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Hermione wasn't even sure where Fey managed to find a snake to mate with, but she did, and one summer, Hermione didn't have one snake, she had four.

Severus was less than pleased. Hermione thought about pointing out that Fey had been a present from him, but she desisted, because there was valor in restraint.

Remus was amused, she could tell, but evidently he was valorous as well, since he kept it strictly to himself. And her.

Zev was thrilled. Hermione let him take one of the snakes as a familiar. He named the snake Forge in honor of the stories Ginny was always telling about the twins.

It struck a chord of terror into Severus that he was hard-pressed to contain.

Hermione gave the other three to Charlie. He thanked her with such vehemence that Nora smacked him upside the head and Remus had to restrain Severus from cursing him. Hermione suggested, "Perhaps just a 'thank you'?"

Severus set a tracking spell on Fey, but it was no good. So far as anyone could tell, whomever her mate had been had shown up to accomplish the deed, and disappeared just as quickly.

Hermione, who had Fey fire inked onto her left foot, went and had Forge done on her right. This had the effect of making four people happy: 1) she liked her new tattoo, 2) Zev would like seeing his familiar on her, 3) Remus liked coddling her, and 4) Severus always calmed down when he was needed to protect and defend. (Which, all right, he wasn't, really, Hermione's wand hand still worked perfectly fine, thanks, but she didn't mind handing over the responsibility to him.)

Also, there was the fact that a new tattoo was always a novelty, regardless of how many there were.

A novelty that might start, say, with Remus kissing her foot.

Severus really wouldn't want to be left out of that. At all. He might even like to trace his tongue along the lines freshly imprinted upon her skin.

This action could spur Remus to kiss her, now that his tongue was feeling left out.

Severus' tongue might then just travel upward.

Or something like that.

The point was, a new tattoo meant Severus and Remus were hers for howsoever long she pleased. Not even Paulo and research could drag Severus away in those instances.

Hermione lengthened her arm out to where Fey was curled and allowed her to glide onto Hermione's shoulders, to coil there.

"Good girl," Hermione whispered.

She imagined that the women of the house--or well, her and Fey--shared a smile over that.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile