A/N: *barrels into the room, grinning and out of breath*
*does a little happy dance*
*hands over the chapter with a flourish*
*wiggles her eyebrows at you, smirking*
*skips away with a basketful of chapters for other fics tucked under her arm*
Hermione clung to Dolohov tightly as it felt like her whole body was being forced through a thin straw and spat out the other end. When they landed, he adjusted her against him, his arm under her bum lifting her a little before he climbed the steps of his cottage and pushed open the door. Hermione looked into the woods behind him, still clinging to him like a baby bear, her arms and legs encircling him tightly though she knew she ought to let go. The last thing he needed was additional encouragement.
He didn't protest her hold as he moved into the cottage and over to fill the kettle before putting it on the stove to boil, moving around her like she was no trouble at all and Hermione suspected he really must have feelings for her that he wasn't complaining or making a fuss. While he waited for it to boil, he moved over to the end of the bed, sitting down upon it as she still clung to him, before adjusting his arms around her until he was cuddling her quietly.
"So much for waiting for me return here of my own accord," she said after a long moment of silence, taking a surprising amount of comfort in his embrace, despite the fact that he was a psychotic killer.
"Desperate times," he replied.
"Harry's going to lose his mind when they search that house and can't find me. You do realize that, don't you?" she said, releasing her tight grip on his neck and leaning back a little to peer into his face.
"He will not find us here," he shrugged.
"Yes, that's what I'm afraid of," Hermione said dryly.
"Why did you seek out my mother?" he frowned at her, changing the subject rather than acknowledging her assertion.
"Why do you stalk me?" she countered.
He simply held her gaze steadily, looking not the slightest bit apologetic, or like he felt even the barest hint of embarrassment and Hermione frowned, shaking her head at him.
"I really can't understand it," she admitted. "I'm no great beauty, nor a wholly thrilling person. I've been reassured many times throughout my life that I've numerous annoying qualities. I truly don't know why you bother."
"Fishing for compliments, zvyozdochka?" he asked, looking amused.
"No," she shook her head. "I'm long past the age where compliments feel genuine, and thus, I tend to disbelieve them even if they are offered. I'm just baffled that anyone could be interested in me enough to stalk me. It can't be terribly exciting for you, watching me work sixteen hours a day and then drink myself to sleep the other eight."
"Sometimes you read," he shrugged.
"Yeah, bodice rippers and trashy romance," she scoffed, though her cheeks warmed as she said so. "Terribly thrilling. It must be such a rush for you to lurk in the shadows watching me turn the pages."
"Sometimes you play with your cat," he said. "When you're drunk and trail a piece of string for him to chase, it's highly amusing watching you stumble about, knocking things over only to turn on him, flip him on his back and rub his belly when he thinks he's captured the string."
Hermione smiled, recalling that as one of the few things that broke up the monotony her life had slipped into.
"It's especially amusing to watch when you blow raspberries on his belly until he yowls and claws at your face," Dolohov went on, grinning as though the memory pleased him immensely.
"Even so," she said. "Nothing terribly thrilling to entertain a silent observer."
"Sometimes you play with yourself," he went on and Hermione's eyes widened, her stomach lurching horribly at the thought that he might've seen… that he might've been silently watching while she… she…
"You… watched me…touch myself?" she asked, horrified.
"With great difficulty to refrain for joining in," he nodded. "Particularly when you're too drunk to show much initiative and give up quickly when you don't see immediate results."
"Oh my god," Hermione breathed, mortified.
Her insides lurched again as a terrible thought occurred to her.
"You didn't… you didn't touch me, right? When I was asleep, or too drunk?" she breathed, terror coiling through her veins while her heart galloped.
"Only held you when you passed out, solnyshko, like at the estate," he said, indicating to the way she was currently seated on his lap.
"You never groped?" she confirmed.
"I never laid a desiring fingering on you until your last visit to this cottage," he answered solemnly, and Hermione wasn't sure she believed him, but she also didn't want to think too closely on the idea that if he was lying, she really had no way of knowing.
"How often did I make an arse of myself in public while you were watching?" Hermione asked fearfully, having wondered since realizing she had a problem, if she'd ever done anything terribly stupid that she ought to feel ashamed about.
"Not often," he answered truthfully. "Usually you simply drink alone and stare at the bottom of your glass. You make polite conversation if anyone approaches. Fend off the gropes of the plucky fools who try their luck at getting into your knickers."
"Oh god, how many of them do I go home with?" she asked, disgusted with herself that she couldn't even remember.
Antonin raised his eyebrows. "You think I would let another man take you home?"
"Do you not?" she frowned.
"Many who frequent the Leaky Cauldron believe me to be either your brother or your boyfriend; most haven't decided which, but all have learned not to test me."
"You hex them?" she asked.
"I see you home safely," he evaded.
"How often?" she pressed.
"Maybe three or four times a week," he shrugged. "You drink more on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays."
"I wonder why," she said idly, trying to think of anything that went on during the week on those days that might set her off.
"You take lunch in the Ministry cafeteria on Mondays because you realize around eleven o'clock that you haven't packed anything for lunch. Your ex-husband is often present, meeting Potter for lunch after his morning training session. They rarely invite you to join them, but on the days that they do, you don't turn them down. Weasley goes out of his way to talk up how well his life is going despite your divorce, boasting about the weekend Quidditch match even though his team often loses."
"Oh," Hermione said, her stomach sinking.
"On Tuesdays you sleep in to sleep off the hangover, and usually have to rush to work and spend a good portion of the day in the bathrooms, suffering the Monday night's black-out," Dolohov went on, his hands tapping her hips and urging her up from his lap when the kettle began to whistle as it came to a boil.
Hermione got off him quickly, unsure how she felt about having her own life recounted to her in such a manner. It was one thing to live it each wretched week, but even more depressing when described by a casual bystander.
"Tuesday nights you work late to make up for getting in just before nine, and you order takeout and nurse your hangover well into Wednesday. Wednesday is usually your most productive day. You occasionally bother with laundry, food shopping, and responding to mail on Wednesdays unless the hangover is especially persistent."
"I doubt that about the cleaning," she said. "I saw my apartment."
"You don't buy healthy things, but you do shop. You've a sweet tooth you often indulge, and you always stock up on an ungodly amount of toothpaste and dental floss. It's one of the practices you stick to, no matter how drunk you get. You always brush your teeth before you go to bed, even on days when I have to pour you into it after carrying you home."
"I'm a horrible person," she surmised as he made her a cup of tea while he kept talking.
"You read on Wednesday night's," he told her. "It's the day you most often touch yourself. The bodice rippers must be good."
Hermione flushed crimson and almost dropped the teacup he brought to her.
"You spiral again on Thursdays," he went on like she wasn't completely mortified.
"Why?" she asked, baffled by the practice.
"You tend to read the gossip column of the Daily Prophet on Thursdays over lunch. Or rather, Sandra from your office reads it aloud and your team laugh about the silly things they report on in other people's lives. Recently, Weasley and Parkinson have featured often in the stories as their whirlwind romance is splashed across the pages every other week, and your colleagues have forgotten you're recently divorced from the wretch."
"I didn't know they were together until I visited Harry after you kidnapped me," she argued, shaking her head in disagreement about the supposed reason for drinking on Thursdays.
"You drink the knowledge out of your head, mishka," he told her quietly, sitting down on the end of the bed beside her and sipping his own tea. "At lunch on Thursdays, before returning to work, you go to the bottle shop around the corner from the ministry and you keep the whiskey in a flask at your desk. All afternoon, and all day Friday you drink, beginning with Irish coffee and ending up passed out on your bathroom floor, most of the time."
"And the weekend?" she asked.
"You read," he said. "And watch a lot of television. Often you torture yourself and try to call on your parents, who tend to slam the door in your face when you knock, since you usually don't go until you've bolstered a little liquid courage. When they rebuff you, you drink all night at home in the dark until you pass out, and you sleep it all off on Sunday – usually not leaving the bed except for the loo."
"I'm pathetic, in other words," she said.
"Yes," he said, nodding, and Hermione frowned at him, stung by the agreement even though it had been her assertion.
"Says the bloke stalking me while I do all that," she snapped in retort.
"You often get fussy about that. The stalking," he nodded. "It's quiet frustrating when you drunkenly pack everything up and move to a hotel for a night and then some new apartment when I move things around or attempt to tidy up the mess you make. Your moments of lucidity are fraught with paranoia."
"And rightly so, since you are stalking me," she pointed out.
"You didn't move again after I brought you here," he pointed out, shooting her a quizzical look, obviously wondering why.
"What's the point?" she shrugged. "You always find me again."
He shot her an evil smile, evidently pleased with himself that he was skilled at stalking her. Hermione shook her head, sipping her tea liberally and thinking about how best to excuse herself from his presence. It hadn't been her intention when inspecting the property to lure him out of hiding and end up back in this cabin with its torrid memories.
"I should go home," she said as she finished her tea, rising to her feet. "After they search that house, Harry will look for me at my flat, I'm sure, and he'll raise the alarm to a full-scale manhunt if they can't find me."
"He will have questions about you visiting my mother's home," he said quietly. "I have questions."
"And I have answers," she said. "For Harry."
"And for me?" he wanted to know.
"What do you want to know?" Hermione hedged.
"Why did you go there?" he asked. "Just to meet my mother?"
"I was curious," Hermione shrugged. "I wondered how a woman could hide in such a house for so long and be imagined a spirit and not a rogue witch. And besides, you know all kinds of things about me. It's only fair."
"You weren't sent there as bait?" he asked, and though his tone was mild, Hermione sensed that he was suspicious.
"Not this time," Hermione shook her head.
"You imagine there will be a next time?" he asked.
"Harry will attempt to lure me back there if he thinks it might lure you out of the woodwork. I wouldn't be surprised if he puts a couple Aurors on the job to tail me now that he knows you're stalking me."
"He already has," Dolohov replied. "You have been under surveillance since you went to him after your last visit here, I'd imagine."
"You said you stayed away," she scowled at him suspiciously.
"I did," he shrugged. "For two weeks."
"And since then?" she asked.
"Brought you tea in your office, didn't I?" he raised his eyebrows.
"And I was being guarded?" she frowned.
"Not when I arrived," he frowned. "But since then, I have seen a few of them loitering nearby wherever you go."
"And still, you stalk me," she frowned at him.
"They are young and green," he shrugged his shoulders. "Most don't believe I am stalking you. Most do not recognize me anymore. The pictures they have of me are from Azkaban, taken more than a decade ago, when I was haggard and unkempt and half-starved. I've passed the likes of the very Minister – a man once charged with hunting me down – and smiled and nodded in his direction, and he did not recognize me."
"I did," she said.
"You have more cause than most to remember my face," he said quietly, reaching a hand to touch her midriff over her clothes, where, beneath the fabric, she carried the terrible scar from his attack in the Ministry. "People do not so quickly forget the faces that haunt their nightmares."
Hermione bit her lip, looking down at his hand.
"I need to go," she reminded him.
"You don't have to," he argued. "You will only be subjected to interrogation if you go home now. Potter will want to know why you were at the house."
"And I'll tell him the truth," she shrugged her shoulders. "I'm thinking of investigating in property. I wasn't kidding that my money is accumulating and doing little simply sitting in my bank vault. I work a lot of over-time, you know."
"Would you buy it?" he frowned at her.
"Wouldn't you object?" she frowned at him in return.
"I cannot stop them from selling it," he shrugged. "I am a fugitive."
"If your mother became a citizen here, she could claim it. It is her house, after all. Claim she's been in Russia since the first war. Get her citizenship here, and then sell it or make them stop trying to sell it out from under you."
"You could buy it," he said.
"I don't have three hundred thousand galleons lying about to be spent on a house that's not actually for sale, Dolohov."
"I do," he said.
"You're going to buy your own house? From yourself? Put that money in the pocket of the Ministry?"
"No, you are," he said. "If it's legally transferred into your name, they can't sell it out from under my mother, and if I give you the money, you won't have to spend your own gold. You would be doing me a favor."
"Because that's my goal every morning when I get up," she rolled her eyes, sarcasm dripping like venom from every word. "To find ways to do you favors."
"I do a number for you," he pointed out. "You'd have probably ended up diseased or pregnant months ago, if not killed by someone less savory than me, had I not been stalking you when you get drunk."
"You're blackmailing me again?" she frowned at him.
"Just guilt-tripping you," he shrugged. "Would you do it?"
"The MLE would investigate my accounts," she frowned at him. "They'd want to know where the money came from."
"Technically, no money would even need to change hands," he said, frowning thoughtfully. "I can deed the property to you. A simple title transfer form and a small administrative fee would be all that was required."
"You imagine the Ministry wouldn't look at me for aiding and abetting an escaped felon and wanted murderer if you signed it over to me?" she asked.
"They already are looking at you, zaika," he reminded her. "They're tailing you under the guise of offering you protection, but I think I've proven I do not intend to hurt you."
"You threatened to drop me into a dungeon for the rats to feast on, not half an hour ago," she argued. "And you routinely choke me."
"You're impolite," he said.
"I'm honest," she argued. "You just have a temper. Why would you even trust me with the property? What would stop me from evicting your mother and having her deported back to Russia just to spite you?"
"She needs to go back to Russia," Dolohov sighed, frowning. "She does not like it here. She never bothered to learn much of the English language, and since my Father's death, she simply haunts that old house, stewing in her bitterness. At least in Russia she would have family nearby and would be able to shop for her groceries without fear of being caught and deported."
"I take it you've told her that?" Hermione asked, raising her eyebrows.
"She has a nasty hexing arm, you know?" he grinned self-deprecatingly.
"So I discovered this afternoon," Hermione nodded. "Why do you stay, if you don't mind me asking? Why does she? You're a wanted felon here, and she's alone. Why haven't you both simply packed up and moved back to Russia? You were born there, weren't you? And you could not be extradited from there, according to British law."
"My Mama stays because I am still here," he sighed, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees, looking weary. "And I stay for you."
"What?" Hermione asked, taking a step back in surprise. "But… in Russia you could be free…"
"I could," he agreed, nodding but not taking his eyes off her. Hermione heard the words he didn't say. But you would not be there.
"But…" she said weakly, suddenly feeling terrible. She was nothing special, confound it all. He was a wretched man and he probably deserved to be punished for all that he'd done, but if he had the chance to be free and to move on with his life, shouldn't he take it?
"Ya lyublyu tebya,," he said simply, not taking his eyes off her and Hermione loathed that she didn't speak enough Russian to understand the words. His expression was serious, his eyes steady on hers, and his face open as though he had declared something important.
"I don't know what that means," she said weakly, her cheeks coloring to admit she didn't know something when she prided herself on being clever.
"I think you do, Hermione," he said quietly, rising to his feet and closing the small distance she'd put between the two of them.
Hermione flinched minutely when he reached to tuck a stray curl behind her ear, biting her lip and looking at the ground. Yes, she expected she did know what it meant. He was in love with her. Or at least, he believed he was.
"I should go," she said again, for want of anything at all to change the subject, lowering her eyes to her feet to avoid his intense expression.
"No," he shook his head.
Hermione blinked when his fingers pressed under her chin until she tipped her head back, forcing her to meet him gaze.
"Would you sign the title transfer if I arranged it?" he asked, raising his eyebrows at her and looking deadly serious about giving her the house.
"I… that would hardly be appropriate, Dolohov," she said, holding his dark eyes and aware in the late afternoon sun streaming through the cabin window to catch them that they were a brilliant shade of brown, the striations a starburst of chocolate and beige and gold and a color that looked almost copper in the light.
"Why?" he wanted to know.
"It's your family home," she said. "It should go to… I don't know… a spouse or a child or… or…Oh."
She trailed off when he looked at her imploringly and Hermione realized he wanted to give it to her because it would prevent the Ministry from selling it out from under him and because he had every intention of remaining in her life. Hermione suddenly had the distinct feeling that unless one of them killed the other or she turned him over to the Ministry, he was going to make certain she was the only witch in his life, and she had a sinking feeling he wouldn't permit any other wizard to fill her bed or her life now that Ron had vacated, unless it was him.
"You can't just…" she began, but his eyes narrowed minutely, and Hermione sensed that continuing that particular protest right at this moment would be a very bad thing for her health. She huffed in annoyance. "Do you mean to blackmail me about everything for the rest of my life?"
"If I have to," he answered simply, looking resolved.
"This is preposterous," she declared. "You can have no logical reason for this obsession, Dolohov. I am a muggleborn with a drinking problem, once divorced, whose family won't speak to her, an unremarkable job, and a typically bedraggled appearance. I'm not even a nice person. Is it just curiosity that has you in its clutches? You simply want to know how I survived your curse, and you're willing to transfer the title of your family home to me in order to do it?"
"I know how you survived," he replied evenly.
"What?" she asked. "You do?"
"Well?" Hermione asked when he made no move to elaborate.
"If you agree to the transfer, I'll tell you," he offered, smirking a little and Hermione narrowed her eyes on him.
"Fine," she said. "I'll agree to the transfer if you tell me how I survived your curse, and how you figured it out."
His eyes danced, evidently pleased she'd learned how to be specific after the last time they'd made a bargain in this very cabin.
"You will have to prove it, mishka," he said when she raised her eyebrows at him expectantly.
"Oh," she frowned. "But I don't have a title transfer form. It might surprise you, but I don't just carry them around in my pocket."
"I will see to the transfer form," he told her quietly, his eyes dancing with amusement before they lowered to rest upon her lips.
Hermione gulped, realizing he was thinking about kissing her. Subconsciously, she licked her lips, suddenly nervous beneath his gaze when he loomed over her so closely. She knew the feel of his lips, already, and her own lips tingled at the thought of kissing him again. Merlin, it was wrong, Hermione thought desperately. He was a Death Eater and a stalker; a murderer and a manipulator. He was actively blackmailing her and actively stalking her.
But just the same, her lips tingled recalling the past kisses they'd traded and when his eyes darted back to hers before dropping back to her mouth, she knew he was going to kiss her again. Almost without thinking, she nodded minutely, his fingers pressing sharply into the underside of her jaw with the movement and his lips flashed into a wicked grin before he leaned down and captured her mouth with his own. Hermione kissed him hesitantly at first, noting the way he carefully pressed his mouth to hers this time, rather than swooping down and bulldozing his way forward to ensure she couldn't back out or pull away.
He coaxed her further into the kiss with each brush of his lips and Hermione found her hands lifting to rest against his chest as she rose on her tiptoes, reaching for more. When his tongue brushed the seam of her lips, Hermione opened to him, closing her eyes and reveling in the delightful feel of being kissed. Until that night she'd spent in this very cabin with him, Hermione had almost forgotten how it felt to be kissed by a man – to be touched by a man who desired her - and over the past few weeks, in between fighting the effects of alcohol withdrawal, she'd dived back into the bodice rippers she'd read before and might read again, renewed in her passion and her interest, no longer sourly reading them and recalling Ron's brand of love that made her feel burdensome and worthless, but instead recalling the way Dolohov had practically worshipped her when he'd made love to her.
And that first night, despite his coercion, he had made love to her, she realized when he slid a hand into her hair while the other snaked around her waist, pulling her into him until she was plastered to his chest again. He had wanted her to feel, and gods, now she couldn't forget. Leaning into him and kissing him back earnestly, Hermione clutched at him, pulling him closer, forgetting that she was supposed to be terrified of him and forgetting that she had Harry waiting on her, probably fearing for her life.
Without taking his hands off her, Dolohov stepped back, never breaking their kiss, pulling her with him, until he could sit on the end of the bed and without thinking, Hermione climbed into his lap, straddling him once more and kissing him hungrily. Merlin's little green apples, with the decrease in her alcohol consumption her libido had come roaring back to life, reminding her that she was only twenty-six years old, and that her body had needs she'd long neglected.
Gods, would it be so bad to enlist Dolohov's help to satiate those needs for a little while? No one else was putting their hand up for the job. Hell, anyone who might've been interested had undoubtedly been seen off by the very man snogging her senseless right then. And though she knew that was a problem that would eventually need addressing, the moment was now and he was here and willing and by the gods, had she always been this horny, or was this new?
Hermione moaned when his hands slid to her arse, squeezing it appreciatively before he snagged the hem of her shirt and began peeling it up and off her slender frame. When their kiss broke Hermione was panting, and she let him strip away her shirt quickly before leaning in and kissing his neck, nipping and licking at the sensitive skin there while his hands wandered her soft skin, unhooking her bra as he went and relieving her of it while she gave him a love bite. She squeaked when he twisted suddenly, carrying her with him until she was on her back on the middle of the bed and he crawled over her eagerly, pausing only long enough to rip his jumper and his shirt off before he devoured her lips once more.
He wasn't gentle today, going for the fastening on her pants and unsnapping it impatiently like he didn't want to wait, and Hermine didn't blame him. Returning the favor, they were both naked in short order and he climbed on top of her while she wrapped her legs around him eagerly. A low moan escaped her lungs when he aligned their bodies and pressed inside, sinking fast and filling her deliciously. Stars sparkled behind her eyes, the scar on her chest warming considerably before he stopped any cohesive thought with another searing kiss. Dolohov took her fast, driving in deep, ravishing her as he'd done on her last visit when she'd told him to fuck her like he loved her. He took her wildly, violently, his hands gripped her hips, and her shoulders and her wrists tightly enough to leave bruises, his body slamming into hers again and again and again.
She was ashamed to say she loved it. It felt so sinful. It felt so empowering when she opened her eyes and found him watching her face intently. She knew she ought to be unnerved or embarrassed, but after so many years with Ron refusing to look at her while they made love, there was something intoxicating about the directness of Dolohov's intense stare. Blinking at him, she tried to smile, though her brow furrowed and a soft whimper escaped her with his next brutal thrust. His answering smile was terrible to behold, vicious and cruel and triumphant as though he'd planned this from the beginning and now claimed the spoils of his labor, victorious.
When the pleasure crested in a violent tidal wave, Hermione dug her nails into his skin, determined to leave marks, as he had surely left bruises and he hissed, baring his teeth and looking like he couldn't get enough of her.
I like to play rough, he'd said last time when she'd bitten him, and Hermione could see that it was true.
He took her harder, pulling away briefly to gather her legs, slinging them up over her shoulders and powering back into her viciously. He slammed into her with every thrust, turning his head to nuzzle the inside curve of her knee while low sounds of tortured pleasure wrung from her with every thrust, her breath ragged, her body singing under his touch. She cried out when he picked up the pace, his hand moved to her clit and relentlessly working it before he suddenly turned his head and bit the inside curve of her thigh, stifling the muted roar of completion when he spasmed within her. He never let up on her clit, even as he came, and Hermione emitted a soft shriek when she followed him over, panting desperately, her head spinning from all he'd done to her.
Spent, he sat back on his heels, leaning into her legs on his shoulders for balance while he panted and Hermione tried to get her own breathing under control, dizzy from the intensity.
Hermione eyes shot open, meeting Dolohov's gaze, though he was equally alarmed before he looked over his shoulder in the direction of the sound.
"Oh, for the love of…" he muttered, horrified, reaching for the duvet and dragging it over Hermione as best he could. "Mama, what are you doing here?"
"Oh my god," Hermione breathed, mortification suffusing her. Dragging the blanket over herself, she tried to pull her legs from Dolohov's shoulders, but he held her fast, refusing to release her.
The invader spoke in rapid-fire Russian, her voice laced with venom and judgement. Hermione didn't recognize the words she uttered and when Antonin responded sharply in turn, she pulled at her legs again, trying to pry them from his death-grip.
She covered her face with her hands when he twisted far enough to point at the door, roaring at the woman who was helping herself to his fridge and – Hermione hoped – ordering her out of the house. The cantankerous crone slammed the fridge hard enough to make it rattle on its moorings before stomping out of the house, spitting what Hermione assumed were Russian insults the entire way, and slamming the door behind her.
Utterly mortified, Hermione shook her head, hiding behind her hands and refusing to meet his gaze when she felt him twist back to face her, her cheeks glowing a brilliant crimson.
"Zaika?" he asked, lowering his voice and speaking softly to her.
"That was your mother," Hermione said, though her hands muffled her words. "Your mother just walked in on us shagging."
"She didn't see anything," he offered, like that would make it okay.
"Maybe not, but I'm sure she has ears," Hermione said, well aware that she hadn't been at all quiet.
"Unfortunately, she has not begun to deafen in her twilight years, no," he agreed before pressing another kiss to the inside of her knee and letting her slide her legs from his shoulders.
"This is the most embarrassing thing I've ever done," she blurted, horrified, still hiding behind her hands, not daring to looking at him.
"No," he disagreed. "It really isn't. I've seen you do far worse than be walked in on by your lover's mother."
"What?" Hermione yelped, pulling her hands from over her face when Dolohov rose from the bed and crossed to the sink, still naked.
"I've seen you trip, butt naked, on a flat surface chasing your cat," he shrugged, returning to her with a damp cloth. "And I have seen you spit up all over yourself. Trust me, solnyshko, there are worse things than being caught shagging."
"Oh my god," Hermione said, placing her hands over her face again as her cheeks heated once more.
Dolohov chuckled like he thought she was adorable, and Hermione levelled him a glare when he made use of the cloth in her distraction. He threw it in a hamper when he was finished and collected the clothing they'd shed, patting her shin under the covers and nodding to the pile.
"Get dressed," he told her. "She hasn't left. She's waiting on the porch."
"Oh my god, I'm leaving," Hermione blurted, hurrying into her clothes as fast as she could, not wanting to make eye contact with the cranky old woman ever again if she could help it.
Dolohov laughed again, capturing her hand when she sprang to her feet and tugging on it, turning her back to face him. His free hand lifted to cup her cheek, still glowing though she knew it was, before he leaned down and kissed her tenderly.
"Don't start that again," she warned after a moment, almost melting into the caress before a loud noise from the porch indicated that they most certainly were not alone. "I'm going home. And probably getting drunk to blot this moment from my memory."
"Don't," he shook his head, though he looked amused. "Is just sex, lapochka. Everyone has it. Even her, else I would not be here, no?"
"I can think of a few people who probably wish she'd kept her legs closed, then," Hermione blurted without thinking, embarrassed and lashing out as a result.
Dolohov narrowed his eyes on her, and Hermione gulped, before sighing and leaning forward, resting her forehead on the middle of his chest.
"Can I apparate from in here?" she asked. "Or do I have to be outside?"
Beyond Antonin, the door to the cottage creaked open again, the woman outside evidently impatient.
"Here is fine," he answered quietly, surprising her with a kiss to the top of her head, rather than an explosion of anger. Hopefully he was saving that to blast his mother for being so rude as to walk in on them. Hermione supposed that there was something to be said that Levka had at least waited for them both to finish, but she could've waited until they were dressed again, too.
"Thank Merlin," she muttered, stepping back from him and refusing to acknowledge the other witch making her way back into the cottage now that she could see they both had clothes on.
"Skoro uvidimsya," he said softly.
"Don't," she shook her head. "Unless you want to get caught. They'll be waiting for me, I expect."
"I am craftier than them, zvyozdochka," he smirked.
Hermione didn't disagree out loud before shaking her head and turning sharply on the spot, disapparating before she had to face his mother after what the wretched woman had walked in on. She landed awkwardly in her living room, her cheeks still glowing, and she gulped to find the Head of the Auror department sitting on her sofa in front of the Floo, evidently lying in wait for her to return.