Birthday Wish Fulfilled for: songquakeFrom:
A Masterful MemberTitle:
Hermione Granger/Minerva McGonagall, Parvati Patil, Ron Weasley, OCsRating:
cross-gen and um, sushi?Word Count:
The story of Hermione Granger's relationship with Minerva McGonagall is polysyllabic. Author's Notes:
Dear recipient, I fear that this fic doesn't have nearly as much dirty talk as I'd initially planned, but Minerva is funny that way. Hope it's okay anyway. Many thanks to both of my excellent betas and to the marvelous mods for their endless patience with me. Happy Banging Birthday, Daily Deviant!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~Fourth Year -- 1994
That was the word that started it all. Hermione was fourteen, and as usual among the fourth-years, she was the only person paying attention in History of Magic.
"Epistemology," Professor Binns intoned. "I suspect it is a new vocabulary word to you children. From the Greek 'episteme,' that is, knowledge, and 'logos,' meaning 'account' or 'narrative' or 'plan' -- or in some translations, 'word.' An account of understanding, don't you see? And that is epistemology: the theory of how we know what we know. Not just what
you know. But how
you know it. Yes. How
you know it. Nothing less than the story of knowledge. E-pis-te-mol-o-gy, young scholars. Remember it." Epistemology
. Hermione rolled the syllables around in her head: the mysterious sibilance of the "s," the comforting, root-like stability of "stem," the exciting chance of a new "ology" to study.
The story of knowledge.
"Epistemology," she whispered aloud, and that's when it happened: she felt a flush of heavy, wet heat between her legs and a tingle in her chest. At first she thought it was her period starting unexpectedly, for despite her mother's promises that her body would adjust to a predictable schedule, it hadn't done so yet.
But this sensation was different. She felt no cramps, no pain, just a warm, sweet sparkle that seemed to promise. . .well, she wasn't sure. She only knew that she wanted to feel this feeling again.
She couldn't follow the epistemology of it, because she didn't know how
she knew what she knew. She merely knew it: she wanted more of this rich, moist intensity.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Fourth Year -- 1994
Two weeks later, it happened again. Only more so.
One sunny afternoon, she went to Professor McGonagall's office to ask about a tricky wand movement for a reverse transfiguration. In class earlier, when she'd tried to change her water goblet back into a mouse, she'd had to try the spell twice -- the first time, the mouse had ended up with a glass tail. So she clearly needed further instruction.
She ignored the little voice in her head that told her she was just looking for an excuse to talk one-on-one with Professor McGonagall. Ron and Harry, and some of the girls in the dorm, they teased her about having a crush on McGonagall, and even though she didn't. . .well, not exactly. . .she couldn't deny that she admired her Head of House tremendously.
Squaring her shoulders resolutely, she knocked on the office door.
"Resolutely," she muttered as she waited. It was a habit she'd had since she was little, saying various words aloud and savouring the sounds of them. She liked the uprightness of "resolutely" -- she could see it in her mind, like a facial expression, with clear, direct eyes and a mouth set in a straight line. That's what "resolute" was, and what Professor McGonagall so often was, and what Hermione herself hoped someday to be. Solid and strong and steadfast.
"Come," said Professor McGonagall's voice, and Hermione entered. She loved this office, with its many shelves filled with orderly rows of books, and the desk with its with its piles of essays and copies of professional journals and its suggestion of so much meaningful work being done.
"I need help, Professor," she said, after she sat down. "It took me two tries to change my goblet back into a mouse today. I'm not sure I've got the wand movement just right yet."
Behind her spectacles, the professor's eyes twinkled almost like Dumbledore's. "Two tries? My, my," she said, smiling quite kindly, Hermione thought. "Very well. Let us undertake a practical demonstration."
With a wave of her wand, she conjured a small white mouse that she placed in a box before Hermione. "Try the goblet," she said, and Hermione took a moment to steady herself. "Resolutely," she thought, lifting her wand, and the next second, a tall, stemmed goblet shimmered into being.
"Excellent," said Professor McGonagall. "Now try the reverse."
Hermione did so -- and this time, the mouse had a glass foot.
"Ah, I see the problem," McGonagall nodded. She returned the mouse to goblet form and then came to stand behind Hermione's shoulder. "If I may, Miss Granger?" she asked, reaching around to cover Hermione's wand hand with her own.
Hermione nearly gasped. She'd never been so close to the professor before, close enough to smell the vaguely spicy scent that must be perfume, close enough to feel the slightest hint of McGonagall's cheek against her hair as the professor leant down.
And she'd certainly never felt her teacher's touch before. It was like the brush of velvet, the thin fingers gentle but sure on Hermione's own.
Just as in Professor Binns's class, heat pooled between Hermione's legs, and she began to feel an odd but delightful pulsing sensation that got stronger as McGonagall spoke next to her ear.
"The more precise your movement," the professor said, demonstrating, her breath the merest puff on Hermione's skin as she returned the goblet to perfect mouse form, "the more precise the permutation."
The word lit up before Hermione's eyes, with flashing p's and u's and t's that seemed to dance in the air like confetti. The pulsing feeling grew stronger until it reached a peak and then subsided. Somehow she managed to keep perfectly still despite the flood of sensation; instinctively she knew that she wanted to keep this experience private.
But it was glorious. Her body felt. . .well, she didn't yet have the words to describe the mixture of sweetness and tang, of lightness and substance, the sense that she was both herself and someone else entirely. Someone new.
"Permutation," she breathed, when she could. "Yes, I see."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~Fourth Year -- 1994
Eventually, of course, she learnt what it all meant: the heat was sexual arousal, the blissful explosion was an orgasm. This much came to her through books.
But full understanding required a different epistemological process.
"Evidence," said Professor McGonagall. "You need a sound hypothesis, of course, but without a well-designed experiment and clear evidence you'll never be able effectively to test your concepts."
The Transfiguration class had begun to focus on the magical theory behind their spellwork, with the goal of eventually being able to devise transfigurations of their own. Hermione was fascinated.
"You must run sensory experiments and then observe the results carefully," the professor continued. "There is a name for this approach: it is called the empirical method."
"The empirical method." Hermione shaped the words soundlessly. Empirical
-- like empire, she thought; you could use the method to help build an empire of knowledge. Along with books, of course.
During her free period, she went to the library. She wanted to read more about transfiguration and theory and experiments, and (she didn't deny it), she wanted to look through issues of Transfiguration Today
to see if she could find Professor McGonagall's name mentioned.
Seeing that name in print always gave Hermione a little thrill, like the jolt of excitement she'd felt as an eleven-year-old in Ollivander's shop, when her wand had found her. Getting her wand had made her feel grown up, the first step towards being taken seriously, the way Professor McGonagall was.
Today in class, as she'd introduced them to theory, the professor had looked so professional, wearing a starched white blouse under green robes fastened with darker green frog closings. Her voice, as she'd told them how to make new knowledge, had been like a physical touch, setting Hermione's veins thrumming,
To read McGonagall's scholarly work would almost be like hearing her. Like being with her.
Hermione quickly retrieved the current year's stack of journals. Transfiguration Today
was a quarterly, and three of this year's issues had already appeared. Yet a quick look through the tables of contents for each slim book showed her nothing.
But then, in the bound back volume for 1992, her search charm yielded gold both literally and metaphorically: the pages flipped open to highlight the name "McGonagall" in a sparkly gold font. The name appeared under the title of an essay: "'New Developments in Magical Matter-Energy Transformation.' By M. McGonagall, Z. J. Carter, B. Hwang, and J. Macmillan."
Hermione felt as if she had just run up several flights of stairs. Her breathing turned shallow; her temples pounded. For a moment, she couldn't look at the list of names, because the sight of McGonagall's made her feel embarrassed somehow, almost exposed.
She decided to read the abstract instead. Abstracts, she'd learnt, summarized the main points of an article, and she usually found them easier to follow than the dense academic prose of the text proper.
"Wizards have long been able to transfigure matter into other matter and even matter into energy," the abstract began, and Hermione could hear the words in the professor's voice, "but the reverse -- pure energy into matter -- has eluded us."
The language became much less comprehensible after that, but the point seemed to be that McGonagall and her colleagues had devised a way to transfigure light into directed magical force that could shape new matter. "This finding," read the abstract, "will have significant implications for our understanding of the physical universe and of the origins of magic."The origins of magic.
The words themselves seemed magical, and Hermione got lost in a vision of next year's O.W.L. exams, where she could see herself writing her exam paper on transfiguration theory, impressing the examiners with lines like "the best current research (McGonagall, Carter, et al. 1992) suggests that we will soon solve the mystery of energy transfiguration. . ."
And then she imagined McGonagall summoning her into her office, smiling as she said how pleased she was to learn that Hermione had been reading her scholarship, perhaps offering a cup of tea and then having them sit together on the small sofa near the fire -- "Let's talk theory, Miss Granger" -- and they would discuss the "binary wand" versus "triangulated wand" theories of casting energy spells, and maybe the professor would let them practice binary theory. If she closed her eyes, Hermione could see them both moving their wands together, their arms and chests lifting in tandem.
Suddenly Hermione could sit still no longer. She slammed the journal shut with enough force to earn her a glare from Madam Pince and hurried out of the library, not stopping until she reached the privacy of her bed in the dormitory.
Behind her curtains, panting, she flung herself against the pillows and realised that she was aroused. She was wet, and there was that lovely, tangy sweetness at the back of her throat that she'd tasted just before she'd felt that explosion of pleasure in Professor McGonagall's office. It had been exhilarating, that explosion, like a roller coaster, only better.
She wished she knew how to make it happen again, by herself. After all, she could hardly keep finding excuses to get Professor McGonagall to touch her hand. There must be some way. . .
What she needed was a hypothesis, Hermione decided. Something she could test. "Okay," she muttered to herself. "This, um, effect can be accomplished on my own. I can try. . ."
Pursing her lips in determination, she slipped a slightly shaky hand under her robes and gave herself a tentative stroke -- through her pants, of course. And then another. It felt good, she decided, but somehow it wasn't like it had been before, when the professor had stood right behind her.
Unconsciously, Hermione had closed her eyes, and now she could see that scene in her mind, even feel the warmth of McGonagall's hand on hers. But that wasn't all. Hermione let herself picture another scene, one in which the professor removed her hat and let her hair tumble around her shoulders. It was thick and long and in her imagination, Hermione reached out to touch the soft strands as her teacher whispered "permutation" against her skin. . .
A few minutes later, she drew a shuddering breath and lay still. The experiment had been a success. Professor McGonagall had been right: hypothesis plus research and observation equaled result.
The empirical method, it would seem, actually worked.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~1994-2004
For better or worse, that afternoon of naïve adolescent fumbling set a permanent pattern for Hermione's sexual desires. Not that she would ever confess it to another living soul, but the fact was, from that day on, she could only come if she fantasized about Professor McGonagall leaning near her, touching her, whispering polysyllables full of softly-burred "R"s and shortened "O"s.
The first few times she slept with Ron, though, Hermione made a serious effort to keep the professor out of her head; it didn't seem fair not to give Ron her total attention. But he was so disappointed by her lack of orgasms that she tried to find a new method of arousing herself.
"Try saying something," she finally told him. He'd buried his head under the pillow after yet another failure to "satisfy" her, and she thought, maybe if she heard his real voice instead of McGonagall's imaginary one, she'd be able to respond.
Ron sat up. "What, you mean, like. . .talk dirty or something?"
That wasn't, in fact, what she meant, but she'd have felt too silly asking him to say things like "epistemology" or "persiflage."
So she said, "yes, all right."
Ron's ears turned red. "Okay, well, um, I'm going to, uh. . .fuck your cunt now?" His entire face was flaming by the end of the sentence, and Hermione felt dangerously like giggling.
"Try a longer word," she suggested.
"Longer? Like what?"
"I don't know. What's the longest word you know?"
"Blimey, Hermione, you can't seriously mean that you're going to get off if I say 'prestidigitation'?"
This time, Hermione did laugh aloud, and after a frowning moment, Ron joined her.
"Sorry," he said, when they finally quieted down and were lying side by side, their fingers entwined. "But saying that stuff. . .I feel like a right berk."
"It's fine," she replied, squeezing his hand. "It was just. . .an experiment, and no, I don't think it worked, either. But where did you get 'prestidigitation'?"
"Oh, Fred and George once tried to convince me it meant 'having sex with your twin brothers.' I didn't believe them. Well, not after a minute or two." He turned to grin at her. "You know, I'm sure you're the only person I know who could find long words a turn-on." He snickered. "At least you didn't ask for a longer cock."
After that night, Hermione gave up on trying to find another road to orgasm. She decided that her fantasies were her own, and she'd think what she pleased. As a result, sex with Ron, though it had never been bad, became even better when she lay back and let herself think of black hair and long, thin fingers, and a rolling voice crooning, "prestidigitation."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~June, 2005
The Caffè Nero on Charlotte Street in London was quiet in the late afternoon, and Hermione was glad she'd chosen to meet Parvati Patil there instead of at the Leaky Cauldron, where so many people knew who she was. News of her split with Ron was spreading, and she didn’t want to have to deal with anyone's pity or curiosity.
"Don't talk about it if you don't want to," Parvati said, sipping her tea. "I can always read the tea leaves to see how you're doing."
Hermione laughed. "I don't mind talking about it to you; you're a friend, not some gawker. I'm sad about breaking up, of course, but I'm convinced it's the right thing for both of us. I love Ron, but aside from Hogwarts and the war, we realised we don't really have a lot in common. We don't have the same goals."
Parvati nodded. "Even without a war, things look different when you're almost twenty-five than they did when you were seventeen. How's Ron taking it?"
"Actually, I think he's relieved. Remember that expression he used to get sometimes when we were together -- sort of startled and apprehensive? I never see him look like that now. He's working for George and sharing messy digs with Seamus, and he seems cheerful when I see him."
"And how are you
doing?" Parvati asked. "I mean, how are you really
"I. . .well, it's probably bad to say this, but honestly? I feel happier than I have in a long time. Just.. . .there's so much to look forward to. I could go anywhere!"
"You've finished your advanced transfiguration course, Ginny said?"
"Last month," Hermione said. "That's what brought things to a head with Ron, really. He assumed I'd be ready to settle down and have a family now that I've got my degree, and I used to think so, too, but. . .well, I've changed my mind. I've got other plans."
"What are you going to do?"
"Well, I've only told a couple of people, but I think I would like to teach. I've applied for an entry-level instructor's position at a secondary school in Oudewater."
"Really?" Parvati sounded surprised. "That's in. . .Belgium or somewhere?"
"The Netherlands. It's an old wizarding town, and the school is nice. . .I mean, it's no Hogwarts, just a small magical academy, but they want someone who can teach the students English and handle the first-year Transfigurations courses. It's a perfect starter job -- you know, to see if I like academia."
Parvati burst out laughing. "What, Miss I-received-eight-Outstanding-N.E.W.T.s, do you think there's any doubt of it? I'm sure you'll adore it. And of course," and she glanced at Hermione slyly, "you'll get to be a member of the Magical Professors' Association, won't you? Didn't Neville say that Professor McGonagall was just elected vice president of MPA?"
Hermione looked down and busied herself casting a surreptitious warming charm on her now-cold coffee. "Did he? I don't remember."
"Oh, please." Parvati rolled her eyes. " You probably remember every word you've ever heard about her. You've always been mad for McGonagall, ever since first year. Don't tell me you won't enjoy getting to know her better."
"Well," Hermione granted, "I would
enjoy that, I admit. But it's not very likely, is it? I'll be miles away from Hogwarts, and if Neville's experience as a new teacher is any guide, I won't have a minute of free time for at least the next five years!"
Parvati was unpersuaded. "You'll get summers off. And there are academic conferences. From what Padma tells me, they're like non-stop hook-up and drinking parties."
"Academic conferences?" Hermione was incredulous. "Parvi, she's having you on. I mean, academic conferences are people giving scholarly presentations and doing poster sessions. . .and. . .and . . .demonstrations of potions theory and. . .things."
"Right. And after that part's over, they go drink and have sex. You know how it works: you're on your own in some big anonymous hotel, not accountable to anyone after you give your paper or whatever. No one will know what you get up to. Put on a glamour, head to the hotel bar, hit on someone hot, and Bob's your uncle. "
Parvati grinned and raised an eyebrow as she went on, "Yes, I can see it now. . .you walk into a pub near the hotel and there she sits at the edge of the bar. . .Professor McGonagall, all by her lonesome. You look around; there's no one else you know, I mean, you're in San Francisco or Madrid or someplace. They always have these conferences somewhere exotic -- to make it easier for everyone to have sex."
Hermione snorted, but Parvati pressed on, still grinning. "So yeah, there's McGonagall, she's got a glass in front of her, but it's almost empty, so you sit down next to her and say, 'Can I buy the lady a refill?' and she says --"
"She says, 'Can
you? I suppose you can. But may
you? Certainly not. Good night.'" And that's the end of it."
"If you say so," shrugged Parvati, with another leer. "But I think you're giving up too fast." She put a stern expression on her face and changed her voice to an exaggerated, R-rolling brogue. "Per-r-r-r-sever-r-rance, Miss Granger. That's the key to success. Per-r-r-r-sever-r-r-ance. Try a little har-r-r-der, and you'll be in my knicker-r-r-rs by midnight."
"Oh, stop!" Hermione giggled, swatting Parvati's arm. "That's so. . .oh, just stop."
They parted on laughing terms, Hermione shaking her head over Parvati's silliness.
But that night, as she touched herself in bed, it was to the sound of Professor McGonagall's voice in her head: "Per-r-r-rsever-r-r-rance, Miss Granger. P Per-r-r-rsever-r-r-rance."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~October, 2005
By the time she'd been teaching for two months, Hermione realised that she'd been both right and wrong about the job: it was definitely demanding and time-consuming, but it didn't take up every minute of every day. She did have some free time, and on this particular sunny Saturday, she'd accepted a co-worker's invitation to visit the famous Heksenwaag, or "Witches' Weigh House," in Oudewater.
"It's a fascinating place if you're interested in magical history," said Cornelia, as they stood outside the centuries-old building with its latticed windows and wooden shutters. Cornelia Van Dijk, who taught History of Magic, was Hermione's closest friend at the Oudewater Magical Lyceum. She helped Hermione navigate the complicated waters of a new job and a new country, and she also made sure that they both had fun doing it.
Today's excursion was no exception. As they toured the museum, learning how suspected witches had once been weighed on large scales to see whether they were heavy enough to escape the charge of witchcraft ("Witches were thought not to have any body weight," Cornelia explained. "How else could they be light enough to fly a broom?") Hermione thought that it had been a long time since she'd felt so content with her life.
To that contentment, Cornelia soon added a jolt of excitement.
"Has anyone talked to you about going to MPA this year?" she asked after the museum visit, as the two of them shared a plate of poffertjes at a small café. Hermione had become addicted to these tasty little Dutch pancakes.
"MPA? The Magical Professors Association?" Hermione asked, hoping she wasn't blushing as the memory of her conversation with Parvati returned to her.
"That's right. The international convention is in New York this year. I thought if you wanted to go, we could share a room. Headmaster Jansen likes us to keep up with academic trends, and you could learn a lot about the current state of transfiguration studies. You see just about everyone who's anyone in magical ed."
"I've heard about conferences," Hermione said, a little faintly. "But I've never been to one. Apparently there's a lot of. . .ah, socialising as well as working?"
"Well, you can't believe everything
that you hear," Cornelia laughed. "But, yes, they're a lot of fun. Sightseeing ,and good food and drink and, well, just whatever you want to make if it. Should I tell the headmaster that we'll both go? The school will pay for the room and arrange the international portkey."
"Yes, count me in," Hermione said. A free trip to New York and the chance to meet other transfiguration specialists? Who would say no?
"Good," said Cornelia. "I just love gallivanting off to new places, don't you?
"I do," Hermione replied.
Interesting word, "gallivanting." She shaped it silently. One could gallivant in all sorts of ways.
"Does the Hogwarts staff ever come to MPA?" she asked Cornelia.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~December, 2005
The international convention of the Magical Professors' Association, Hermione decided, was the best thing ever. Ever.
The bustle of New York enchanted her; the scholarly papers intrigued her; the hotel on 54th Street impressed her. It was magical masterpiece that used the same physical location as a fancy Muggle hotel, just slightly out of phase, so that Muggle guests and magical guests shared the same bedrooms and public spaces without being aware of each other's presence. The place was a triumph of transfigurative engineering, and Hermione could only marvel at it.
And best of all, Professor McGonagall was scheduled to present a paper on matter-energy transformation. Hermione couldn't wait
It was on the second night of the conference that she first saw the professor.
McGonagall was standing in the hotel lobby talking to two academic-looking people, an Asian man and a black woman. In deference to the mostly-Muggle surroundings of midtown Manhattan, she had dispensed with her usual pointed hat and was wearing Muggle clothes: a knee-length black dress with a green jacket and a long black-and-green-and-gold scarf. And high-heeled black pumps. Hermione was entranced; she'd never seen the professor's legs before.
She just hoped she wasn't staring too openly, because Professor McGonagall turned and spotted her.
"Miss Granger," she called. "I thought I might run into you here. Come; I'd like to introduce you to some friends. Hermione was one of my very best students," she said to her companions; "she's just recently finished her advanced transfiguration studies. Hermione, these are my academic co-authors, Hwang Boqui and Zetta Carter. And this is Hermione Granger."
"Call me Bert," said Professor Hwang, shaking hands.
"Pleased to meet you," Professor Carter said with a smile. She was a pleasant-looking woman, probably midway in age between Hermione and Professor McGonagall, with very short dark hair outlining a well-shaped head.
Hermione smiled back and answered a couple of polite questions about her thesis work and hoped she was making sense; her mind was still trying to grapple with the fact that not only had Professor McGonagall wanted to introduce her to these distinguished academics, but she'd called her "one of my very best students."
"Well, I'm off to that quantum magic panel," said Professor Hwang after a few minutes. "I'll catch up with you sometime before we leave; we've got to discuss those latest results." He strode off.
"I don't know about you two," Professor Carter said, "but I could do with a drink. Join me?"
"Yes, come along if you're free, Miss Granger," Professor McGonagall urged. "It's important to take time to relax at these conferences, and I could definitely use a drink myself."
Speechless with excitement and anxiety both -- she was having a drink at a conference in a foreign city with Professor McGonagall!!!! -- Hermione followed the other women out of the hotel and into the crowds of midtown Manhattan.
They found what to Hermione was a sophisticated-looking sushi restaurant, all dim light and sleek wood and clean lines, and settled at a table in the bar area.
Remembering that long-ago day when she and Harry and Ron had eavesdropped on Professor McGonagall and several others in the Three Broomsticks, Hermione expected the professor to opt for the Muggle version of the non-alcoholic gillywater, but she ordered something called "Yamazaki."
"Japanese whisky," she explained. "I've actually heard it claimed that the Japanese make better whisky than the Scots. Preposterous, of course, but I want to try it for myself. As you might imagine, it's not something Madam Rosmerta stocks -- she's Scottish to her core, that good woman."
"Xenophobes, you Scots," said Professor Carter jokingly, after a long swallow of her gin and tonic -- with a lime, Hermione noted, just as she'd heard that Americans preferred.
The first drink became a second, and Professor Carter asked for a food menu. "Might as well have dinner while we're here," she said. "Unless you have other plans? Or prefer to go somewhere else? Minerva, are you going to try to tell me that the Scots make better sushi than the Japanese?"
Professor McGonagall laughed, and Hermione loved the way she looked in the candlelight of the table. The light caught on the small gold earrings she wore and on the few silver strands in her black hair. "That's as ridiculous an idea as Japanese whisky, although I must admit," she said, turning her glass so that the amber liquid in it gleamed, "they have done very well indeed for a country without the benefit of Scottish water and Scottish peat. No, eating here is fine with me."
"And me," Hermione said. She'd have agreed to eat boiled rubber if it meant continuing to sit and talk with these women. With her professor.
"So, how's your love life, Min?" Professor Carter asked after they were all half-way through their sashimi and hijiki.Love life?
Hermione nearly choked on her yellowtail, but Professor McGonagall didn't take offense. She merely sipped some water and said, "Non-existent at the moment, I fear."
"What happened to that woman from Edinburgh?"
Hermione forced herself to breathe deeply lest she start to hyperventilate. A woman? Professor McGonagall was romantically interested in women?
"Oh, things didn't work out," said the professor, and although she spoke lightly, Hermione could tell that she didn't intend to discuss the matter further. Professor Carter seemed to get the message, too, for she dropped the subject of the woman in Edinburgh and said, "Well, here you are at MPA with an entire ocean between you and Hogwarts. Plenty of lush pickings here. Go ahead, have yourself a fling."
"Stranger things have happened," Professor McGonagall replied, and Hermione's head swam. McGonagall hadn't dismissed the prospect out of hand!
"It will have to be someone highly intellectual," Professor Carter said, turning to Hermione with a grin. "Minerva only ever falls for women who talk like a dictionary. Use words like 'cynosure' and 'deleterious' and 'perfidious,' and she'll be yours for life."
"I'm the same way," Hermione heard herself say, and then was horrified. What was she doing? She hadn't had that
much to drink.
Professor Carter threw back her head and laughed delightedly. 'There you are, then, Min. A match made in heaven. Or Hogwarts."
Hermione could feel her cheeks burning, but Professor McGonagall seemed unfazed, and Professor Carter stood up and dropped some American paper money on the table. "This should cover me," she said. "Sorry to run off, but I want to go over those calculations and wand movements once more before our presentation in the morning. See you tomorrow, Min. Nice to meet you, Miss Granger."
And she was gone. Probably she and McGonagall had just been joking about "flings" and big words, but still, Hermione felt a buzz that was only vaguely related to the wine she'd had. Professor McGonagall liked women. . . and Hermione liked Professor McGonagall. . .and they were at a conference in New York, and it was just like Parvati had said: no one will know what you get up to.
Straightening her spine, she looked at the woman sitting across from her. "Is it true, Professor?" she asked. "That you find big words exciting?"
The professor raised an eyebrow. "Indubitably," she said, and Hermione's pulse quickened.
"We're in New York," she said boldly, feeling it was now or never. "And no one would know if we. . . I mean, I know I'm too young for you, and I know you'd never get involved with a student, but. . ."
"But. . ." said the professor, her lips quirking in a half-smile, "you are not my student any longer." She took a slow sip of her remaining whisky, and Hermione, captivated, studied the long line of her throat as she swallowed. "Are you, Hermione?
"No," Hermione breathed. "No. . .Minerva. I'm not."
"Still," the prof -- Minerva said, touching Hermione's hand lightly and then drawing back at once; her fingertips felt like hot ice. "I fear that actual physical contact between us would not be quite seemly. There is, as you say, a considerable age gap, not to mention our long history in a very different relationship."
"Oh. . ." Hermione would not have believed she could so sharply miss something she'd never had.
"On the other hand," Minerva continued, "we are witches, Hermione. You have visited the Heksenwaag in Oudewater?"
"Yes," she replied, bewildered by the odd change in subject.
"Then you will know that witches are not always bound by the laws of the physical universe. We can be lighter than air -- how else could we fly our brooms? Do you comprehend? We need not be corporeal at all."
Slowly, Hermione understood. The Muggles in sixteenth-century Oudewater had been right: Witches don't need mass. They can fly without weighing.
And they can touch without touching.
When she felt the first light brush of Minerva's mind inside her own, seeking, inquiring, Hermione gave the only answer she was capable of. "Yes. Oh, please, yes."
Gentle tendrils seemed to caress her thoughts, and suddenly, she could see visions that had nothing to do with the wood-and-glass sushi restaurant in which she actually sat. She saw a meadow, felt the zephyr-like whisper of a warm breeze, and then the breeze became invisible fingers that stroked her neck and arms.
A bed appeared in the meadow, a large four-poster hung with diaphanous draperies that the breeze lifted into the sun-lit air. And then she was lying on the bed, sinking deep into the soft white duvet, watching the curtains flutter, and she realised that the invisible stroking fingers had paused. Then very clearly, in her head, she heard Minerva say, "I always find the recumbent female form to be at its most aesthetically and sensually compelling when unclothed, wouldn't you agree, Hermione?"
"I would," Hermione let her mind answer, and she felt her clothing disappear, saw the filtered sunlight making lacy tracings on her naked breasts.
The stroking fingers began again, only this time, she could see them, long and thin and with a touch like silk. They belonged to Minerva, and she could see the professor, too, her dark hair loose across her shoulders. . .Hermione could see those delicate, sure hands actually cupping her breasts, could feel the stroking warmth and. . oh, god! The mental image of Minerva was kneeling beside her on the bed, pinching her nipples, pinching hard, her black hair drifting against Hermione's collarbone. . .
Hermione moaned and let her legs fall open, a small, rational part of her brain hoping that the moaning was only in her mind, not in the restaurant. As she had the thought, she heard Minerva chuckle.
"My, my, Miss Granger. You are quite the wanton, aren't you? Now you must tell me what you want. Multi-syllabically, if you please."
Minerva's breath was tantalizing against her skin, and Hermione shivered, closing her eyes. "I want. . ." she began, trying to force herself to focus on words. "I want. . .osculation."
Another brief chuckle, and then piquant pressure as Minerva's lips pressed lightly, then firmly, against her own.
That sensation alone was almost enough to push Hermione over the edge, and when she felt a warm tongue edge its way into her mouth, she didn't try to stop her hips from moving. She wanted to tangle her hands in Minerva's long hair, she wanted to kiss her back and bite those thin lips. . .
But when she reached out to pull Minerva to her, her imagined hands found only air.
She opened her eyes to emptiness; she was alone in the white bed. The professor's image had disappeared, and wordlessly, Minerva made her understand that she would not make herself visible again tonight.
"Sight is superogatory," came the whisper across the air, accompanied by a flutter of unseen fingertips on the insides of Hermione's thighs. "Close your eyes. Just feel."
When the first invisible finger found its way insider her, Hermione let her mind lose itself and she came hard. In her head, she gave a long, wordless cry, while her actual body, hunched slightly forward in its chair, gave merely a small shudder.
At some point, she opened her eyes to look once more to the sight of small stone bowls of soy sauce on a table, an empty whisky tumbler, and, sitting across from her, decorous in bun and spectacles, Minerva, her smile soft and knowing.
"Shall we go?" she asked. "We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow."
Hermione could only nod and stand up, slightly surprised that her limbs still worked.
They walked silently to the hotel, and as they parted in the lobby, Minerva laid a light hand on Hermione's arm.
"Concupiscence," she said. "Magical, isn't it?"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~December, 2015
"Lie down; open your legs."
The whisper is gentle in Hermione's head, and she leans back in pleasure. The scene is a perfect beach: white sand, turquoise water, sparkling sun. Hermione lies naked in a hammock that is stretched between two palm trees, her legs trailing over the sides, her toes buried in the warm sand.
Since that first time in New York, Hermione sees Minerva every year at the MPA. They talk about their work and their students, share dinner with now-mutual friends, reminisce about Hogwarts. . . and they meet in Hermione's mind.
"Touch yourself," comes the order, and she does; she likes it when Minerva takes charge.
Hermione closes her eyes and then opens them to look past the tropical scene to the room in which she actually sits. It's a typical hotel conference space, anonymous and nondescript: pale walls, straight-backed chairs in rows, a speakers' table at the front, a tall lectern beside it.
Professor Zetta Carter is standing there giving a presentation, flicking her wand write a lot of numbers on the Magiboard next to her. "In a few minutes," she says, "my colleague Minerva McGonagall will explain the derivations. . ."
Minerva, looking crisp in a red Muggle suit, sits at the end of the long table, her sharp profile turned toward Zetta, but then she seems to feel the shift in Hermione's focus, for she turns and looks out into the room. There are thirty or so people in the audience, but she has eyes only for Hermione.
The blue water laps at the edges of Hermione's vision, but she holds Minerva's gaze and sits very still in her chair while, in the hammock, naked Hermione arches her back, thrusting her breasts forward.
She's rewarded by a mental gasp from Minerva, and she grins as her former teacher gives a small -- and of course very dignified -- squirm in her seat. But then Minerva lifts a sardonic eyebrow in a gesture that makes Hermione catch her breath in anticipation; she knows Minerva is going to make her pay for her cheekiness. She's looking forward to it.
Zetta's voice fades and the room disappears as Minerva moves forcefully into Hermione's mind. She knows that McGonagall is actually still sitting at the speakers' table, eminently professional in her slim skirt and red blazer, but the Minerva who is standing beside the hammock on the beach is windswept and passionate, her long hair lifting in the breeze, her body enticing in a red-and-white-striped corset, her bosom almost, but not quite, spilling over the top of the bodice.
In all the years that they have met like this, Hermione has yet to see Minerva naked, but in truth, she finds the endless wardrobe of chemises and corsets and peignoirs to be infinitely more arousing.
Minerva climbs into the wide hammock, and the feel of her striped satin corset is cool and enticing against Hermione's heated skin. The professor tastes faintly of peppermint as she kisses Hermione and slides long fingers down her leg.
There's an urgency in the touch, though, because Zetta is nearing the end of her presentation, and Minerva will soon have to speak. The tension builds deliciously as they move against time, Minerva determined to make Hermione come before the talk begins, Hermione determined to prolong the encounter so that she can tantalise and distract her lover by inserting her naked self into Minerva's mind as she speaks.
Waiting is difficult, though, because the contrast between the sensual woman at her side and the scholarly one at the speakers' table is beyond exciting, and Hermione loves to watch both.
Minerva begins to move her thumb in slow circles over Hermione's clit. Hermione moans but still manages not to come, she's almost won now, almost won . . .
When Minerva breaks their kiss and draws a breath, Hermione knows she's about to whisper an arousing long word, with many sinuously-twining syllables that will thrust hotly into Hermione's brain.
But she also knows that she can resist, she won't give in, she'll be strong, she'll. . .
And then Minerva speaks. "I'm going to fuck you now," she says, and against this
word -- against this simple, blunt word, issuing from this woman's mouth, Hermione has no defence.
Hips bucking, back arching, head tossing, she comes, and comes, and a glittering, multi-coloured tide sweeps over her, the world coruscant.
When her vision clears, she finds herself sitting quietly in her hotel chair, watching as Minerva, bun neatly in place, stands at the lectern wanding complex formulae onto the Magiboard.
The professor gives a small smile, meant for just the two of them, and Hermione feels the magic of it reach down to her core.
This is what it means to be a witch, she thinks, and to be the lover of a witch. To be the lover of this
It means feeling all the words.
Feeling luminescent, evanescent, incandescent, effervescent. Scintillating. Refulgent. Lucid, lambent, buoyant, blithe.
Lighter than air.