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Harry had gotten over his adventurous phase with that whole killing-Voldemort thing, so it was sometimes annoying that Hermione's curiosity was seemingly endless and her will to satisfy that curiosity even less tiring. However, Harry knew that a solid relationship required a certain amount of compromise, and Hermione was well worth the compromise.

And then some.

It was also that Hermione always started so innocently. She knew exactly what angle to come at him from. At first it had just been, "I bought this book today. . ." and the book had contained color pictures, hundreds of them, moving color pictures and Hermione had flipped to page 154, pointed at one of them and Harry had been sold.

When they'd worked their way through the book (and returned to some of their favorites) Hermione had kissed Harry and he could taste the hope on her lips even as she pulled away, saying, "Look, I was out having coffee with Marietta last week and-"

"You have coffee with Marietta?"

"Our offices are two doors down, Harry, it was becoming a bit awkward."

"You did curse her," Harry said.

"And I mentioned I wanted to make it up to her," Hermione had continued as though Harry wasn't the least bit turned around by this rip in the fabric of the time-space continuum. "And she had some ideas."

Some ideas which Harry had been surprised to find himself relenting to, what with it involving him sharing his wife with another woman. Harry knew other guys thought about that sort of thing, but Harry had missed a lot of normal adolescent developmental stages and Hermione was pretty aware of that fact. She had been there.

Still, Marietta had grown into something to look at now that the skin problem had cleared up and all, and the sight of her tongue trailing up the underside of Hermione's calf was. . . Harry settled for the word "intense" when later trying to describe it to Hermione.

Hermione smiled that eager, pleased smile she had when one of her ideas worked out (and really, they mostly did) and said, "Next time, you'll have to join us."

That had been intense as well.

Harry should have known he was in trouble when Hermione ordered a whole bottle of wine the night they went out for their fourth anniversary. Hermione was more of a by-the-glass type person. Harry couldn't tell if she liked to count or if it was a being-raised-by-dentists thing. He had no idea what wine did to a person's teeth.

Harry could hold hard liquor and beer as well as the next man with lightning fast metabolism, but wine was his failing and Hermione, damn her, knew that.

He should have said, "Um, can we talk about this later?" when Hermione ran her foot (where had her shoe gone to?) up the inside of his very finely tailored pants and lightly said, "Harry, Marietta was thinking of bringing a few people to our next. . .session."

Instead Harry had taken another sip. "A few people? As in, three?"

Hermione's foot had crawled slightly higher. "Erm, I suppose?" She reached out for the bottle and topped up his glass. "It's just, see, evidently people like the idea."

Harry looked at Hermione, her special occasion hairdo, her skin being perfectly set off by the candles at their table. "Of course they do."

Hermione's foot disappeared but her hands appeared above the table and she took both of Harry's in hers. "Not just because of me."

Harry held her hands tightly, probably too tightly. "Hermione, if you want-"

"All I want is for you to understand that it's not just me that looks at you like this. For you to know you have options, real options, not just famous boy options. And then for you to stay with me anyway."

Harry took back one of his hands in order to push his wine glass aside. "You're all the options I've ever wanted."

The flush that rose up from beneath Hermione's blouse made Harry want to take her on the table. He resisted, despite the fact that she probably would have liked it. "So. . . that's a no?"

Harry cocked his head. "One time couldn't hurt."

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile