my prime. As if. To add insult to injury she…”

Remus leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees. His brows knit, nearly meeting. “She what?”

There was no polite way of phrasing Molly’s insult, no matter how delicate she’d thought her own phrasing to be. “She insinuated that because Ron and I had been…familiar, my most winning attribute as a bride had been spoiled and therefore it would be in my best interest to fix things with Ron.” Heat licked at the sides of her jaw. “Someone failed to mention to Molly that it’s the nineteen nineties for Merlin’s sake.”

Remus’s eyes widened with understanding before he schooled his features with a cough, a tinge of pink coloring the crests of his cheeks. “Molly’s got a stick up her arse, Hermione.” Remus’s smile tilted into something secret as he dropped his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “Between you and I, I remember there being quite a fuss about Bill being born seven months after Molly and Arthur wed. Premature, they called him. But I’ve never heard of a ten-pound preemie. Make of that what you will.”

She smiled. There was nothing for her to do with that knowledge but sit upon it gleefully. “Thank you.”

Remus inclined his head. “My pleasure.” He cupped his chin, one finger tapping the swell of his bottom lip where a single pale silver scar bisected his mouth. “John Donne and Robert Herrick were certainly not paragons of gender equity, but not all of their poems quite so…” He paused, eyes staring into space as he searched for the right word. “Inordinately framed women as sexual objects to be won or coerced. It’s rather hard to pin down what exactly Donne thought of women. Some of his poems held the fairer sex in high esteem, where others were quite defamatory. Many think the opinions opined in his poetry catered to his audience, fluctuating with whomever he was addressing.”

“A chancer.” She snorted. “That’s almost worse.”

Remus smiled. “I’m not going to argue the case of removing the artist from the art because I don’t agree with that way of thinking, not in so much that it’s black and white, but you might like some of his other poems. A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning, for example. It’s rather romantic. Nuanced, even.”

She hadn’t read that one. “Enlighten me?”

Remus smiled in acquiescence. She expected him to grab the book and flip it open to the proper page, but instead, Remus cleared his throat, green eyes meeting her across the desk. “As virtuous men pass mildly away,

   And whisper to their souls to go,

Whilst some of their sad friends do say

   The breath goes now, and some say, No:

 

So let us melt, and make no noise,

   No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;

'Twere profanation of our joys

   To tell the laity our love.

 

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears,

   Men reckon what it did, and meant;

But trepidation of the spheres,

   Though greater far, is innocent.

 

Dull sublunary lovers' love

   (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit

Absence, because it doth remove

   Those things which elemented it.

 

But we by a love so much refined,

   That our selves know not what it is,

Inter-assured of the mind,

   Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

 

Our two souls therefore, which are one,

   Though I must go, endure not yet

A breach, but an expansion,

   Like gold to airy thinness beat.

 

If they be two, they are two so

   As stiff twin compasses are two;

Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show

   To move, but doth, if the other do.”

 

And though it in the center sit,

   Yet when the other far doth roam,

It leans and hearkens after it,

   And grows erect, as that comes home.

 

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,

   Like th' other foot, obliquely run;

Thy firmness makes my circle just,

   And makes me end where I begun.” [3]

 

Hermione sniffled softly.

“Better than The Flea?” Remus teased.

It was a bloody poem for Merlin’s sake. Pretty words and she’d gone starry-eyed, losing herself in Remus’s voice as he recited the poem from memory. “Much. Gold to airy thinness beat? An alchemical reference?”

Remus grinned. “Five points to Gryffindor.” He laughed when she scoffed. “Donne’s metaphysical poetry often reference alchemy, alluding to the magical science and comparing it to love.”

Love. “I’m uncertain whether Donne was speaking of love or lust.”

Remus’s smirk curved, the setting sun bathing half his face in shadow and making his smile appear all the more secret, slow and almost forbidden. “Stiff twin compasses? Grows erect?” He tutted softly. “Get your mind out of the gutter, Hermione.”

Remus. No. I only meant—”

He laughed. “I’m teasing. Relax. Who’s to say of what feeling Donne was speaking. Isn’t it more important to consider what feeling it inspires?”

She stared, because…she didn’t know what to say. Saying one thing and meaning something else, someone interpreting something else altogether. Hermione sipped her tea. “Hm.”

“So?”

She shook her head. “Sorry?”

“What feelings do they inspire?”

An innocent question, only the look in Remus’s eyes spelled a dizzying sort of danger that drew her in. Seductive. Or perhaps she was reading too much into it. Sunbeams catching on the fringe of his lashes and casting shadows, making his pupils seem wider and darker than they were. Interpretation and all. Wishful thinking. She smiled blankly and took a deep breath, clearing her mind, calming her racing heart. “I see the point, but—”

“You don’t feel it?”

She shrugged. She felt something, but she’d liken that to Remus’s voice, not Donne’s words.

Remus bit the edge of his thumbnail, eyes narrowing into the nothingness over her shoulder. “As I said, poetry is meant to make you feel something. If you’re too caught up in the words, or the words disconnect you from the feelings, it’s…not the poem for you. Nothing necessarily wrong with it, just not a good fit.”

She could appreciate that. There might not be something wrong with a particular wand, but if it didn’t spark golden in her grip, it wasn’t right. Ron was perfectly decent, but if his kisses didn’t curl her toes, well.

Remus was staring, his gold-green eyes studying her closely, cataloging every breath she took. She dropped her gaze to the desk and traced the scrape of a quill mark with her finger, willing her heartbeat to slow to something approaching normal.

Or, maybe poetry wasn’t for her. The wizard in front of her certainly wasn’t.

Hermione stood abruptly, knees nearly knocking into the desk. “I should—I should go.”

Remus stood. “Why?”

“I think I’m more prosaic than poetic, Remus.” Honestly.

Look at her. She wasn’t the subject of such poems and she didn’t have a head for sweet ramblings. Or, she shouldn’t. Everyone expected her to be too logical for that, so why hope for more? She’d only wind up disappointed.

Remus said nothing as he crossed the room the wall of shelves where she’d plucked that first volume. He ran his fingers along the spines of the third shelf, lingering on a cluster of texts, before looking over his shoulder. “I have others, you know.”

 “Novels would suit me better.”

“Is Hermione Granger quitting?” he taunted, chuckling darkly, the sound sending a shiver down her spine. “Never thought I’d see the day.”

Back ramrod straight, she marched over to the shelf and snatched a thin white volume from beside his pinky. Like the first, this cover bore no title. “Poems?” she demanded.

His expression faltered. “Those are—”

“Poems?” she repeated. “Are they?”

He dipped his chin. “Yes, but…Hermione, those are.” He coughed lightly into his fist. “A personal selection. A curated collection.”

Difficult then. She nodded. “So, no Donne?”

Remus stared at the unassuming white book. Beneath his scruff, a subtle flush took up residence. “Certainly not.”

“These are more—advanced? I take it?”

He bit down on his bottom lip, eyes narrowing before flicking up to meet hers. He released his lip from the confines of those sharp, sharp teeth, flesh now bitten red, mouth curling minutely at the corners. “You could say that.”

She clutched the book to her chest and sniffed. “I can handle it.”

Hermione Granger did not back down, certainly not from a challenge.

His smile went ever so slightly crooked, transforming into a smirk. Between that and the way his eyes flashed—a trick of the light, surely—she tamped down another shiver. “I’m sure you can.”

***

She couldn’t handle it.

This was…she wasn’t sure what it was. Or she was, but she wasn’t sure she could believe it or that Remus has a curated collection of…

Erotic poetry.

It wasn’t bawdy, not like the limericks she’d joked about Seamus knowing, no man from Nantucket or any of that rot, but they were…sensual. That was it. Unlike the words of Donne, these painted vivid pictures that made her pant as she traced the lines of black ink vivid against the cream parchment. She was no novice when it came to… smutty words, but prose truly was different than poetry. Prose sparked something in her gut, yes, but poetry, the ebb and tide of those words on the page somehow mimicked the flush in her cheeks and rush of heat between her thighs. It was a sensory experience, one that she’d been wholly unprepared for to the extent that lying in bed, with Remus’s book clutched in one hand, spine splayed between the thumb and forefinger of her left hand, her right had paved a slow path beneath the elastic band of her knickers, fingers strumming against her clit until she’d fractured, metered rhymes swirling in her mind, and above all else, Remus’s imagined voice whispering in her ear.

And now she was supposed to discuss these poems with the man himself. How?

Hand trembling, Hermione lifted her hand to knock. Before her knuckles could contact the wood, the door swung open. Remus leaned against the frame with his shoulder. He’d discarded his robes for the day and was left in charcoal trousers, and a deep green jumper, the sleeves rucked up to his elbows. Small scars littered his skin, some pinker and newer than the silvery scars of days past. “Hermione.”

She lifted her head, already dizzy and she hadn’t even spoken. Right. Speaking. “Remus.”

He stepped aside, waving her inside his office. A tray of tea already sat on his desk, steam wafting from each cup. “Come in.”

He shut the door behind her, the catch of the latch making her pulse stutter and speed. For Merlin’s sake, he hadn’t locked the damn thing. She was acting skittish and for what reason? They were poems. So what if they were erotic? She was an adult, as was he. And it wasn’t as if he’d written them.

Mountains out of molehills, honestly.

She took a seat and stole a fortifying sip of her Earl Grey before there’d be cause to speak.

“So.” Remus sat, not in his chair, but instead propped his hip against the edge of the desk. He crossed his arms and smiled down at her. “What did you think?”

What did she think? What sort of question was that? And said so plainly.

“What did I think?” she began, buying herself time. “They were not—not what I expected.”

“Hm.” Remus ran one finger along the swell of his lower lip. “How so?”

How so? Gods.

How was he able to keep such a straight face? There was not so much as a furrow of his brow or a twitch—

A twitch. The corner of his mouth spasmed, subtle but unmistakable. And again! Another twitch proceeded the strangest flicker of his eyes from side to side as if—

She smacked his arm, jostling her tea almost over the rim. “Remus Lupin!”

He held his hands up, in mercy or supplication she wasn’t certain. But he laughed, a deep chuckle that speared her right in the gut, lancing her straight to the core, turning her insides to molten mush. “Ow, stop! Five points from Gryffindor!”

“You’re not my professor, you can’t take points.” She nudged him once more for good measure.

“It’s the thought that counts?” He teased, straightening and adjusting his sleeves that had slipped during her weak, halfhearted thrashing. His gaze lingered on her own jumper that had slipped, the neckline sliding down one shoulder. “But you’re most certainly right. I’m not your professor.” He shook his head and cleared his throat, eyes meeting hers, mouth crooking into a grin. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it. You demanded to borrow it. Who was I to deny you?”

She huffed softly through her nose. “You couldn’t have told me it was all…”

He arched a brow. Merlin. He was going to make her say it.

“Erotic poetry,” she whispered.

“And deny myself?” He tutted, grinning wickedly.

Hermione sighed, shoulders slumping. Inside, she was a jittery mess of fraying, raw nerves begging to be strummed. Hopefully, she didn’t look it. “Sometimes I forget you used to be a Marauder.”

“Use to be?” He lifted a hand to his chest, affronted. “You wound me, Miss Granger.”

She bit the inside of her cheek to keep from grinning. “I only mean, you—you’re a professor.”

He ducked his chin and ran his fingers through his sandy blond hair, the streaks of gray liberal and dashing. “That’s the danger of it. No one ever expects it.”

“I suppose they do say it’s always the quiet ones.” She cocked her head, hair spilling over her shoulder as she gestured toward herself.

Remus’s lips folded inward, stifling a laugh.

Hermione scoffed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

He looked at her askance. “Hermione.”

“What?” she demanded. “I’ve gotten into plenty of trouble, thank you kindly.”

“Oh yes.” Remus nodded, mocking her with his sudden about-face of severity.

Remus.” She was a breath away from enumerating her transgressions.

He chuckled. “Admit it—the trouble you’ve gotten into, you were dragged into, and even then, everything you did was ultimately for the greater good, or what you imagined it.”

The laugh bubbled up before she could stop it. “Dumbledore might’ve had an odd way of discerning the greater good but I highly doubt having a clandestine affair with Draco Malfoy during sixth-year counts.”

She clamped her lips together, heat racing up her neck. She hadn’t meant to say that. She hadn’t meant to say any of that, but he’d poked and poked and she’d taken the bait just like how she always told Harry and Ron not to.

Remus froze. Eyes wide and lips parted, the shock was all but splashed across his face as he gaped at her.

Suddenly, he sputtered, laughter making his shoulders shake. “I stand corrected.”

Fighting the urge to cover her face, Hermione lifted her head as if totally unbothered by the discussion of her sex life. “I’m hardly the innocent you’re making me out to be, is my point.”

Remus swiped a hand along his jaw and nodded, lips still curved in a soft smile. “All right. Then if I didn’t mortify you with my prank, let’s discuss poetry, shall we?”

Oh, she was mortified, but more so by her reaction. They were words on a page and yet she’d been startled to find that she felt more after reading them—imagining Remus reading them—than she’d felt during the entire brief duration of her relationship with Ron. Words! And now she was supposed to talk about those words with Remus. Remus who she had the most Gods awful crush on. More than a crush. Feelings. She had feelings for him, twisty, hot, sink her teeth into him feelings, feelings that he couldn’t possibly return because he was Remus Lupin and she, she was Hermione Granger. They were unwelcome feelings and if she could banish them, she would—maybe not. Maybe she’d keep them. She liked the feelings, but she didn’t need to share them. They were messy enough bottled within her; she didn’t need to go spilling them unbidden all over him like a pot of ink. No, they were private and hers.

Only if she didn’t watch it, the catch in her breath and the tremor in her voice, the stutter of her heart, and the gallop of her pulse would give her away. So yes, she was mortified because how was she supposed to talk to Remus about these beautiful, awful, naughty poems when she could hardly think of them without thinking of him and thinking of them, the two of them, him and her.

Merlin. She wasn’t saying anything. He’d asked a question and here she was, thinking about thinking. And he was just watching her, eyes darting between her eyes and her neck, staring hard, a furrow forming between his brows.

“Hermione?” He waved a hand in front of her. “Are you all right?”

She shook her head and smiled brightly. “Yes. Absolutely.”

“Your, erm, your…” he trailed off with a chuckle. “I suppose etiquette doesn’t exactly dictate a polite way to point out that I noticed your heart rate…sped? Did something upset you?”

Her stomach disappeared.

He could hear that. Right. Supersensory perception. Came with the territory. Territory. Merlin, the fact she found that even a shred funny meant she was nigh close to losing it. If he could hear her pulse, what other…things could he pick up on? She bit the side of her tongue. “No. I was just thinking. Thinking, erm, thoughts.”

Brilliant. How eloquent. She had no business scoffing at those fifth-year essays when she herself could barely string three words together.

“Thoughts.” Remus sucked his lower lip between his teeth, held it captive there. Humor danced in his eyes, or maybe it was the blasted light in this room, all shadows and dim twilight. “Penny for them?”

Right, because she was keen on telling him about how she wanted him to bite her lip instead of his own. That would go over splendidly. Although, the thought did send another pleasant rush of heat through her. “Unimportant. Poems, you were going to talk about your favorite?”

Remus worried that lip for a moment. “No, I believe you were going to—”

A knock sounded at the door, startling them both. Hermione sat up straighter and Remus jumped, hip jolting the tray of tea and turning his cup over. “Fuck,” he muttered softly, the sound of that whispered profanity making her stomach clench and her temperature rise, her thighs pressing tight as an embarrassing trickle of wetness seeped into her knickers.

Remus froze, eyes locked on her, lips parting on a punched-out exhale as his gaze flashed low to where she was clenching the hem of her skirt in her fists. His nostrils flared and all the blood in her body that hadn’t pooled between her legs rushed to her face. Fuck was right.

“Hermione,” he rasped, throat jerking on a swallow.

Another knock sounded. Remus shut his eyes, fists clenching at his sides as he huffed his aggravation.

She sat stock-still as he crossed over to the door and threw it open. “Headmistress.”

Her heart stuttered. She’d done nothing wrong, honestly, she’d done nothing, and yet she felt a bit as if she’d been caught with her hand in the biscuit jar.

“Remus,” Professor McGonagall greeted. “And Miss Granger. I’m sorry to intrude.”

She waved from her chair, not trusting herself to speak.

“I’m afraid Pomona’s having an emergency with this crop of Mandrakes. Something about dugbogs. It’s a right mess, she says. As such, I was hoping you might take her place on rounds this evening?”

Remus ran his fingers through his hair and nodded. “Of course. Let me grab my jacket and I’ll be straight off.”

Professor McGonagall bid her good evening before disappearing into the corridor.

“Right.” Remus cleared his throat and left the door ajar as he crossed the room, snagging his tweed jacket—her favorite, the one with the elbow patches— from the back of his desk chair.

“Right,” she echoed, jumping from the chair as if it had stung her. “I’ll be on my way. Goodnight Prof—Remus. I’ll see you…around.”

She made it halfway to the door. “Hermione, wait.”

She clenched her eyes shut and kept them closed even as his footsteps sounded against the stone floor, closer, closer, until she could imagine the heat of his body beside hers. He curled his fingers around her hand and the sudden unexpectedness of that touch, his skin warm and ever so slightly calloused against hers made her open her eyes.

His lids were heavy, half-mast over his moss-green eyes as he studied her. He pressed something into her hand, cool and hard. Her gaze dropped. That blasted book of poems, erotic words curated just to drive her barmy. She bit her lip and tore her eyes from the unassuming cover.

A finger curled beneath her chin, tipping her head up until she met his eyes. Why, in the name of all that was holy and magical, was he doing this to her?

Remus smiled and she nearly whimpered. She didn’t, it stalled inside her throat, but the way his smile tilted told her she hadn’t quite muffled it, not enough for his ears.

“Pick a favorite,” he instructed, finger abandoning her chin, but not before brushing against the tender underside of her jaw. “Tomorrow evening, we’ll discuss it.”

Breathless, she managed a quick nod before hurrying toward the door.

“And Hermione?”

She froze, heart beating against her sternum. Too hard. Too much. “Mhm?”

“Come prepared. I’d like it if our discussion was…in-depth.”

Merlin help her.

***

I’d like it if our discussion was in-depth.

In-depth.

Had he meant her to read into his words? Was there any other way of interpreting them besides the obvious? Was it only obvious to her? Was that point?

Hermione rested her forehead against the stone wall of the hall adjacent Remus’s office and groaned her dismay into the silent, empty corridor.

She’d hardly slept, tossing and turning, aching something fierce, her chest, the empty place between her thighs. Her mind had raced nearly as fast as her pulse, thoughts and body both consumed wholly by Remus bloody Lupin.

He wasn’t her professor. Not anymore. He was a professor and she was a student, but not his. He was hardly in a position of authority over her. She was an adult and so was he, so what was the problem? There was nothing in the school rules prohibiting two adults from having any sort of relationship.

Not that she’d ever had any problem with breaking rules. Sure, she’d done a commendable job acting as if she cared, but if there was a rule, she’d probably broken it, considered breaking it, or at least theorized how she might go about breaking it should the need arise.

She cared little about the age difference. It was just a number and Remus was younger than her father who was a good ten years older than her mum. And the difference would be inconsequential when she was one hundred and eleven and he one hundred and thirty. It didn’t bother her and if his—albeit short-lived— relationship with Tonks was anything to go off, he didn’t care either. Sure, he’d kicked up a fuss about being too old for her, but Hermione was quite sure the end of their relationship had little to do with any age gap and more Charlie Weasley. Not that Remus had seemed heartbroken about it. In fact, the week after Remus’s and Tonks’s split, Hermione and Remus had entered the kitchen at Grimmauld only to discover Charlie snogging Tonks within an inch of her life against the pantry. Hands tucked in his pockets, Remus had merely rocked back on his heels, clearing his throat, and asked if they might mind stepping to the side for a moment so he could grab the crisps. He’d smirked and if she wasn’t mistaken, Tonks had shot her the most befuddling wink before dragging Charlie down the hall. At the time, it had made little sense but now she couldn’t help but wonder if maybe this thing between her and Remus had been brewing for longer than she’d realized, that perhaps Tonks had seen it coming first. If maybe that was why their relationship hadn’t lasted, in part, and why Remus hadn’t been bothered. If Remus wanted her as badly as she wanted him.

There was only one way to find out and it wasn’t going to be by searching the recesses of her mind.

Her knuckles rapped against the wood, just hard enough to make the requisite noise. A breath later, Remus opened the door wearing another jumper, this one burgundy, and again, rucked up to his elbows, his lean, muscled forearms with their smattering of scars and sprinkling of light brown hair, blue veins crisscrossing beneath his skin, on display. His offered a small, subdued, polite smile that made her stomach sink. “Hermione. Come in. Tea?”

What had she expected? To be ravished against the door? “Please.”

A pile of books and parchment sat in her seat, so she stood, waiting for instruction. Remus gestured through the open door into the small sitting room of his private quarters where a two-person loveseat was shoved against one wall, beside it, a lumpy looking armchair, and in front of it, a coffee table. Her eyes flitted to the next door, his bedroom.

Neither spoke while Remus fixed her tea, just the way she liked it. Only after she’d taken a sip, did he finally clear his throat. “I realize I might’ve been too forward yesterday.”

She clenched her teeth together until her jaw ached. Better that than do something stupid like cry. “Oh.” With minimal shaking, she managed to set her cup on the saucer and place both back on the desk, the porcelain only clanking together subtly. “I suppose I should go.”

When she stood, Remus stood, too. “What?” His forehead furrowed. “No. Why would you—”

“It’s fine.” He didn’t need to let her down easy. She could—she understood. Just a bit of teasing and she’d taken it too far, her body’s reactions painfully obvious. “I understand.”

Remus made a small noise, a creak in the back of his throat when he opened his mouth. “I don’t? I’m not sure what I said that made you think you need to leave unless I truly overstepped and you’re uncomfortable in which case I apologize. But you don’t need to go. Unless you want to? I won’t—I’d never—I can—I can restrain myself, Hermione. We can discuss whatever you’d like. We can rage against Donne some more if that would make you happy, but you don’t need to leave.”

Hermione gnawed on the inside of her cheek. Restrain…himself? Why would—

She studied him for a moment. The wide-eyed look of pleading, his lips twisted in contrition. The way his hand clenched around the arm of his chair, his other hand fisted at his side. How his nostrils flared, his chest rising and falling with rapidity as his jaw tensed, chin lifted slightly.

Too forward, as if she might’ve been offended, not because he’d given her the wrong idea. It seemed he’d given her exactly the right idea, an idea she liked very much.

Hermione coughed, dispelling the lump growing inside her throat. “I think there’s been a misunderstanding.”

Remus shut his eyes, shoulders slumping. “Right.”

“No, you’re—” she huffed. Men. It seemed she was going to have to take matters into her own hands. “I came here to discuss poetry. In-depth.”

His grip loosened as he sat back in his chair. “Of course. Um.” His lashes beat against the thin, almost translucent skin beneath his eyes as he stared at the tea service. If she wasn’t mistaken, a flush crept up the sides of his face. “Did you have one you’d like to begin with?”

“Surprisingly, I was rather fond of one of Herrick’s.” Her lips twisted in a wry smile.

Remus’s tongue darted out, wetting his lips as he lifted his eyes. “Wonders never cease. The title?”

“Delight in Disorder.”

He frowned. “I’m not sure I remember that one.”

She reached inside her bag for the book and cracked open the spine with care. “Should I—should I read it?”

Remus blinked at her twice before nodding slowly. “Yes,” he croaked. “You should absolutely read it. Out loud.”

She bit the side of her lip and searched for the page she’d marked with a slip of parchment. She could do this. “A sweet disorder in the dress

Kindles in clothes, a wantonness;

A lawn about the shoulders' thrown

Into a fine distraction;

An erring lace, which here and there

Enthralls the crimson stomacher;

A cuff neglectful, and thereby

Ribbons to flow confusedly;

A winning wave, deserving note,

In the tempestuous petticoat;

A careless shoestring, in whose tie

I see a wild civility:

More bewitch me than when art

Is too precise in every part.” [4]

She finished, chancing a glance at Remus from beneath her lashes.

He was watching her, eyes dark and hot and hungry. He scratched the side of his jaw, his gaze never leaving her face. “Wild civility.” His chuckle was low and throaty and made the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. “Nevermore apt words were spoken.”

Her face burned. “I—I also enjoyed The Atheist.”

Remus barked out a laugh. “I know it. But humor me?”

She flipped the page with shaking fingers, finding her other sheet of parchment. Her voice quivered only on the first word before she muscled through. “The—the first time we made love I realized why I never prayed. One human can only say Oh God so many times.” [5]

Not that she had much experience with sex that good, but she liked the idea of it. Of pleasure so great her tongue loosened, prayers and curses tumbling from her lips in ecstasy.

Remus leaned back in his chair, kicking one heel to rest atop his knee. “My turn. Jonny Ox.  If I were eighteen again,

I’d make love to you

For an hour,

But I’m not that person

Anymore.

Now, I can go all night.” [6]

Her breath caught and faltered. Good God, an hour was outside her wheelhouse, but all night? She could imagine it. Bruises blooming on her hips, her thighs sore, the place between them tender and swollen. All night. If she thought she was dripping now…

Remus’s smile was sharp, canines flashing bright against the pink of his lips. His nostrils flared again and she flushed. There was no question as to whether he could smell her, smell that she wanted him, that her knickers were ruined, but she couldn’t churn up shame the same way she had yesterday. Want had overridden everything.

A flicker of gold passed in his eyes and it made her breath quicken, her eyes darting out the window.

He stood, tucking his hands in the pockets of his trousers as he turned, following her gaze. His laugh was quiet, his shoulders shaking as he lifted on hand, tracing the pane of the window where moonlight went fractal against the cold condensation clinging to the glass. “Waxing crescent.” He peered over his shoulder, lips turned up in a ghost of a smile. “It’s over a week until the full moon.”

“I wasn’t. I was—fine, I was,” she admitted, laughing softly even as she blushed. “But I didn’t mean—”

“If I’m making you uncomfortable—”

“No!” She shook her head, leaning forward. She didn’t quite trust her knees to hold her weight if she stood. “You’re not. I just wanted to be certain this was…I didn’t want to take advantage of the situation.”

That, and she wouldn’t be able to bear it if Moony, driven by some primal instinct, wanted her, but Remus didn’t. It would shatter her.

Remus turned slowly, eyes wide. “What?”

“If you weren’t…feeling yourself,” she hedged. “I wouldn’t want you to do something you might regret.”

Remus covered his face with a hand, groaning quietly. “Jesus Christ.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You do realize,” he spoke measuredly, “how absolutely insane you sound, trying to protect the long-gone virtue of your nearly forty-year-old professor? Who happens to be a werewolf?”

“You’re not my professor. Not anymore.”

His head fell forward as he groaned again, this time louder. “I’m not. That you chose to focus on that, with everything else I said is proof that you’ve gone ‘round the twist. I should floo St. Mungo’s with haste.”

She ignored his histrionics. “And I’m not trying to protect your virtue. Quite the opposite. I only wanted to make sure it was consensual and, perhaps pre-emptively mitigate any regret.” She swallowed, shifting in her chair, thighs rubbing together. “It seemed only logical if I wanted to increase my chances of repeated incidents.”

“Repeated incidents,” Remus echoed.

“Chronic, even. Habitual.”

Remus ran his fingers through his hair, chest rising, falling, eyes shutting as he shuddered slightly. “You seem to have thought about this.”

It was all she could think about. “I have.”

A thin band of gold hugged the green of his irises when he opened his eyes. “What else have you thought about?”

Fuck. Yes. That. “Well.”

Remus’s smile was all teeth as he stepped toward her, his sitting-room suddenly smaller than it had been moments ago. “Cat got your tongue now?”

“I—” She licked her lip, mouth dry, and Remus’s eyes tracked the move, a quiet growl rumbling inside his chest.

How much honesty did he expect from her? Did he want her to admit that in her bedroom at Grimmauld she’d slid her fingers inside herself and imagined him fucking her against a wall, across his desk, driving his—his cock into her? She couldn’t say that, not out loud.

Remus stopped beside her, towering over her as she wrung her fingers together in her lap. She held her breath as he reached out, arm brushing her shoulder as he—the book. She released the air from her lungs as he grabbed the book of poems. His long, graceful, scarred fingers flipped the pages before he paused. “Another.”

He held the book out, offering it to her.

“Me?” she whispered. “You want me to—to read?”

He hummed, the deep vibration of it making her throb. “Unless you want to tell me what you’re thinking.” His fingertips brushed the back of her hand, her arm, the bare skin of her inner elbow. “Perhaps what you thought about when you did whatever it was inside your room this summer that caused you to make the most delicious sounds.”

He dragged his knuckles up her arm, her shoulder, her neck, roughened fingers splaying to brush the front of her throat. She bit down on a whimper and he chuckled quietly. “A bit like that.”

She swallowed and there was no doubt he could feel her throat bob beneath his hand. “You heard that?”

His fingers dipped, tracing the neckline of her blouse. “I could hear everything.”

Which meant he’d heard her cry his name when she came.

“Gods, your blush is…” Remus dropped his head, breath stirring the hair atop her head. “Exquisite.”

Her breaths were the loudest sound, the room too quiet.

“You’re not reading,” Remus whispered. His fingers gentled, sliding up her neck and tucking her hair behind her ears. She could feel as he arched over her, lips kissing the top of her head.

She swallowed and read, “You can tell by how he lists

to let her

kiss him, that—”

Remus’s fingers abandoned her skin as he stepped away, walking in front of her, his body casting a shadow over the book. He took a seat beside her, close, his knees turned toward her, touching. He dropped a hand to her bare knee, gripping her and tugging gently. “What? Did I--?”

His other hand rested against the small of her back. A fleeting smile graced his lips, his eyes dark as he stared down at her from beneath heavy lids. “Slide forward.”

She inched toward the edge of the cushion, biting hard on her tongue to stifle a gasp when Remus shifted, sliding into the space behind her with the sort of speed and grace no man over six foot should possess. He tugged her back between his legs, his knees bracketing her thighs. “Go on.”

She searched for her spot. “—the getting, as he gets it,

is good.

It’s good in the sweetly salty,

deeply thirsty way that a sea-fogged

rain is good after a summer-long bout

of inland drought.

Remus’s chin hooked over her shoulder as his hands slipped down her waist to her hips, all the way to where the hem of her skirt met her legs. His right hand disappeared beneath the fabric, sliding up the inside of her thigh, his calloused fingertips pausing at the edge of her knickers where he made slow circles against her skin. He nudged the space behind her ear with his nose and tutted softly. “Focus.”

She swallowed, nearly choking on a gasp when his neatly-trimmed fingernails scraped at the crease of her thigh, where her leg met her body. “And you know it

when you see it, don’t you? How it

drenches what’s dry, how the having

of it quenches.

There is a grassy inlet

where your ocean meets your land, a slip—”

Remus kissed the side of her throat as he ghosted his fingers across her knickers. His chest rumbled against her back, his breath quickening into pants against the shell of her ear. “Read.”

“—that needs a certain kind of vessel,

and

when that shapely skiff skims in at last,

trimmed bright, mast lightly flagging

left and—oh.”

She broke off with a groan, Remus’s fingers sliding beneath the crotch of her knickers and through her slick folds. His left hand clutched her around the waist, drawing her back into him where he was unmistakably hard against her bum. “Hermione,” he scolded.

She whimpered when his fingers dragged up her slit, finding her clit swollen and sensitive. “I can’t. Not when you’re—”

“I can stop,” he offered, rough fingertips making circles around her.

“Don’t,” she begged. It was too good, his touch firm and sure and so much better than when she did it herself. “Please.”

His lips closed around the lobe of her ear, his teeth nipping. “Then read.”

Remus’s fingers abandoned her clit, a reprieve she didn’t want. “Remus—”

Two of his fingers slid lower to her entrance, sliding inside her, thicker than her own. His lips pressed against the hollow beneath her ear, his tongue sliding between his teeth, tasting her skin. He curled his fingers inside her, setting her on fire. “Shh. Read.”

She arched her back, trying to get him to move. “—right,

then the long, lush reeds

of your longing part, and soft against—”

The heel of his hand rocked against her clit as he thrust inside her, fingers driving her closer to the edge with each skillful curl. The slick sounds of his fingers against her flesh were loud, almost as loud as the wanton whimpers she tried to swallow, but couldn’t. The room was filled with her noises, proof of her desire and it was so crude she flushed to the roots of her hair. Her thighs started to tremble, her insides fluttering, tummy tensing as he sped.

“—the hull of that bent wood almost im-

perceptibly brushes a luscious hush

the heart heeds helplessly—

the hush—”

She gasped, chest heaving as Remus quickened, fucking her with his fingers.

“—of the very good.” [7]

Her eyes shut, lips parting. Almost. Almost. There

Just as she began to clench, Remus withdrew his hand, fingers sliding out of her, abandoning her entirely.

A sob of frustration slipped out, her eyes watering, her breath catching in her chest. “Fuck.”

Remus had the audacity to laugh against her throat. “I love that poem. You read it beautifully.”

“I hate you,” she croaked. “Where’s my wand? I’ll give you something to laugh about.”

The arm banded around her waist held firm, even as she wiggled. “When I make you come,” he murmured against the side of her face, “it’s not going to be on my fingers. It’s going to be on my cock, Hermione.”

He rocked his hips, his cock, against her bum.

Fucking hell. She drew in a ragged breath, heart still racing from almost coming. “Remus.”

“Love the way you say my name.” He nipped her ear. “Almost as much as I love the way you smell.” His inhale was noisy, his exhale fanning hot against her jaw. “Bet you can smell yourself right now, can’t you?”

Her face burned. She could. The whole room smelled like her, her arousal. “’s because I want you.”

He nuzzled her neck. “You’ve no idea how mad you’ve driven me these past three months. I’d catch a scent on the air and I’d think, but I was never quite sure. But this—” His tongue licked a stripe up the side of her neck. “Fuck, Hermione. I wonder—do you taste as good as you smell?”

She craned her neck, peering at him over her shoulder. His lips were parted over clenched teeth, his eyes wild, pupils blown, eating up the whole of his irises save for that thin circle of gold-green. Wild civility. A shiver skittered down her spine. “You could find out.”

Remus’s grin was wolfish. “I think I will.”

Anticipation of what he’d do made her tense. He didn’t slide between her legs like she’d imagined he might. Instead, he brought his fingers to her lips and arched a brow, lips curving in a sly smile. “Go on. Taste.”

She opened her mouth to dart out her tongue, but Remus pressed between her lips, his fingers heavy against her tongue. She held his gaze as she hollowed her cheeks, tongue curling between the knuckles of his fingers. His breath faltered, cock twitching against her bum.

“Stop,” he croaked. He slid his fingers from her lips, the sound of their departure making a quiet pop.

She managed a gasp before his mouth came crashing down on hers, tongue parting her lips, plundering her mouth. There wasn’t a part of her he didn’t taste, explore, the tip of his tongue tickling the roof of her mouth and tracing the blunt edges of her upper teeth. He growled into her mouth, one hand still gripping her waist, the other wet with her spit and arousal wrapped around the front of her throat, tilting her head just so.

His teeth closed around her bottom lip, biting down, the sudden albeit subtle sting making her mewl. He liked the sound, he must’ve, because he held her tighter, fingers biting into her skin, his tongue once more parting her lips as if he could eat her whole until there was nothing left.

Remus tore his mouth away, the tip of his nose brushing hers. His breath fanned against her face, Earl Grey mixed with the scent of her desire. Fuck. She tried to rub her thighs together, alleviate this ache somehow, but he was quicker. One hand dropped, his grip against her thigh bruising. “What did I say, Hermione?”

He’d said lots of things.

“When you come”—he rolled his hips against her— “it’s going to be on my cock.” He hummed, grip relaxing, fingers no longer biting into her skin. “The first time at least.”

She swallowed. It was hard to think, let alone form words when his fingers danced up the inside of her thigh. “The f—first time?”

“Did you think it would just be once? Now that I’ve got you right where I want you, why on earth do you think I’d let you go?” Remus chuckled darkly. His fingers grazed her center over her knickers, making her lurch. Sensitive. “I think I’ve decided, the next time is going to be with my tongue up your cunt. And the third time…” Remus rubbed her slowly, driving her absolutely mad. “I think the third time I might let you decide. If you’re good.”

She whimpered.

Remus’s grin was wicked. “You want to be good for me, don’t you, Hermione? Gold stars and Outstanding’s.” He dragged her knickers to the side, baring her cunt to the cool air of the room. “I’ll give you all the O’s you can handle, love.”

“Please, I want—” She bit down on her lip when he slid his fingers back inside her.

“What do you want?” His thrusts were lazy, but each glide made the most vulgar noise that made her cringe, torn between arousal and humiliation. He gave a throaty chuckle. “Imagine how you’ll sound after we’re through?”

Her thighs trembled, muscles quaking. “Remus.”

“What do you want, love?” he asked. “You want to come? Ask me for it.”

Her head felt heavy on her neck when she nodded. “Yes. Please.”

He let go of her waist, hand gathering the curls off the nape of her neck and brushing them aside. His lips rested against the bare skin where her shoulder met her neck, his kisses dizzyingly sweet when his fingers were still making filthy noises between her legs. “I haven’t read my favorite poem. It makes me think of you.”

She gasped when the pads of his fingers brushed against the swollen spot inside her. “Tell me.”

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.”

The curl of his fingers quickened, pressing, pressure rising within her like a tide.

“I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.”

His voice rasped, the scruff of his facial hair scraping her neck.

“I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.” [8]

Remus’s breath stuttered. “You have no idea how badly I’ve wanted you for so long. I want—I want things I shouldn’t want. I want to—I want to swallow your sighs and taste your tears and bury myself so deep inside you that you won’t be able to figure out where you end and I begin.”

His teeth raked against her neck, a gentle scrape followed by a nip and a huff of a laugh when she gasped, one hand scrambling to grab the wrist of the hand between her thighs. She was so fucking close, if he just pressed a bit harder, a little more.

It was futile. He wouldn’t let her come, not unless it was on his cock.

“Please.” She rocked against him, her left hand gripping his knee.

The hand between her leg stilled and she bit the inside of her cheek, stifling a sob.

“You’ve been so patient,” Remus praised, making her head swim. “Do you want that, love? Do you want me to fuck you? Tell me. I need to hear you say it.”

“Yes. Gods, yes. I want—” She wet her lips. “I want it. I want everything.”

“My cock?” Remus smirked.

She nodded so fast her head spun. “Your cock.”

He hummed, fingers tracing abstract patterns along her thighs, painting her skin wet with her juices. “My come?”

Her cunt clenched. Yes. “I’m on the potion.”

His teeth flashed dangerously. “That’s good. Because by the time I let you leave my bed, you’ll be so full of my come, I’ll be dripping down your thighs.”

Dear God. She couldn’t help the moan that slipped out.

Remus tapped her hip. “Stand up.”

Her knees trembled, weak as newborn calf’s, but she managed to haul herself to standing.

“Stay there.” Remus’s hands dropped to the waist of his trousers. He popped the button and lower the zipper, lifting his hips to tug his trousers and pants down his hips, stopping as soon as his cock was free.

She pressed her lips together, swaying on her feet.

His cock rested against his belly, jutting out from a thatch of neatly trimmed brown hair. He was thick, so thick she wasn’t entirely sure she’d be able to wrap her lips around more than the head of his cock where he was leaking.

Remus ran a fist up his length, watching her with heavy-lidded eyes. He was the one exposed and yet the look in his eyes assured her that within the confines of these four walls, he was the predator and she was his prey. He wanted to swallow her sighs and taste her tears? She wanted him to devour her.

His lips twitched. “Would you like to have a seat, Hermione?”

She exhaled loudly.

Remus bit the side of his lip and reached for her hips, drawing her backward onto her lap so quickly she lost her balance. She landed on his thighs, splayed out, heart racing. He kissed the shell of her ear. “Breathe. You have my permission to pass out after.”

“Will I get chocolate?” she teased, breathless.

Remus pinched her nipple through her blouse making her gasp. “Cheeky.”

His hand drifted down her stomach, settling between her thighs. His fingertips made lazy circles around her clit as he drew her back until she rested against his chest, his cock, hot and hard, nudging her bum. Her head fell back against his shoulder.

“Give me your hand.”

Hermione let him drag her hand between her legs, her fingers joining his against her slick heat. His arm returned to band around her waist, maneuvering her slightly higher until the head of his cock bumped against her fingers.

He needed to say that it was her move. Hermione rose up, fingers wrapping around his shaft and letting the head of his cock settle at her center. She rolled her neck to the side, watching Remus over her shoulder. His teeth bit into his lip, turning it red as he stared back at her with eyes brimming with heat so molten it stole the breath from her lungs.

Eyes locked on his, Hermione lowered herself onto him, biting the side of her cheek at the stretch, then closing her eyes at the subtle burn that followed. Remus panted softly into the quiet of the room, his fingers returning to her clit, circling faster.

She gasped and dropped down, impaling herself the rest of the way on his cock, her bum flush against his hips. Her jaw dropped, eyes fluttering as she stared down at where they were joined.

“Are you all right?” Remus murmured, fingers slowing to a stop between her legs.

She nodded, mouth snapping shut when Remus leaned forward, cock shifting and pressing deeper inside her as he curled himself around her back. One hand tugged at her shirt, lifting it to her ribs, the other splaying against the skin of her belly over where his cock was buried inside her. Her muscles spasmed involuntarily.

Remus sucked in a breath through his teeth, his forehead dropping to her shoulder. His lips skimmed her skin. “Come on back you, to bed to me. Tell me how to please you, tell me how to soothe. I am hands, and I am ears, and I am reaching, and I am ready to listen.” [9]

Her chest went tight, her heart squeezing with his tender words. There wasn’t enough room inside for these feelings, her chest full, her cunt. She couldn’t—she shut her eyes, lips trembling.

Remus kissed the hollow behind her ear and pressed his hand tighter against her stomach. “Come on, love. I want to feel you.”

She jerked her head in a nod and tensed her thighs, lifting up, his cock sliding out her until she was empty save for the stretch where they met. She held her breath and slid back down, crying out at the feel of him parting her walls, making a space inside of her that was perfect for him.

His hands gripped her hips, helping her as she rose and fell, her breath quickening until all she could make were tiny punched out noises carried on puffs of air. “You have no idea how good you feel.”

If it was one-tenth as good as he felt inside her, she knew.

Sweat beaded along her hairline, the muscles in her thighs and stomach burning as she rode him, chasing an end that was so close, just out of reach. If it weren’t for the exhaustion of her body, she’d never want to stop, would ride this wave, this thrum of pleasure so close to being climactic but not quite, for as long as she could.

But she was only human. Hermione’s pace faltered as her legs went weak.

Remus gripped her tighter, a rumble building in his chest as he lifted and lowered her on his cock. “You’re close, aren’t you,” he murmured, lips skimming her jaw. “Touch yourself. Show me how you make yourself come undone.”

Hermione brought one shaking hand between her legs. She traced her slit, gathering wetness, fingers bumping Remus’s shaft as he continued to drive into her. She slicked her clit and circled it with quick, firm strokes that made her gasp.

“That’s it,” Remus whispered. “You’re about to come. I can feel your cunt fluttering around my cock, love. Are you going to scream for me? Bring down the whole castle with your cries? Come on.”

Her lids slammed shut, mouth falling open on a silent scream as she fractured, her whole body freezing save for the way she clenched around Remus as if she could keep him inside of her forever.

Remus’s fingers pressed above the jut of her hipbones, his thrusts quicker, each accompanied by a punched-out growl. With each thrust, his cock nudged that spot inside of her that made her see stars, prolonging her pleasure.

Hermione clutched his forearms, head lolling back against his shoulder as she came down from one climax only to crest the wave of another. She never came twice, not like this. “Remus.”

He pressed his face against her neck, laughing breathlessly. “One more. Come on. You can do it for me.”

Her nails bit into his arms, leaving little crescent moons against his skin as her cunt clenched around his cock, pleasure ripping through her so fierce that her vision spotted.

Remus slammed into her once, twice, and with a growl he followed her over the edge, coming so hard she could feel his cock twitch as he clamped his teeth around her shoulder, not hard enough to break the skin but enough to undoubtedly leave a mark.

Her breath slowed, his too, as she melted back into his arms, all soft, lazy limbs in the aftermath of their frantic coupling. Remus trailed kisses down her neck, open-mouthed against the curve of her shoulder, his tongue slipping out to lick the bruise he’d left behind.

Another moment passed, neither speaking words, their actions saying plenty. His cock softened, sliding out of her and with it, a gush of wetness. Remus made a soft snuffling huff against her neck as he slipped his hand between her legs where she was hot and swollen. His fingers traced her slit, catching his come before it could slide further down her crack. He pressed his fingers, and with it, his come, back inside of her with a quiet hum of satisfaction, his nose nuzzling her neck.

Hermione shivered, burrowing deeper into his arms. “That’s kind of—”

“Depraved?” Remus arched a brow, lips twitching. “Perverse?”

“I was going to say kinky.” She chuckled.

Remus hummed, wet fingers now absently tracing abstract shapes along her stomach. “Does it bother you?”

She shook her head. “I’ll need to use your shower before I head back to my room. I smell like…”

“Sex? Come?” He grinned. “Mine?”

She shivered and leaned her head back against his chest. He was still wearing his jumper and she was in her blouse. Her knickers were biting against the crease of her thigh, still pulled to the side, her skirt rucked up around her waist. The button of his trousers was poking her in the arse cheek. Godric grief, they’d hardly undressed. “All of the above.”

Remus kissed the hinge of her jaw. “Of course, you can use my shower. Later.”

She craned her neck, looking at him from beneath her lashes. “Later?”

He smirked. “How’s the poem go? If I were eighteen again,

I’d make love to you

For an hour,

But I’m not that person

Anymore.

Now, I can go all night.” Remus dropped his voice. “Night’s young, Hermione. And what did I tell you? You’re not leaving my bed until my come is dripping down your thighs.”

Fuck. She clenched her fingers in his jumper. “You should probably take me to bed, then.”

Remus grinned wickedly, eyes flashing. “Gladly.”