It is conspicuous, then, that Hermione never has asked him the most obvious questions, the ones everyone asks, most particularly those who have no right to the answers. The closest she will come is sometimes, when he is feigning sleep, muttering her curiosity over why he has chosen her.
Severus will roll over then, his hair sweeping over her face, causing her to giggle. He will say, "You ask too many questions."
She will tell him, "You answer too few," but kiss him with no biting, wrap her fingers around his biceps and hold on as though she would plummet with no end should she loosen her grip even the tiniest bit.
He does not let her fall.
Finally he has to ask her (and it occurs to him then that maybe, maybe this is what she planned all along--Gryffindors are far more devious than anyone gives them credit for) "Do you. . .do you not wish to know?"
She does not pretend to misunderstand. She is too smart for misunderstandings--at least on this score--and they both know it. She says, "There is nothing about you that I do not wish to know."
"Then why not ask?"
She does look confused then. "I did."
"That, my love, I would remember." The endearment is frosted, something he never uses if not for the sake of being cutting. He does not like playing games.
She frowns at him a bit. "Not like that, not 'why did you join them?' or 'why did you leave them?' or, well, not like that."
"Was it in some code you failed to teach me?"
"It was in my silence, Severus."
"However am I supposed to-"
"You knew how to read Dumbledore's."
He blinks at her. "It's not the same thing."
"Because you love me?"
"Stop trying to be tricky."
She smiles at him. All is forgiven. The kiss that she dives forward to give him tastes of treacle and is a bit stickier than he generally prefers. Her look is unapologetic. "I always figured that if you couldn't read the silence, you would tell me when you wanted to. Or not. You give me the parts of yourself that you wish to give me, and I," here her voice dips just the tiniest amount in sadness, he doubts she can even hear it, much less control it, "I take what you give."
He tells her while her knees are curled around him, while he is sheathed tightly inside her, while her neck is strained backward, open to his tongue, teeth, lips. He tells her while she cannot easily slip away, while he has as much of her as he will ever get. He says, "It. He. The Dark Lord. Voldemort. Was supposed to be. . .perfection. There's a number in arithmancy-"
"Not a number, not exactly. Numbers are mathematical, the rune equivalent value means that it's, um, well, not a number. But yes, the arithmantic seven."
Which is what he's talking about, she always knows these things. She always gets what he is trying to say. "It has a symmetry that's unknown in any other value-"
"You were looking for absolute beauty."
"The things that lie beneath the concept."
She stops moving against him, above him, perfectly still even as she breathes. She says, "We could not offer you that either."
"No," he says, looking up at her and thinking, not then.
She does not ask what they could offer, she rocks into him and crests on her own pleasure, curling in closer even as it ends.
She does not ask what they could offer, and so he answers, "Dumbledore never pretended to be anything other than an arithmantical two."
An arithmantical two is unbalanced in ways that no other two can be--there are too many variants for the rune equivalents. It is a wild card.
She is so close to him, around him, so much a part of him that when she laughs, it feels almost like his laughter, despite the fact that he has never laughed, never so much as smiled about this subject. "No, no he didn't, did he?"
She leans back then, bringing him with her, and as he falls over the edge of his own desires he whispers, "Seven, seven," into her ear.