Title: The Guilded Splinter
Pairing: Severus/Hermione, + Severus/Lucius/Narcissa Malfoy, Hermione/Lucius/Narcissa, Hermione/Ron in the past tense
Word Count/Art Medium/Craft Material:14,805 words
Content: Note: Explicit Sexual Content, Consensual BDSM, Spanking, Bondage, Edging, Voodoo
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters belong to JK Rowling and associates. No copyright infringement intended.
Summary: Hermione has enjoyed a ‘special’ relationship with Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy. Unbeknownst to her, so has Severus. And while they have both enjoyed the Malfoys immensely, they yearn for something more.
Based (sort of) on raywyn2k’s prompt: Hermione finds Severus and Lucius drinking together, and is invited to join them. That’s not ordinary Firewhiskey—it’s Severus’ special blend that reduces inhibitions. And then it’s time for the “Two Truths and a Lie” game. (Or Fuck, Marry, Kill)
I admit I went a bit off piste, but I hope I did fulfil the remit for Romance. HEA. PWP. D/s (Male Dom. And sorry about Lucius running off halfway through the story. He insisted on going shopping for a voodoo doll for Narcissa.
Author’s Note: rayvyn2k, I truly hope you will enjoy the story, and that it makes you happy. Special thanks to my beta, J, who is not only the best in the business, but gave me the encouragement I needed to write. I would not be here but for J. There are some additional notes at the end, which may shed a little light on some of the more esoteric parts of the story.
The Guilded Splinter
Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez
From the moment the portkey deposited her in the Fourth Ward of the Wizarding French Quarter, the corkscrews and kinks in Hermione Granger’s hair gauged the barometric pressure of her surroundings with pinpoint accuracy. Even in late November, New Orleans was more humid than summer in Amsterdam.
The warmth was also a shock; England’s first snow had fallen just before she departed for the States. She hoped she could get used to such warm, wet heat this late in the year. After all, what were cooling charms for?
As a delegate of MACUSA’s Pan-Global Diplomacy conference, Hermione was, strictly speaking, here to attend dry seminars, boring workshops and uninspiring keynote addresses over bland chicken dinners. Personally, though, she was in New Orleans on a different mission entirely, one that might even change her life.
As she took in the sights and sounds of the French Quarter, trying to get her bearings, Hermione was reminded a bit of Wizarding London. Here, as in the Capital, fine homes settled cheek to jowl with crumbling edifices, each revered in its own right by the citizens who walked their streets. The timeless and the ancient shared real estate with both grandeur and squalour.
Music drifted from everywhere; it was borne on the scents of frying beignets and cafe au lait, incense and gumbo, urine and brine. It swayed on the bright flags and banners that fluttered in the damp breeze from the wrought iron balconies above. Colour, sound and scent: the holy trinity of the French Quarter. Hermione felt giddy and overwhelmed. The city’s ebullient and languid vitality was like nothing she had ever experienced before. It was uninhibited and innocent in its excess.
The unmistakable sound of jazz danced out to meet her from every open door she passed. The melody would fall in step with her for a few paces, skipping alongside like a happy child. Then it would gradually fade as a new tune beckoned from the next doorway.
From out of nowhere, a stunningly beautiful witch strode toward her, clad in a leather robe that left nothing to the dullest imagination. The bodice was tight enough to make Hermione wince, and it cinched in her tiny waist to almost nothing. Slits in the skirt started at her belt and ended at her feet, showing off impossibly long legs, clad in thigh-high black boots with gravity-defying stiletto heels.
On the end of the lead she held in her impeccably manicured hand was an equally perfect slave wearing even less than her Mistress. Hermione took in her shapely figure, her creamy skin, her dark, mysterious eyes, and wondered if she would ever feel confident enough to stride around on the King’s Road in London wearing so little, even if her Dominant held the other end of the chain. They stalked passed, and Hermione watched them enviously, unnoticed, restless and antsy. The old burning need was returning. She took a deep breath, and pressed on. Soon. He had promised. Soon.
She paused before an elegant façade, resplendent with intricate wrought iron and bedecked with beautifully coloured flowers, their intoxicating scent adding to the heady mélange. An imposing sign identified it as The Copper Kettle
MACUSA had thoughtfully provided its delegates with a rather tasty little goody bag, full of American liquor and chocolates, t-shirts in the wrong sizes and the kinds of souvenirs that seem desirable at the time but get thrown out soon after the return trip home. The hosting Wizarding community, known colloquially by the anagram WizaNOLA, managed to sneak in a few bits of local color as well. It was mostly the type of tourist propaganda no one ever redeemed: rubbish-bin fodder masquerading as coupons for cut-rate voodoo and tarot practitioners, vouchers for free coffee at the Café du Monde and midnight ghost tours of lesser known New Orleans cemeteries.
There was also a bundle of obligatory sightseeing brochures. One, entitled The Top Ten Attractions In WizaNOLA – You’ll Have To Take Our Word For It! ranked The Copper Kettle at number five. Hermione gathered from the blurb that it was the local equivalent of The Leaky Cauldron, providing the connection from the Wizarding French Quarter to the Muggle one. It looked shabbily genteel and altogether very respectable. They served an excellent Shrimp Etouffee, and their pralines were second to none, according to the local newspaper The WizaNOLA Times/Picayune.
As prepossessing as it was, this was not the place she sought. In fact, she was not having much luck in finding her destination, and she was quickly running out of time. Dusk was closing in, and with it came the evening crowds. Hermione looked around self-consciously, feeling pale and sweaty and out of place as others jostled around her, so confident in their destinations, while she remained frustratingly clueless about what to do next.
She was on the verge of admitting defeat and returning to her hotel when an old crone waddled up to her. “Looking for something, cher?”
She was about a foot shorter than Hermione, with a tiny round head sprouting tufts of white, candy-floss hair. She was the archetypal Halloween witch from central casting. Her robe, ragged with age, had at least a passing acquaintance with a Tergeo charm. A constellation of liver spots mapped their way across her wrinkled forehead. The few teeth remaining in her head would have sent her parents running for the hills; they were the colour of an old pub ceiling.
Before Hermione could answer, the woman gave a cackle straight out of a children’s fairy tale. “Mais, I know exactly where you goin’, cher.” Her voice had a two-pack a day habit. With a sly look on her dried-apple face, she whispered, “You looking for L’éclat Doré, eh?”
Hermione started. “How did you-?”
“Do you want to go or no, cher?” Her eyes, milky with cataracts, practically snapped with intelligence and mischief.
Hermione hesitated. On the other side of her helpful brochure was another list, with the title Ten Places You Want to Avoid In WizaNOLA Like The Plague – And Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You! L’éclat Doré, or The Guilded Splinter, was numbers 1, 3, and 8 on the list.
Hermione looked down at the witch and screwed her courage to the sticking place. The burning need was now torquing up to a whining, torturous itch. Wordlessly, she nodded. The crone glanced around, then pressed a filthy scrap of parchment into her hand.
The description on the brochure (Number Eight) noted helpfully, You should surmise by now that this is not a place any self-respecting witch or wizard should be caught dead in. And if any person asks you if you are looking for it – especially old crones who prey on innocent tourists – do not, I repeat, do NOT, under any circumstances, take any parchment, paper, papyrus, sheep skin, I mean anything from them. And don’t come crying to me if you do.
The old woman glanced at the brochure contemptuously. “Couyon!” she spat, snatching it from Hermione’s hands and tossing it away. “Pay you no mind to such foolishness. L’éclat Doré, it a den of iniquity, fo sho, but sin isn’t sin unless you believe it to be. Mais, you go on now.” She leaned in conspiratorially, and Hermione could smell rum on her breath. “Enjoy it while you’re young.”
She abruptly turned and melted into the encroaching crowd, leaving Hermione standing alone on the crowded street, holding the grubby parchment in her hands. It took several more seconds before she got the nerve to look at it. The scrap of parchment looked to be torn from the corner of a menu; it felt greasy to the touch. The writing on it was sharp and decisive, and somehow familiar. Aloud, she read, “The address of The Guilded Splinter is 739 ½ Bourbon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. 3-1-2.”
From the corner of her eye, Hermione detected a shimmer, then a shudder, then a ponderous groan as the street widened between Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo and the empty building beside it. A homeless person of indistinguishable gender, sleeping in the vacant doorway, did not so much as stir.
A looming structure appeared, a massive, three-story pile heavy with rusting wrought iron and chipped stone, and festooned with peeling gilt and crumbling plaster. It looked as ancient as any old building could look in America. Hermione had read it was originally a meeting place for Wizarding New Orleans’ most powerful witches and wizards, but they had long moved to more prosperous parts of the city. It was only a private club now. Very private, it seemed. What kind of club is so clandestine that its very location is Secret-kept?
The kind you only discover via word of mouth. The kind that doesn’t have the Times/Picayune bragging on its seafood. The kind that Lucius Malfoy sends you to visit.
Two Weeks Before
When Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy first embarked on their ‘special’ relationship with Hermione Granger, she had tried to give him a – what did she call it? an eye-Phone, mobile, what have you? in order to keep in touch. From the start, Narcissa had taken to hers like a Selkie to water, but the thing continued to baffle and irritate Lucius. All this business of staring at a little screen, trying to stab at tiny letters and numbers to compose a ten-word sentence, waiting until the words went through the air and landed on another little screen in someone else’s hand? What a load of Thestral dung. Besides, it made his eyes hurt, and his fingers were too large for the buttons, making every message he composed gibberish anyway.
He had soon given up and switched back to the magical diaries that were all the rage when he was young and thrusting and needed to correspond with his virginal fiancée without the rest of her psychotic family finding out. With these, he and Narcissa could keep in touch with their lovers just as quickly and much more elegantly, to his mind, than any phone, smart or otherwise. Speaking face to face was overrated anyway. And if one had no choice, what was wrong with good, old fashioned Apparition? Even the Floo network was preferable to that Muggle contraption.
Are you telling me that you are tired of me?
I am not
I’m a big girl now, Lucius. I can take it.
I know that more than most, Hermione. Now, if you will kindly
If you’re trying to let me down easy, honestly, I’d prefer the short, sharp method
I’ll give you the short, sharp method on your backside if you don’t stop interrupting me! Now stop planning your doom, and allow me to finish.
For several seconds, Lucius waited, and when no further diatribe blazed across the page, he sat back and huffed in relief. He could almost see the wheels turning in that fascinating head of hers. She was examining every word in his journal entry, trying to find the loopholes, trying to justify her reactions. Gods, but she was so much like Severus, Lucius sometimes forgot exactly whose journal he was supposed to be reading.
He waited for another ten seconds, then continued writing. I have no intention of ‘letting you down,’ Hermione, and neither does Narcissa. We both care for you a great deal, and I think, considering our shared history, we’ve all come a long way. Don’t you agree?
The reply came slowly, more measured. Yes, I do agree. You and Narcissa have been as good or better friends than anyone else in the Wizarding world. When Ron broke it off, and Harry stood with the Weasleys against me, you two were the only ones who didn’t treat me like I was some sort of freak. You accepted me without any of those old prejudices judgements without any hidden agenda or expectations. I owe you a great deal.
There was another long pause. Lucius visualised her brushing her quill over that delectable bottom lip, trying to discipline herself, composing her words with care and attention. She was a bright girl, but also a damaged one. If Lucius could give himself a modicum of credit for any good he had done in the world, it would be in no small part the support he and Cissy had given this war-ravaged Muggleborn girl, and the lessons they had taught one another about forgiveness and redemption, acceptance and empathy, Dominance and submission.
As he mused, Hermione began writing again. I suppose I knew one day our relationship would change. And I mean no disrespect, truly. You and Narcissa have been so kind, so generous with yourselves. I always thought you might move on, once I’d learned all you have to teach me.
“Cheeky little bint,” Narcissa exclaimed, reading over his shoulder. “She’s a piece of work. It would be insulting if it weren’t true.” She sighed, and placed a careless kiss on Lucius’ hair. “Go ahead, Luc. It’s cruel to leave her hanging.”
He and Narcissa had spent many an hour discussing what to tell Hermione. The girl had to discover the final truth about herself. Such a little thing, with such big ramifications for her future, and theirs – but she had to discover it on her own.
Absently, Lucius patted his wife’s hand and returned to his parchment. My dear Hermione, you will always have a place here with us, as long as you need us. But that is the point of all this: we have been a pleasing diversion for one another for too long. It isn’t Narcissa and I who need to move on, my dear. It’s you.
He turned to Narcissa, who held up her fingers as she counted. “One…two…three…” The Floo roared to life, and Hermione emerged, looking flushed and ashy, and near tears. Damn. Lucius had been sure she would wait at least until five.
“You owe me ten Galleons, dear,” said Narcissa smugly, then held out her arms. “Hermione, darling. Come here.” The younger woman all but flew into Narcissa’s arms. “No tears, little warrior. Although, Lucius has been perfectly beastly, hasn’t he?”
Lucius started. “I?” He placed a hand over his wounded heart. “I’ve only been trying to address the situation in the gentlest possible manner.”
From over Hermione’s head, Narcissa winked at him. “And doing a dreadful job, isn’t he, sweetling? There, there,” she crooned, as she kissed and caressed and soothed the young witch. “Everything is alright.” She stepped back, still holding Hermione’s hands. “Let’s talk this out over tea, shall we?”
They retired to the coldly tasteful drawing room, where a roaring fire drove out the chill. Lucius sat in his customary chair and nodded to Hermione. She crawled obediently into his lap and snuggled against him.
Tea arrived, and Narcissa played mother. Lucius declined, of course. He could not hold his saucer and Hermione at the same time; he was not a multitasker. “Now dear,” he said firmly. “I want one thing made clear. We are not abandoning you, nor will we ever.”
“Thank you,” Hermione replied, her voice hushed with relief. “I just had to hear it face to face.”
Narcissa mouthed, told you, and pointed at her mobile. Lucius suppressed the impulse to hiss. They would gang up against him, these witches.
Narcissa sat her Spode cup and saucer onto the table without the tiniest clink of china on china. “I’ll be frank, dear. To begin, I love you, and always will. So does Lucius. You are everything a couple like us would want in a lover. Obedient, honest, responsive, adventurous. You have given us a great deal of pleasure, and I think we have given the same to you, no?”
Hermione nodded. “You saved me in so many ways. And I care more for you than I would ever have thought possible.” She gave Lucius a gentle smile. “I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have these…inclinations I didn’t understand or even know how to articulate. You and Lucius gave me the courage and the safety to explore exactly who and what I am, and learn the art of giving pleasure and receiving it.” She bit her lip.
“But?” Lucius prompted.
Hermione closed her eyes. “Lately, I’ve felt…I don’t know. It’s so hard to describe.”
“I find one word at a time does it quite nicely,” Narcissa said, with an encouraging smile.
“Yes Mistress.” Hermione took a huge breath, and let it go slowly, like a person preparing to lift a heavy weight. “I watch you and Master Lucius, and I think to myself, ‘will I ever know that kind of relationship, that kind of understanding and acceptance from another person’?” She looked away. “A person just for me alone.” She glanced at them apologetically. “I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, and Merlin knows I’ve never felt jealous of you, but…”
“But you want more,” Lucius finished.
She closed her eyes and nodded. “I do want more.” A single tear slipped down her cheek. “And I don’t know if that will ever happen. And I’m scared of…of what might become of me, if I go looking for more in the wrong places. Look what happened before.”
Lucius looked up into the eyes of his beautiful wife, and she smiled. It was the same smile she reserved for Draco, full of love and affection and pride. He did not know if it was for him alone, or Hermione, or for all three of them, but it was as good an endorsement as any.
He pulled Hermione closer, rocking her in his arms. “And that is why I wrote you. All you have to do is trust Narcissa and me. We’re here to make sure every aspect of your life remains safe, sane, and consensual.” Cupping her breast, he nuzzled her warm neck and murmured, “We think you are quite ready for that more you want so badly.”
Hermione gave Lucius a final kiss and waved goodbye to Narcissa; she stepped up to the fireplace, threw a handful of Floo powder into the grate and announced, “Hermione Granger’s flat!” She disappeared in a flash of fire.
Lucius turned to his wife, who was still in bed, eating from a box of Honeydukes’ finest bonbons. Good sex always left her ravenous, and Hermione was nothing if not thorough. “I thought that went well,” he said, sipping from an iced tumbler of gin. Energetic sex play was not conducive to post-coital firewhisky.
“Now, tell me again why you can’t accompany us to America for this blasted conference.” He allowed himself a bit of a sulk. “How can I be expected to put up with these tiresome American wizards without your soothing presence?”
Narcissa sought out a chocolate truffle and bit into it with relish. “Oh, heavenly. I must remember to place another order while you’re gone.” She washed down the confection with a glass of champagne. “The charity ball, remember, darling? I’ve spent the last nine months organising it. I can’t just forsake the committee in their hour of need.” She sat back, replete, and pouted prettily. “And I think you’ll find it is I who must go it alone, while you and our friends cavort in the most gorgeously tawdry and decadent city on earth.”
“Shall I bring you a present?”
She sat up, her large blue eyes sparkling. “Bring me one of those voodoo dolls. I’ve always wanted one.” She added dryly, “Have them make it with your hair.”
“You horrid wench!”
“I’m too natty for a wench. That’s more Hermione’s area.”
“I’ll have a doll made in your image and give it to them as a wedding gift.”
“Now who’s being horrid?” Narcissa laughed, then grew pensive. “They are special, aren’t they? Both of them.”
“They are, indeed.”
“And we are doing the right thing, aren’t we? I mean, they’re both simply made for one another.”
Lucius joined his wife in bed, and she lay against his chest. “We are doing the right thing, Cissy. And we mustn’t be selfish. As much as we’d like to keep them near, they do not, in fact, belong to us. They are two powerful Wizarding folk, and they need their freedom. We’ve enjoyed them, and now we must set them on their course.”
They lay silent for several moments. “I shall miss them both,” Narcissa said sleepily. There was a tone of sadness in her voice that harmonised with the wistful note chiming in his own heart.
“As shall I. But don’t worry, my love. I’ve a feeling we’ll have a Scotch foursome from time to time.”
Before she had departed for the States, Hermione had consulted her old Astronomy textbook. It said: “Guilded Splinters” are the points of a star; a distant planet. Mystically, they appear like gold scintillations, like fire that holds still. According to voodoo practitioners, the strength of these scintillations change according to astrological humours.
Like fire that holds still.
She thought of her own reckless history with fire, and wondered what the humours had in store for her in this mysterious place.
It may have been a secret-kept establishment, but it seemed like a lot of people were in on the secret.
As the Guilded Splinter’s door swung closed behind her, she understood how Alice might have felt after crash-landing down the rabbit hole, if said rabbit hole were crammed with people picking themselves off the floor. The crush at the entrance nearly forced Hermione back out on the pavement.
She spied a long bar in the corner of the huge room, and headed in that direction. If she was going to fight this crowd, she was going to need liquid fortification. Suddenly, a tall, spider-thin wizard appeared before her, wearing the black robe of a major domo. His face was geisha-white; his thin lips and two-inch long fingernails were painted black. Walking beside him was an ornate black quill, scratching away on a length of parchment.
“Naaaaaaame?” asked the wizard, stretching the word with exaggerated self-importance.
She cleared her dry throat. “Hermione Granger. I’m supposed to be…”
“Shhhhhhh.” The wizard held up a languid, spindly hand. “We’re checkiiiiiing.” They studied one another for a moment as his quill perused the document, line by line. Suddenly it paused; then with a flourish, made a huge tick mark on the parchment. The wizard gave her an oily smile. “Congratulationssss. You’re on the lisssssst.” He turned and stalked away, leaving Hermione and the quill at a standoff.
“Thank you?” she muttered. The quill made an imperious ‘follow me’ gesture and fluttered away. Hermione dutifully trotted behind.
Walking past the other denizens of the club, she became aware that, in comparison with the other witches, she was incredibly overdressed. Her nighties back home left more to the imagination. The quill rapped her impatiently on the shoulder, demanding that she keep up. But it was impossible to keep from looking around, and eventually the quill gave up and waited on her.
The farther Hermione ventured into the club, the less crowded it became, and the darker it grew. Swirling light reflected on the walls, across the massive bar, and over the faces of those she passed. There was a scent in the air she could not define, but it was pleasant, and the more she inhaled it, the less everything seemed to matter.
There was music here, as well. It was not the jaunty swing of Dixieland that had strutted down the streets with her. This was a dark, sinister, compelling drone, a low, tribal beat, a mournful sax, the distance murmur of lyrics she could not understand.
In the middle of the dancefloor, a voodoo priestess held court. She was dressed in a flowing robe of vivid colours, and her headdress was decorated with peacock feathers. She stamped the floor with bare feet, her body moving sinuously, whipping the dancing couples into a fervour that bordered on spiritual. Her wand, Hermione noted with a chill, was made of bone. She used it expertly, calling forth magic that, to Hermione’s trained eye, was neither dark nor light, good nor evil, but a seductive blend of both.
She peered at Hermione over her blue-lensed spectacles, and her eyes widened in recognition. Hermione realised she was the gorgeous Domme from the street, walking her beautiful sub on a lead. Now she began chanting a spell, her voice rising and falling with the rhythm of the low, sinister music that whispered in the room. As she sang, she flicked her wand toward a young man with dark hair and bright blue eyes. He was dressed in the simple black robes of an acolyte. He bowed at his priestess, then turned and bounded toward Hermione.
Grasping her arms, he crowed, “Congratulate me, Tante! I am going to be made a man tonight!”
He was a handsome young thing, around eighteen, flushed with anticipation, his eyes shining with excitement and joy. “It’s good luck to be kissed by a beautiful witch before you lose your virginity to a priestess! Will you bring me that good juju, uh?”
Taken aback, Hermione managed to say, “Well, I’m not sure I-” before he wrapped his arms around her and pressed his soft lips to hers. His kiss was innocent and sweet, and for a moment, Hermione closed her eyes and allowed the sensations to wash over her. She felt drugged with them, stirred, and outside herself. The room was warm, and the dark scents and sounds were mesmeric and sensuous.
“Well, you’ve certainly wasted no time familiarising yourself with the local customs, Miss Granger.”
In any other place or time, Hermione would have jolted back into reality at the sound of that voice. Perhaps she had been drugged after all. Her eyes fluttered open; the priestess and the acolyte were gone. In their stead, propping up the bar, looking as cool and starkly compelling as winter itself, stood none other than Severus Snape.
Two Weeks Before
“I believe he’s here, Cissy,” Lucius announced.
Narcissa entered the bedroom, fastening the clasp of her necklace. “And punctual as usual.” She lowered her arms and did a small twirl. “How do I look?”
She was wearing her favourite robe, a soft, pearly pink silk with embroidered silver roses. “You look radiant, my dear. A sweetmeat to be savoured.”
“I plan on putting said silver tongue to great use later.” The sensuous whisper of her smile was the perfect reply.
A house-elf appeared, wearing a gleaming white robe. “Mister Snape is here, Master, Mistress.”
“Show him in, Tewks.”
Severus entered the room at his usual brisk pace, removing his cloak with one practiced snap, like a magician. He gave it to the house-elf. “It has been cleaned,” he said, a note of severity in his voice. “Do not meddle this time.”
Tewks, a free elf with far too much dignity to scream or faint at being presented items of clothing, looked affronted. “I keeps reminding sir it was a one-off.” He disappeared with a reproachful POP!
“Come in, and warm yourself by the fire,” Lucius said, putting his arms around his old friend. “You’re cold. Why do you insist on Apparating so far from the house?”
“The walk does me good,” Severus replied, returning the embrace. “It’s one of the curses of having a cushy desk job at the Ministry. I never have time to leave my desk except for meals. All I ever seem to do nowadays is sit and eat.”
“Well, it doesn’t seem to have done you any harm,” Narcissa added, accepting his kiss. “You could always stand to put on some weight. You look better than you have in years.”
“And you look even more breathtaking each time I see you, Narcissa.”
She smiled, showing off her dimples. “Oh, darling. How sweet of you. I’ll bet you’ve been rehearsing that line in front of your mirror all afternoon.”
“I merely repaid your altruistic lie with a sincere truth.”
She made a moue of reproach. “What have I told you, Severus? I never mix altruism with friendship.”
He responded with an almost-smile, but Lucius noticed he did not contradict her. Severus, in fact, cut quite an imposing figure. He no longer looked as if the hounds of hell were licking at his heels. Those hideous days during the war had aged them all, and none more so than Severus, but time had given him a kinder, more even road to walk, and he strode it with ever increasing confidence and hope.
He had gained weight, but his body was neither slack nor soft. He looked broader, healthier. He had always been strong and had the stamina of a workhorse, but he no longer looked whipped in the traces. His long hair was still blue-black and shaggy. His face was still pale and angular, but his was a cool, porcelain complexion that no longer looked haggard and indifferently barbered. Severus, at long last, had learned to take care of himself, and while he would never be considered classically handsome, one could not argue that he was certainly attractive.
In the years that followed the gruesome business of Tom Riddle, all of them had felt adrift, afraid and alone. The miracle of Severus’ survival of Nagini’s brutal attack, the redemption of Lucius’ family in the desolate aftermath, the ostracism of Hermione Granger from her school friends and family. Each piece of this puzzle had brought them all together, and now it was up to Lucius and Narcissa to make sure the separation would be not only pain-free (well, in the strictest sense of the word, of course), but healthy in the long run.
Lucius filled two snifters with amber liquor. “Cognac, Severus? A delegate from France’s Wizarding Assembly sent it over just yesterday. Elf made, of course. You know the French.”
Severus accepted the glass warily. “À santé,” Lucius said. Severus returned the salute, and sipped carefully.
“Have a seat, you two,” Narcissa commanded. “I’ll go and see about dinner.”
Severus had the decency to wait until she left the room to quaff his cognac and place the empty glass on the table. “Alright, Lucius, what is going on?”
Lucius made a great show of warming his drink, rolling the snifter between his hands, staring down into the liquor as if engrossed by it. From the corner of his eye, he saw Severus shift impatiently.
“Going on? I merely wanted to discuss a few things before we depart for this ghastly conference in the United States.” He could feel those black eyes on him, and he shivered. Planning this endeavour with Narcissa in the dark sanctuary of their bedroom was one thing; having to face Severus with it was almost as bad as playing Guess Who’s Lying with Tom bally Riddle, and dammit, why was Narcissa taking so long?
Severus was watching him keenly, then he laced his fingers over his abdomen and studied them. “You’ve both grown tired of me,” he said with a sigh.
“No, Severus. That will never happen.” Lucius knew he had answered too quickly. Gods, he was making a dog’s dinner of it, and they had not even served the soup course yet.
Severus shot Lucius a look that was as keen as it was unreadable. “Then why are you acting as if you’re about to present me with my marching orders?”
Lucius felt a prick of panic in his stomach. “Never. You must understand, this is not why I – why we wanted you to come over tonight.”
Severus’ severe face remained impassive, as if this was all beneath him, and perhaps, in a way, it was. He had never truly needed them in quite the same way they needed him, but it did rankle just a tiny bit that, even at the thought of their rejection, he could remain so calm and detached.
It’s his way, Lucius realised. It’s why he was such an expert at espionage while you once sat here, wallowing in self-loathing and allowing your entire world to fall to pieces. It was not that Severus did not care; it was that he knew how much Lucius was struggling. He does not want me to feel any worse than I already do. Gods, there are times when I’m sure I don’t deserve this man’s friendship.
The truth came out in a rush. “Severus, I’ve found you the perfect woman. She’s everything you’ve ever wanted, and she needs you, and you need her, and you’re not going to like it, but I know I’m right and you’ll just have to trust me.”
“Well done, darling. I see the famous Malfoy sangfroid is as peerless as ever,” Narcissa breezed into the room on the tide of his verbal diarrhea. “Tell me again how you managed to be such a respectable Death Eater?”
Lucius slumped. He felt winded from making a fool of himself, as he inevitably did without Narcissa to prop him up and remind the world how bloody clever he was. He glanced up at Severus, who had not moved, but was looking at him with something akin to alarm. For a dreadfully long moment, the room was silent as Severus digested the news. Finally, he demanded, “Say that again.”
Narcissa sat beside Severus, took his pale, slender hand in hers and kissed it tenderly. “My precious one, we’ve seen the signs. And I know you have tried not to burden us with your… discontent. Merlin knows you’re a master at hiding your true feelings, even from those who love you best.”
Severus did not protest. He merely looked deeply into Narcissa’s face, and Lucius knew the scoundrel was slipping his renown Legilimency prowess under Narcissa’s formidable radar. Severus’ unease gradually turned to outright disbelief as understanding dawned.
“You are joking.” he said finally.
“I have never been more serious,” Narcissa replied.
“But how do you know she’s…” He swallowed with difficulty. “How do you know this particular witch is so inclined? That she could appreciate our…special lifestyle?”
“We know, darling, because…we know.”
Severus nodded. “I see. You’ve been doing a little teaching of your own.”
“Well, we never said we were monogamous,” answered Lucius.
“And that bothers you.” When Severus tried to speak, Narcissa placed a gentle finger over his lips. Her look was almost pitying. “Oh, don’t deny it, love. What we three share is special. Nothing will ever replace that. After all we have been though, never doubt that we will always be there for you. But you need more. We’ve seen the signs. Lately, you come round less often.”
“I’ve been busy at work-”
“You’re often too tired, and you never stay the night anymore.”
“I-I have things I…I need to take care of…”
“And you make excuses. Admit it. You’ve outgrown us, Severus. But you have not outgrown what you are, and who you are.”
Severus opened his mouth, then closed it again. He patted Narcissa’s hand. “Alright. If we’re playing true confessions, I’ll join in.”
“More cognac, I think,” Lucius volunteered. He refilled their glasses.
As he idly swirled his drink in the glass, Severus favoured them with a sad smile. “I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel things have changed between us. Not one thing in particular, really, just a gradual change. Restlessness? Self-doubt? Ennui? No, I’m not bored with you.” He chuckled. “How could I be? You two are marvelous lovers. And I love you.” He glanced up from his curtain of hair. “I wouldn’t have survived any of it without you, and Draco. You gave me a reason to want my life back.”
“Then I would say you’ve had us at our best, Severus,” Narcissa replied, softly. Severus’ gaze softened, and this time it was he who kissed her hand.
“You know there is nothing, nothing at all, we wouldn’t do for you,” Lucius added. “You taught me how to become the wizard I was always supposed to be. It is a debt I will spend my life trying to repay.”
Severus regarded Lucius solemnly. “You seem quite emotional about this, Lucius.”
Lucius cleared his throat. He did feel a bit overwrought. “I am merely trying to be sincere.”
“You know, as a former Head of our House, I should have your Slytherin membership rescinded. You’re sounding positively Hufflepuffian.”
“Dammit, man! I’m being serious,” Lucius said, but they were all laughing.
Severus made a gesture of surrender. “Alright, Lucius. Your secret is safe with me. Hufflepuff away.”
Something in his resigned tone gave Lucius pause. “You know in your heart the wisest thing is to let us go for the time being, and find the one who truly needs you to do for her what you did for us, for me. Give her a reason to be the best witch she can be.”
Severus’ face crumpled, and he began to laugh. “But, of all witches in the world-”
“She’s the one who will make you a King,” Narcissa finished. “You once told me you wanted a woman who would look at you the way I look at Lucius.
“We have found her.”
Two Weeks Later
Severus renewed his cooling charm, and fixed his glare on the supercilious twat at the door. The Guilded Splinter might be New Orleans’ most exclusive fetish club, but he would be godsdammed if he was going to bow and scrape before the little gothed-up toady mincing around the place like he owned it. Through clenched teeth, he repeated, “My name is Severus Snape, and I am most certainly on your list. I would advise you to look again.”
The doorman gulped, and his white face lost a bit more colour. “I’m surrrrre it issssss, Mister Sssssnaaaape.” He hissed something to his quill, which shook like a leaf, then ducked behind the safety of its parchment. He gave it a threatening look, then smiled back at Severus with a mouth full of large, tombstone teeth. “We’re just checkinnnng agaiiiiin-”
“And stop talking nonsense! The punters might buy it, but I am not impressed by your pathetic attempt to sound interesting. Talk like a human being, or by the gods you’ll find yourself Transfigured into a skink!”
“Ah, Severus, I see you and Boris are becoming acquainted.” Lucius arrived from the bar with drinks. He passed one to Severus; it was resplendent with beads and umbrellas and various decorative what-the-fucks. “It’s called a-a Hurricane, or possibly Tornado? Tsunami? Something weather-related.” He smiled casually at Boris. “Now, what is the holdup? We came early because we have a room to prepare and another guest to greet.” Lucius’ voice was light, even pleasant, but it carried a chilly undertone.
Boris glanced from Lucius to Severus and back. His adam’s apple bobbed up and down like a cork in the ocean. “Why, Missster Malfoy, what a looooovely surpri-” He caught Severus’ glower in mid-lisp, and dropped his affectation like a stone. “Um, Sir, yes, I, um-” He cleared his throat, and his voice dropped back to a normal cadence. “Of course you’re both on my list. In fact, I’ll personally prepare our best suite for you. If you gentlemen will follow me…” He glided away as if on casters, his black quill dancing in attendance.
“A personal escort? Oh, my, Boris. You are spoiling us. Your poor quill will feel quite the gooseberry,” Lucius purred.
It was early afternoon, and there were only a handful of people in the Guilded Splinter. Each and every one of them had a good, long look as they sauntered past. It was the kind of scrutiny Severus had never enjoyed.
“Oh, lighten up a bit,” Lucius whispered, leaning in close. “I’m practically royalty here. They’re expecting a bit of the old ‘billow and smolder’, for Merlin’s sake.”
He strode ahead, silly cocktail in one hand, his silver-topped cane in the other, carrying himself with Gallic insouciance. They passed a small cluster of witches, who immediately recognised them. “Mais, it’s Lucius Malfoy, cher. I’ve heard stories…”
Severus gave the gossiping witches a dark, stony look, eyelids at half-mast. “Oh, sweet Tante Marie,” one of them whispered, “that’s Snape. THE Severus Snape!” When Severus was sure he had the full attention of them all, his cape billowed majestically behind him. He even flared his nostrils for good measure.
“Mais, did you see those black eyes, cher? He so bold, staring at me so!”
“You’re a fool witch! It was me he was undressing with him eyes!”
He did not look back; he was slightly afraid to.
They came to a large oak door at the end of the bar, and Boris produced a long, skinny wand, the colour and size of a chopstick. He swished and flicked, pinky held aloft like a debutante at a tea party, and primly uttered, “Alohamora Ima!”
The door swung open, revealing a long hallway, bathed in red light. It disappeared into the darkness. At the entrance was a beautiful woman, Creole, of course. She wore the short, frilly apron of a domestic, and nothing else. She beckoned to them enticingly, all lush lips and frank invitation, until Boris snapped, “Not now, cher!” She gave Severus an exaggerated pout of disappointment. Severus awarded her with a slow blink, and she inhaled so sharply her breasts swelled toward him like a cresting wave. He turned away from the sloe-eyed beauty and kept his eyes focused on Lucius’ back.
“Oh, yes, this will do quite nicely,” Lucius proclaimed, as they stepped into their suite. He gave the rooms a perfunctory inspection, using his cane to thump the bed, pull aside the drapes, check the locks on the other doors. “Yes, I think this will be more than adequate.
“I do hope you still accept Galleons,” he added, with a charming smile. “I’m afraid I didn’t have time to exchange them into Dragots before we left England.” He pulled a leather pouch from his cloak and tossed it carelessly in the major domo’s direction.
Boris caught it deftly. He caressed the pouch with his spidery fingers, trying to gauge the amount. “Of course, Mister Malfoy,” He gushed. “We’re always happy to accept your money, in any currency.”
“Seeing as how the exchange rate is a hundred Dragots to the Galleon, I’m sure you are,” Severus interjected dryly.
“Indeed. Now, Boris, is everything here, just as I outlined it?”
“Exactly, Mr Malfoy! I carried out the instructions myself!”
Lucius used his own wand to open the door, and Boris found himself being propelled out into the hall. As he tap-danced backward, he continued, “No expense has been spared to provide you with the best experience The Guilded Splinter has to offer for its most discriminating clients! If you need anything just say-”
The door shut, cutting him off in mid-sentence. Lucius murmured, “Yes, Boris. That will be all.”
Severus removed his cloak, and loosened his cravat with a sigh; the scar Nagini had awarded him sometimes itched in the heat. “Well, that’s an hour of my life I would like back.”
Now they were alone, Severus dropped the ‘billow and smolder’. Once upon a time he had enjoyed it all – it had even gotten him laid once or twice. But he had played too many roles and used them to cover up too many bad decisions and worse choices. What bothered him was that those he held closest were the ones who never saw past that character.
Lucius thought Severus had grown dissatisfied with them; in truth Lucius was dissatisfied with the game itself. Severus had been what they needed, but they did not need him anymore. The fact they had taken Hermione Granger as their submissive had proven that. Now he had to be what he needed.
The best spy knows that the truth is often the best disguise. Sometimes, though, the cleverest person was also the most self-deluded, and Severus was afraid he might be the cleverest person he knew. He had always displayed an impressive skill set when it came to legerdemain. Up to now, it was all window dressing and atmosphere; the music, the Creole, the lighting, Boris and his ridiculous quill, even Lucius. No more games, he thought. Not with her. Show’s over; this is where it gets real, as they say.
He removed his gloves and tossed them on the table. Lucius, too, looked relieved that they were at last away from prying eyes. Peacock he may be, but what he must do next was for Severus’ eyes only. He approached Severus, his head bowed, and his manner subservient. When he was close enough to touch him, he sank to his knees, and took Severus’ hand.
“Does this meet with your approval, Sir?”
“What do you call this decor again? ‘Early American Whorehouse’?”
Lucius actually looked hurt. Taking pity, Severus stroked Lucius’ fine hair. “I made an attempt and spectacularly failed at making a joke. Yes. Of course I approve.” He waved his hand in the general direction of their surroundings. “You promised me a room of decadence and pleasure, and you’ve certainly delivered.”
Lucius kissed Severus’ hand. “The pleasure has only begun, Master Severus. Your special delivery will be here shortly.”
Three Hours Later
As Hermione stood there, staring at her former professor, she was sure the voodoo priestess had somehow Confunded her. Lucius had told her that her new Master would meet her in the Guilded Splinter. This had to be a hallucination.
The apparition basked in the glow of her blank stare for several moments longer. Finally, he frowned at her. “It’s obvious from your expression of delight that my presence is somewhat of a disappointment.”
“Um, I, uh…” Well, it certainly sounded like Professor Snape. “A-are you real?”
His brows rose in surprise. “Are you pissed, Granger? You were told to come here sober.”
“Of course I’m sober! It’s just-I’ve been-” The quill lightly slapped her face to get her attention, and she batted it away like a midge. “Piss off, before I turn you into a hat pin!” As it flew away in terror, she turned back to her former teacher. “Forgive my rudeness, sir, but I’ve been walking around all day trying to find this damn place, and I’m hot and tired and parched, and you were the last person I ever expected to be here waiting on me-”
Snape raised a hand. “If this is your idea of damage control, I’d work on another strategy. Focus.”
Hermione closed her mouth. Lucius would be very disappointed in her at this moment, and she was dangerously close to ruining everything he had planned. She lowered her head. “I’m very sorry. I truly meant no disrespect. I was just…caught off-guard.”
Hermione’s face burned. When she did not reply, he placed a finger beneath her chin, raising her head until their eyes met. It made no difference that he was a skilled Legilimens, nor that she was a skilled Occlumens. They did not need to see into one another’s mind. To their mutual astonishment, they both spoke three words together.
“You’ve certainly changed.”
Merlin, had he ever. Was this man truly the professor of her memory, the one who had hurt her so many times, belittled, humiliated, thwarted her? She could see the shadow of him, but there was hardly any other trace of him left. Oh, there were similarities. He still eschewed the Wizarding penchant for ornate robes, preferring a more masculine aesthetic. She had always secretly admired his style of dress. The Victorian suits, with their many buttons, had fascinated her as a young girl, and she was reassured to see he still cut a fine figure in one. The collar of his snowy shirt was higher than in the past, but she assumed he preferred it to hide the awful wound he had sustained. She had heard the scarring had been terrible.
His eyes were the same as well. They had always been expressive, telegraphing his anger and irritation long before he spoke. But they were calmer; his expression was more neutral. He actually looked younger without his perpetual scowl, which she always suspected to be his coping mechanism for insecurity and fear. He was still capable of lashing her to ribbons with that acid tongue, but…but…
What else could this man, this wizard do?
“I-” she swallowed as much as her dry throat would allow. “I hope that you will find it for the better. How I’ve changed, I mean,” she added. “You aren’t exactly seeing me at my best.”
“That much seems certain,” he drawled, but the words lacked the old malice she remembered.
They stared at one another for what seemed like hours, until he inhaled and broke the spell. “Well, Miss Granger, now that we’ve gotten off on the wrong foot, shall we start over, or would you like for me to call upon Lucius, your Master?”
Hermione squinted through the smoky haze. Was he almost…smiling? Or was that softening around the eyes, the quirk of his sensitive mouth, just another a trick of the light? She decided to give him and herself the benefit of the doubt.
“I’d very much like the chance to start over, sir.”
This time she was sure it was an almost-smile. “Good, so would I.” He held out his hand. “If you are willing to place your trust in me, then come.”
How on earth had she ever thought he was like winter? The hand that accepted hers was warm and strong, and her own felt enclosed by it. “Thank you, Prof-I’m sorry. What would you prefer I call you, sir?”
He paused to consider. “Well, I haven’t been anyone’s professor for over fifteen years now, and I never liked the term ‘Magister’. And since I know you and I have the same Ministry grade in our respective positions, ‘Mister’ sounds too managerial.” He led on. “Why don’t we stick with ‘Sir’ for the time being?”
Walk through the fire,
Fly through the smoke…
Walk on pins and needles
See what they can do,
Walk on Guilded Splinters….
Snape opened the door and gestured to Hermione. “After you.” She walked into a huge suite, even larger than Lucius and Narcissa’s. Everything was red; the furniture, the soft furnishings, the walls. Even the music and the incense seemed tinged with vermillion. It was immaculately decorated, from the vase of blood-red roses to the crimson velvet coverlet on the bed. Her shoes sank invitingly into the nap of the thick Persian rug covering most of the floor. The room was heavy with opulence and sensuality, making her all the more aware of the excitement coiling tighter deep within her body.
In a leather chair the colour of oxblood sat Lucius, legs crossed negligently, nursing a drink. It was a familiar, comforting sight, and some of her jangling nerves settled back into place. He gave her his usual welcome smile.
“Ah, I see you did find us after all, pet. Not too frazzled by the long journey, I hope?”
She crossed to him, and knelt at his feet. He had insisted they keep things formal at first. “I am fine, Sir. A little travel worn and very thirsty, but overall, I’m just happy to be here.”
Snape closed the door behind them, locking it with a whispered spell. He watched her as she rose to her feet. “Would you like something to drink, Miss Granger?” he asked, wryly. “I seem to recall another mention of being parched.”
Again, Hermione searched his face for the wizard she had known as a young girl, but saw only bemusement in those incredible eyes of his. “Thank you, Sir. Yes, I would love something cold.”
Lucius placed his own drink on a small table and rose. “I’d say that’s my cue. Now that we’re all settled in, I think I’ll find my own amusement, if you don’t mind.”
She felt a small measure of edgy uncertainty settle in. “You’re not staying?”
It was Snape who answered. “Would you prefer that he remain, and I seek amusement elsewhere?”
Now there was the man she remembered. Maturity had sharpened both her hearing and her wits. As a young witch, she had thought he was merely cruel, and harsh. What she had taken for waspishness was actually insecurity. She had wounded him.
Lucius paused in mid-stride, shooting her a keen look. “Is that what you want, Hermione? Was I mistaken about this?” He, too, looked troubled. He glanced from Snape to her, watching the both carefully.
A voice in her head came unbidden. Hermione, you wanted more. Are you afraid to take that leap of faith?
“Gentlemen, I’m going to be honest with you. I had no idea what to expect this evening,” she confessed sheepishly. She turned her attention back to Snape. “I am more than happy to remain here with you, sir. We have a lot of catching up to do. I believe I am ready for whatever will happen.”
Snape remained still, but there was a loosening of his tightly reigned-in stance, like an inner sigh of relief. He tilted his head. “You know, I do believe you are, Miss Granger.” Yes, Snape had changed, but his voice had not. It was still as deep and beautiful and intriguing as the first time she had heard it.
And then he did something that shook Hermione right down to her toes. He actually smiled at Lucius – a genuinely sincere smile. It was beautiful. “Then I think we have everything well in hand. Lucius, you have my leave to go.”
Then, Lucius bloody Malfoy, her Dominant, knelt down before Snape and kissed his booted feet. The world turned upside down in that moment, making the trip down Alice’s rabbit hole as ordinary as a short walk to the shops. “Thank you, Master Severus,” Lucius said, his voice humble and subservient. When he rose to his feet, Snape gave Hermione an expectant look as he took Lucius in his arms, and kissed him.
Hermione forgot New Orleans, forgot thirst, forgot breathing. She stared raptly as their arms twined around one another. Snape stroked Lucius’ cheek, and the older wizard melted against Snape’s body with a deep sigh. He deepened the kiss, mouthful by generous mouthful, until the two men were fused together, their tongues gliding against one another’s hungrily. As he eased from the kiss, Snape opened those liquid eyes and captured Hermione in their snare. Her entire body felt drenched in fire. With his eyes still locked with hers, he slowly ended the kiss. Lucius took a step back, flushed and panting. He bowed his head slightly. “Thank you, Sir.”
There was colour in Snape’s pale cheeks as well, but he remained implacably in control. “Enjoy your evening, old friend,” he replied, his voice even and calm. “I’m sure we’ll meet up back at the hotel. Stay in touch.”
Lucius fastened his cloak, then turned to Hermione. He took her in his arms in an eerie imitation of Snape’s embrace, and placed a very tender kiss on her lips. She could taste the whisky on his tongue. The scent of his cologne, mingled with Snape’s, made her heart pound. Lucius regarded her fondly. “It should go without saying, but I am leaving you in very safe hands.”
Hermione could only nod, still shaken and stirred by what she had witnessed. “I hope you have an enjoyable time tonight, Sir,” was all she could manage. He kissed her once again on the forehead, then left the room in a swirl of incense.
The door closed behind him, leaving Hermione alone with her former professor. Snape crossed to the mini-bar, filled two glasses with ice, and produced a small flask. “I can hear the questions lining up on the runway, Miss Granger.”
“I hardly know where to start.”
He chuckled, and the warm, rich sound made her laugh as well. “Then, perhaps, this will help prime the pump,” he said, emptying the contents of the flask over the ice. He passed a drink to her, and toasted her with his. “To questions.”
“To answers,” she replied. The glasses made a lovely sound as they clinked together. Hermione took a grateful swallow. It was rum, sweet and smooth and potent, and the warmth of it slid deliciously through her.
“Not too quickly, Miss Granger,” Snape warned, sipping his own drink. “This is a very special vintage.” His smile heated her in places the rum had not yet reached. “It’s a bit too powerful to rush.”
She took another, more conservative drink, and hummed appreciatively as the liquor did its work. Snape settled in the chair Lucius had recently vacated, and waited. Standing before him like this reminded Hermione of her days as a young DADA student about to take her practical exam. The same wizard had sat before her, watching her with the same expression. “Is Lucius your… Well, he and Narcissa have always been my Dominants, and I suppose I-”
“You naturally assumed we shared the same dynamic?”
“I thought he was your Dom, yes.”
“No. He is, in fact, my submissive. Both he and Narcissa. We’ve shared this relationship since shortly after the war. As you have no doubt concluded, they are very flexible.”
“And are you…flexible?”
“No.” The word had a flat, final sound. “I am a Dom and a Top, and that is all I have ever been.” He settled more comfortably in the chair. “So. I’ve heard their side of it. Now I would like to hear yours. How did this unusual friendship come to pass?”
She tried to compose her mind, to unpack the story in the right order, but the rum was so good, and she was so thirsty… Hermione took another drink. “I was engaged to Ronald Weasley, you know.”
“I seem to recall you were close in school.”
She had wanted to believe that she was ready; after so many years of almost constant change, she had longed to settle down a bit. She had always believed that her life would stabilise after the war, that she and Ron would return to a sense of normality. That turned out a fine joke, didn’t it? Life for Hermione Granger had never been normal; why should now be any different?
It had never been easy to admit this, but telling Snape seemed as natural as breathing. “I wanted to marry Ronald, truly I did. But after the war, I realised I…I didn’t enjoy sex. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to have sex, and it wasn’t that Ronald was terrible in bed on anything of the sort, I just…Are you going to drink the rest of that?”
He gave her a warning look. “Don’t push your luck.” He handed her his drink anyway, and she took another sip.
It had not been all Ron’s doing, gods bless him. Yes, he had changed; the loss of Fred had devastated all the Weasleys, making them more insular and sombre. The noisy, boisterous Burrow was now mausoleum-quiet; everyone spoke in hushed voices, even the children. It had puzzled Hermione at first, this moratorium on joy. Laughter was rationed, good news met with admonishment. No matter what mood was brought to the house, sorrow quickly showed it to the door.
“Anyway, we got into a huge row over something one day. A complete shouting match. I don’t even remember what it was about. The wedding, perhaps. I got so incensed that I slapped him. It happened before I even knew what I was doing. I’ll never forget the look on his face. And then…and then he slapped me back. And just like that, we were at one another like dogs on heat. He started tearing off my clothes, telling me to get on the bed, telling me what he was going to do to me…”
She was breathing heavily now. “We didn’t even make it to bed. We fucked on the carpet, right then and there. It was wild and dirty and totally uninhibited. It was the best sex of my life. It was the first time I actually orgasmed.”
“Do you? I mean, do you really?”
Snape’s eyes bored into hers. “Oh yes.” He nodded. “Go on.”
“Afterward, he was mortified that he had lost his temper. He kept apologising. He said the thought of..of what he’d done-what we’d done, made him sick to his stomach. And I just felt so ashamed and wrong, for liking it. Like something about me was defective, or damaged.”
It took a longer drink to tell the next part. “Once I admitted to myself that I had this, craving, what have you, I would beg him to hit me again, or spank me, or just tell me what to do. I didn’t want him to injure me, I just wanted him to take over. He refused. He said it was unnatural. We started making love less and less.”
“But the craving,” Snape said, his voice lush and soft. “It didn’t go away. It grew. It became all you could think about.”
It might have been the rum, but his words felt as if they were inside her, voicing her own thoughts. “I became reckless. I started looking through the classifieds in the Prophet, and in Muggle newspapers. I found some men who would…who would do what I asked them to-”
“I asked them to spank me, to command me, to dominate me. I tried several things, I met with several men.” She laughed. “But what’s the point of obeying someone if you’re telling them what to do and say? I wanted it to be real. I wanted someone who could Dominate me, who knew what I wanted, not just follow a set of instructions. All they did was make me feel even more of a deviant.”
Snape nodded thoughtfully. “So you found a measure of relief, even acceptance, in the company of strangers, but what you really needed was someone who knew and understood the true nature of the lifestyle.” He paused, then added softly, “Someone who knew and understood you.”
Hermione puffed air from her lungs. “Yes, exactly. I felt so solid, so rigid, having to be in control all of the time. It was not so much the pain that completed me, but being able to let someone else command me. The pain kept me grounded. Letting someone else take over gave me peace.”
“What happened to you?”
Hermione tensed, in spite of the rum. “You already know, don’t you?”
Snape nodded solemnly. “I would like to hear it from you. Tell me.”
“I went on a date with someone, a Muggle I met in a fet nightclub in Soho. He got carried away. I gave him my safe word, and he ignored it. I ended up having to Obliviate him.” She bit her lip. “I had gone looking for someone to Dominate me, and I nearly got raped. Afterward, I told myself I got what I deserved. What kind of person asks someone to hurt them, then hexes the shite out of him when he does?”
“It may comfort you to know you are not the first person to confuse Dominance with abuse. You did nothing, nothing to deserve it. This is something we will discuss at length,” Snape answered. Almost kindly, he added, “Now, finish your story, Miss Granger.”
“Yes sir. Well, in the craziness of it all, I forgot to hide the bruises. I was changing clothes when Ronald walked in on me. He took one look at the welts and stripes, and went spare. He reacted in true caveman style…”
“You could have been killed!” He raced to the fireplace, grabbing a handful of Floo powder. “I’m gonna hunt this lowlife down. I’ll show him what happens to bastards who think attacking defenseless women is -”
“I let him, Ronald.”
He stopped in his tracks; the Floo powder sifted through his fingers, unnoticed. “What are you saying?”
For a mad moment, she actually considered Obliviating him as well; just rewinding them back to her arrival at the flat, and pretending nothing was amiss. “I wasn’t attacked. I asked for it. Things just… got out of hand this time.”
He looked as if she had slapped him again. “This time? I see. So exactly how long have you been cheating on me?” When she did not answer, he sat down on the bed heavily, as if his legs would no longer support him. “I thought you loved me.”
“I do love you, Ronald! It has nothing to do with us as a couple!”
The hurt quickly morphed into anger. “Oh, sure. My girlfriend is fucking anything that will slap her around, but it doesn’t have anything to do with us. That’s it. I’ve had it. You’re sick, Hermione,” he said, throwing his few belongings into his trunk. “You need help.”
“You could help me!” she had begged.
He scoffed contemptuously, “Help you do what? Hurt yourself? Pretend none of this is going on, until one day some sadist actually kills you?” Tears filled his eyes. “I don’t want to help you. I don’t know who or what you are anymore.”
“Oh, as if you ever did!” she snapped in reply. “If you were a real man, you would-”
In a lifetime of many regrets, she often wished the last moments of their lives together had not included the unforgivable things she had said to him. After all, it had not been his fault.
“After that, the Weasley clan ostracised me. Gods, the names Molly and Ginny called me!” She sighed. “And Harry. Poor Harry was caught in the middle.” Once her infidelity had been exposed, even her oldest friend had turned his back on her and sided with his wife’s family.
“And so I was left on my own. I stopped looking in the Classifieds. It took nearly ten years before I got up the courage to try again. By then I was certain that what I was looking for really didn’t exist. Then, one day I went to a Wizarding Munch, and saw Lucius and Narcissa there. I think we spent most of the party trying to avoid one another. Narcissa was the one who finally broke the ice. And the rest, they say, is history.”
Snape digested her story, eyes narrowed in thought. “From what I could ascertain, they took you under their collective wing as much for your own protection as for any lifestyle choices. They were concerned you might get hurt again, and so they became what you needed them to be.”
“I truly had no idea,” she marveled.
Snape nodded. “So you never knew they were, in essence, submitting to you, and not the other way around?”
She laughed. “No. How very Slytherin of them.”
He chuckled as well. “We do have our uses. They care a great deal about you. Which is why you and I are here.”
“I think things are starting to make sense now.” She finished Snape’s drink. “Imagine, Lucius was My Dom, and you are his. And I’ll admit, I didn’t see that coming.”
“See ‘what’ coming?”
Hermione huffed. “Well, that kiss, for one thing! It was, oh Merlin, that was… hot! I mean, I was just standing there, thinking, ‘I could watch them kiss all day’ and then I thought, oh, gods, I’m getting wet and I just want him to-” As her mouth ran away with her, Snape’s expression grew more amused. “Hey, what did you put in this drink?”
That soft laughter again. “Nothing. This is not some date-rape drug. It is a specially brewed liquor, used to lower inhibitions. Nothing dangerous, nothing that will take away your self-control. Lucius told me you had difficulty in the beginning articulating your wants and needs. I think we’re at the stage where we need to be past that, don’t you?” He indicated her empty glass. “Hence the rum. I wanted you to stop overthinking and allow me to take charge of the situation.”
For a moment, she felt so light she could float. “All my life I’ve been the clever one, the one who had to do all the heavy lifting when it came to ideas.” She looked into his severe face. “It’s what I was always looking for. To be able to let go, and let someone I can trust take over for a while. Just experience, just feel, without over-analysing every single second of it.” Hermione shivered. “It’s such a relief not to have to explain everything! The idea of not having to think-”
“Overthink. I had hoped higher thought processes would still factor into your decision-making.”
“May I ask another question?”
“Do you have many now?”
He shook his head. “Only Lucius and Narcissa. And we have ended our sexual relationship.”
That surprised her. “Why?”
“Because I wanted more.” He turned the full battery of those amazing eyes on her. “Just so we understand one another: I’m not a man who loses control. I am a Dominant. I am careful, and I am fair, and I take very good care of those in my charge. If I give you reason to use your safe word, I will never ignore it. If you choose to submit to me, I will be in control of you. Do you accept this, Hermione?”
It was the first time she could remember ever hearing Severus Snape call her by her name. In his mouth, it was as seductive as an incantation. His voice was like the dark rum that had intoxicated her, the music that had permeated the very fabric of her mind. It derailed everything she had intended to say, and left her hanging on it drunkenly. “Y-yes, Sir.”
He gave her an almost-smile, and with it came a whisper of promise. “Then undress. Now.”
Put gris-gris on your doorstep,
And soon you be in the gutter,
Melt your heart like butter,
An-an-and I can make you stutter
Walk to me, get it, come, come
Walk on Guilded Splinters…
Till I burn up…
Hermione removed her Muggle clothing as if in rhythm with the slow, pulsing music that poured from the walls into the air. Snape, lounging elegantly in his chair, sipped slowly from his rum. He watched her with solemn, possessive concentration. She had never felt so exposed, so safe, and so appreciated.
She left her clothes on the floor, and stood naked before him. It felt like an eternity that she stood in this kiln of his fiery gaze, but she felt a certain power, as well. She had obeyed his first command, and he was rewarding her. At least, the look in those black eyes felt like a gift. It was the most erotic thing that had ever happened to her, and he had not even touched her yet.
“You are lovely,” he said, at last. “I see that, like me, you are scarred. Those scars are beautiful. They write your courage across your flesh. You were always the bravest witch of your age.”
“Thank you,” she replied, and she could feel tears forming. “That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”
Finally, he reached into his pocket, and withdrew a small vial. “I want you to lie across my lap, Hermione.” After carefully placing the vial on the table, he held out his hand. “I want to spank you.”
She came to him on unsteady legs, already panting, already wet. The hand she placed in his was shaking.
“Keep your eyes on me, Hermione. It will be alright. I’m not going to harm you.”
“I know,” she whispered. “I need this.”
He gave her one of his almost-smiles. “Yes, you do. Very much,” he replied, his voice like velvet. “Come now. Lie down.”
She was almost weeping with gratitude as she crawled into his lap. The wool of his trousers was rough against her bare skin, but the arm that pulled her close against his chest was strong and secure. She stared at the floor, unable to stop her heart from pounding. She was breathing like a runner. She could not seem to make her tense limbs relax – whether from fear or desire, she was not sure.
For a long moment, he held her, allowing her to calm, and gradually her body loosened.
“Good girl,” he murmured approvingly. “Now, I’m going to spank you, and it will hurt, but only as much as you will allow it. If you wish to stop, you have only to say your safe word.”
“Yes, sir,” she said, shivering. Do it, Merlin’s sake, do it now-
She panted. “Jericho. My safe word is Jericho.”
The smack came out of nowhere – no warning, no preliminary caress, and no playful warm up. Just a blistering hand across her backside, hard as a paddle. Hermione cried out, more in shock, then sighed as the burning bloomed over her skin. Snape hesitated, as if judging her true reaction. When he was satisfied of her acceptance, it began.
Nothing could have ever prepared her for this exquisite pain. Lucius and Narcissa had never spanked her like this. It was a pain she had been waiting for all her life.
Each slap was sharp and hard, and each one tore a cry from her lips. His hand felt like a brand, and he struck her over and over without a break in rhythm or intensity. She was clutching the arm of the chair, holding on, dry-eyed, too engrossed in the sensations to think of any reactions she should have, only that it felt good, and right. This wizard knew her.
The blows grew further apart, each one merciless and powerful, until she craved the anticipation of them. The last one propelled her almost out of his lap with its ferocity, and she wailed, not because it had hurt, but because it had stopped.
She jumped as his hand caressed her burning arse, and she began to shudder uncontrollably. “Please, Sir,” she moaned, pushing her backside against his hand. “Please, I need to-”
“I know. I know.” He was breathing hard, but his beautiful voice was soothing, his fingers moving tantalisingly out of reach. “You have taken your disciplining with beautiful submission. Now you will be rewarded for that submission. Can you stand up?”
He had to help her rise from his lap, and even laughed a little with her when she staggered. Her entire body was burnished in a mixture of pain and arousal, and she rubbed against him like a cat, inhaling his cologne from the depths of his coat. For a moment, they swayed together, like dancers, until he Transfigured his chair into a St Andrews’ Cross.
“Of course I could use magic to do this,” he said, as he buckled her wrists to the top arms of the cross. “But this is more personal.” He paused. “And I intend our encounters to be extremely personal, Hermione.”
Hermione closed her eyes, relief washing over her like the music, as Sir (when did she stop thinking of him as Snape?) knelt to fasten the buckles around her ankles. “Eyes open, Hermione,” he commanded, “I need to see what’s going on in that head of yours.”
Looking down at him filled her with so many memories: the first time he had scolded her in Potions class, the angry man bellowing at her in DADA, the dying man in the Shrieking Shack, the mesmerising wizard kissing Lucius Malfoy, the Master spanking her over his lap. She could see all those men mirrored in his dark eyes.
He rose to his feet, and studied his handiwork. He adjusted the strap on her right hand, tightening it more securely, then stepped back. His eyes swept over her in open appreciation.
“How do you feel?” he asked.
It seemed like a much more important question beyond her physical state, and required some consideration. “I feel open, and free. I feel wanted, and desirable.” She sighed happily. “I feel comfortable.”
He stroked her cheek. “Excellent, sweet girl,” he crooned, and his voice made her preen and shiver. He reached for the small vial on the table, uncorked it, and poured the liquid onto his fingertips. It was silvery and viscous, and smelled sweetly alcoholic. He stepped up to her, so close she could feel the heat of his body, the brush of his coat against her ribs. He delicately encircled her nipple with his fingers, drawing the potion over her tight, needy flesh.
Her nipple looked glazed and pearly, and she hissed as he teased the tight bud, rolling it in his fingers. Soon, every nerve ending she possessed was corralled, pinpointed down to the tiny tip of her nipple, screaming for his touch. Hermione felt lightheaded, her mind overloading with sensation. “Very good,” he soothed, twisting tighter, until she shuddered and moaned helplessly. “You can take more, can’t you?”
Could she? More? “I-I don’t know,” she whimpered.
His fingers tightened. “You can, my pet. Oh, yes, you can.”
Just as she thought she would go mad, he stepped away, licking the potion from his fingers. She watched him hungrily, and he caught her eye. “Would you like a taste?”
“Yes, Sir, please.” Was she incapable of saying anything else? Did she need to?
His dark laughter floated over body like his caressing fingers. “I suppose you have earned a little reward, little pet.” His fingers nearly touched her lips, and he pulled back. “However, I don’t think you’ll mind this, either.”
He lowered his hand, and eased it between her thighs.
A shockwave of pleasure raced through her. Hermione was dimly aware of the growling, pleading sound coming from her lips as he teased her wet pussy. The potion ignited her flesh to fire, and she slurred, “I have to come.”
“You will not. Only I will allow you that.”
“Look at me, Hermione.”
Her eyes fluttered open, to find his face close to hers. “Do. Not. Come.”
Oh, gods, he was a devil. He played with her, opening her up to him. He knew unerringly how to touch her, how her body responded. Her core felt as if it were a smoldering ember, waiting for the final spark to explode into an inferno. His fingers danced over her swollen clit, they teased and pinched and soothed and raked, until she was insensate with desire. He hummed appreciatively. “So deliciously responsive, my girl.”
Hermione had always chased her release, pleaded with it while it danced on tiptoe, maddeningly out of reach. Now she was the one backing away, holding it at bay even as it stalked her like a hungry predator. And still he pressed harder, sending her heart skidding dangerously fast in her chest. She was going to die. He was killing her. This exquisite torture would break her…
He knelt, and slid his hands beneath the junction of her thighs. He parted her labia with delicate, gentle fingers. She heard his sharp intake of breath, and felt his sigh as it misted against her needy flesh. “Your cunt is so wet and flushed, Hermione.”
“I don’t think-”
“No, you don’t. If you will recall, you relinquished that job to me,” he growled, his eyes burning. She could see the iron-clad self-discipline starting to crumble, and somehow knew that the more she held on to her own control, the faster he would relinquish his. She suddenly wanted more than anything in the world to make him lose it.
Just not yet.
She cried out as his mouth closed over her clit, suckling at it greedily. A long finger eased inside her, setting his rhythm, and soon she was undulating wildly against his mouth, pushing against it, welcoming his silken mouth, his insistent fingers.
His free hand slipped beneath her; his knowing, skilled fingers slid into her rectum, and she shook helplessly, begging, screaming for his permission, for his pleasure. He moaned rapturously against her slippery flesh, then dove into her with growling, voracious passion, licking, biting at her ripe clit expertly. Her orgasm turned on her, betraying her, and before she could back away, it caught her in its talons.
A boiling, raging heat rushed into her groin, swelling until it burst into pleasure so intense she could not contain it. She came against his mouth, a pulsing, driving explosion that destroyed all language and reason and thought. Ecstasy like she had never known pierced her with a million golden barbs of pleasure, radiating from her pounding cunt throughout her body, each shard driving into her heart. It went on for an eternity, until she sagged in her bonds, semi-conscious, her soul blazing with a completeness she had never known.
Snape gently pulled away from her, his face flushed and wet. He was panting as hard as she. He rose to his feet, then supported her, taking the weight from her strained arms. A whispered spell later, she was in his arms, being carried to the huge bed in the corner of the room.
Hermione tried to speak, but all she could manage was a helpless sob. “Sorry-” she gasped, and the tears spilled from her eyes, and into her temples. She shook uncontrollably, but her emotions were flying in too many directions to identify the reason for her tears or her trembling.
She looked up into his severe face, and was surprised at the understanding she read in his eyes. “Shh,” he said, brushing her tangled hair from her face. “This is perfectly normal.”
“Is it?” she coughed, and another sob racked her.
He Transfigured a vase into a water glass, and filled it from the tip of his wand. “Drink. Do not gulp. You are overstimulated and overwrought. Allow your mind and body to come together again.”
Hermione drain the glass, and he obligingly filled it again. She finished a second glass, then fell back, panting, her nose running, her body still twitching. He watched over her patiently until she came back to herself. When she took a deep breath, and released it slowly, he asked, “Now, can you speak?”
“Yes, Sir. I’m so sorry-”
“I only require the answer to my question.”
“Yes, Sir. I can speak.”
He sat beside her on the bed and gathered her into his arms. “You were about to apologise for disobeying me.”
“I tried to be disciplined.”
“I was very pleased with your self-control.” He rewarded her with a smile that carried with it the ghost of her professor’s smirk. “I will only say that you might consider your orgasm was itself an act of obedience.”
“Then I didn’t disappoint you?”
“No, Hermione. You came, because I willed it. You did well.”
As he spoke, he retrieved the vial of potion, and once again anointed his fingertips. “Now I believe you’ve earned your taste.” Hermione felt his fingers slide into her mouth, and she closed her lips around them, moaning deliriously. She could taste the peppery sweetness of the potion, mingled with her own musky juices. He murmured encouragingly, as her tongue licked and cleaned his fingers, the fire in his eyes scorching her with his own tightly restrained arousal.
His fingers slipped from her mouth, and he kissed her. It was a kiss of pure, heady desire, as wild, as full of hunger as her own passion, and she grasped his hair and pulled him to her, opening her mouth to him, allowing his velvet tongue to spar with her own. He rolled over until he was lying on top of her, pressing down on her, devouring her as surely as if he could never have enough…
They walked, hand in hand, through the doors of the silent Guilded Splinter. It was nearly empty; the few remaining hardcore partiers either sipping coffee or dozing in their chairs. Hermione and Sir blinked in the blazing shafts of golden sunlight, making even the dingy, littered sidewalks of Bourbon Street look new, reborn. They turned and watched the old building shudder, then fold back onto itself, leaving them alone and quiet in the soupy morning air. Had it really been less than twenty-four hours since Hermione had spoken the words Severus Snape had hastily written on the old crone’s parchment, and opened the door to her destiny?
New Orleans was a city groggily rousing itself from a hangover. Looking around like two bewildered children, they were met with curious looks from the few wizards out in the French Quarter so early. Sir turned to Hermione and tucked her hand into the crook of his arm. “Well, pet, I would suggest we find something to eat. I can’t be expected to Dominate you solely on air. Not if you plan such amourous displays of submission.”
She nodded, exhausted, but happy. She needed an Awakening Potion and coffee, stat. They had not slept at all, but played Sir’s delicious games all through the long, lovely night. After that, they had talked, and made plans. And made love, until Boris rapped on the door and told them it was morning and quite frankly the noise coming from their room was making the other patrons jealous.
It was Hermione who had suggested WizaNOLA’s Emergency Ward. She was fairly sure Boris would need their assistance in removing his wand from…Well, Sir had warned him.
They turned to find a sleepy-looking American wizard staring at them curiously. He was dressed in an everyday work robe, the Times Picayune tucked under his arm. “Where’d you two come from?” he asked.
“We are looking for a suitable establishment for breakfast,” Sir answered, squinting into the sun. He smiled down at Hermione. “My companion and I are ravenous.”
Hermione leaned gratefully against him, and he rewarded her with a swift kiss on the top of her head. Yes, coffee was the first order of the day. And the next? The whole world seemed to stretch out before them, full of possibilities. They had nothing holding them back from trying, well, everything.
“You want to head over to the No-Maj side,” the wizard was saying, his accent slipping and slithering around the words. He pointed past the House of Voodoo. “Down St Anne’s Street, toward the river, then turn left on Decatur Street. That’s Cafe du Monde. Best beignets in town, that’s what you want.”
Sir thanked the wizard, then led them down St Anne’s. “Shall we seek out this Cafe du Monde, and plan our future together over beignets and cafe au lait?”
“That sounds perfect, Sir. You know, I think I might actually have a coupon for free coffee…”
The name of the club, The Guilded Splinter, is, of course, based on Dr John’s famous voodoo song, “I Walk on Guilded [sic] Splinters”. It is this song that Hermione hears while in the club. If you are unfamiliar with it, please have a listen. It’s spooky and melancholy and hypnotic and is now used, I am reliably informed, in actual voodoo services due to its authenticity. In any case, it is the perfect song to be seduced to by Severus Snape.
Because of the mysterious nature of the song, there are several interpretations of the call-and-response lyrics, everything from “Ti Alberta” to “Did I murder?” to “Till I burn up”. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.
I am not and never have been a practitioner of voodoo, so any rite or ritual I allude to is merely a product of my imagination and I mean no disrespect for the practice.
The word cher is the Cajun equivalent of the French Cherie, and is pronounced ‘shah’. It means “sweetheart” or “dear”. Couyon is a word used to describe a foolish person. Mais is used in the same way one might say, “well, then”, or ‘hey’.
The drink Lucius presents to Severus at the bar is the famous Pat O’Brien Hurricane, a New Orleans staple cocktail. According to recipegirl.com: “Pat O’Brien’s bar originally started as a speakeasy in the Prohibition Era, and the password to get in was “Storm’s a Brewin’. In the 40’s, they served the drinks in Hurricane lamp-shaped glasses and gave them away to sailors.”
If you’d like to join Lucius and Severus in a drink:
Traditional Hurricane Recipe
2 oz. light rum
2 oz. dark rum
2 oz. passion fruit juice
1 oz. orange juice
½ oz. fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon simple syrup
1 tablespoon grenadine
Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a hurricane glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice.