When Hermione awoke, she was alone. Had she not been a completely unfamiliar room, she would have been certain she dreamt the entire day. However, since she was naked, but for only a sheet wrapped around her, in a strange bed, all evidence was to the contrary. She laid there, staring at the lacy canopy over the bed, wondering how she hadn’t noticed it earlier. She tried to remember if she had dragged Severus there the night before or if it was still the same day. Her brain felt fuzzy and disconnected from her body. She gave up on trying to think and counted the lace roses on the canopy instead.
“What, pray tell, has so captured your attention?”
“I’ve never done drugs.” She couldn’t look at him. She didn’t want to lose count. “Is this what it feels like?” He chuckled and sat down on the bed beside her.
“Probably. It’s the magic. It was a little…overwhelming.”
“I’d say. I don’t like being so foggy.”
“Hermione, look at me.” He laid his hand on her cheek and gently turned her head towards him. He waited until her eyes refocused on him before he spoke again. “Come, let me draw you a bath. You’ll feel better.”
“Yes, that sounds wonderful. I’m beginning to feel a little sore.” She closed her eyes and stretched. “I’m not used to…that,” she said, blushing. He laughed softly as he rose from the bed. She opened her eyes long enough to note he was still naked and blushed again. To hide her embarrassment, she rolled on to her stomach, stretched out with her arms over her head and snuggled her face into a pillow.
She took the opportunity to take stock of her body. The heat was gone, leaving no trace of the invisible flames that engulfed her body. She cracked open one eye to look up at her left hand. No glowing magic remained wrapped around her finger. A simple diamond band had joined the emerald ring that had once belonged to Severus’s mother, but no other evidence betrayed the waves of magic that had washed over them the night before. Hermione was infinitely glad the effects of such a surplus were wearing off. She preferred to remain in constant control of her wits.
She shifted again, stretching her back further. She was surprised at how much it ached. Their encounter had not been particularly acrobatic. She began dwelling on what it had been like and felt the blush rising to her cheeks again. She would need more time to become as comfortable strolling around nude as Severus seemed to be, but she hoped she would have few reasons to be dressed for several days. She wondered what it would be like to be with her husband when they weren’t being driven by magic forces out of their control. At least she hadn’t had a chance to be nervous about her first time.
“Hermione, what the hell happened to your back?” She felt Severus approach the bed and shift the sheets further down her back.
“I’m sore. Is something there?” She twisted her head in attempt to see the tender flesh being traced gently by his fingertips. “I can’t see it. Can you get a mirror?” Instead, the image of her back was instantly in her mind. “Oh, right. Thanks.” While one part of her mind tried to remember what she could have done to cause such a large black and blue bruise, another part was quickly calculating all of the lascivious ways they could use their mental connection.
“Were you hit with something? This can’t be more than a day or two old.”
“Ron,” she said with a groan. His fingers stilled their feather touches on her skin. “I totally forgot. He was acting a fool and knocked me into my dresser yesterday. Please don’t stop. That felt wonderful.” She shifted her weight closer to him as encouragement to continue.
“Will that boy ever cease to cause me irritation? Come, the hot bath will help.”
She couldn’t meet his eyes as she rose from the bed, suddenly feeling very shy. When she finally looked up, Severus’s eyes were not on her face. Though he donned a towel, his reaction to her body became quickly evident. She smirked and strode into the bathroom. She would definitely begin spending more time nude.
Knowing they wouldn’t have that kind of time together until June made Severus slightly more easily swayed to do traditional “couples” activities—when they could be bothered to leave the bedroom. They went for walks, talked in front of the fire, and cooked dinner together. On their last night in the cottage, she convinced him to go to dinner in the village. He was less than pleased at the prospect of transfiguring his clothes in to Muggle attire, especially when she sweetly requested that he not wear black.
She dressed in a version of her outfit from Christmas. It was the same black skirt and the sweater from Ginny and Harry but she’d changed the color of the jumper from dark green to a brighter emerald. This time, she also replaced the boots with stilettos and skipped the tights altogether. After a long look in the mirror, she also charmed the neckline of her top a bit lower and pinned her hair up, leaving her entire neck bare.
As she went to find Severus, she noted that for all the years she’d known him, she had never actually seen him in Muggle clothing. She was very pleasantly surprised when she stepped into the sitting room to find him standing near the open window reading a parchment. She studied him from the doorway, heart beating a bit faster at just the sight of him. He wore charcoal gray trousers that had a small pinstripe and a light bluish gray oxford. The top button was open and the sleeves were rolled up to his forearms. It was hard to be certain from where she stood, but it seemed he’d also transfigured her grandfather’s pocket watch into a chunky silver wrist watch. The most shocking change, however, was his hair, which he’d pulled back into a low ponytail. She crossed to him and laid an open-mouthed kiss at the pulse point just under his ear.
“I like this,” she said, her voice a little breathy. His eyes slid from the parchment to the cleavage pressed into his side. “What’s that?” she said putting some space between them. She knew if he got distracted again, they would never make it to dinner.
“A note from Minerva to confirm plans and let you know various things you’ve missed. I’m quite certain, however, it’s a reminder to make sure we return at all.”
“Let’s not speak of it anymore. I’ll read it in the morning. I want one last night of being a freshly married couple on their honeymoon. The dunderheads can wait until tomorrow.”
“Then come along, wife.”
After dinner, they strolled along the village streets. Their age difference wasn’t remarkable in the Wizarding World, but there in Muggle society, it was a little more obvious. She was certain the server was about to say something about a familial relation so Hermione made a suggestive comment about being their honeymoon so they would not be able to stay for dessert. She knew Severus was embarrassed but he eventually agreed to a walk.
“Let’s go in here,” she said, pulling him towards a pub. Music and laughter spilled out of the open door.
“Hermione,” he said in a warning tone. “This is not a good idea.”
“It’s our last night. Please?” She pressed against him, making sure he had a clear view of her cleavage. She hadn’t been married long, but she had quickly learned how to get ‘round her husband. “Just one drink?”
“One,” he said begrudgingly.
The pub was full of families and people of all ages. Some ate at tables, some drank at the bar, others danced to the small group of musicians crammed into a corner booth. She led him to an open spot to stand in the corner and then wound her way to the bar to get drinks. She squeezed in between other customers and shouted her order to the barman, a Guinness for Severus and a pint of cider for herself. A man around her age noticed her and leaned in close, ostensibly so she could hear him over the crowd.
“I’ve never seen you before.” She pulled away when she felt a twinge of discomfort at his closeness. The soulmate magic apparently did not approve of his intentions. She briefly wondered how the magic reacted in cases of nonconsensual contact or if such a situation had ever been recorded.
“I’ve never been here before.” She shouted back, taking a sip of her cider. She hoped the barman finished building Severus’s Guinness soon. The man leaned in again.
“I’m glad you’re here now,” he said in attempt to be charming. “Are you from around here?” Thankfully, before she could answer, barman slid Severus’s drink towards her.
“No,” she said, picking up the drink with her left hand and lifting it where he could see. “I’m here on my honeymoon. Have a good night.” She snaked back through the crowd, noticing the man was still watching her. She handed the drink to Severus, then rose up on her toes and kissed him hard on the mouth. Severus wound an arm possessively around her hip as she settled down beside him. He bent very close to her ear.
“Had he gotten any closer to you, I would have broken his legs,” he said, in a low voice, sending shivers up her spine. “No boy will lay a finger on what is mine.” His lips were almost touching her ear. He kissed her softly on the cheek and straightened. He went back to watching the music as though he hadn’t just sent her heart racing with need. She stared at him long enough to see him smirk smugly at the man at the bar.
Drink fast, Severus. Through their connection, she replayed a snippet of what they had gotten up to earlier in the shower and laughed openly when he took a long gulp of his beer.