Title: What Lovers Do
Author: Keira Marcos
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Harry Potter/Hermione Granger
Word Count: 30,966
Warnings: Explicit sexual content, BDSM, character bashing, character death
Author’s Note: Ginny died during the war, there is no on-screen character death in the story. I hate Ron Weasley.
Summary: Harry Potter finds out the hard way that dirty little secrets don’t stay buried forever when a little souvenir from a liaison in anonymous sex club reveals the identity a submissive he topped for a year. He really should’ve known the moment he put his hands on her. He’s already laid claim to her body; now he has to figure out how to win her heart.
She entered the room right on time, but then his little Dove was never late. Harry regretted that this would be his last night with her, but he had to cut ties before he became too invested. He knew enough about her to understand that their little trysts in Façade were all she thought she had to offer. Whatever life she had outside of the sex club wasn’t for him to know, and he respected that. He would miss her.
“Good evening,” Harry murmured and patted the sofa. “Come sit with me.”
Dove slipped onto the sofa beside him, even white teeth clenching on a plump bottom lip. Not for the first time, Harry wondered how much of her glamour was based on her own physical features. He’d kept his build the same, altering his hair to a light brown and picking a face out of a crowded Muggle club shortly before he’d started coming to Façade. Polyjuice or glamours were required in Façade—whether you were in a display room or a private chamber as they currently were.
“This is our last night together,” Harry said.
Dismay flicked across her face. “Have I displeased you?”
“No, not at all, you’re perfect.”
“Then I don’t understand…” Tears welled in her eyes.
“I need more,” Harry said simply. “I came here to lose myself a bit, but it’s time for me to consider my future and what I want from life. I want a wife and children. I can’t focus on that when all I think about is this place and you.”
“Okay,” she whispered and averted her gaze.
“I’ve hurt you. That’s the last thing I wanted to do.”
“No, I’m disappointed, but I understand better than you know. I…” She closed her eyes briefly. “Thank you. I don’t have the strength to walk away from you but you’re right—we both deserve more.”
“Strip and go to the cross,” Harry ordered, and she stood.
He watched her silently take off the pale green robe she was wearing and drop it on the sofa then walk across the room to where the St. Andrew’s Cross was standing. Harry stood and shed his robe, he wanted a few thousand things at once and suddenly felt at a loss. He crossed the room to her then guided her into the position he wanted against the cross. He fastened the wrist cuffs and ran one hand down the slim column of her back.
“I remember the first night I had with you—I was considering leaving Façade as they hadn’t been very talented in matching with play dates then I had you. So sweet, so utterly innocent.” He dragged his thumb between the cheeks of her arse and her breath hitched. “After that, I told them that I only wanted you, but you didn’t return for weeks. I thought maybe I’d been too rough with you, pushed you too far that first night.
“But then you made a reservation and requested me. I was quite relieved to get that message from the manager. Even now a year later, after all the dirty little things I’ve done to you—you’re just as sweet as that first night.” He picked up the flogger, her favorite out of all the implements. “You’ve been such a pleasure all this time, my little Dove, so tonight everything is for you.”
He snapped the flogger across her arse. She shuddered, then all but melted against the cross. Harry worked the flogger over her arse and back with a series of even, heavy-handed strokes. The flogger had a mixture of thick and thin tresses—allowing for a little sting with each strike. When his desires for such things had surfaced, he’d sought out a teacher to keep his sadism in check. Learning to pleasure through pain had opened his mind to a larger, more complicated magical world. Façade had freed him, fixed part of him he hadn’t known was broken. Training and experience had taught him to indulge his need for control. Harry had also learned to keep those desires private.
Dove was shaking against the cross; her toes curled against the floor. Harry lowered the flogger and moved closer, rubbing his erection across the abused flesh of her arse. “Have you had enough?”
He let his hand slide down her back, checking the skin. The welts were forming quickly, but there was no blood. Sometimes she liked to bleed, and he wasn’t opposed to giving her that sort of play, but he required that she ask for it. “You can have whatever you want, love.”
“I want to please you,” she whispered and trembled as he trailed fingers down her back. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted in this room.”
He pressed close, his chest against her back and slid his free hand around the slim edge of her hip. “No one has ever pleased me the way you do,” he whispered against her neck and swallowed back a groan when she pressed back against him as much as she could. Harry moved his hand, allowed himself brush his fingers over her bare mons before delving into the slick folds of her pussy. Pain and discipline were her biggest kinks, she’d admitted so during their first negotiation, but he’d often wondered if perhaps she also enjoyed the idea of being punished.
“Were you a good girl, today?”
She laughed. “I guess it would depend on the perspective.” Dove groaned softly when he pressed against her clit. “My boss says I have an attitude problem.”
He hummed under his breath as he tossed the flogger onto the worktable near the cross. “I wonder if he’s ever thought about punishing you.” Harry brushed his lips over her shoulder when she gave a little start of shock then he clenched his teeth there. “Ah, you’ve thought about it then? Maybe one day he’ll call you into his office, drag you across his lap and give your pretty little arse the spanking you surely deserve.” He smacked her arse with the flat of his palm, and she yelped.
“He wouldn’t,” she exclaimed and shuddered when he smacked her arse again. “We’re good friends.”
“Ah, you think being his good friend keeps you safe from being properly disciplined?” Harry asked in amusement. “I’ve got a friend I’d take over my lap in a heartbeat.”
“Lucky girl,” Dove said and moaned when he gave her two more swats. She rose up on her toes and tilted her hips.
“Relax your feet, love, before you hurt yourself,” he murmured, and she immediately did as instructed. “Would you like your good friend to fuck you?”
“Hmmm, he could bend you over his desk, your arse still warm and red from his hand and pound this sweet cunt of yours.” He pressed his fingers into her, and she clenched down on them with a harsh groan. “You’d like that. You love getting it from behind.”
“Sir.” She shivered and arched her back. “Please.”
“You can have whatever you want,” he reminded.
“Fuck me, please.”
Harry reached up and pulled the wrist cuffs open. “Brace yourself on the footboard.” He caught her when she stumbled. “Easy.” His fingers settled on her pulse point as he pressed her against his chest. “Do you need a break?”
“No, no, please.” She shivered and wiggled against him. “Please. I need you.”
“Get on the bed,” he murmured. “Hands and knees.”
Dove did as instructed with a wistful glance toward the footboard. “I had my protection spells updated. I can show you the runes.”
“I had mine updated just yesterday,” he said as he joined her on the bed and tapped her hip gently. “Wider.”
She spread her legs further and let her head fall forward as positioned himself. He pressed the head of his cock into her, and she groaned.
“Easy,” he said as he rubbed the welted flesh of her back and she rocked back against him helplessly. “That’s my sweet Dove.” He pushed in deep, and she sobbed. “It’s okay. Tell me how you want it.”
“Sir.” Her hands clenched into fists on the mattress. “Please.”
He smacked her thigh sharply, and she hissed. “Tell me.”
“Hard,” Dove gasped. “I want to come.”
“You’ll come when I say,” he instructed. “And not a bloody second before.” He smacked her thigh again, and she moaned.
“Yes, Sir,” she responded, breathless and eager.
He adored that about her—their dynamic mesh was beyond his wildest dreams and giving up his time with her at Façade hadn’t been an easy decision. Harry fucked her with long, even thrusts, taking his time and his pleasure at a pace that was certain to drive her mad. But he ended each stroke, deep and hard just the way she wanted. Sweat slicked their skin, but he kept a firm grip on her hips as a reminder that he was in control of her body. At that moment, she belonged to him, and she was his to have. The smack of his hips against her arse was driving him over the edge, so he dragged his nails down her back sharply.
“Come.” She shuddered as she arched into the pain and her cunt clenched down on his cock as she met his demand. “Perfect.” He allowed himself to come and ground against her arse as he rode out an intense orgasm. He stroked her back gently as he pulled free from her body. “Lay down and rest a minute.”
Harry left the bed and went to the small bathing area to wet a cloth. He cleaned himself up then wet a second cloth for her. “On your back, love.”
Dove turned over and took a deep breath. “I’m really going to miss your big cock.”
He grinned. “I’ll try not to let your objectification hurt my feelings.” He plucked a bottle of water from the cooling cabinet and put it on the nightstand before he sat on the edge of the bed and slid the cloth between her legs. Dove spread her legs open immediately and allowed him to clean her. “How’s your back?”
“Fine. I didn’t stay on the cross long.” She bit down on her lip. “Is it only an hour tonight as well?”
His only hard limit in their negotiations had been the time he would spend with her. One hour, once a week. “Yes, I’m afraid so.”
Her eyes dampened, and she looked away. “I suppose I’ll miss more than your cock.”
Harry tossed aside the flannel and slid up onto the bed beside her. “Hey.”
“Yeah?” Dove focused on him.
“I didn’t make this decision rashly and I…I will miss you more than I can say. The restrictions on our relationship in this room are healthy and exactly what we both needed to explore our mutual needs.” She nodded. “But I need more now, and it’s not fair in this place, in this time, with our power dynamic to ask you for anything, not even your real name. Do you understand?”
“Yes, you have all the power because I gave it to you.”
He relaxed. “I’d never want for a single moment for you to think I’ve abused your trust.”
“I’m afraid to need more,” Dove admitted. “It’s never worked out for me when I’ve tried. I know we agreed not to discuss previous relationships as they could be identifying and I’m not trying to do that. I mean…it’s just I’ve never had a lot of luck with men and being here with you has been such a relief to me. There’s no judgment in this room, and it’s so easy to meet your expectations. You never demand more than I can give and you always give me exactly what I need even if I don’t always know what that is.”
“I have something for you.” He pulled a small velvet pouch out of his dimensional store and her eyes went wide. “I can’t give you what I’d like to so this will have to do.”
She sat up and took the pouch. “You didn’t have to get me anything.”
Dove flushed prettily as she untied the cords and spilled the contents of the pouch into her palm. The rose gold necklace and pendant shined gently in her hand. “Oh.”
Harry sat up, reached out and touched the dove pendant. “I had this made especially for you. There is no magic on it, no tracking charms or anything like that but please feel free to check it after I leave.”
“It’s beautiful,” she whispered and immediately unlatched it to put it on. “I love it.”
He touched the pendant again after it was resting against her skin. “It suits you. Now, I’ve got some final orders for you.”
“Okay.” She smiled.
“Never wear this in public.” He leaned in and kissed her mouth. “And finally, let yourself fall in love. You deserve that.”
She nodded, and tears spilled down her cheeks. “Please go before I ugly cry in front of you.”
Harry laughed and kissed her again. “Goodbye then.”
He slid out of bed, pulled on his robe, and left the room before he could change his mind. It was the right call even if it was a painful one. The dressing room next to the playroom opened under his hand and personal password. He’d already told the staff that this would be his final visit. He’d packed up the few things he’d kept in the room before he’d met with Dove. His gut tightened just a little as he shed the robe and reached for his street clothes. Every step away from her hurt a little more than he’d expected. He wasn’t in love with her because he didn’t know who she was at all, but he did love being with her.
After packing away the robe, Harry picked up the duffle and apparated out of the Façade. He landed in his bedroom and tossed the bag aside with a frustrated growl. He dropped his clothes in a pile near the bathroom door and stepped in to start the shower. A glance in the mirror reminded him he was still wearing the glamour. He pulled off the ring with a growl and tossed it on the counter then braced both hands there. His reflection was no comfort.
Doing the right thing always hurt him. He should be used to it by now.
– – – –
She was going to be late, but Harry would probably just raise an eyebrow at her and ask her if she’d finally gotten a social life. It was annoying, so Hermione darted out of the apparition point in the small atrium of the building Harry had purchased to house the foundation and into the lift. His office was empty when she passed it, which was both a surprise and a relief. She didn’t think she could handle any speculation today without crying like a baby. She touched the dove pendant she’d tucked under her blouse. The simple act of disobedience gave her a little thrill, and that made her squirm as she settled into her chair. Her face heated as she remembered his bare hand smacking soundly against her bum. It had been delicious.
“You look like you’re up to no good.” Harry leaned against the doorframe of her office with a coffee cup in hand. He was wearing charcoal grey slacks and a white button-down shirt. She was sure there was a waistcoat, tie, and robe somewhere in the place to match.
She barely refrained from huffing at him. Why did he have to look like a wet dream? Why couldn’t she have an unattractive best friend? It was ghastly. “I’m currently regretting my life choices. I should’ve stayed at the ministry where I was underpaid and underappreciated.”
“And overlooked for promotion because of your blood status,” Harry supplied smoothly. “How dare I triple your salary and make you take a cushy job at the biggest charity foundation in Britain. I should be ashamed of myself.”
“Did you make that coffee?”
“No, Winky did. She set up breakfast in the kitchen before she left for France.” He checked his watch. “I’ve got a meeting at the ministry this morning that you can skip if you want and lunch with Draco regarding the contract with Serpent’s Lair for the Wolfsbane Potion. Hagrid and Gawp are finishing building the fence for the Full Moon Sanctuary this morning.”
“Do you think we’ll get the permission to make permanent portkeys to the sanctuary?”
“Kingsley’s on board,” Harry said. “And in the end, I’m more than willing to shove my fame down people’s throats to get what I want. It honestly shouldn’t have taken this long to get something so simple accomplished.” He ran a hand through his hair and frowned. “What’s on your agenda for today?”
“Well, I carved out a whole hour to accompany you to the ministry and glare at people who don’t agree with you,” she admitted and grinned when he laughed. “And I have that stupid interview with Witch Weekly to fill out. I’m really glad I refused an in-person meeting. I need to meet with Neville regarding the farm for Hogwarts because he wants more land for potions ingredients. Did you read the letter I left on your desk from Bane?”
Harry grimaced. “I’d rather go visit Umbridge in Azkaban than talk to that arsehole. Out of all of them, why he was he chosen as the new leader of the herd?”
“Visiting prisoners in Azkaban isn’t your duty to the realm,” Hermione said in amusement. “But I do believe the Earl of Gryffindor is obligated to manage the Forbidden Forest.”
“I could manage it easier if I kicked that arsehole out of it,” Harry muttered and took a sip of coffee. “I’ll answer him, but I can’t promise to be polite about it. The centaur have plenty of territory, and I’m not going to remove the acromantula colony. First and foremost, Aragog’s children killed more Death Eaters than all of us combined, so they earned their home and second they don’t leave their own territory anymore.”
“And third, their silk is an excellent financial resource for the Lily Potter Foundation,” Hermione finished.
“Yes, it is,” Harry agreed. “It halved my yearly personal contributions to the foundation. I have a stupid amount of money, yes, but I’d like to create something here that will be self-sufficient at some point.” He left the doorway and walked to stand in front of her window. “I got another note from Molly.”
“Invitation to Sunday dinner?” Hermione questioned. “I got one, too. I burned it.”
Harry nodded and frowned. He set his empty cup down on the windowsill. “Forgiveness is supposed to be one of the traits of a good person, right?”
“I guess,” Hermione said dryly. “I’m apparently perfectly okay not being a good person.” He laughed, and she relaxed a bit. “I’m not going to forgive her, Harry, and she didn’t even…it was never really about me, but Molly’s demands on you after the war were unreasonable and selfish. She practically expected you to throw yourself on Ginny’s grave and be buried with her. It was like you dated her daughter for a decade instead of a handful of weeks.”
“Maybe I didn’t give myself time to grieve,” Harry said. He leaned against the window and focused on her. “But it wouldn’t have mattered to Molly if it had been six months or six years, she considered her daughter irreplaceable and was furious that I moved on. She’s lucky I didn’t file charges against her.”
“Any other wizard would’ve,” Hermione said wryly. “She dosed you with impotence potion, Harry. It lasted twelve weeks.”
“I really don’t need a reminder,” he admitted roughly. “What wizard in their right mind creates an impotence potion that doesn’t have an antidote?” He glared at her. “Your silly ancestor, that’s who.”
“Don’t blame me for my great-great grandfather’s insanity,” Hermione said primly. “His son was a man whore.”
Harry snorted. “In her note, she told me that it had been eight years and it was uncharitable for me to hold a grudge against her for so long. She also said that Ron misses us both and blames me for you and him not being together.”
“Ha, it’s her fault I’m not with Ron. It turns out I can’t abide a weak-arse mummy’s boy. He took her shopping for my engagement ring for fuck’s sake!”
Harry laughed. “I remember.”
“She had the whole wedding planned before he proposed and told me I didn’t get any say since it was her baby’s wedding.” She waved both hands in the air. “I need coffee. Why are we bringing up old shite?”
“We always do when she sends us passive aggressive notes demanding our forgiveness for her fucked up behavior,” Harry said but followed her out of the office with his own empty cup. “She’s only gotten worse since I asked the twins to buy my share of their business. Apparently, I’m an arsehole for disassociating with a prank business that has been in trouble six times with the ministry for the misuse of Muggle Artifacts in the last two years. Have you been in there lately? They’ve got about ten citations heading their way, and they don’t care at all.”
Hermione laughed. “Well, I don’t blame them for their ambitions, but I think they should find a better way to protest the regulations. I bought an ebook reader before they were caught selling them. I regret nothing. I have it transfigured to look like Hogwarts: A history.”
“I don’t blame them either, and I offered to sponsor a bill in the Wizengamot to change the regulations, but I can’t be financially associated with a criminal enterprise.” He watched her doctor her coffee with distaste. “Your coffee flavored cream is going to give me nightmares.”
“Don’t look at it,” she instructed. “Close your eyes and find your happy place.”
“In my happy place, you’d drink your coffee black like a proper human being,” Harry said gravely. “And you’d probably be naked.”
Her mouth dropped open. “Harry Potter.”
He just grinned and walked away.
“That’s sexual harassment!” She called after him more amused than she cared to admit and he laughed.
It was nice to hear him laugh in such a carefree way, so she grabbed a scone and decided to ignore the little thrill spinning down her spine. He rarely flirted with her, and she often felt when he did it was more reflex than anything else. Harry had dated a lot since the war, but he’d never tried to truly settle down and have a serious relationship. Part of her already dreaded the changes such a thing would bring to their friendship when he found a witch to marry. His last serious girlfriend had made it clear that she considered Hermione a threat to the relationship. Thankfully, she hadn’t lasted long. She felt a little guilty even now for how relieved she’d been when Harry had told her that he’d broken up with Nina.
She took her coffee back to her office, sat down, and after a brief touch to her pendant pulled out the stupid interview for Witch Weekly. Fortunately, there were precious few personal questions as she was internationally known to avoid answering those. Her decision to leave public service for the private environment of the foundation had shocked many who’d seen her on the path of being the first Muggle-born Minister for Magic. But after working several years in the ministry after achieving her mastery in magical law, she’d become disillusioned with the government and the ingrained pureblood politics that saturated the place.
Though her choice paled in comparison to the spectacle Harry had caused the first time he’d been called upon to arrest a werewolf for being a werewolf on Diagon Alley during his first month on the job as an Auror. He’d quit on the spot and told the Head Auror at the time, John Dawlish, to go fuck himself. Three months later, he’d turned twenty-one and claimed the Gryffindor title through the rite of inheritance through his mother’s bloodline causing a brouhaha of epic proportions and a run on the bank for inheritance tests. It was how Hermione had found out she was the great-great-granddaughter of Hector Dagworth-Granger. In the end, over one hundred family lines thought extinct had been claimed by Muggle-borns and half-bloods. It had also caused an insurgence of pureblood mania in Britain. Two different so-called dark lords tried to rise only to be put down soundly by the ministry as Shacklebolt had no time for such shite.
People had expectations for Harry Potter, and they had no idea what to do with an Earl of Gryffindor who’d come out of the war the heir to the Black fortune. Sirius had in the months before his death, magically disowned every single person related to the Black family through marriage and blood except for his godson, the grandson of Dorea Potter nee Black. It had been such a Slytherin thing to do that half the people who wanted to complain had just been left breathless with awe. Harry had promptly founded the charity foundation, named it after his mother, and set about changing magical Britain to suit himself. Money, fame, and a well-placed threat from the Man-Who-Conquered had gotten him and the foundation a lot of leeway in society. Even if plenty of people, Ron included, thought it was a waste of money.
“How many questions did they send?”
She looked up, and Harry was in the doorway—full suit on this time though he’d gone with a knee-length suit coat versus a robe. It was one of the newer trends in wizarding society, and he made it look good. She frowned.
He brushed his waistcoat. “Something wrong?”
“No,” Hermione said immediately and cleared her throat. “There are twenty-three questions, and I’ve crossed out two that I won’t be answering at all, but it isn’t as bad as the one the Daily Prophet sent last month, so that’s something at least.” She set aside her quill and stood. “Who’s going to be in this meeting today?”
“The head of the Department of Creature Regulation, the minister, and the Chief Witch.”
“Why is Augusta Longbottom in the meeting?” Hermione questioned. “Doesn’t she literally loathe Gawain Robards?”
“Yes, it should be really entertaining. Its chaps her arse that Robards didn’t get fired for his inaction during the war and ended up the in charge of the DOCR not that I consider that a prime spot in the ministry.”
“No, it’s a dead-end job normally reserved for purebloods too dumb to do anything else,” Hermione said and shrugged when he laughed. “I kind of figured Ron would end up there, but he couldn’t even keep a job in the ministry which says something.”
“You gotta be pretty damn lazy to get fired by your own father,” Harry said wryly.
They walked to the out-going floo together and left the private offices of the foundation. Harry was performing a cleaning charm for her before she had to complain about the soot in her hair. If there was anything worse than floo travel, she didn’t know what it was. Though thankfully Harry had mastered it and hadn’t allowed the system to toss him out on his arse in years, no matter how secretly amusing she found it. He guided her into a lift with a sour look.
“Just thinking about the last time I got tossed out of a floo and broke my arm.”
“I didn’t even know you knew all those curse words,” Hermione said wryly and grinned when he huffed. “Don’t pout. I took you to St. Mungo’s, didn’t I?”
“You did.” He nudged her gently. “You’ve been key to my survival since we were eleven.”
Robards, Shacklebolt, and Augusta Longbottom were already settled at the table when they arrived. The Chief Witch had a tea service spread out in front of her and pinched sour look on her face that looked like pure entertainment to Hermione.
Robards cleared his throat. “Lord Potter, before you submit your final plan to the DOCR, I’d like to speak about the current project you’re undertaking on the land.”
“The magically enforced fence you insisted encompass the entire three hundred acres of forest?” Harry questioned. “It’s nearly built, and the goblins will be laying the wards next week.”
“You’ve got two half-giants building it,” Robards interjected.
“Hagrid and Gawp,” Harry confirmed. “Yes, what of it?”
“How can we trust that construction?” Robards demanded. “It should’ve been built by wizards.”
“Who I pay to build the wall was not included in the agreement we all signed, Mr. Robards. And be careful, Hagrid and Gawp are war heroes. They fought and suffered immensely during the final battle, and I won’t have you disparage their work ethics. Hagrid risked his own life to stay close to Hogwarts to help protect the students while you were hiding in a cottage in France.” Harry sat back and raised an eyebrow. “He had to have his arm reattached after the battle was over because a giant ripped it off. They’re both loyal and hardworking servants of the light. It’s all I ask of anyone I employ.”
Robards flushed a dull red. “Not everyone was equipped to fight, Lord Potter.”
“You were an auror for fifteen years,” Augusta interjected as she dunked her biscuit in her tea with two delicate ring-bedecked fingers. “You cowardly little motherfucker.”
Hermione pinched herself to keep from laughing.
Harry pulled a rolled piece of parchment out of his interior coat pocket and spread it out in front of Shacklebolt. “I’ve adhered to all of the terms set forth by the ministry and the Wizengamot, Kingsley. I expect this to be signed today or the next time we meet on this matter, we’ll be in front of the World Court of Magic where the ministry will have to defend itself regarding the inappropriate interference in the business of my magical house.”
Kingsley just offered him a grin and picked up his quill. “I said I would sign it, didn’t I?”
Harry just raised an eyebrow and watched silently as Shacklebolt signed the agreement.
“When are you going to stop being mean to me?” Kingsley questioned.
“Probably never,” Harry admitted as he rolled the contract up and tucked it away. “It’s not my fault you keep getting elected minister. I didn’t even vote for you this last time.”
“Who’d you vote for?” Hermione questioned.
“You.” He grinned when her mouth dropped open.
“She had over three thousand write-in votes,” Kingsley said. “She outperformed my actual opponent actually, and that was after she took a full-page ad in the Prophet letting everyone know she’d rather not be minister.”
Hermione shook her head. “It’s all ridiculous.” Harry stood, and she left her chair as he pulled it out for her. “The minister’s salary would barely cover my book budget.” She flicked her braid over her shoulder and offered Augusta a smile. “Did you like the hat I sent you last week?”
“I love it. I wore it today, in fact. Thank you for thinking of me on your trip to Paris. I meant to send you a note and an invitation to lunch, but I got distracted by some dragonshite pretending to be legislation in the Wizengamot. Consider yourself thanked and I expect to have lunch with you on Friday.”
“Madam Claire’s,” Hermione decided. “I’ll make reservations for eleven.”
Harry waited until they were in the lift to ask, “What on Earth do the two of you talk about on these lunches?”
“People she hates—the list is long. I have dirt on half the ministry at this point so if we have to blackmail anyone I’m ready.” She checked her watch. “What’s next for you?”
“I’m on the work floor most of the afternoon; Dennis wants to pitch an idea for Godric’s Hollow. We’re down to two Muggle families in the area, and both are open to selling for the right price. I think we’ll have it ready to apply for enclave status within three years.”
“What about the Muggle government?”
“They don’t have any rights to it per the original agreement,” Harry explained. “The mixed population is our fault—a minister in the 1800s let the repelling charms fail, and by the time anyone noticed there were a bunch of Muggle families moving into the area. It was a hot mess at the time.”
They returned to the foundation’s offices, and Hermione found herself back at her desk in short order with her interview while Harry went down one floor where the staff spread out in an open floor plan that she found chaotic and at times overwhelming. Harry loved the energy of the work floor, so she kept her opinions about individual offices to herself. Granted, there were only ten employees beyond the two of them working permanently for the foundation. They contracted work out the rest of the time.
She used her wand to close and lock her door then unbuttoned the top two buttons of her blouse so she could pick up the pendant and hold it. It had been clean of any sort of magic just as he had promised. She hadn’t taken it off since she’d put it on the night before. Though she’d paused briefly in leaving her house without taking it off because his order had been very clear. Hermione bit down on her lip. Maybe he didn’t want to ever know who she was. Maybe he would even ignore it if he saw her wearing it. After a few moments, she tucked it back into her blouse and redid her buttons. It wasn’t a good idea to focus on the past, and no matter how much she wished differently, Façade and the Dom she’d found there were in her past. She’d closed her membership before she’d left and told them she had no desire to hear from them again.
It was done.
– – – –
“I was surprised you floo’d,” Draco said as he offered Harry a tumbler half full of firewhiskey. “You’re usually quite busy on Sunday evenings.”
Harry grimaced. It had been a week since he’d ended his membership at Façade. “Last Sunday was my last visit.”
Draco raised an eyebrow in surprise as he sat down in a chair similar to the one Harry was brooding in. “You’ve given up your fantasy girl come true? Seriously?”
Harry flushed. “The relationship couldn’t go anywhere, Draco, you know that. I had too much power over her for us to ever meet on equal ground inside that fetish club. I could’ve…manipulated her into telling me her name but what kind of arsehole would that have made me?”
“Did you give her a way to find you?” Draco asked. “Throw out any hints regarding your identity?”
“No, of course not.” Harry tossed back the whiskey and hissed as it burned all the way down. “But I did give her a gift.”
“A piece of jewelry—made just for her.”
“You’re such a goody-two-shoes,” Draco said with an amused grin. “Do you think she’ll wear it out in public for you to see?”
“I ordered her not to,” Harry said gruffly.
“Why don’t you just curse yourself in the dick?” Malfoy asked and shook his head when Harry scowled at him. “You’re ridiculous. Why am I friends with you?”
“Because I kept you out of Azkaban.”
“Oh, right.” Draco nodded. “That would do it.” He smirked. “Whatever shall you do when she disobeys you?”
“I don’t know,” Harry admitted. “I guess it depends…on who she really is.”
“What do you mean?”
“Hell, Draco, the only thing I really know about her is that she was of legal age to enter the club. She made the appearance of being close to my age and single, but that means nothing within the walls of Façade considering the amount of polyjuice that’s regularly passed around inside that place. She might not even be female.”
“And if she turned out to be a he?” Draco questioned.
“Trying to confess something?” Harry questioned and grinned when Draco laughed. “I wouldn’t care if she turned out to be a wizard. Unless she turned out to be Theo Nott, then I would just AK myself. The trappings aren’t important in the end, it’s about our dynamic and the way she responded. I can’t say I won’t miss her, but I’m ready to have a serious relationship. I can’t focus on finding a wife while spending my Sunday evenings in a fetish club.”
“You made an honorable choice. I can’t say I would’ve made it in your place,” Draco admitted. “But I’m a selfish bastard, and it’s rare that I have a partner that really satisfies me long-term.” He swirled his whiskey around. “And if I wanted you to spank my arse, Harry, I’d just tell you. I wouldn’t create some elaborate female persona to get under your hand.”
Harry laughed. “I could make a list of people who’d adore the opportunity to spank your arse if you were inclined toward such a thing and we both know you’re not. You know you can’t spend your entire life moving from one submissive to another in Façade, right?”
“I could,” Draco assured. “I have money to burn, and my father will never get out of Azkaban.” He grimaced at that. “My mother finally requested a divorce. I thought she’d never get there.” He exhaled deeply. “I’m not where you are, Harry, and maybe it’ll be a bit longer before I can even think about sharing my space and my real bed with someone else. There’s nothing wrong with indulging myself.”
“No, but there’s a lot wrong with hiding,” Harry said evenly. “I won’t harp on it because I think you’ll get where I am sooner rather than later. Because I got here without filling my nights with one meaningless shag after another.”
“They’re not all meaningless,” Draco protested. “Fuck off, Potter. I can’t believe I got out my good liquor for you.”
“You’ve never made good decisions,” Harry said thoughtfully. “It’s a shame really. I don’t know how you got sorted into Slytherin.”
“I’ll kick you out of my mansion,” Draco informed him gravely. “Straight through the floo and back to your own dismal little house.”
“I live in a castle.”
“You live in a little house pretending to be a castle,” Draco corrected.
“It has twenty-two rooms,” Harry responded. “You just think anything under forty rooms is a hovel.”
“And I would be right.” Malfoy saluted him with his whiskey and took a long sip. “Though, it is pretty. Your little castle, I mean. It’s all charming and Gryffindorish.”
“It should be since Godric had it built,” Harry said and stood. He took his glass to the bar and poured himself another two fingers. “Are the contracts for the potions in order?”
“Yes, I’ve thrown in labor for free.” Draco waved a hand when Harry turned to stare. “Tax write off.”
“If you say. I know Wolfsbane is labor intensive to brew.”
“Yes, well, the biggest threat I faced on a regular basis during the war was Greyback. He gloried in reminding me that if I failed to meet Riddle’s expectations that I was on the menu. Whether he intended to outright eat me or turn me was left to question.”
Harry grimaced. “That’s one kill I don’t regret at all.”
“Who do you regret killing?” Draco asked curiously.
“It’s not so much that I regret my actions,” Harry began. “I just wish none of it had been necessary. I don’t understand Riddle’s greed and ambition. Maybe I never will. We both grew up unloved and unwanted in a place we’d have never stayed if we had a choice. Yet, the path he took was violent, cruel, and dark. Maybe I wonder what my defining moment was. What kept me in the light or perhaps more importantly, what made him so dark?”
“Some people just crave power, and they aren’t afraid to destroy others to get it. My father is that way though he coupled that ambition with cowardice.” Draco took a deep breath. “You know, I much preferred when you spent your Sunday evening spanking some witch’s arse. You’re depressing the fuck out of me.”
“I’d apologize, but I blame you for my current state. You never should’ve taken me to Façade, to begin with.” Harry set aside the empty glass and tossed himself back in the chair. “It was the right decision for me, but now I’m left wondering if she…”
“Is already under another Dom?” Draco supplied in an amused tone.
Harry frowned and averted his gaze, but he had no hope of keeping the fury off his face. “Goddamn it.” He rubbed his face. “I fucked up.”
“Yeah, you fucked up,” Malfoy agreed. “And I’m not sure how you can fix it unless your fantasy girl decides to disobey your orders, wears whatever you gave her out in public, and you get lucky enough to actually see it.”
“She could be married,” Harry said with a grimace. “Or she could be Theo Nott.”
Draco burst out laughing. “You know damn well she’s neither one of those things. Did she tell you anything at any point that could help you pinpoint her identity?”
“No, she was careful. She admitted once to using magic to mask her voice. But I did the same, so that wasn’t a surprise. I don’t even know if she went to Hogwarts or what she does for work. Though she works for a friend…” Harry sighed. “Which honestly isn’t enough to go on at all.”
“Can you go back to Façade and leave a message for her?”
“No, I terminated my membership entirely,” Harry said and barely avoided sounding sullen. “I’ll just have to live with it.”
“Your martyr complex is distinctly unattractive,” Draco said dryly. “It’s worse than that whole unfortunate incident at Hogwarts.”
“Which one?” Harry asked.
“Your sorting,” Draco answered and laughed when Harry glared at him. “Merlin, I bet people all over the isle are still pondering that shite in the wake of your abrupt and scandalous departure from ministry service. Then you went and stole their golden girl on top of it.”
“They’d have worked her to death,” Harry said crossly. “I didn’t steal her. I rescued her. They couldn’t even keep in her books with that kind of salary.”
“Granted,” Draco agreed. “She’d have taken to shoplifting at Flourish and Blotts.”
Harry burst out laughing. “Shut up.”
“You’re picturing it,” Draco decided. “Her trying to tuck one of those books bigger than her under her jumper.”
“She’s bright—she’d shrink it first,” Harry said and grinned when Draco laughed. “You’re a shite host, my drink is empty again.”
Draco rolled out of his chair and retrieved the bottle. “Fine, I’ll let you get drunk on my good whiskey then pour you into a guest bed. But I’m not brewing you a hangover potion.”
“I brought my own.” Harry held out his glass.
– – – –
How had she gone from getting a delicious spanking every Sunday to sitting in a chair in her mother’s sunporch knitting with women twice her age? It was ridiculous and kind of embarrassing. She was too young to be a member of a stitch-n-bitch club, especially with her mother’s nosy and inappropriate friends. Granted, it was just her mother and godmother currently, but that was beside the point.
“Dating anyone, Hermione?”
She eyed her godmother, her mother’s best friend since college and the woman she’d gotten her middle name from. “No.”
“You were though.” Her mother interjected. “You’ve been busy every Sunday for a year until tonight—it wasn’t work.”
Hermione pursed her lips. “I was engaged in a deviant sexual relationship with a stranger. We met at a fetish club every Sunday night. He tied me up, spanked me, and did freaky sex things to me that you don’t want to know about.”
Her mother rolled her eyes. “Hermione, you don’t have to lie to me.”
She shrugged and took a sip of her wine. Her godmother burst out laughing.
“Jane, don’t encourage her,” Hannah exclaimed. “She’s practically thirty and hasn’t had a serious relationship since she dumped that red-headed tosser.”
“Maybe that red-headed tosser put her off men,” Jane speculated.
Hermione put down her wine and back to her project. “I’m fine, Mum. And I haven’t been put off men. I just haven’t really met anyone I want to commit to. And I’m just twenty-nine!”
“What about Harry?”
Her cheeks flushed, and she shrugged. “I’m not his type. A couple of years ago, we went out to dinner and…” She sighed.
“He took me back to my flat and as we were standing there in the door…he just looked at me and took my hand. He told me I was beautiful and amazing. Then he kissed my cheek and whispered that I was too soft for him and he wished he was different.” Hermione looked away at her mother’s shocked expression. “Then he left. We’ve never discussed it again.”
“It’s fine, Mum. He’s…he had a hard life at the Dursleys, and the war did him no favors either. Maybe I’m not the kind of woman he can see himself married to but I am his best friend, and that’s enough.”
“It’s not though,” Jane said. “It’s written all over your face.” She inclined her head. “What do you suppose he meant by soft?”
“I don’t know. I guess I’m afraid to ask,” Hermione admitted. “But he’s always been very careful with me and…”
“Ron and I got into an argument in front of Harry once, near the end of our doomed engagement. We were at Godric’s Keep helping clean up the place so he could open it and use it as a home. Anyway, Ron grabbed my arm, and Harry interfered. It was the only time he got between us during an argument. He told Ron to leave and that he’d better not ever put his hands on me in anger again. I’ve rarely seen Harry so furious in his whole life. Ron nearly pissed himself.”
“Do you think his Aunt and Uncle physically abused him?” her mother asked with a frown.
“He told me once that his uncle was casually abusive which to him meant that he was free with smacks and the like. I asked him if he was ever beaten and he said no. He said that his aunt favored confinement and the denial of basics like food.” Hermione frowned. “They’re both lucky I have no idea where they live, or I’d hunt them down and ruin their lives. Regardless, Harry’s never responded well to anyone else having control over his circumstances. I don’t know why he thought he could work as an auror.”
“That’s a lovely color.”
Hermione looked down at the dark green cashmere in her lap. “A scarf for Harry. It’ll be winter soon, and I thought he might like it.” She blushed and shrugged at the knowing looks she got from them. “I thought your stitch-n-bitch club had more members.”
“Normally we do,” Hannah said. “But I canceled the bigger group when you called because I figured you were having some kind of issue and wouldn’t enjoy a big crowd.”
“I was just tired of my flat,” Hermione said. “And Harry’s at Malfoy Manor tonight and I don’t like going there because of what happened during the war. Harry offered to host Draco at his place so I could come over but I didn’t want to get in the way of their male bonding.” She rolled her eyes.
“It’s an odd friendship, isn’t it?”
Hermione shrugged. “I used to think so until I realized that they grew up in very similar circumstances. It isn’t like Lucius Malfoy allowed Draco to be his own man. The man even tried to control what Draco believed. He forced his own son to take the Dark Mark, and that isn’t something that can easily be forgiven. How does a parent willingly allow his child to be made a slave to a psychotic monster?” She sighed. “Regardless, Harry was tense and out of sorts on Friday so I figured he could use the space to wind down without judgment.”
“And you judge him?”
“I was a rigid kid,” Hermione allowed. “And I berated him and Ron both regularly at Hogwarts about practically everything—rules were important to me. Rules made me feel safe.” She shrugged. “And I tried to make them safe too, but it almost always came out as nagging and sort of judgy. Harry learned not to take any of it personally, but Ron always acted like I was just trying to make his life as miserable as possible. Of course, now I glory in making him as unhappy as possible on a regular basis.”
Hannah laughed. “Hermione.”
“It doesn’t take much,” Hermione confided. “Witch Weekly is featuring me in the next issue. I have to go get pictures taken tomorrow. Regardless, when the issue comes out, he’ll be furious since I talked about the war briefly and didn’t mention at him all. The last time I was interviewed, I talked about how he abandoned Harry and me during the war because he couldn’t handle the circumstances. He tried to send me a howler, but the wards at the foundation ate it. Then he tried to get up to my offices and Harry portkeyed him into Black Lake. The Giant Squid got pissed and tossed him out. He had to have both of his legs regrown. He tried to file charges, but he was the one that had trespassed on private property and ignored all three warnings to vacate or be forcibly removed by portkey.”
Jane sighed. “I’d pay good money to have seen that.”
– – – –
Hermione dropped down her couch, and Crookshanks sent her a disgruntled look. “Sorry, old man, I didn’t mean to wake you.” She rubbed his head, and he crawled from his spot in the corner to her lap. “Sometimes I wish I was a rule breaker at heart.”
She touched her pendant. Wearing it out of the house was technically a violation of the orders she’d been given, but she hadn’t yet worn it in front of anyone. Maybe he’d never even see it or her if she did wear it to work or to the ministry. She had no idea where he worked or lived. He might not live in Britain. Hermione wasn’t even entirely certain her Dom was British. The voice modification charm built into his glamour was first-rate.
“I appreciate the fact that he didn’t want to abuse my trust or the dynamics of our arrangement but I really, really wish he’d left me some clue to who he is.” She touched her pendant and took a deep breath. “Do you think he gave me this so I’d reveal myself? I don’t think so because he ordered me not to wear it out in public. It’s frustrating, Crooks.”
The cat yowled and patted her arm. She wasn’t sure if the cat was agreeing or telling her to shut up so he could go back to sleep, so she slouched down a bit and resumed petting him. “Men suck.”
– – – –
Draco stumbled a little under Harry’s weight as they left the stairs. “You’re heavier than you look.”
“Did I ever apologize for not shaking your hand?” Harry asked and fisted his hand in Draco’s jumper. “‘Cause I’m sorry. You’re a better friend than Ron.”
“Yes, right after I apologized for convincing half the school you were the Heir of Slytherin,” Draco reminded and laughed when Harry scowled.
Harry let himself be dragged into a guest room. “Ah, this is my favorite guest room. It’s not covered in green and snakes. This whole place is too much Slytherin, you know.”
“Says a man who has a giant griffin door knocker that roars at intruders.”
Harry laughed. “I can’t part with it—it’s adorable. It purrs, you know, when I rub its head.”
Draco sighed and tossed him on the bed. “Go to sleep, you idiot.”
Harry toed off his shoes and crawled into the covers. “I mean it, you know, you’re a better friend than Ron.”
“I’m a better everything than Ron Weasley,” Draco declared just before he pulled the door shut.
Harry sighed and rolled over onto his back. He stared at the ceiling, not half as drunk as he’d like to be and thought about his sweet little Dove. He’d never really allowed himself to think about whatever relationships she might have outside of Façade, but it was deeply annoying to think she might be in the club right now letting another Dom touch her, hold her, fuck her. He rubbed his face with one hand.
“Stop brooding and go to sleep, Potter!” Draco shouted through the wall.
“Mind your own business!” Harry shouted back and laughed when Draco banged on the wall in response.
A few moments passed, and the door opened. “Seriously, I can hear you thinking.”
“Then go to your own suite instead of trying to sleep in the guest wing.”
Draco came fully in, shut the door and crawled onto the bed. He sprawled out beside Harry. “I thought I’d stay close in case you needed something.”
“This is pretty close.”
“It’s a California King—there’s plenty of room.” Draco sighed. “We can search for her.”
“We could break into Façade and look at their confidential client records.”
“Right, because I’d love to get arrested,” Harry said. “You get dumb ideas when you’re drunk.”
“You could put an advertisement in the Prophet.”
“I can’t even imagine what kind of response I’d get to such a thing,” Harry muttered.
“You could put something anonymously in it—tell her to wear the gift if she’d like to meet you. But there’s no guarantee she’d see it.” Draco sighed. “She might not even live in Britain.” He paused. “You wore a glamour right?”
“You could wear it out on the Alley a few times and see if anyone recognizes you—maybe she’d seek you out if she saw you in public.”
“Or maybe it would freak her the fuck out,” Harry said. “Because you’re working under the assumption that she’d even want to see me again. She confined her needs to Façade, Draco. Maybe she couldn’t handle a relationship built on such a dynamic.”
“Do you want that? A relationship built on dynamic?”
“I think…yeah.” Harry took a deep breath. “I want love, of course, and would consider that part of our relationship private but I’d like to collar my wife.”
“That’s hotter than I thought it would be,” Draco admitted. “They make collar sets that are designed to pass for jewelry to anyone who isn’t on the scene. But you’ve already looked at them.”
“I looked when I bought her necklace,” Harry murmured. “I couldn’t help myself, but I didn’t purchase.”
“But you picked out the one you’d want her to wear.”
“You’re so bloody ridiculous,” Draco said with a sigh. “Now we have to find this witch.” He kicked Harry’s leg. “You dumb Gryffindor.”
“I was trying to be noble,” Harry protested.
“Congratulations, you’re the first wizard in probably several hundred years to get fucked by his own nobility.”
Harry huffed but then burst out laughing. “I hate you sometimes.”
“You look nice.”
Hermione looked up from her planner. “Hey. I had to take photos for Witch Weekly’s feature thing.” She waved a hand. “It was kind of annoying, but they let me pick the one they’ll use in the magazine, so that’s something.”
Harry nodded. “Thanks for doing it. It’ll be good for the foundation.”
“I know.” She slouched back in her chair and rocked there. “You look worn out. Rough weekend?”
“I let Draco get me drunk,” he admitted. “I regret it deeply. He also kicks in his sleep.”
“You slept with Draco?” Hermione asked, wide-eyed.
Harry grinned. “We just passed out in the same bed, but my shin may never be the same. He’s also a terrible morning person, and I pity whomever he ends up married to. What’s on your agenda for today?”
“I kept everything light because of the photoshoot thing.” She waved a hand. “Did you know that Colin Creevy is working for them? I had to threaten him to make him stop taking pictures so I could pick one.”
“I did know. Dennis was incredibly proud when he got the job and told everyone on the work floor…five or six times. The issue comes out this afternoon, right? Cutting it short getting photos done.”
“I tried to send them one to use,” Hermione admitted. “They berated me as politely as they could and requested I sit for their photographer. I didn’t want a passive aggressive note under my old picture if I didn’t agree.”
“I’m having lunch delivered shortly then I’ll be going out to the Full Moon Sanctuary to check the fence and approve the warding scheme. Permission for the permanent portkeys came through this morning while you were gone so if you’d go ahead and start work on a contract for that work? Do you still have that list of ministry approved enchanters?”
“I do and I will. I’ve already got a draft of the contract ready to go so putting together a team should be feasible by the end of the week. Did we get a list from the DOCR regarding registered werewolves?”
“Yes, and I managed to get a list of suspected werewolves from Dawlish though he couched it with a speech about my obligation to report unregistered werewolves. He was quite irritated when I pointed out that I’m not legally required to report anything of the kind. He said he was going to try to get a law proposed to make it illegal to harbor or fail to report a werewolf to the ministry.”
“I’m gonna get him fired,” Hermione declared. “But first I’ll send an anonymous letter to Lavender Zabini about his illicit affair with a married woman. It’ll be all over the social section of the Prophet for weeks.”
Harry laughed. “One day, I’m going to follow you to a lunch with Augusta and shamelessly eavesdrop.”
“She’d probably tell you more if you sat with us,” Hermione confided. “She thinks you’ve got a cute arse.”
Harry flushed. “Shut up.”
Hermione laughed. She rarely saw him get uncomfortable regarding his looks except for that unfortunate period just after the war when Witch Weekly had waged an all-out war on his bachelorhood. He’d been pursued ardently by quite a few witches though they’d gotten nowhere fast at the time even if she overlooked that whole time period when he was dosed with the impotence potion.
“She’s hardly the first little old witch to check out your bum.”
“Oh, I know.” Harry ran a hand through his hair. “You’d not believe how many times my arse got pinched the first year after I took my Wizengamot seat. It bordered on appalling, and it’s honestly really difficult to accuse a little 100-year-old witch of sexual harassment and be taken seriously.”
She bit down on her lip, and he just scowled. “Should I go over there and give them all a stern lecture? I’m perfectly willing to defend your honor…and your bum.”
He laughed. “It’s not so bad now. Thank Merlin the fashions changed, and the long jacket came back into style. I was considering lining my trousers with dragonhide.” He tapped the doorframe. “I’ll have your lunch sent up. I’ll probably head home after I finish up with the sanctuary so I’ll see you in the morning?”
– – – –
Harry landed at the Diagon Alley apparition point with a flush of silent magic. He performed a cleaning charm on his boots as he walked to make sure he didn’t track any of the forest into the bookshop then headed towards Flourish and Blotts. The shop wasn’t busy at all, so he easily made it to the back where the magazine rack was and picked up his usual selections plus a copy of Witch Weekly. The logo for the Lily Potter Foundation was the on the cover—a stylized drawing of Hedwig in flight. It had been his only demand regarding the branding of the foundation and Hermione had seen it accomplished beautifully.
“Hello Stowe,” Harry said as he piled his purchases on the counter.
“Afternoon, Lord Potter.” Stowe Flourish grinned when Harry sighed. “I can’t help myself—it’s just charming. Did you get my note about the book I found for you?”
“I did. I apologize for not responding this morning, but I planned to come here this afternoon anyway to pick up a copy of Hermione’s interview.”
“I’ve read it—she came off really well, but then she always does. She was in earlier all atwitter about the magazine and of course, busted through her monthly budget buying new books.”
“I bet,” Harry said wryly.
Stowe pulled a book from beneath the counter. “Parselmagic: The Enduring Art of the Serpent by Armand Dearing. First print. Banned by the ministry in 1971. Fortunately, for us both, that banned list has been destroyed, and no one can find a copy of it.”
“Yes, very fortunate.” Harry pulled out his vault key and pressed it into the sales receipt where indicated and put his purchases in his dimensional store. “Thank you for your work on finding the book. Let me know if you can get your hands on any of the others on my list. Price really isn’t an issue unless the condition is poor.”
He stopped by the Cauldron and picked up dinner since Winky was still on vacation in France and wouldn’t be around to berate him for his chicken wing addiction. Godric’s Keep was a pretty little fairytale castle nestled deeply in the Forbidden Forest. It was so heavily warded that no one could find it without Harry’s explicit permission and he liked it that way. After he’d spread his meal of wings, ale, and chips out on the end of his kitchen table, he pulled out his purchases and used a spell to send the book to the library.
Wizard Quarterly, The Quidditch Guide, and World Sports News were placed in one pile, and he brought the copy of Witch Weekly close and thumbed through the pages to Hermione’s interview. He barely managed to not spew ale all over the place the moment his eyes landed on the picture of her. Harry stood up so quickly, his chair toppled backward, but his eyes never left the rose gold pendant resting against Hermione’s breastbone. He drew his wand, conjured his patronus and sent it to Draco.
He took a ragged breath then another as he processed what he was seeing. The pendant was unique, so there was no way Hermione had just stumbled across a duplicate of it. Moreover, there was a glint of challenge in her eyes as she moved in the wizarding photograph that said nothing but pure defiance.
“Harry!” Draco shouted. “Where are you?”
“Here, the kitchen!” Harry said and looked up as Draco hurried in, wand drawn.
“Is there an intruder? Are you hurt?” Draco demanded, breathless.
“No.” Harry blinked. “Sorry, I don’t even know what I said.”
“You demanded I get here now.” Draco frowned at him. “You’re pale as fuck. Did something evil happen? Is your scar hurting?”
“No.” Harry picked up his chair and took a shuddery breath. “It’s…just for Christ’s sake, Draco.” He rubbed his face with one shaking hand and sat down. “The necklace I bought her—it was a rose gold dove in flight.”
“Okay.” Draco holstered his wand.
Harry motioned toward the magazine spread out in front of him, and Draco walked over to the table.
Draco blinked in surprise and cleared his throat. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’m sure.” Harry slouched back in his chair. “How the hell could I not know it was her?”
“She apparently is a much better actress than we ever gave her credit for,” Draco murmured then he grinned and tapped the picture. “Looks like someone’s earned herself a spanking. When she disobeys she doesn’t do it small, huh?”
“I guess she didn’t want there to be…any mistake regarding her intention to reveal herself,” Harry said. “What do I do?”
“What do you want to do?” Draco asked.
“Go over to her flat, turn her over my knee, and spank her arse until she begs me to fuck her,” Harry said roughly. “But that’s not the right move.”
“No, you’re not in the right place emotionally to even think about such a thing,” Draco agreed. “So, you’ll need some time and space to make a plan. You’ll have to make sure you meet all of her expectations before she even has a chance to form them because if you fuck this up, you’ll lose a lot more than your little fantasy girl.”
He’d lose his best friend, Harry thought. It was a miserable thought. They’d pushed through a lot of difficult situations before and after the war to get where they were and he’d never want to risk that in a million years.
“I adore her,” he said. “Every contrary and bossy inch of her, you know? But I put her out of my mind as an option years ago because…”
“You didn’t think she could handle your sexual needs,” Draco said. “Well, she’s more than proven you were wrong about that so now you need to figure out if you can handle the two different versions of her as one person.”
Harry started to respond, but there was the tingle of a ward notification. “She’s here.”
“I’ll floo out,” Draco said and stood. “Be careful here, Harry, you’re not ready for a serious conversation about Façade, and you know it.”
He nodded. Draco exited out a side door that would lead him to the den and Hermione swept in from the main entrance of the room. “Hey.”
“I have a thing.” She waved a hand and sat down a covered owl cage. “It’s your birthday next month, but I couldn’t wait any longer to bring her home.”
“Hermione…you know…” He looked at the still covered cage. “Love, I’m just not ready.”
“You’re never going to be ready,” Hermione said evenly. “So, I did some research, and I contacted the man who bred Hedwig. Did you know she had three sets of chicks before she was put up for adoption?”
“No.” Harry cleared his throat. “I had no idea.”
She untied the cover with careful fingers. “I’m going to show you this and if you can’t handle it, I’ll take her back to the breeder.”
“Hedwig’s granddaughter,” Hermione explained. She pulled the cover free revealing a beautiful snowy white owl. “She’s just six months old, but out of all the chicks the breeder had, she was the one that reminded me the most of her grandmother, so I knew she was the one. There’s something about her that I can’t really explain.”
Harry walked around the table and opened the cage despite his best intentions and the owlet immediately hopped right on to his hand. They used owls at the foundation, but he rarely interacted with them. Plenty of people considered his preoccupation with the loss of Hedwig ridiculous, but they were the sort that would never understand what she had meant to him in the first place. He stroked the owl’s back and got a contented little bark for his trouble. His magic stirred in him in a way it hadn’t since he’d lost Hedwig and he sighed.
“Is it too much?” Hermione asked. “I’m sorry, Harry, I should’ve asked first—”
“No,” he interrupted. “She’s perfect.” Harry tucked the owlet back into the cage, which got him an indignant bark and pulled Hermione into a hug. “Thank you.” He took a deep breath against her hair and nearly laughed when she glomped onto him with her usual, fierce sort of hug.
“I’m glad you like her. She won’t be able to carry mail for probably another six months, but you haven’t had a personal owl in years so I figured that wouldn’t be a big deal to you. I just didn’t want her to bond with anyone else by accident.” She looked up at him and smiled. “It’s really okay?”
“Really,” he promised and brushed her hair back from her face. “Plans for the evening?”
“Oh, I promised my parents I’d bring a copy of the magazine by so they could see it and Mum’s making my favorites for dinner.” She checked her watch. “Did you want to come?”
“I’ve got an immense amount of chicken wings to consume and destroy the evidence of before Winky returns from her vacation,” Harry informed her gravely.
“I’ll forgo the lecture since it’s so close to your birthday and because Winky will find out. She always finds out. Then she’ll spend a whole month berating you for not taking care of yourself for her sake because she’s too old to get yet another new master and you dying young of heart disease won’t be fair to her.”
Harry laughed. “Right.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Enjoy all of your favorite foods.”
“I certainly will. Even if I have to wear my fat pants tomorrow.” She smiled cheerfully at the thought and darted off the way she’s came leaving him with an owlet and a heaping amount of confusion.
He slouched back down in his chair as soon as the wards told him she was gone and noted that the owlet had hopped out of the open cage and was not-so-casually walking down the table toward his food. “I’m sure eating chicken wings would be some kind of pseudo-cannibalism.”
She barked at him in reprimand, which reminded him of Hedwig, so he gamely plucked meat off two chicken wings, and made a pile for her. Her delicate first bite made him snort a little, but he schooled his face when he got a dirty look.
“You’re a cute little thing,” he decided. “How do you feel about the name Greta?” She tilted her head, stared hard for a moment, barked, and went back to eating. “Greta it is.” He picked up his ale and took a healthy swig. “I’m glad you’re here, actually. My love life is a hot mess, and Draco is no help at all. I can’t talk to Hermione about it because it’s about her. You might have noticed this already—but she’s complicated.”
Greta finished her chicken and flew to his shoulder to perch. She rubbed her head against his and Harry took a deep breath. His eyes dampened, and he cleared his throat. “Well, shite.”
– – – –
Hermione put the leftovers her mother had foisted off on her in the cooling cabinet and walked out to her small balcony. In the four hours she’d been gone, a bit of mail had piled up and there were three owls waiting. None them looked thrilled with her.
“I have a mail basket, you know.” She pointed to the basket that had a bunch of letters already sitting in it even as the largest of the owls held out its foot in an imperious manner. “Don’t give me attitude, Hermes. Just because your master expects a response doesn’t mean he’ll get one.”
The eagle owl made a sound deep in his chest that sounded like a growl and took off. Hermione rolled her eyes. Draco Malfoy always had the most foul-tempered owls that could possibly exist. She took care of the other two then gathered up all of her correspondence. Flipping through the stack was kind of disheartening until she got to the last one. The writing wasn’t familiar at all. It sent a little thrill of pleasure and alarm down her back as she set aside the rest and dropped down her sofa with it. She broke the plain wax seal and carefully unfolded the thick, expensive parchment.
My Sweet Dove,
I find myself both elated and irritated by your disobedience.
I’ve missed you.
The spanking you’ve earned yourself may make it difficult for you to sit for a week.
Make no plans for the weekend as you’ll not be available to serve anyone’s needs but mine. I will send for you on Friday.
Hermione bit down her lip and shivered a little in anticipation.
– – – –
Her week dragged, and it didn’t help that Harry spent most of it out of the office working on the sanctuary and nitpicking the warding scheme the goblins had set up. She didn’t blame him because the project was special to him and more importantly, if they failed to meet the ministry guidelines, the foundation would suffer both financially and legally. Hermione had buried herself in research in preparation for the Witch’s Rights Bill, which Harry planned to propose to the Wizengamot after the new year. They’d been building toward the bill for several years and had started by making it practically impossible for parents to sign marriage contracts on behalf of their daughters.
The founding principal of the new bill was the right to sue for divorce—no matter the circumstances. Currently, a witch could only seek a divorce in Britain if she could prove physical abuse or if her husband was incarcerated for life. Preparing Harry for the fight would be her main focus through the rest of the year because he had to hit the floor Wizengamot utterly prepared to decimate any argument against the bill that came his way.
She’d put in several long days so she could feel justified in taking half a day Friday to go the spa. Taking care of her body was important to her so she didn’t slack off on personal maintenance but she wanted to look perfect for him. She’d gotten the full treatment and left relieved that magical hair removal wasn’t a damn thing like waxing. Hermione didn’t expect any sort of message until after five so she settled in on the patio of a café on Diagon Alley and ordered a light meal.
“Your mail ward is still refusing my letters.”
Hermione looked up from her sandwich and chewed slowly as Ron slouched down in the chair in front of her. He looked sullen and unkempt which was what she’d come to expect. After he’d been fired from the ministry, he’d gone through a series of jobs before his mother had berated the twins into hiring him to stock their shelves at night. As far as she knew, he still worked in the shops they had on Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade doing that. He made enough to live on his own but chose to live with parents.
“And yet, you still haven’t grasped the idea that I don’t want to hear from you,” Hermione said dryly.
“I made some mistakes,” Ron began, “but you and Harry are bloody unreasonable, Hermione. I read your interview in that stupid magazine. You didn’t mention me once—it’s like you’ve erased me from your life and that’s not fair.”
“Why would you want to be associated with a stuck-up know-it-all who doesn’t know her place?” Hermione questioned, and his cheeks flushed red. “I’m just a Muggle-born who doesn’t know how the magical world works, right? I’ll never get anywhere with my attitude. I’m all useless ambition and no heart.” She tilted her head. “I’m too busy trying to act like a man to be a good woman.”
“You don’t have to throw my words back in my face every single time we see each other,” Ron hissed. “Why can’t you forgive me? I was upset and in a bad place. My own father fired me from a great job, and you acted like it was my fault.”
“It was your fault and, of course, I have to throw your words back in your face. You spent years trying to convince me to be inferior so you could feel better about your own mediocrity. The only power you were ever going to have is what you thought you could take from me, and even now eight years later you can’t figure out why I’m not exactly where you want me to be. It’s disturbing, Ronald, but more it’s just pitiful. Go away, I have plans for the evening that don’t include listening to you whine about how miserable your life is.”
“That’s easy for you to say. Harry gives you a stupid amount of gold on a regular basis for doing practically nothing,” Ron snapped. “You’re just sitting up there in that fancy building he bought and helping squander the Black family fortune. I don’t know how they let him get away that bullshit. Both of my parents are related to the Blacks. Some of that money should be mine.”
“Yeah, too bad your mother spent so much time degrading and insulting Sirius Black when she was living in his house,” Hermione said evenly. “Maybe he wouldn’t have disowned her and Arthur both along with every other blood relative he could find on record.” She smiled when Ron glared at her. “Personally, I think all of his relatives got exactly what they deserved. Not a single one of them ever tried to help him or even inquire about his lack of trial. And the only person to support Harry in his desire to clear Sirius’ name was Kingsley Shacklebolt.”
“Why should we care now?” Ron demanded. “That bastard robbed us blind after he died for fuck’s sake.”
“Go away.” Hermione picked up her sandwich, took another bite then pulled a book out of her bracelet to read. “I’ll report you to the DMLE for harassment if you don’t leave immediately.”
“Fuck you,” Ron snapped and shoved at little at the table as he left.
Hermione steadied her teacup, drew her wand, and cast a privacy charm. Ron no longer had the ability to truly set her off her stride, but that had taken years of work on her part. Ron’s entitlement was bone deep and at odds with the rest of his siblings—he’d only gotten worse after the war when Molly had focused all of her attention on him so she could avoid thinking about the death of her only daughter.
She read a chapter, finished her meal then with a mixture of nerves and excitement stirring her up on the inside, she apparated home. Hermione took a bit of time to change her clothes and to pack a small bag with essentials before checking the mail basket on her balcony. There was a small package there waiting. Her mouth dried up a little as she picked it up and took it inside. She sat down on the sofa next to her bag and tore open brown paper off a box then pulled the lid off.
Nestled in the box was a folded piece of parchment, so she picked up and revealed a fairly large key, the Gryffindor crest hung from it on a thin chain just like the one her dove hung from. She opened the letter.
Over the last few days, I’ve tried to find the perfect way to approach you—so that the secret we’ve held between us for the last year could be laid entirely bare. I considered a spirited bit of kidnapping because I know you’d enjoy such a thing immensely in the right, sexy circumstances. Admittedly, I would enjoy it too so here’s hoping we can indulge such a thing at some point.
By Wednesday, I had made and discarded a dozen plans, but in the end, I could find no way to ease you into the truth of our situation. You threw me off my game with the way you so boldly revealed yourself, and I’ve been scrambling to catch up ever since. Perhaps that’s not what you’d want to hear. In Façade, you found relief in my strength and adored the control I had over you.
Once, I told you that you were too soft for me. If I could’ve changed who and what I am for anyone it would’ve been you. In the last year, you’ve taught me a lot about myself, and more importantly, you showed me that I what I understood about you was fundamentally flawed.
I’ve never doubted your strength, loyalty, or intelligence but I believed you too delicate to handle the more dominate parts of me. I didn’t accept my sadism easily, but when I did, I came to believe that I wasn’t the sort of man you deserved or would want. It was a bittersweet revelation as I’d spent most of our teenage years wondering why you never looked at me the way you looked at Ron. Then when you did, I was already consumed with a lifestyle that I couldn’t see you being a part of.
The key opens a room in Godric’s Keep that you’ve never been in before—my playroom. Until this morning, I had it warded in such a way that only I could see it as I’ve never brought anyone here to play. You have a choice to make, and please know that whatever it is, I will respect it in every single way.
You can return the key via owl, and I swear I will never, ever bring up what happened between us at Façade over the last year. Or, you can come to me, and we’ll start a new journey together.
Hermione lowered the letter with a shaking hand and took a shuddery breath—hundreds of moments flitted through her mind and in every single one she saw Harry instead of the man she’d only known as Sir. How could she have not known it was him? She felt like an idiot and the only reason that didn’t sting all that much as it was obvious that Harry had been just as shocked as she currently was.
She set aside the letter, picked up the key, and her bag then apparated. Hermione landed on the wide lovely veranda that spread out in front of the keep. He opened the door before she could reach it and hauled her in. She dropped her bag the second she passed the threshold and wrapped her arms around his neck.
“Harry Potter, I’ve been a nervous wreck this whole week.” She pressed her mouth to his before he could respond.
His hands tightened on her hips, and she found herself pressed against the large wooden front door even as his tongue stroked into her mouth with delicious familiarity. Harry trailed kisses across her jaw and down her neck.
“This isn’t the plan,” he said hoarsely as he hitched her upward and her legs snaked around his waist. “One of us needs to be an adult about this.”
“Fuck that,” she gasped and buried her hands in his hair.
He huffed a little and laughed against her throat then he lifted his head and met her gaze. “I made dinner and everything.”
She quirked an eyebrow. “I had a full spa treatment.” His grip tightened on her, and she grinned.
“We can’t go into this blind,” he murmured and brushed his mouth over hers. “And the rules we had at Façade won’t work out here in the real world. You know that.”
She sucked in her bottom lip to keep from visibly pouting. “I know. I’m just so…”
“What?” he questioned.
“Pleased,” Hermione whispered. “I never compared the two of you—which in retrospect is crazy—but there were times when I wished, desperately, that you wanted me the way he did.”
He put her down carefully and guided her toward the kitchen. “Let’s eat and talk about everything.”
“Everything?” She asked. “Seriously? Am I getting laid at all tonight?”
“You’re working on getting that spanking sooner rather than later,” he warned as they entered the kitchen.
She took the chair he pulled out for her and took a deep breath. “What’s for dinner?”
“I was actually a little bit of a wreck myself today, so I went with comfort food. Shepherd’s Pie and I pulled your favorite red.” He poured the wine for them both before bringing the casserole dish to the table. “You only get one glass because I need you cleared headed so savor it. Tell me why you went to Façade.”
“Curiosity I’d say was the biggest factor. I’d heard a few people talking about it at the ministry, and after I broke up with Ron, I was at loose ends. I went once then, and it was entertaining enough. I already knew I enjoyed a certain level of physical pain. It seemed like a one-off experience, a novelty. Then I started dating Jacob Finn. He’s a great guy, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve never been so bored in my entire life. We only had sex once, and the terribleness of it left us both shocked. To this day, I don’t think he understands how or why we didn’t click in bed.” She served herself and made a pleased noise. “This smells great. I had a tiny sandwich and a close encounter of the loser kind for lunch.”
“Is Ron still working for the twins?”
“I didn’t ask, but I haven’t heard otherwise. Also, Molly hasn’t sent us a letter demanding we give Ron a job in at least a year, so that’s telling.” She picked up her fork and hesitated before plowing forward with the rest of her answer about Façade. “About a year and a half ago, I came to terms with the fact that no matter how much I wanted it—you and I weren’t going to have the kind of relationship I wanted. It was frustrating, and it hurt, but I tried really hard not to burden you with my feelings. You’d made it perfectly clear that I wasn’t…what you needed.”
“I feel like I should apologize for that night but I don’t know where we would’ve ended up if I hadn’t…” He frowned into his wine glass.
“You handled it perfectly,” Hermione admitted. “I was the one that had to adjust to the fact that you weren’t going to be part of my ten-year plan. So it took me a while to do that because I’ve never handled my plans being altered without my permission well at all. Then I was at a loss because there wasn’t a single man in my past or present that meant half as much as you do. I couldn’t see myself with any wizard long term. One night, I took myself out for a drink, and I ended up in a pub not far from Façade. I don’t know why I chose to go there after I finished my wine but I did. I walked in and joined as a member on the spot.
“The induction process was exciting and rewarding because I let myself be entirely honest with both myself and the House Master I was speaking with about my sexual needs. I’d never done that before. It was intoxicating in a way, and I was introduced to my first Top. We had a nice evening, but he wasn’t enough, and I returned to the Master for further discussion. I needed more, but I wasn’t sure exactly what that was since I had so little experience with the various tools and scenarios. The Master introduced me to an employee at Façade who works as an instructor. Together they taught me about various tools, and I got to experiment with each. I came when the Master flogged me. It was a startling revelation for me.”
“I bet,” Harry murmured. “What happened next?”
“I was told there was a Dom in the club who was looking for an exclusive arrangement—times and dates to be negotiated. The Master told me that the Dom was a sadist with an exceptional talent for pleasuring through pain. His preferred implements were a flogger, the cane, and a bullwhip. I was onboard with all three of those and asked about blood play. I was assured the Dom would agree to safe blood play and that I could trust him. I agreed to meet him.”
“So just the one other member besides me,” Harry said. “Why did you stay away so long after that first session?”
“You told me to take my time making the decision regarding the exclusive arrangement because you didn’t want to waste your time if I wasn’t ready to commit to at least six months of regular sessions. I honestly wanted to say yes that night, but I took your instructions seriously. I knew it would make dating basically impossible as I’m not the kind of witch to have multiple sex partners at the same time. Honestly, at this age, most of my peers are married. Some of our classmates from Hogwarts have kids who are almost ready for first year.” She blushed. “So taking myself off the market for six months or more to explore a sexual fetish in an anonymous club was a big decision.” She took a bite and groaned. “Awesome.”
“Thanks.” Harry took a sip of wine. “One night, I got quite drunk and confessed to a friend that I broke up with my girlfriend because I wanted to experiment sexually and she didn’t. I was drunk enough to confess to the sort of experimentation I wanted to do. Two nights later, he introduced me to Façade. I took lessons from the House Master and two different instructors for several months before I trusted myself alone with a submissive.
“I was paired with several, but only one of them truly interested me at all. She wasn’t on board with an exclusive arrangement because she had kinks regarding humiliation that I couldn’t meet. I was fast losing interest in the club when the Master suggested I meet someone relatively new to the club. She was inexperienced, a masochist, and eager to explore submission. I agreed. I never crossed my mind that I was regularly spanking and fucking my best friend of seventeen years.”
Hermione grinned. “Me either. What does that say about us?”
“That we’ve been blind to each other in some ways or perhaps we’ve been ignoring the parts of each that have grown and changed beyond our expectations? For myself, I decided long ago what sort of girl you were and never really allowed myself to think any differently.”
“You are soft,” Harry said. “And lovely inside and out. You’re also kinky as hell which I never suspected but completely adore.”
“Where do we go from here?” Hermione questioned. “You said you were looking for a wife—that’s why you left Façade.”
He reached out and took her hand. “I do want to get married and have some kids. I’m ready for it. Are you?”
Her cheeks heated and she wished desperately there was a spell designed to hide blushing. “Yes, I have been for a while, but I’m…”
“Yes, I’ve never been very good at relationships, Harry. I muck them up in the most terrible fashion. I’m bossy, high-strung, prone to overworking and disappearing into a research project with the least amount of encouragement. Also, thanks to a certain someone putting ideas in my head I’ve been having filthy sexual fantasies about my boss.”
“I was actually kind of jealous talking about you and your good friend,” he admitted and laughed when she did. “We’re a ridiculous pair.” He sat back in his chair with his wine. “I do have one question and consider your answer carefully.”
“Okay.” She bit down on her lip.
“Can you work for me as a friend and colleague then come home and kneel for me?”
Heat pooled in her belly as she considered it. She loved the work with the foundation and the thought of being under Harry’s hand every single night was enthralling.
Hermione touched the dove pendant, and she watched his eyes darken with arousal. “Yes.”
– – – –
Her fingers trembled slightly as she slid the key into the lock. Harry’s hand trailed gently down her back, and he pressed a soft kiss to the side of her neck. “Relax.”
Hermione shifted closer to him and wet her lips. “I just…”
“What?” He questioned as his hands settled on her hips.
“I don’t want to be a disappointment. It’s different here.”
“A great many of our circumstances have changed, but one thing remains the same.” His grip tightened, and her breath caught. “I’m in charge. You have no responsibilities here, Hermione.”
Her shoulders relaxed, and she pressed against him. “Yes, Sir.”
He inhaled against her hair. “Every moment I spent with you in Façade was a pleasure, and I can’t imagine how you could ever be a disappointment to me.”
She turned the key and let her hand drop. “Okay.”
“In Façade, we used the scale—green, yellow, red,” he murmured. “But I’d like you to think about a safe word.” He reached around her and pushed the door open. It was a simple room as he wasn’t much on the theatrics of the scene. “I purchased most of this in France—so it’s all been spelled for safety per their regulations. All of the bondage options have charmed release features in case there is an emergency. We’ll go over those for each piece of equipment as needed.”
He took her hand, pulled gently, and they entered the room together.
“Oh, I’m 500 percent on board with any future sexy kidnapping situations you’d like to indulge in.” Her cheeks flushed as he focused on her. “Sir.”
Harry brought her hand up and kissed her palm gently. “That’s good to know. Our situation has changed and so must our terms.”
Her bottom lip poked out. “I’m not getting laid at all tonight.”
He laughed. “No, you’re not.” Harry cupped the back of her head and pressed his mouth to hers. “We have more time, more space, and privacy here in the keep to explore each other and our desires. It would be a pity to fall into the pattern we had at Façade without really considering our options. Besides, we were never truly able to be honest one another in the club because of the anonymity.” He released her. “Look around and tell me if there is anything in this room that makes you uncomfortable.”
“If there is?”
“We’ll discuss your reasons, and it’ll be removed if I agree.”
“And if you don’t agree?” Hermione questioned and raised an eyebrow.
“Then it stays, and we explore your discomfort regarding the device or situation at a later date when you’re more comfortable with my expectations.”
Harry leaned against the wall and watched as she trailed fingers along the padded leather surface of the St. Andrew’s cross. She lingered there—but he wasn’t surprised as she preferred that particular piece of bondage equipment above all others in Façade. She grinned at the sex swing and gave it a little push. They’d never used one at the club, but he liked them and had used them other subs. The fact was that he rarely put any piece of equipment between the two of them when it came to intercourse because he loved having her wrapped around him.
She paused briefly at the sex bench and made a face.
“It doesn’t look particularly comfortable,” she admitted.
“When I put you on that bench, your comfort will be the last thing on my mind,” he said evenly.
She bit down on her bottom lip and ran her fingers over the leather-covered bench. “You’ve always been such a force in my life, Harry.”
“Is it too much already, love?” he questioned, a knot of panic twisting small and mean in his gut.
“No.” She met his gaze, clear-eyed and certain. “I meant what I said. I’m so pleased to know that I managed to, out of all the men who frequent Façade, once more fall into your care. In a way, you’ve been my safe place since I was twelve years old. I’ve never trusted anyone the way I trust you and to know that I can trust you with this as well is such a relief I can’t really wrap my head around it. It’ll be different now though, and that’s something to get used to.”
“I…” She smiled. “The Dom at Façade was an unknown, and while I trusted both him and the security system in the club, there was an element of danger in the fact that I knew nothing tangible about him. I found that exciting at first. As our intimacy grew and I came to trust the depth of his abilities, that excitement changed, but it didn’t really diminish.”
“And now it has.”
“Yes, but there’s something to replace it because you were right before—we did allow ourselves to become blind to some pretty fundamental changes regarding each other. You have an alpha personality, which emerged slowly as we left Hogwarts. I often wondered if Dumbledore hadn’t worked to subdue you in some way magically to keep control over the situation. You’d certainly not let him lead you around by the nose now—not like you did as a boy.” She walked across the room to the area where he had various implements hanging on the wall then ran her fingers through the tresses of a flogger. “I’ve thought about it—submitting to you. There have been times even in recent memory where the urge to drop to my knees in front of you has been almost overwhelming. And that was only when I could speculate on the size of the cock I would be begging for.”
“Now I know what I’ll be getting.” She focused on him. “Eventually.”
“Certainly,” he agreed. “But honest and open communication during this stage of our relationship will make things easier down the road.”
She hummed under her breath and trailed one delicate finger along the length of a cane. “You rarely offered me this in Façade.”
“Our time limit there made certain situations undesirable. The cane is a harsh implement, and it was important to me that you be clear-headed before we parted at the end of a scene. Your response to pain is profound and rewarding. The three times we used the cane you fell into subspace so quickly that I was concerned I would have to extend our time together to ensure proper aftercare.” Harry shoved his hands into his pockets as she walked by him and watched as she returned to the sex bench. Her fingers brushed over the smooth leather for the second time. “Does it bother you or intrigue you?”
“A bit of both considering the level of restraint that is available,” she admitted and wet her lips. “Also, it has an air of…”
Her lips parted as she exhaled. “Yes.”
“You love to be punished,” he said in a mild tone and grinned when her cheeks darkened with a blush. “Speaking of, I’d like us to start off tomorrow fresh which means we need to handle the matter of your failure to follow orders regarding the necklace.”
Her eyes widened slightly, and she pressed her lips together. Hermione touched the dove and took a deep breath. “I haven’t taken it off since you gave it to me. I kept it hidden until I couldn’t stand it another day.”
“Couldn’t stand what?”
“The knowledge that I wouldn’t see him…you again. I thought that I could walk away from what I found at Façade. I thought that I could let that fantasy life go and seek out a proper relationship with a regular wizard.” Her eyes dampened, and she brushed away tears. “Then the Sunday came, and I was sitting in my mum’s parlor knitting a scarf. I hated the normalcy, but more I craved what had been taken from me. Maybe I was a little mad because I didn’t have any time to adjust to the idea. You made a decision for us both, and I was stuck with it.”
He watched her cross her arms over her breasts and avert her gaze. “I don’t expect you to suppress your emotional responses, Hermione, whatever they are. You’re entitled to be hurt and angry about how we parted at Façade. You’re right in that I didn’t give you a voice in that decision because I couldn’t. The power dynamic was too skewed for it to ever be fair to you. I made a choice for us both, and I’ll admit here and now that I came to deeply regret it. You’d not believe some of the harebrained ideas I almost let a very drunk Draco talk me into. Because while you were knitting in your mum’s parlor, I was in his getting completely pissed.”
“That makes me feel a little better,” Hermione admitted and took a deep breath. She lifted her chin. “I defied you utterly, so I’m prepared to submit to whatever punishment you deem necessary.”
“Even now, you’re standing there acting like you have some say in what happens next,” Harry said with some amusement.
She took a deep breath as he pushed off the wall but stood her ground as he walked across the room. “I…”
He caught her wrist and pulled her in. “Safe word.”
Harry nodded. “Your safe word is nova.” He guided her toward the bench. “Kneel here and lay down on your stomach.”
She wet her lips. “Should I take off my shoes?”
Hermione knelt on the splayed legs of the bench and let her stomach rest on the padded surface before stretching out entirely, with her arms above her head. He guided her into place so she could grip the handles provided.
“Do you think you need the restraints to stay in place?”
“No.” She shot him a sour look.
“Oh, love, you’re really asking for it,” he told her evenly and moved to stand behind her between her open legs.
Carefully, he shifted her dress upward out of his way and palmed her silk covered arse. “I’m gratified to see that your glamour didn’t spread this far down.”
“Just my head and hands,” Hermione admitted in a soft voice as he pulled her knickers down to her thighs. “I…”
“I feel vulnerable, exposed. It’s weird since you’ve seen me naked.”
“I saw Dove naked,” Harry murmured. “Hiding behind a different face gave you a sense of security you no longer enjoy.”
She relaxed a little when he pressed his hand against the small of her back. “I’m okay.”
He walked away from her and went to the wall with his tools. There was only one tool on the wall that he’d bought specifically for punishment, so he grabbed the leather-wrapped paddle. When he turned around, he found her looking at him. Her eyes were a little wide, but she said nothing as he walked back across the room.
“Fifteen. And if you come, you won’t get my cock for a month.”
“That’s really mean,” Hermione admitted breathlessly.
“It can be twenty,” he warned and laughed when she huffed. “I adore you, but if you keep it up, you really will have a hard time sitting for the next week.”
She closed her eyes and let her cheek rest on the bench as he pressed his free hand on the small of her back. Harry delivered the first stroke with a sharp smack, and she hissed in shock. He waited until she relaxed again before landing the second blow and she arched slightly under his hand.
“Yes, Sir,” she murmured and relaxed again.
She took the third smack without reacting at all physically, so he set his pace accordingly, spreading the spanking out across both of her cheeks evenly to prevent any deep bruising. The final blow garnered another hiss from her, but she didn’t move. Her skin was dark red, and there were a few welts from the wrapped leather. Harry adjusted his cock with a small sigh of his own and activated the cleaning rune on the paddle. He returned it to the wall then walked back to where Hermione still lay.
Harry pulled her knickers back into place and adjusted her dress. Her breath hitched. “Mi?”
“I am so wretchedly turned on I might die,” she admitted breathlessly.
He laughed and helped her stand. She leaned into him, body trembling, so he picked her up and carried her down a narrow hallway as a door directly to his bedroom opened ahead of him.
Harry sat her down on his bed and gripped her chin gently. “Hey.”
She met his gaze with wet, dazed eyes. “Sir.”
“It’s my preference that you sleep in my bed, but I can take you to the guest room if you need space.”
“No, I want to be here, Sir.”
He released her. “Strip then, and I’ll join you shortly.” He stepped back. “Remember what I said about coming.”
“I’m not likely to forget such a heinous threat,” Hermione muttered. “Ever.”
Harry moved in close, slid his hand up her dress and between her legs. “You agreed to kneel for me, Hermione, and before the weekend is out, you’re going to understand exactly what it means to be mine. And your first lesson is this; you don’t come without my permission.” He cupped her pussy, pressing the heel of his hand against her clit. “Understood?”
He pinched her thigh before withdrawing his hand. “Good.”
He walked to the balcony and stepped out. A sharp bark was his only warning before Greta sailed downward and landed on the railing in front of him. “Hello, sweetheart.” He rubbed her chest feathers with the back of his fingers. “Have a good hunt?”
Harry offered her his hand, and she gamely hopped on, so he took her inside and placed her in the cage. “I bought food in case she wasn’t up to her own hunting, but she adjusted quickly to the area. I’m not sure the small creatures in the forest thank me for it.” He glanced at her and found that Hermione had managed to strip completely in the few moments he’d been gone. She was kneeling on the bed. “Merlin, you’d tempt a saint.”
She smiled. “And you’re no saint.”
“Get under the covers,” Harry ordered with a laugh as he closed Greta’s cage.
He undressed quickly and slid into bed from the opposite side then used his wand to deactivate the lighting charms in the room.
“Do I have to stay over here on the opposite side of the country?” Hermione asked wryly.
“No. For fuck’s sake, you weren’t nearly this mouthy at the club.” He pulled her into his arms when she scooted close, cupped her arse, and gave her a tight squeeze. She shuddered. “Remember how this feels, love, because orgasm denial is just about the only punishment one can deliver on a masochist.”
She shifted closer with a sigh and took a deep breath. “I adore you, too, you know. I always have. I feel like I could get lost in you—in this.” She waved a hand in the air above them.
He caught her hand and held it against his chest over his heart. “I’d never let you get lost. Go to sleep—tomorrow I’m going to tie you up and treat you like a whore.”
“That’s the single most amazing thing you’ve ever said to me,” she admitted. “Good night, Harry.”
“Good night,” he whispered against her hair and cast a cooling charm on his erection with a bit of wandless magic.
– – – –
She woke alone which was a bit disappointing, but she slipped from the bed and stood there for a few moments in indecision before her gaze landed on the robe she’d packed in her little bag. It was placed at the bottom of the bed, and her house shoes were on the floor as well so she put it on and slipped her feet into the shoes. Most of the keep was carpeted, now, so she wasn’t particularly worried about her feet getting cold. She used the back stairs that led down into the kitchen and what were probably the old servant quarters. Harry used the space for storage and a potions lab.
Hermione hesitated in the doorway. Harry was seated at the kitchen table with a paper and a cup of coffee. He looked so domestic and at peace with himself that she felt a surge of pride. He’d come a long way since the war, and for that she was relieved. There’d been a point when she’d thought that he wouldn’t settle at all, but that had also been around the time she’d been utterly convinced that Ginny Weasley’s death would drive Harry over the edge. She hadn’t been the only one. Death Eaters had, in fact, banked on it and had lost. If anything, Ginny’s death had steeled Harry’s resolve to fight and to win.
He looked up and set aside his paper. “Good morning.”
“Hi.” Her cheeks heated and she took a deep breath.
“Yes, actually.” She walked into the room as he stood.
“Winky left me a vast selection of breakfast options in stasis.”
“Hmmm, did she leave any of those cheesecake fruit crepes she made for me last summer?”
“Blueberry and strawberry.”
“Blueberry,” Hermione said immediately.
“Sit then,” he said and motioned toward a chair. Shortly, he brought a kettle and a cup to the table and a plate of crepes. “I’ve got an issue to handle in the garden, but I’ll be back shortly.”
“Did you need help?”
“No, love, it’s best if you stay in the house for this.”
“Magical snake, then?”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s a runespoor.” He ran a hand through his hair. “If it is, I’ll have to sedate her and send her to the DOM. Croaker provided me a box for the process a few months ago.”
“Because a potions lab reported the loss of a runespoor around that time. They figured the snake would seek me out if given an opportunity. I allowed them to set several traps in the forest, but she’s evidently smarter than they anticipated. Bane reported that all of the traps had been activated but were empty.”
“So she’s fucking with them,” Hermione said with some amusement. “Do you think she wants to stay here with you?”
“Certainly,” Harry said with a small frown. “But I’m not sure I’d keep a runespoor even if she were one that I could keep.”
“You couldn’t buy her from the lab?”
“She’s reportedly very aggressive and looking to bond with a wizard. I’d never allow a runespoor to have a familiar bond with me, but more importantly, she’d be a threat to you which is a non-starter. Runespoor are known to be intensely jealous of others in their bonded’s life.”
Hermione watched him cross the kitchen and slip out the back door that would lead around to the back of the keep where the sprawling garden was. It was carefully cultivated and cared for by Winky, who had a passion for gardening and a master who indulged her. She actually loved the garden and often came to the keep to sit in it and read so she was relieved that Harry didn’t intend on keeping the runespoor. There were several magical snakes on the property, but they knew better than to approach her, so she didn’t worry about them. Harry utilized them as security and pest control.
She ate her crepes and was on her second cup of tea when he came back in, arm bleeding, and looking rather furious. “Did she bite you?” She lurched up from the chair.
“Yeah, it’s fine.” He went to the sink and waved her away. “Fine for me. I don’t want you touching this. Runespoor venom is corrosive to a non-parselmouth. It’s worse than a basilisk.” He activated the water rune. “I need a blood replenisher, a pain potion, and a healing draught. You’ll find all three on the middle shelf in the potions lab.”
Hermione grimaced at the blood pouring out of the wound. “We don’t need to go to St. Mungo’s?”
“No, love, it’s hardly the first time I’ve been bitten by a snake.” He sent her a wry grin. “Get the potions, please. I won’t pass out while you’re gone.”
Hermione hurried down the hall from the kitchen and into the lab. She snagged all three potions and briefly considered a calming draught for herself. By the time she returned to the kitchen he was using his wand to increase the bleeding. “What are…”
“Making sure all the venom is out,” Harry said. “It won’t kill me but having my magic burn it out is kind of agonizing. I let that happen over the summer. Never again.” He cast a spell silently, and a soft purple flow of magic enveloped the wound. When it ended, the puncture wounds were gone. “Oddly, only one of the heads tried to bite me when I was putting her in the crate for transport. The other two were resigned by my refusal, so I wasn’t going to bother with sedation.”
She opened the vials and passed them to him one by one. “The dreamer.”
He looked at her in surprise. “How did you know?”
“The planner would’ve known it would do no good to bite you and the critic would’ve been too busy explaining why you were wrong. But the dreamer…she would’ve been crushed by the rejection and lashing out would be reasonable to her since you weren’t going to give her what she wanted.” Hermione shrugged. “I’d have probably bitten you, too.”
Harry grinned. “Consider yourself a bit of a dreamer then?”
“Yeah.” She blushed and shrugged. She fiddled with the empty vials briefly then placed them in a basket near the sink where several others were already gathered. “Does it still hurt?”
“No, it’s fine.” He curled a hand around the back of her neck, pulled her close, and brushed his mouth over hers. “I like having you here like this.”
Hermione smiled. “I like it, too.”
“Good. Let me change clothes then we can sit down and have a discussion about how this will go from now on.”
Her gaze narrowed. “You said you were going to tie me up and treat me like a whore today, Harry Potter.” She poked him one finger. “Bad things happen to wizards who disappoint me.”
Harry let one finger trail down the slope of her silk covered breast then viciously pinched her nipple. Hermione shuddered against the pain, and her knees went a little weak. “Let’s not forget who’s in charge around here, love. I’d hate to have to punish you again so soon into our new arrangement.”
She pressed her thighs together as her pussy went wet and she moved closer when he twisted her nipple. “Yes, Sir.”
He released her with a stern look. “Good. I’ll be back in a few minutes. Put a new kettle on, please. I could use some tea to settle my stomach from the potions.”
Hermione stayed where she was for a few moments and took a few deep breaths to settle herself. She had a habit of mouthing off to her friend that was probably going to get her in a lot of delicious trouble with her Dom. Since Harry did know her very well, surely he’d give a little bit of time to adjust. The thought that he might not was both exciting and worrying so she busied herself with the kettle, prepping the tea, and retrieved a clean cup for him. Then she gathered up the dishes that were on the table and slid them into the sink. A cleaning rune automatically activated, so she left them to the magic and went back to the table to sit.
He returned wearing a pair of jeans and a T-shirt that had seen better days. She curled her toes in her slippers as she noticed his bare feet. Harry sat down at the table and poured water over the tea ball. “Let’s talk first about boundaries.”
“Okay.” She took a deep breath and allowed her arms to relax on the table in front of her. “Mine or yours?”
“We’ll start with yours.” He wet his lips. “Specifically, the two non-conditional limits you placed at Façade. The first I have no issues with—body modification doesn’t interest me at all. I know it’s pretty easy to change the way you look with magic, even in a permanent way, but it’s unappealing on a visceral level. I am curious as to why you made it your first hard limit.”
“The first Dom I submitted to at Façade suggested that I get my breasts permanently enlarged—that it would make me more popular amongst the other members. He also suggested I use polyjuice if I wasn’t open to that because a fuller figure would be more appealing to him.”
Harry grimaced. “I see.” He dipped the tea ball a few moments, which amused Hermione since magical tea balls didn’t require any sort of interaction to allow for proper seeping. “I topped a variety of women at Façade—different shapes, sizes, and ethnic backgrounds. The last one before you was full-figured. I enjoyed her body but not so much that I’d want you to change your natural appearance to match it. You’re lovely just as you are.” He removed the ball and placed it on a saucer before spooning a small bit of sugar into the cup. “And your second.”
“The no anal sex.”
“Yes.” He sat back and focused on her. “It’s not a deal breaker, obviously, but I’m curious regarding your experiences with it and why it’s off the table.”
Hermione blew out a breath. “I…” Her cheeks heated which she hated. “Your first instruction for me that first night…you said I couldn’t come in that room without your explicit permission and if I broke the rule then our time together for the evening would end as punishment.”
“Yeah.” He nodded and inclined his head. “And?”
“Harry, I…” She patted her hot cheeks. “I promise you that there is no single way I could control such a thing during anal sex. It’s hard enough to maintain that kind of discipline during vaginal intercourse. I have a toy, specially designed for anal penetration, and despite my efforts, I come repeatedly when I use it. Sometimes as much as four times before the timed animation stops.”
His mouth dropped open. “Are you serious?”
“I am so serious,” she admitted. “I knew this about myself before I ever went to Façade and I even tried to get a handle on it between our first and second session. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it, so I just put it on the hard limit list out of self-preservation. I didn’t want to lose a single minute of the time you were going to give me.” She waved a hand. “So it’s not a hard no anymore as long as it comes with the permission to come as often as humanly possible during the whole thing.”
He cleared his throat and took a sip of tea.
“Are you okay?” She asked.
“I’ve honestly never been so hard in my entire life,” he responded and shook his head. “I resent already myself for the rest of this long conversation.” He took a sip of tea and summoned a pack of biscuits from the closet with a wiggle of his fingers.
She shook her head. “Show off.”
He grinned. “If you’d relax a little, darling, I’m sure wandless magic would come to you very easily.” Harry opened the box and pulled a few ginger snaps out of it. “Nothing we did at Façade is a problem for me going forward. I open to safe blood play, any level of bondage that interests you, and I can use everything I have stocked in the room upstairs proficiently. No outside partners and all of our serious play will be confined to the third floor. I want a partner in my life not just a woman in my bed. I don’t expect you to be submissive to me in public or in professional settings.
“I don’t need or want any sort of pet or sex slave in my home. I just want…no…I need to dominate you sexually. It is very arousing to hurt someone who enjoys it. Your ability to practically wallow in pain is nothing short of the hottest thing I’ve ever known. Does your contraceptive rune regulate your period?”
“I have it arranged so I don’t have one,” Hermione said. “I hate the mess of it, and while it’s much easier to manage as a witch, I’d rather not have to deal with it at all until I’m ready to start trying for children.”
He nodded. “Whatever works best for you is fine with me. I was just curious because it was never an issue at Façade. I’d like you to live here, but if that’s too much for you, then we can work our way toward that.”
“I’ve known you for seventeen years,” Hermione said after a moment. “And I was tempted to try to move into the second-floor guest suite shortly after you finished refurbishing everything because you have the biggest private library in Britain and that was before you brought the contents of the Black library to the keep.”
“You know I’d have let you.” He smiled when she sighed. “Tell me what you want from this.”
“I.” Hermione blew out a breath. “In various situations, my whole life I’ve been put in a position of having to do the work, make the decision, learn all there is to know, be all there is to be. I’m expected to be smart, quick, strong, and eager to take on every single task that is presented to me. Maybe I fostered that image when I first entered the magical world because I desperately wanted to finally fit in. I didn’t fit in with other kids in primary school. I don’t really fit well with my family on either side because I’m the only witch and very few of my relatives are even aware of the magical world.
“At the ministry, I was constantly pulled at from several different directions because everyone wanted a piece of me one way or another. I was sometimes working as much as eighty hours a week when you offered me a position at the foundation. It was such a relief. I had my office packed before the ink dried on my resignation letter. Even after I quit, I was bombarded for weeks with job offers from various departments trying to lure me back into ministry service. I had to talk to Kingsley personally to make it stop and he, honestly, wasn’t thrilled with my choice in that area. He’d hoped to eventually lure you back into the ministry, and my defection to your little personal cause meant that was unlikely.
“When it comes to sex and everything that we both like to come with it, I don’t want to make any decisions or choices. I want to be yours—however and whenever you want me.”
“Do you think can live in these circumstances for the rest of your life?” Harry questioned. “Beyond our private life, there is the matter of my title and the fact that you’d be the first Countess of Gryffindor in hundreds of years. There are social pressures and responsibilities attached to the title that I really didn’t understand until it was too late. I can’t say I would’ve said no even if I’d known, but it was daunting at first. There are only five active magical titles in Britain, as you know, and discovering that the title came with ten votes on the Wizengamot whether I wanted them or not was unpleasant, to say the least. I hate most of those stuffy old bastards. I make it a hobby to ruin their day whenever I can. That would include sending my wife in my place to sit in my seat when it would be the most amusing to do so.”
“Your Muggle-born wife,” Hermione said with a laugh.
“I’ve wanted to marry you since I was twenty, Hermione. I honestly could never really see anyone else in that place in my life, and I considered actually going to therapy to try to push aside my sexual needs so I could have you. Maybe that was what I was really doing at Façade.”
“Trying to get it out of your system?” she questioned.
“Yeah.” He blew out a breath. “I think so. I wasn’t successful, but the goal of it was in the back of my mind. The fact is that I became deeply infatuated with Dove, and it was a little infuriating to find myself having feelings for yet another woman I couldn’t really have the way I wanted.” He frowned at her briefly. “I ought to spank for you that.”
She grinned. “You don’t gotta search for excuses to spank me.”
He laughed. “Come here.”
She slid out of her chair immediately, toed out of her slippers, and went to him. Harry pulled her astride his thighs and untied her robe. Hermione shrugged out of it without prodding and let her hands rest on his shoulders. “What’s on your mind?”
He thumbed over one nipple, and it tightened. “Do you need pain to get off?”
“No.” She sucked in a deep breath when he cupped her breasts then dragged his hands down over her ribcage. “What about you? Is regular vanilla sex satisfying to you?”
“Yes, and sometimes I might even prefer it, but even then I like to be in control.”
“And on top.”
He hummed under his breath. “Not necessarily, love, you can take a ride on my cock anytime you’d like.” He slid one hand between her legs and pushed two fingers into her briefly. “I love how wet you get.”
“If you’re not on top, how are you in control?” Hermione questioned as he rubbed his wet fingers over her clit. She rocked into the stimulation with a little shudder.
Harry raised an eyebrow. “You don’t think you’re in charge right now, do you?” He unfastened his jeans and pulled his cock free as her eyes widened.
Hermione felt her cheeks grow hot and she bit down on her bottom lip. “I…”
He used one hand on her hip to prod her upward, and Hermione groaned when the head of his cock slid through her slick folds. “Fuck.”
Harry laughed a little she flailed for purchase and wrapped her hands around the top of his chair.
“Easy, love.” He lifted her up a little more then pulled her down onto his cock. “Remember the rule.”
She trembled and let her head fall back. “I can’t…I can’t come until you say.”
“That’s right,” he murmured. “Make me come, darling, and I’ll take you upstairs and hurt you as much as you want. We can try the cane.”
Hermione groaned and rocked her hips into the rhythm his hands were guiding her in. The thought of the cane was enough to make her whole body flush with remembered pain. It had been utterly intoxicating the last time he’d used that implement on her. Her nails scraped against the wood of the high back chair as his hands left her hips. She arched involuntarily and nearly screamed when he pinched both of her nipples. A little twist of his fingers broke free a sob.
There was a rush of magic around them, and she gasped as she was abruptly put on the table. He’d pushed the dishes down the table with wandless magic. She was too turned on to point out his showing off. He pushed her legs open and back with rough hands and thrust back into her. Hermione sprawled out on the table and wrapped her hands around the sides. Pinned between the oak table and Harry, she had nowhere to go, and it was enthralling. Each heavy, hard thrust of his cock into her cunt was so good it bordered on painful.
Harry slid one hand down her sternum, over her stomach, and pressed his thumb against her clit. The pressure increased until it was a sharp mix of pleasure and pain. “Come.”
She met his demand immediately, her body rushing wet with orgasm. The pleasure of it punched through her, and she screamed. Hermione was so lost in it that she barely noticed when he jerked against her and found his own release. He worked his cock into her with short, rough thrusts and stilled after a few moments.
“You’re perfect,” he murmured and pulled free of her body. He lifted her off the table and settled them both back into the chair. “Absolutely perfect.”
Hermione trembled as he rubbed her back. She buried her face against his neck. “We’ll probably have to leave the keep just to get rest.”
He laughed and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “I’m not above stunning you so I can sleep.”
She hummed under her breath, and he cupped her arse. “I really do want this with you.” Hermione lifted her head. “But you’re worried.”
“I am worried,” he agreed. “It’ll be a lot different than what you’ve experienced so far. I’m not so concerned, however, that I’m unwilling to try. So let’s say we spend the next six months making this decision together.”
“And after six months?”
“If you’re still on board we’ll discuss marriage.” He paused. “And a collar.”
Her eyes widened, and she touched her pendant. “I…oh.”
“Is a collar a no?” Harry asked.
“No, it’s…I want it. I just…I didn’t know it was on the table. Some people will know what it is, you realize.”
“Only those in the lifestyle. I’m not ashamed of what I am or the relationship I want to have with you. I’m just not prepared to explain my private business to the masses. Those who know…will know and those who don’t have a clue will remain that way. There are charms and spells attached to collars in the magical world that dissuade questions from those who don’t know about dynamic relationships.” He ran a soothing hand down her back. “Will it bother you?”
“No, not at all.” She smiled and relaxed in his lap. “It’s pretty exciting to think that certain people would just know we’re kind of freaky behind closed doors.”
Harry laughed. “They’ll be too polite to talk about it, but yeah it’s kind of fun to think about their speculation.” He tapped her thigh gently. “Let’s go upstairs and play.”
“The cane,” she said as she slid off his lap and picked up her robe.
“Perhaps we’ll warm you up with the flogger first—it’s a mix of American bison and dragonhide. You’ll like it a lot, I think. It’s heavy but has a bit of sting from the braided dragonhide.” He smacked her arse, and she hissed. “Still a bit sore?”
“Yes.” She rubbed her butt and sent him a look.
The restraints on the cross were soft, supple leather that felt good against her skin. He’d spared no expense in the design and stocking of the playroom, which wasn’t a surprise. Harry wasn’t stupid with his money, but he preferred quality. He slid one hand down her back, and she shivered. Then he tightened the restraints around her thighs. At Façade, he’d rarely did more than her hands on the cross. Hermione bit down on her lip as the ankle cuffs were fastened.
“Remember that the rune above your left hand is the safety release. Just push your magic into it, and all of the cuffs will come undone.” He paused. “Emergency use only. If something is wrong, use your safe word. I’ll stop immediately so the situation can be addressed properly.”
“Yes, Sir.” She took a deep breath and relaxed against the cross.
He brushed his lips across her shoulder. “All of this time with you is a luxury in more ways than one.” Her eyes fluttered shut as the tresses of the flogger swept over her back with a gentle flutter. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want your undivided attention.” His teeth clenched on the top of her shoulder briefly, and she couldn’t help but groan. “Ready, love?”
Hermione let her head fall forward as the first heavy-handed blow landed. The braided tresses provided enough sting that it stole her breath for a few moments. The third strike landed on her exhale. She shuddered at the stinging pain and started to drift. Her body warmed and grew wet with each lash until it was so intense that her vision blurred with tears. The line between pain and pleasure had always been incredibly thin for her, but she was no longer confused by it.
He lashed across her arse, and she gasped in shock. The skin was still very tender from the paddle, and she’d foolishly thought Harry would avoid it.
“Fuck.” Her body bowed against the cross as he struck again. “I…” A soft sob broke free, and she clenched down hard to keep from coming, her muscles contracting against the empty feeling she hated. “Harry.”
He touched her back gently, fingers barely grazing the welts there. “I’m here.” His hand settled on her arse and tightened. Pain shot through her—a mixture of an aching bruise and the sting of a new welt forming. “Water?”
She shook her head and swallowed as he scraped nails over one welt on her back. “More.”
Harry hummed under his breath. “I think it’s time for the cane.”
Hermione just let her head fall forward a bit, and she took a deep breath to settle herself. The first strike landed and the pain radiated up from her arse in a solid wave. Her skin chilled, and she shivered. “Oh, god.”
Three more blows landed in quick succession—never the same place twice but all on her arse. The pain was insidious and so delicious that it was hard to focus on any single thought. Then he struck the top of her thigh, and she jerked against the cross with a hiss.
“Yes, Sir.” She shuddered.
Harry moved around her, struck her other thigh in the same sensitive crease then lower in a series of whippy strikes that made her scream. He’d never been so heavy-handed in Façade and in the back of her mind, she wondered ever so briefly if she could truly handle his needs. Then his hands were on her, warm and comforting. He pressed soft kisses over her shoulders and against her neck even as he used the rune activated release on the cross. All of the restraints fell slack at once, and she’d have slid to her knees if he hadn’t caught her to his chest.
He guided her to the bench, and she was almost grateful when he placed her on it, stomach down. It wasn’t comfortable, but it offered a sense of security that she needed. With a rush of magic, all of the restraints activated and she was lashed into place—wrists, thighs, and ankles.
“The rune release is here.” He shifted her fingers slightly until she could feel the carving. “All of the bondage equipment has such a release for your safety in case something and you need to be freed.”
“Thank you,” she whispered and closed her eyes as he slid one hand down her back, his nails stung as they hit welt after welt. He was good, and it made her wonder just how many submissives he’d enjoyed at Façade before they’d met. It was kind of annoying, and she was intensely jealous of the very idea of it.
She started to ask him, but at that moment he slid his cock right into her, all the way to the hilt. His hips snapped lewdly and painfully against her arse. Hermione hissed in shock and shuddered as he started to fuck her with long, deep strokes. Each thrust ended with their skin meeting in hot little smacks that shot pain and pleasure in equal measure up her spine. She realized in at that moment that she might actually have a difficult time sitting down after the weekend, especially if she didn’t take a healing potion of some sort. The idea was thrilling and startling at the same time.
Harry slapped her thigh. “Come.”
She relaxed into orgasm with a moan of relief and went slack after a few moments of intense pleasure. Harry continued to slide his cock in and out of her at a punishing pace. Hermione loved it—the way he filled her cunt, the way he fucked her, the way he took his own pleasure—all of it. Harry’s hands tightened on her hips, and he ground against her arse as he came. It sent a little wave of pain and pleasure up her spine, and she shuddered.
He rubbed her back with firm hands. “I love how pale your skin is and how red it gets when I hurt you. You bruise beautifully.”
His brutal honesty had been one of the more attractive parts about him in Façade. As much as she enjoyed pain, Harry reveled in his sadism. She figured if she wasn’t a masochist that would scare the fuck out of her. He pulled his cock free from her body and released her from the bench. Hermione flexed her arms a little but didn’t move until he pulled gently. She just buried her face against his neck as he picked her up.
“Where are we going?” Hermione questioned as he left the playroom.
“My current agenda is a shower and lunch in that order.”
“I love this plan.” She was suddenly starving.
– – – –
She’d packed a little bit of nothing sundress in her little bag, so he put that out on the bed with a pair of lacy blue knickers and the sandals that matched the dress before tucking the bag back in his wardrobe. He was curious as to how she’d react to him picking her clothes out. It wasn’t something he was interested in doing on a regular basis but more of an experiment on her personal limits in the confines of what would become their home.
Hermione left the bathroom at that point; her hair still wrapped up in a towel. “What are the lunch options?”
“Winky left me fully stocked for a month despite the fact she’d only be gone for two weeks. I even have the makings of a dinner party for eight should I be so inclined to indulge in such a foolish thing.”
She laughed and picked up the knickers then slid them on without a single word. It was fascinating and kind of exciting. “Well, at least we don’t have to cook. I have to admit I’m not great at it.”
“I don’t like to do it often,” Harry admitted. “My Aunt Petunia made me cook all the time as a kid, any joy I might have gotten out of the process was sort of drained out of me before I even started Hogwarts.”
Hermione scowled. “I want to curse the shite out of her.” She took down her hair and put the towel in the basket before pausing in front of the mirror.
Harry leaned on the wall and watched her use her wand to dry her hair and it up in a little braided bun. “Let’s have lunch out.”
“Okay.” She offered him a smile over her shoulder then applied a few cosmetics charms before holstering her wand. “Where?”
“That new place on the alley you wanted to try.”
“The Orchid? When I suggested it last week, you made a face.”
He laughed and went to pick out a pair of shoes for himself. “Mostly because the owner sent me a letter letting me know that I could have a table in her establishment anytime I want. I hate that kind of pandering.”
“A lot of people will be forever grateful for your defeat of Voldemort,” Hermione said as she followed him into the closet. She hummed under her breath. “We’ll have to expand this for my stuff.”
“There’s a second one that can be opened next to this. I just have the door spelled to match the wall since I didn’t need the space.” Harry pulled off his T-shirt and grabbed a nicer shirt, but he wasn’t changing his jeans. The Orchid was casual dress as far as he knew and he wasn’t particularly interested in putting on anything complicated. He turned to look at her then. “How long can you hold a glamour without a device?”
She raised an eyebrow, and her eyes widened as he cupped her shoulder briefly then pressed his fingers into a welt he’d left with the flogger. “Oh, I can’t at all actually, but I have the glamour I wore at Façade in my bracelet. I’ll just have to alter it a bit.” She pulled a little silver band from the bracelet and left the closet.
Harry followed after he’d picked out some shoes and found her sitting on the bed pointing a stream of magic at the ring. “Where did you get that?”
“I bought it from the bank,” Hermione murmured. “The House Master at Façade recommended it because goblin made glamours are the most secure. He said there had been some less than honest members in the past at the club who had tried to damage or get around a glamour.”
“I was told the same.” He sat down beside her as she slid the ring onto the pinky finger of her wand hand. Magic slid over her skin, leaving nothing but paleness behind. “Was I too rough with you?”
“No.” Her cheeks flushed. “You can trust me, Harry. I’d tell you immediately if you went too far. I understand my responsibilities to you and this relationship. I promise.”
“I just don’t want to mess this up,” he confessed and relaxed when she smiled. “Any part of it. We’ve been friends for too long for me to get this wrong.”
“You won’t,” she leaned in and pressed her mouth to his then quirked an eyebrow. “I’m the brightest witch of the age after all.”
“You loathe being called that,” he pointed out. “Almost as much as I hate being called all of those ridiculous hyphenated names.”
“The Man-Who-Conquered.” She grinned when he huffed. “You can conquer me anytime you’d like.”
“If I had a galleon for every time a witch has said that shite to me,” Harry muttered, “I could fund an entirely new charity foundation.”
She laughed and kissed him again. “I’m starving.”
“Let’s eat then we’ll stop by your flat and pick up some things for you.”
“I still having my packing trunks from my last move so it would be easy to gather up everything today.” She paused. “Unless you want to wait?”
“No, I don’t want to wait at all.” He stood and offered her his hand. “I prepared a couple of rooms for you on the second floor next to the library for an office and personal library, so you’ll have your own private space when you need it. You can have your own bedroom, but that isn’t my preference.”
“It’s not my preference either,” she said. “But thanks for the other space. I’ll need room for my own books.”
“The house library has protocols that prevent adding of anything without my personal spell work, and I figured you’d want your collection closer for whatever research you’re currently doing. Of course, you can use the main library for anything you’d like, and I’d like to update the collection in the next year, or so your input would be greatly appreciated. I have about two hundred books that need to be repaired and dozens that could use a professional cleaning. Some of them are so old the only thing holding them together is the stasis charms, so I need a solution for that as well.”
“Probably a permanent duplicate and a stasis trunk for the original,” Hermione said. “It’ll make the content usable while keeping the integrity of the family collection intact. Were there any problems when you merged the Potter and Black libraries with the Gryffindor index?”
“None, Gryffindor is senior, so the family magic just absorbed them both in an act of dominance that I’m pretty sure made generations of Blacks roll over in their graves.” He grinned when she laughed. “I think Sirius would’ve enjoyed it a lot. My mother’s magical legacy is stunningly robust despite the fact she came from a squib line.” He pulled her close. “Which apparition point do you prefer?”
“The one by Flourish and Blotts is normally less crowded.”
He nodded and with a push of magic apparated them both. They landed at the point silently, and she released her breath. “Okay?”
“Yeah, the closer you get to your second magical maturation the easier that comes to you. I think eventually you might be able to accomplish without even the squeezing sensation.”
“Dumbledore could,” Harry said. “But I never considered it a marker of his magical power.”
“Power, practice, and knowledge,” Hermione said. “He had all of those at his disposal. It was too bad, really, he dedicated so much time manipulating you and so little time teaching you. It was short-sighted and ultimately selfish.”
Harry kept her hand as they started toward the café. “Have you heard anything about the menu?”
“Mostly French food with a few nods to British staples. They don’t open for breakfast, but I understand they have a nice spread for afternoon tea if you have the time for it.” Hermione’s fingers clenched in his. “Shite.”
“What?” Harry looked around and sighed as he spotted Molly Weasley. He hadn’t spoken to her in over a year in person and really wasn’t interested in doing so.
Of course, the woman headed right for them, and Harry briefly considered trying to dash back to the apparition point. Still, he’d stood against Voldemort so surely he could handle Molly Weasley on a semi-crowded public street. They were just two doors down from the café—he wondered if she’d follow them into the place if they tried to ignore her. Since he didn’t want her to get the idea she could join them for lunch, he stopped and sighed.
“Harry Potter, you’ve not responded to a single letter I’ve written you in ages,” Molly said sternly and held out her arms for a hug.
Harry took a step back before he could help himself and Hermione shifted in front of him with a scowl that would’ve made him laugh under different circumstances. “Don’t touch me, Mrs. Weasley. I’ve told you once already—it’s entirely unwelcome. I have nothing to say to you, which is why I never respond to your letters, notes, or invitations. I’d honestly rather not speak to you ever again.”
She flushed bright red. “You can’t hold a grudge forever. The both of you have broken Ron’s heart—abandoning him the way you have.” She glared at their joined hands. “And what’s this? Are you actually dating each other? Is that how you honor my baby’s memory?”
“Dating your daughter for a few weeks my sixth year at Hogwarts does not equal a lifelong commitment, Mrs. Weasley,” Harry snapped in exasperation. “I’ve told you more than once that there wasn’t enough of anything between Ginny and me to make a future with. Even if she were alive, I doubt I would be with her. She and I had precious little in common beyond Quidditch.”
“My Ginny was your soulmate,” Molly hissed.
“That’s a bunch of dragonshite,” he snapped. “Look, we have plans that don’t include rehashing ancient history with you. Leave us alone, or I’ll contact the DMLE to make an official complaint. Considering the trouble the twins already cause your husband at work, I would think you’d work hard to make things less stressful for him. Getting arrested for harassing the Lord of an Ancient and Noble house simply isn’t prudent.”
Hermione laughed a little when Harry pulled her around Molly who was staring in shock.
“Wait, Hermione, I want to speak to you about Ron.”
Hermione made a face and avoided the older woman’s grasp. “No.”
“No?” Molly frowned.
“Yes, it’s a complete sentence indicating a negative response.”
“No,” Hermione repeated sharply as Harry opened the door to the café and gestured her in ahead of him. She frowned when the hostess greeted them immediately. “Two. Private table, if you have it, and honestly we’d prefer to have a server who isn’t going to fawn all over him like an idiot.”
The hostess grinned. “Of course, Ms. Granger, right this way.”
They were quickly escorted to a booth, and the moment she slid onto the bench, a privacy charm swept over the area. Harry slid in beside her, and they scooted a bit into the round booth until they were in a comfortable place.
“She’ll tell Ron what she suspects about us,” Harry said.
“I broke up with Ron years ago, and he knows that I’ll never in a million years consider taking him back,” Hermione said as focused on the menu. “I could eat the better part of a dragon.”
Harry grinned just as a waiter arrived and placed water glasses. “We’ll need a few moments.”
“Of course, Lord Potter,” the waiter said. “I’ll return shortly.”
“What do you think you’ll get?” Hermione questioned as the waiter left.
“Draco told me that the roast stone bass here was his new addiction so I thought I might try that. You?”
“I was considering the Coq au Vin, but I’ve heard good things about the stone bass, too.” She pursed her lips and met his gaze.
“Yes, I’ll share.”
“Oh, good,” she refocused on the menu. “I think I’ll start with a salad, but Neville told me that the lobster bisque is nice.”
The waiter returned, and they ordered. Harry went with the bisque as well as the stone bass as he wasn’t particularly interested in eating a salad though he did plan to steal some avocado from Hermione’s. After the man slipped away, he focused on her.
“You’re not worried about Ron’s response?”
“I had to stop worrying about Ron Weasley’s responses to my life choices a long time ago, Harry. If I hadn’t, I’d have let him ruin my life. He was invested in keeping me low so that he could measure his own life successful in comparison.” She flushed when Harry raised an eyebrow. “What?”
“I just never really understood what you saw in him. It’s even worse now—knowing what I know about you. That mummy’s boy had no hope of ever making you happy.”
“Yes, well, he never had any hope of that regardless of my predilections. Nature did him no favors if you get my meaning and when I suggested potion enhancement, he was immensely offended.”
Harry laughed and shook his head. “Hermione.”
“What? There’s only so much a witch can tolerate, you know? He had a lot working against from the start considering his mother. Honestly, who’d want that witch for a mother-in-law?”
The very idea was horrifying to Harry. Molly had demonstrated an avid desire to control and manipulate him when he had no real ties to her family. He didn’t even want to think about how things might have gone if he’d been in love with Ginny and she’d survived. Their first course came, and they concentrated on eating.
– – – –
An hour after lunch, Harry was sitting on a stool watching Hermione’s little library pack itself in an archive trunk. She was flitting about the small flat directing packing spells, and since she was far better at knowing what she wanted than he was in this particular situation, he’d retreated to the library to make sure none of her books were mangled in the magical process.
Hermione came into the room just as the trunk was snapping shut and came to a stop in front of him, her eyes a little wide. “Is this too fast?”
He grinned. “Yes. It’s ridiculous. We’re going to be a co-dependent, kinky pile of limbs inside the next month, but I couldn’t possibly care less.” He caught her hips with both hands and pulled. “Come here.”
She looped her arms around his neck. “I’m serious.”
“Oh, so am I.” He let the smile fall from his face. “It is too fast, but neither one of us are the patient sort and taking my time making a decision is practically alien. You’d not believe the mess I made of myself since I saw the pendant in Witch Weekly. I wasn’t kidding that I plotted and planned like an idiot for days. Just count yourself fortunate that I didn’t let Draco talk me into some elaborate cat and mouse game that would’ve had you cursing the shite out of me by the end.” Her fingers curled against the back of his head. “What moves between us—what’s always been there—isn’t something I can ignore now. Maybe if I’d never found out who Dove was, I could’ve let you go and tried to find some measure of contentment with someone else, but I don’t think I’d have ever been truly happy. You’re it for me. You always have been. I’d rather not play games at this point and pretend otherwise.”
“People will talk.”
“People will probably believe we’ve been having a secret relationship for years and finally decided to announce ourselves formally. Two months ago, Kingsley hinted that he’d like to get a wedding invitation whenever I managed to get off my arse and be a proper wizard.”
Hermione laughed. “Augusta suggested that I toss you in a sack and haul you to the Marriage Authority’s office.” She tugged a little at his hair when he grinned. “I just don’t want to get this wrong. You’re all I want, too.”
“Then we’ll make it work—we always have.” He pulled her closer, so she was pressed between his legs and kissed her. “It’ll be fine. The next few months will be about adjusting and learning for the both of us. I love you.”
Her eyes dampened. “Harry.” She pressed closer. “I love you, too. I’m stupid with it.”
“I want to…” He cupped her arse and tightened his grip until she trembled. “Learn everything there is to know about you, Hermione. Tell me all the secrets you’ve been keeping from me for years, and I promise I’ll keep them safe.”
“The first thing I ever transfigured outside of class was a pair of nipple clamps,” she blurted out, and he grinned. “I was sixteen. I used to twist them on really tight and rub my clit until I came. Sometimes I even thought about you, but honestly, I also thought about Draco because he was hot in a dark, forbidden way.”
He laughed. “He still is—the git.” Harry used his free hand to cup her breast through her dress and thumbed over her nipple, which was already rigid. “I don’t have clamps. I should’ve realized how much you might like them considering how much you enjoy it when I pinch them.”
“I’ve always wanted you to bite them,” she whispered and her cheeks stained with a blush. “But you never even kissed me there…”
“Would you like to know why?” he asked quietly as he slid the strap of her sundress off her shoulder. “Why I never kissed your gorgeous tits or that sweet little cunt of yours.”
“Yes.” She took a deep breath as he exposed her breast. “You don’t have to if you don’t like it…I mean it’s not a deal breaker obviously.”
“Would you say we were lovers at Façade?”
She paused and seemed to consider it. “No, I mean…it wasn’t about that, was it?”
He brushed his thumb over her nipple. “No, it wasn’t about love or even physical intimacy. I certainly enjoyed fucking you, but at Façade our focus was and certainly should’ve been our dynamic exchange. I limited myself to kissing your mouth and your shoulders because I was trying to control the level of intimacy. It’s also why I never ordered Dove to suck my cock.” He pinched her nipple then in a sharp twisting action that made her knees go weak. Harry pulled her tight to his body with his free hand. “Easy, love.”
“I…” She shivered.
“What?” He questioned as he released her nipple then rubbed it gently as if to soothe her.
“I’ve never been with anyone like you—even the other Dom at Façade wasn’t exactly comfortable with his own sadism. I think he was even kind of offended that I liked more pain that he was comfortable delivering. I had a lover after Ron—we were never a public couple or anything. I talked him into spanking me once, but he acted like I was a freak afterward even though it was obvious he really enjoyed himself a lot during the whole thing. I mean…” She huffed.
“What?” Harry asked amused.
“He had me across his lap, and he came spanking me then turned around and acted like I was a complete weirdo for enjoying it.” Her bottom lip popped out a bit in a pout. “So I dumped him right then, and he sent me this letter a week later telling me that I’d better not ever tell anyone that I talked him into doing something so deviant.”
“Well, Roger Davies has always been of a bit a douche,” Harry said wryly.
Her mouth dropped open. “You knew about Roger?”
“Darling.” He laughed. “I was honestly kind of floored that you managed to have a membership to Façade without me catching on. You’re not exactly subtle. I only saw you and Roger in together once and knew immediately that you were involved with him in some fashion. Besides, he sent me dirty looks for an entire year after you dumped him as if it were my fault which is ridiculous considering what you just told me.”
“He’s always been jealous of you,” Hermione said. “He told me once that he’d never have a really serious relationship with me because I was too close to you.” She shrugged. “He wasn’t even that great of a shag.”
He pinched her nipple again, and she jumped a little which made him laugh a little. “Finished packing?”
“Yes, this was the last trunk. I just got kind of nervous, and that’s weird. I’ll send a letter to my landlord ending my rental agreement. I think he’ll keep my deposit, but it wasn’t much. I only had three months left on this lease. I’d been considering buying a little cottage somewhere.”
“We can do that if you want—a little weekend place in the middle of nowhere or somewhere abroad if that appeals. France or Italy would be my preference, but I’m open to looking at properties wherever it might suit you.”
“Italy,” she said immediately. “I love Tuscany.”
“Tuscany it is,” Harry murmured. “I’ll send my account manager a note about it, and he’ll gather information on magical properties.” He paused. “Unless you’d like a Muggle place? I’m not opposed, but Winky might be put out.”
“No, magical is fine as long as my parents can visit it.” She pursed her lips. “Can they come to the keep?”
“I can craft them a portkey that would allow it,” Harry said. “I’d never want to isolate you from them, you know? I like them both a lot, but even if I didn’t, I respect your relationship with them.” He put her strap back into place. “Where’s Crookshanks?”
“With my parents, he hates to be alone and ignores the auto feeder like a martyr.” Hermione rolled her eyes. “He’s probably lounging by my parent’s pool and plotting the murder of the birds who visit my mother’s bird feeder. She always lets him out there then gets all freaked out when he hunts.”
Harry laughed. “Did you want to pick him up?”
“I’ll get him Monday after work, my parents think I’m in France.”
“I ought to spank you for lying to them,” he murmured.
“I’m terrible and I deserve to be punished,” she admitted in a hushed voice.
He grinned. “Let’s go home and take off all of these ridiculous clothes.”
Hermione laughed. “Yeah, okay. Home it is.” She reached out, and the packing trunk spun off the floor, shrank down to the size of a pack of cards, and dropped into her hand.
“And you call me a show-off.”
“Ha, that’s all trunk magic.” She stored the trunk in her bracelet. “Can we try the sex swing?”
He slipped off the stool. “Hell, yes.”
He apparated them both in a snap of magic even as she started to laugh.
– – – –
Harry was still curled around her when she woke. The sun was just starting to filter through the curtains closed over the balcony doors. Greta shuffled in her cage and made a little chuffing sound when Hermione focused on her. The cage was open, so she figured if the bird wanted to go somewhere she’d already be out of it.
“She doesn’t know what to do with you here,” Harry murmured.
“What was she doing before?”
“Well, every morning since her arrival I’ve woken up with her sitting on the bedside table like a little statue.”
Hermione laughed. “Maybe she thinks you need to be guarded.”
“Or she’s pissed because she sleeps on a stick and I get a big mattress.” Harry curled his hand around her hip and pulled her closer. “How do you feel?”
“Sore, tired,” she admitted and wiggled against him. “Good. Hungry.”
“Winky will be back tomorrow.”
“Does she know about the playroom?” Hermione questioned.
He laughed. “Yes, she knows all about my perversions. She doesn’t go into the room without explicit permission, but that goes for my entire suite. I take care of changing my own linens as needed and drop everything in the laundry baskets which she can retrieve magically.”
“When did you furnish it?”
“About six weeks ago,” he admitted. “When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to purge those needs from my system. My next step, I guess, would’ve been to start visiting less anonymous fetish venues in search of a partner.”
Hermione exhaled sharply. “That’s really annoying.”
“Because I thought I’d do the same thing if the picture in Witch Weekly got me nowhere.” She turned in his arms. “That would’ve been shocking—seeing each other in a place like the Dungeon.”
He touched her face and rubbed his thumb over her bottom lip. “Have you been to the Dungeon?”
“Yes, but only with a glamour. I wasn’t ready to put it out there at all. But I sort of had a freak out when I recognized someone in there, so I left without playing or anything. I’d have gone back eventually because having my needs addressed once a week for an hour was never going to be enough.” She quirked an eyebrow. “You?”
“No, but Draco goes often. He’s distinctly more comfortable with his needs than I was in the beginning then I was pretty invested in my situation at Façade and didn’t need additional…companionship.” He propped his head up on one hand and pulled the sheet that was covering them down until her breasts were exposed. “I’m not opposed to going to the Dungeon together, but we’d probably enjoy ourselves more if no one knew we were. We can have new glamours made—full body if you’d like.”
“There was a woman in there that had wings,” Hermione said with an amused grin. “Oh, we could go as vampires. Muggle vampires—all pale skin and fangs.” She smirked when he laughed. “I do have a question.”
“Did you shave your beard because of Façade?”
“Yeah, the glamour wouldn’t have hidden that well. Why?”
She stroked his stubble on his cheek. “I miss it. I had some pretty naughty fantasies about it.”
Harry pulled her in and rubbed his stubble against her face. “Did you?”
“Yes.” She laughed and wiggled closer as he sucked gently at her neck. “I probably wasn’t alone in it. It was dead sexy.”
“Well, I’ll certainly grow it out for you,” he said. “I hate the shaving charm anyway.”
He slid lower and nuzzled her nipple before clenching his teeth on it. She shuddered, and her hand curled into his hair. They’d spent the afternoon and evening in the playroom—he’d kept her in the sex wing for over an hour and had fucked her repeatedly. His skill and stamina was nothing short of amazing—she’d made out like a bandit on that score. It was too bad she was too much of a lady to brag about his prowess. Hermione almost laughed at the thought, but Harry chose to scrap his teeth against the underside of her breast and her amusement drifted away.
“You said you were sore.” He lifted his head and looked at her, eyes dark and focused. “Are you too sore?”
“No.” Her breath caught when he grinned. “What are you going do to me?”
“Whatever I want.” He held out a hand, and the top drawer of the bedside table slid open. A pair of leather cuffs flicked out of it and right into his hand.
“Hmmm.” She glanced toward the owl who was peering at them with her big eyes. “Greta?”
He laughed. “Go to sleep, Greta.” The door on the cage swung shut, and a black cloth dropped down over the cage as the owl barked.
“Slick,” Hermione said.
“It’s voice and rune activated it. She can use the rune with a claw. She’s done it to me twice when I didn’t let her win an argument,” Harry murmured as Hermione offered her wrists. He put the cuffs on and pushed her arms above her head and with a murmured sticking charm the cuffs adhered to the headboard. “A simple finite will end this, but there is a rune release on the right cuff as well.”
She nodded. “Yes, Sir.”
“We’re probably going to wear each other out before we’re even forty,” he told her wryly.
Hermione spread her legs wider and watched his eyes darken further. She loved him like this. There was so much power in being so desired by another, and Harry’s want for her was almost tangible. It was nearly as rewarding as being at his mercy. He leaned over and sucked her left nipple into his mouth. The soft, wet play of his tongue caused her pussy to tighten with anticipation. She clenched down and let the sweet, little pleasure settle low in her belly. Harry clenched his teeth, hard and she shuddered violently. The night and day sensations were flowing over her even as he returned to the soft, sweet licks.
She moved under him, restless and needy.
“Easy.” He smacked her thigh sharply, and she hissed.
He smacked her thigh again. “You’ll get exactly what I give you and be satisfied.”
Hermione trembled as he rubbed his stubble against her belly. “Yes, Sir.”
“I think,” Harry murmured, “that you need a few in-depth lessons, darling.” He gripped her legs tightly as he slid lower.
“I’ll learn…” She arched under him involuntarily as he licked her clit for the first time. “Oh. Oh. That’s oh…” Her cheeks heated as she struggled against the pleasure and the increased desire to come. “I’ll learn whatever you want, Sir.”
He lifted his head. “I know you will.” He turned and let his mouth graze across the sensitive skin of her thigh then he clenched his teeth there.
Hermione moaned. “Oh, fuck.”
Harry bit her repeatedly up and down both thighs until they were red and covered impressions of his teeth. His teeth grazed over the top of her bare mons, and she screamed a little. “Come for me, love.” He licked her clit, and she shuddered violently through an orgasm so intense that her toes curled painfully.
Hermione relaxed on the mattress, dazed and shaking. She closed her eyes as he fingers slid through the folds of her cunt and jumped a little when his rubbed against her anus. A flush of magic was her only warning before the prep charm slicked her open and he slid two fingers into her arse. “Oh. I can’t…” She bit down on her lip and lifted her hips.
“Hold on, love,” Harry murmured. “Let me get you ready. You can come all you want after you take my cock.”
She blew out a breath. “Yes, Sir.”
His fingers slid into her several times, spreading the conjured lube then he withdrew. “Relax.”
Hermione nodded and let her eyes fall shut briefly as he cupped her hips then lifted her off the mattress. He prodded one leg upward and onto his shoulder as she opened her eyes. Her gaze dropped to the hard jut of his thick cock. Harry shifted, kept his right hand on her and used his left to position himself. He pushed his cock into her with one slow thrust, filling her arse better than any toy she’d ever had.
It was perfect. Harry shifted her other leg up to his shoulder then started to move—sliding in deep with each forward thrust. Harry let his hands drift down over her legs to cup her arse, tight. The flesh was still tender and welted from the various spankings he’d delivered the day before. The pain grew fresh and hot as he used his nails to scrape various wounds.
She was coming before she even realized it, her body bowing and twisting in his hands as she gave into the pleasure.
“You’re gorgeous,” Harry murmured as he shifted her legs and spread her wide open. He pulled free and released the cuffs from the headboard. “Get on your knees.”
Hermione exhaled sharply as she shifted and rolled over. Once on her knees, he reactivated the sticking charm and allowed her to curl her fingers over the top of the headboard. His mouth grazed her shoulder as he pressed his cock back into her arse then his teeth clenched down hard. She arched into the pain and cried out.
“Yes, fuck, that’s it,” he said tightly.
Their bodies smacked together lewdly, and her breathing grew ragged as he fucked her hard and rough. The snap of his hips against her arse was a hot, dirty kind of agony that was taking her breath with each thrust. Another orgasm punched through her and Hermione let her head fall forward between her arms as her body shuddered through it. She clenched down on his cock involuntarily, and he groaned lowly against her shoulder as he ground into her.
“I might have to stun myself,” Harry confessed against her skin and pressed a soft kiss there before pulling out of her body. “I don’t mean to be crass here, but you’re the best shag I’ve ever had.”
She laughed as he released the cuffs and dropped down on the bed gracelessly. Hermione rolled over onto her back as he sprawled beside her. “You’re the best I’ve ever had, too, though I’m not sure if it’s because you fuck like it’s your job or because you’re hung like a centaur. Either way, I’m pretty pleased with the whole package.”
He sighed. “I’m not hung like a bloody centaur.”
“You’re lucky it’s not well-known, or your hyphenated name situation would get profane.” She smirked when he scowled at her. “The Man-with-the-Huge-Prick.”
“You’re working on another unfun spanking,” Harry warned then tackled her when she laughed.
She wiggled and tried to get away for the fun of it and pretended to pout when he pinned her arms above her head. “I swear I won’t tell anyone about your big cock.”
He laughed. “Shut up.”
“If you give me a list of all your ex-lovers I’ll go around and make them sign a hexed contract swearing them to secrecy,” she informed him as solemnly as she could. “It’ll be my sacred duty to protect you from other witches lusting after your…above average penis.”
Harry kissed her even as her resolve crumbled and she started to giggle.
– – – –
“Gah, why does Winky make such amazing food? That waffle was like the most magical thing I’ve ever had in my life,” Hermione complained as she followed Harry to the back of the castle where a pair of French doors opened out into the formal patio. The garden was spread out behind a large pool, but she barely spared that a glance since there was a padded massage bench on the patio. “What’s all this?”
Harry prodded her gently over to the area, and she took note of several bowls of oils on the narrow table next to the bench. “As much as I adored putting marks all over you, love, you can’t work with your entire back, arse, and thighs covered in a network of flogger and cane welts.” He untied her robe and pushed it off her shoulders. “I never noticed bruises or reddened skin on you. I also never noticed in older bruises when we’d meet.”
“Façade has a healer that you can schedule for after a session to handle minor skin injuries and bruises. He’s also there in case of an emergency, but most often I only ever needed a potion and maybe a bruise balm for my bum since you rarely broke the skin.”
“This is certainly the heaviest we’ve ever played even if we count the small bit of blood play at Façade,” Harry acknowledged as he wrapped his hands around her waist and put her on the bench. “On your stomach.”
Hermione settled into position. “I could take a potion.”
“A general healing potion isn’t as effective as this will be,” Harry said. “These are Draco’s own design. He has a contract with Façade to sell the entire product line to members. You like to play hard, love, and I’m willing to indulge that, but that means we have to take extra good care of your skin. I’d rather not cause you to have any sort of permanent scarring.” He started with the warm thick oil. “This is for muscle relief. It’ll prevent you from getting stiff, and it’ll also heal any strains you’ve might have gotten from the bondage. Though, I expect to be told if a position is physically harmful to you. I won’t read your mind. I’ve altered all of the equipment in the playroom to accommodate your height, but no system is perfect.”
“I’ll tell you,” Hermione murmured as her eyes drifted shut. “The sex swing was surprisingly comfortable. I liked it a lot.”
“I could tell,” he said with a soft laugh. “I admit that our time limit at Façade often left you shortchanged on the aftercare front and I didn’t like it.”
“You never left me in a bad place,” Hermione protested.
“No, but we were both more focused on coming and satisfying more base needs rather than indulging in the other aspects of our dynamic,” he said. “I meant it when I said I want to know about the parts you’ve hidden from me, Mi.” He rubbed the oil down over her arse with firm hands. “There’s this whole other side of you that I never got to know and I’m looking forward to every potentially kinky minute of the experience.”
She laughed and turned her head slightly so she could look at him. “What if you can’t handle it?”
“I can handle anything you need,” Harry said without hesitation. “If I have to buy equipment, an instructional manual, and hire a private tutor to accomplish it, I will.”
“That stuff feels really good,” Hermione admitted. “Much better than just a pain potion. Thanks for thinking of it.”
“Taking care of you is part…of the whole thing for me.”
She hummed under her breath. “Like picking out my clothes?”
He laughed at that. “Just a little test to see how you’d react, actually. But providing for you would make me happy.”
She watched him out of the corner of her eyes as he picked a new oil. “I suppose I can live in your fairytale castle and let you pamper me like a princess.” Hermione paused then continued, “As long as the spankings are included.”
“Darling, in your case, the spankings are always going to be included. I’ve honestly wanted to turn you over my knee on a regular basis since we were fifteen.”
“I feel like I’ve been deprived of a very good time for over a decade. This one smells nice.”
“It’s for bruises and minor surface abrasions,” Harry said. “The only one that is scented it since it’s designed to stay on the skin and work for a while. It’s sandalwood which is supposed to aid in relaxation. He had a whole sales pitch, but I don’t remember it all.” He added more oil to his hands and started to work on her legs. “Let’s not fixate too much on time we haven’t had together and focus on the future we can build. There’s no telling what would’ve become of us if we’d come together when were younger. Maybe we’d have…”
“Destroyed each other,” Hermione supplied.
“Perhaps. Or maybe we’d already be married with a kid, and neither one of us would even have a clue what we really need in a sexual relationship which could’ve made us both miserable.”
“I doubt that,” Hermione said haughtily. “I’d have definitely asked for a spanking by now.”
He laughed and tapped her ass with his fingers. “Or you might have earned one very early on in this theoretical marriage of ours.”
“I’d have done my best,” she admitted breathlessly.
Harry leaned down and pressed a kiss to her shoulder. “I just bet you would’ve. Turn over so I can do the front then we can take a bit of a rest in the hot tub if you’d like.”
“I would most definitely like,” she stated firmly and scooted a bit until she could turn on her back without falling off the table. He moved down to the end and started to rub oil on her left foot. “There was a Dom at Façade who had a huge foot fetish. I wore a pair of sandals once there, and I guess I was maybe twenty minutes early for our session and the room wasn’t ready, yet. He offered me five hundred galleons if he could…” She flicked a hand.
“Rub off on your feet,” Harry supplied with a laugh. “Offering money is a violation of club rules.”
“Fortunately, he was overheard so I barely had time to fully comprehend what he’d said before security was there removing him from the waiting room with all possible speed. They practically carried him out.” Hermione hummed as he pressed his thumb into her arch and rubbed. “Do you have any fetishes?”
“Beyond the sadism?” Harry questioned. “Impact play, bondage, wax play, and play piercing are among my favorite activities. I especially enjoy the power exchange because I like to be in control. You?”
“I can’t think of anything we haven’t already discussed or done,” Hermione admitted. “Though I open to anything you’d want to try. I’ve never tried play piercing but I watched a submissive get a corset done once at Façade, and it was really exciting. By the time he was stringing the ribbon through the piercings, she’d soaked through her knickers.”
Harry paused briefly and blew air out between his lips. “Redhead, back play piercing corset, and just wore pink knickers for the session.”
“Yes…how did you…” She raised an eyebrow. “You had more than one glamour at Façade?”
Harry laughed. “Yeah, that was me doing her work, and yes, I had a glamour for private and one for the public rooms. The only person who ever saw my real face in the club was the House Master. He showed me his own in return. I never had intercourse in the public viewing rooms though, so all that particularly busty submissive got me from was the play piercing. I think she expected an invite to a private room, but I’ve never really…” He frowned.
“Redheads don’t turn me on as a rule,” he admitted ruefully. “Maybe it’s because of Ginny or honestly, probably because of Molly. I just can’t.” He grimaced. “Ugh.”
Hermione giggled. “Right—no gingers.”
“Ginger free zone,” Harry announced and waved his hand around as if to encompass his entire property in the declaration. He worked the oil down her legs slowly and slid one hand between her legs. “I verified this was safe for external use in intimate areas.”
“Thanks,” Hermione said and shifted a little as he rubbed her clit, which was sensitive and a bit swollen. “It feels great.”
After a few minutes, he smoothed the oil over her breasts and picked up a towel to clean his hands. “We’ll see if we need to apply it a second time. Why don’t you check out the hot tub and I’ll get us something to drink.”
“I’d love some of that mango-pineapple juice that Winky makes.”
“Coming right up,” Harry said.
Hermione watched him go back into the keep and slid off the massage bench. She walked naked across the patio and stepped down into the hot tub. It was the last construction project she’d helped Harry with for the property—the pool had been her suggestion, and it hadn’t taken the contractor much effort at all to convince them both that an outdoor hot tub would be the perfect companion to the pool. He’d been right. It was easily her favorite part of the entire set up.
By the time Harry returned with juice for them both, Hermione was utterly relaxed on one of the underwater lounges. He placed her juice near her head and slipped off his robe.
“You’re incredibly fit,” Hermione commented as she picked up her glass. “It’s been vexing me for years.”
Harry laughed and settled down into the water. “There’s rarely anything worse than a vexed witch.”
She sniffed and acted like she was insulted, but it was nice to see him relaxed and content. It was even better to know that some part of his good mood was because of her. She took a sip of juice and focused on him.
“What?” he asked.
“I’ll keep your secrets, too, you know,” she said quietly. “And I want all of this just as much as you do. I want to make a family with you, Harry. You can count on me.”
He slid around the tub, settled in next to her, and caught her free hand with his then laced their fingers together. “I know.” He leaned in and kissed her mouth then nuzzled her jaw with his mouth before whispering, “I lost my virginity at fourteen. One of those girls from Beauxbatons seduced me in a broom closet. She was fifteen and a complete freak. She liked me to pull her hair and call her a slut. In fact, she taught me to call her a slut in French.”
Hermione grinned. “And here I thought you were such a sweet boy at that age.” She shook her head in mock disapproval.
“I was fostering international relations with a visiting student,” he said seriously then ruined it by grinning. “I’m pretty stupid in love with you, too, you know?”
Hermione took a sip of her juice and set aside the glass. She slid astride his lap and put her hands on his shoulders. “We’re having a huge wedding, and I want a dress like a princess. I like rubies better than diamonds. I’m going to make everyone call me Lady Potter and refuse to acknowledge anyone who doesn’t.”
He smiled and pulled her close. “Sounds perfect.”
“I want a tiara.”
“Hmmm, I have three or four in the Gryffindor vault.” He kissed her jaw then her neck. “You smell delicious. I’m going to buy a huge vat of that oil.”
“I feel like you’re not giving this conversation your full attention,” Hermione said primly as he cupped her breasts.
“Big wedding, fancy dress, rubies, and a tiara.” He picked up her dove pendant and met her gaze. “I’ll put a ruby on your hand, darling, and on that day we’ll also give this sweet little dove a permanent home on the collar I have already picked out.” He pressed the dove back into place between her breasts. “But for now you’ll wear this—so we’ll both see it and know.”
“Know what?” Hermione questioned softly.
“That you belong to me.”
Hermione relaxed against him and tucked her face against his neck. For the first time in a long time, she felt completely safe.