Books – the room was lousy with them. Snape had a private library stashed away that she would have given someone’s first born to peruse at will.
The bookcases lined the walls around an island in the center that held a massive black suede couch and coffee table in front of a large fireplace. Wide gray hearthstones formed a bench before the warm fire. Above it, the black stone mantle was bare, as was the wall where most people would hang a tapestry, crest, or other decorative item. An open door on the left led to a bedroom but she couldn’t see much in it from this angle except more bookcases.
“Would you like a drink?” He gestured to a crystal decanter on the coffee table. The golden liquid in it had to be firewhiskey.
“No, thank you, sir.”
“Please have a seat.”
She sat on one end of the couch to keep a little distance, but he sat next to her. Picking up one of two glasses, he poured an inch of the liquor into it and sipped.
“That’s an impressive collection,” she said, glancing around at the books and looking anywhere but at him.
“Thank you,” he replied, and turned to face her. “Tell me – did Miss Lachlan put you up to this?”
“Partly. She’s been convincing me that it never hurts to ask, I guess – and assuring me you wouldn’t mind.” He laughed softly, and she looked at him directly for the first time since entering his chambers. “She thinks I have a crush – but I don’t.”
“It’s good to know where I stand.”
“No offense – I mean, I wouldn’t be here if –”
He touched her jaw with a fingertip. “I’m not offended, Miss Galen. I think it’s best to be honest. You are here to explore sex, with one older and more experienced than yourself. You’ve found me fascinating, perhaps – the perennial mystery, with rumor helping to foster curiosity. I don’t require you to feel any particular sentiments. It’s generally simpler that way.”
As his finger began to trace her jaw, she couldn’t fight down the nerves that made her tremble. “I don’t know why I can’t just be relaxed around you, sir.”
“It’s perfectly natural to be nervous.”
“Because we all grow up afraid of you?”
Snape smiled. “I was referring to embarking on the unknown, not to my personal effect on others. To begin, why don’t we drop titles and surnames? It may help.” He put down his glass and took her face in his hands.
Her stomach flipped when he kissed her again. She’d only kissed one or two boys, and that had been in fourth year, on a dare from Carine. Compared to this man, she knew they’d been a waste of time.
He didn’t touch her body until her hands rose and rested against his chest. When his fingers slid from her face and down her neck, she shuddered. His thumb stroked over her collarbone as his kiss became more intense.
Arelia allowed her hands to move up and around his neck, her fingers timidly touching his hair. His right hand moved to her waist and after a moment, pulled her blouse loose from her skirt. Fingers caressed up her spine.
Breaking the kiss, he picked up the edge of her blouse and began raising it. She moved her arms and let him take it off over her head. He tossed it to the coffee table casually and studied her.
“White lace suits you, Arelia.” When his hands cupped her breasts, stroking the lace, she shivered again and closed her eyes. “Exquisite…” He murmured, and leaned forward, his lips brushing above her collarbone.
“Severus,” he reminded her in a low whisper against her throat.
“Can I change my mind about romance?”
“My dear Arelia, you inspire it.”
His hands on her waist, he drew her up to her feet. The drawstring of her skirt was undone as his lips trailed down her chest. The skirt fluttered to the floor, leaving her in her underwear and boots. The chill of the room made her skin break out in goose bumps.
Gentle pressure on her shoulders urged her to sit again. She watched, amazed, as he knelt at her feet to slip off the boots and socks.
“Prof – um – Severus?” When he looked up, she touched his sleeve. “If we don’t start on those buttons, I’ll be here all night.”
He drew his wand and spoke an Unfastening Charm. Arelia startled to see every button he wore undo itself at once. “I have only one request of you beyond the need for discretion. Do not repeat to others what you see.”
She nodded. The point was clear in his tone and it wasn’t open to interpretation. “You mean the Dark Mark, don’t you, sir? It’s already one of many rumors – but I won’t talk about it.”
“That – is only one of my concerns.”
He set his wand on the coffee table and stood to his feet. When he stripped off the thick black cassock, he tossed it on the couch beside her, and then dropped his shirt over it.
Arelia’s fingers covered her lips, her eyes wide. His body was beautifully made, the skin milk pale and smooth, but he was covered with scars. Unable to meet his gaze, she looked down and noticed the faint burn of the skull on the inside of his left forearm. Faded lines of a serpent crawled from its open mouth. It looked like a tattoo or an old brand.
“How did that happen?” she asked, finally meeting his eyes.
“If you pay attention in ‘Defense Against the Dark Arts’, there should be no need to ask.”
“No, I meant … the scars.”
“Souvenirs of my past.” He sat beside her and slipped out of his shoes and socks. “Since we cannot have you out all night…” Snape stood again and gestured, palm up, to the bedroom door.
“I hope it’s warmer in there or I’m going to be frozen solid.”
He smiled as he picked up his wand. “There is a Warming Charm on the sheets.”
She followed him into the bedroom. When she could look away from the scarring on his back, she saw a luxurious bathroom through an open door.
Private bathrooms – that is still the best part of being a prefect. It looks like teachers are spoiled even more.
~ ~ ~
The four-poster bed was huge – wizards apparently had a size larger than king. Its headboard was like a cabinet with open sliding doors that revealed a bare small storage space. An armchair sat near a tall wooden bureau, and an ornate wardrobe stood against the wall by the bathroom door.
A narrow tapestry, with the odd scene of a shrouded figure gathering roses, hung on the other side of the wardrobe. More bookcases took up the rest of the wall space. The only light in the room came from a cluster of three thick candles on the bureau.
Snape watched her as he settled his hip on the low footboard, his left hand curling around the carved post. His pants had been unbuttoned by the same charm and she blushed to notice a thin dark line of hairs at the opening.
When I called those ‘treasure trails’ in fifth year, Carine had said, ‘If you’re lucky.’ Arelia blushed. Avoiding his gaze again, she saw a tapestry depicting the Slytherin crest rising into the dark over the headboard.
He straightened and took her hand, leading her around to sit on the bed. It was invitingly warm. The top coverlet was Slytherin green wool. She pulled it up to reveal magically heated silk sheets in the heraldic silver.
Snape put his wand on the headboard shelf and leaned in to kiss her again. His fingers deftly undid the catch of her bra. Stepping back, he pulled it gently from her and set it on the bureau.
“Lie back,” he invited. She did, and then stared up at him as he dropped his pants and black silk boxers to the floor.
It’s a shame I can’t tell ‘others’ about that. Carine would applaud, considering some of the dimensions she doodled in past Charms classes.
He sat beside her and cupped her breasts, his thumbs rubbing over the nipples. When he bent his head and kissed them, she drew in a sharp breath. Before she could deal with how good it felt, his hand was sliding down her stomach.
All of the times Arelia had imagined his long pale fingers touching her, slipping between hot and slick flesh, had not prepared her for the reality of it. His explorations quickened her breathing in moments, and his skill far surpassed hers.
Whispering against her left breast, he asked, “Is this how you wanted it to be?”
God, yes… “Yes, I’ve – ” Don’t tell him!
She fell silent and felt his smile on her skin as he traced his tongue and lips down her body. It had always taken her longer but he made her twitch and cry out quickly. The ripples of pleasure washed over her.
His fingers withdrew and hooked her panties at the sides, slowly pulling them down. He shifted as he went and pushed the blankets away with his writsts to allow the panties to slip off her feet. When he moved to lie beside her, his hand cupping over the line of sculpted dark hair between her legs, she abruptly realized she’d left her wand in her skirt on the sitting room floor.
“Have you cast a Contraceptive Spell?” He spoke into her hair as he kissed her throat.
He slid smoothly over her body, guiding her legs open around his hips. “This will hurt only briefly and you may feel sore for a time, but I will be gentle. Arelia – look at me.”
She met his gaze and tried to still her trembling, hoping he would think it was the cold in the room. His expression was strange, as if he were troubled. Oddly encouraged by it, she lifted her head to kiss him lightly.
When he responded, he shifted his weight and she felt the hard length of his cock jut against the inside of her thigh. Then his mouth drew her thoughts away from everything else until she had relaxed again. Her hands stroked his hair and back as his settled on the bed at her shoulders.
Arelia broke the kiss in alarm as he entered her, but he didn’t pause. He covered her mouth with his again to quiet her cry of pain. A second later, he held himself still and his kiss turned gentle. Breathing rapidly, she slowly started to respond to it as he began to move inside her. After a little time, the pain subsided and she could breathe more evenly.
Turning her head slightly as his tongue and lips began suckling and kissing gently at her throat, she raised her knees and felt the sensations of his motions shift pleasurably. As his mouth returned to her breasts, the pleasure grew.
She caught his gaze only once after his smooth thrusts quickened, and was surprised to see their black depths shadowed with a look of pain. Her fingers rose to touch his face, but he avoided them and set his forehead against her chest. His black hair fell down to hide his face from her.
“Don’t stare daggers at me,” Carine told the beady black eyes that watched her from the foot of the bed. “Beauty wanted to go dally with the Beast, I didn’t push her. Persuaded – but never pushed.”
She paced restlessly in her bathrobe, holding the thick cream terrycloth close to her body. The only sounds in the room were the soft stroke of her slippers on the sheepskin rug and the crackling fire.
When her eyes fell on the crystal decanter on the mantle, they slowly filled with tears. Please don’t hurt her.
She sat on the padded hope chest and then slid to the sheepskin rug. Drawing her knees up, she circled them with her arms and stared at the fire. Latimer crept onto her shoulder and slipped into her hair, his tail wrapping around her neck.
“I wish she were a Slytherin, so I could explain,” Carine told the rat. A quiet sob escaped and she tried to fight back the tears. “But then she’d be the one under his thumb. I know he’d have chosen her over me. He barely looks at me, unless he’s … but he stares at her all the time. Latimer, I don’t know what I’m doing. I wish I could make him feel it – what he does to me, what he did to Rowan, too. But I don’t want him to hurt Arelia.”
The sobs broke free and she dropped her head onto her arms. The rat’s tail held her tighter, but even that comfort hurt her. She didn’t deserve it. When she raised her head again, she looked over at the painted arch on the wall. The runes mocked her. She’d been afraid to ask Arelia what they meant.
You’re doing it to her right now, aren’t you? Carine’s expression twisted as she glared at the arch. Making her afraid, making her feel like meat on a hook – worthless, less than nothing. She stood abruptly, ignoring the small scratches as Latimer struggled to remain in place. Going up to the wall, she cried out and struck it with her palm. I know this is how you come in here, you bastard. I can’t make it work, but you do. You’ve never tripped my seal on the door. It’s how you watch me, too. Her hands curled into fists and struck the inside of the arch again.
Something touched her face and she almost hit it before she realized it was Latimer, stroking her cheek with his head. Horrified that she might have hurt him, she crumpled and slipped to the cold stone floor. She detached him from the back of her neck, untangled his feet from her hair and held him against her chest as she cried.
“Oh, God – she’s in love with him. He’ll know it, too. He toyed with Rowan because she loved him.” Turning back to the arch, she raised one hand to it as she clutched the rat in the other. “Please don’t hurt her. It’s my fault, my stupid game. I’m the one you should hurt. Please…”
Latimer stirred and brought her out of her stupor. His intelligent face was blurred through her tears. She let him down to the floor and watched him scurry up onto the bed. Turning to stare at her, the animal moved backward over the coverlet.
“All right, I’m coming,” she whispered.
Carine laid the robe down over the hope chest and climbed into bed. Latimer immediately curled up in a ball in her arms, close to her face. Exhausted, she fell into a fitful sleep.
Drifting in disjointed images, her mind fell into nightmare. It was the empty dark room again, full of whispers – the touch in the blinding night, the hands lifting her nightgown. Yet she had started school and the young rat would come and bite the hand any moment now. Then its small white body would be thrown against the cream and rosebud wallpaper. He would curse her, hurt her, and blame the blood on the rat. It had bitten her and she hadn’t bothered to keep the blood off the sheets. Her mother, calm, refused to question. Buy another white rat.
She turned and moaned in her sleep, speaking in broken sentences. The black rat, awake, watched over her through the night.
Unwanted memory threatened and he pushed it away. Emotion tried to rise and he suppressed it. The struggle almost made him forget to be gentle.
You’re a fool, Severus. The oppressive dark weight of pain surged beneath festering scars of heart, mind and soul. Take them, use them in their willing greed for privilege, but do not show them care, do not give them compassion. If you allow that wound to open it will kill you.
The woman beneath him was melting into him, ready to give more than her body. Her resistance to wanting his regard had ended with this act, with this gentle giving. She reached for more too, unaware that what he offered was only the semblance of feeling, because his preferred tastes would have turned her away.
She clutched at him and cried out as he focused again on her needs, simultaneously reviving the dangerous hidden pain. A face swam in his vision, smiling sweetly. He had loved her enough to free his tortured soul, to attempt to change; until his own actions brought about her death. With a gasp he shook his head, wincing at memories that refused to die. The image cleared and it was gray eyes he saw, the expression one of abrupt concern.
“Are you okay?”
He groped for her name, found it, and then feared to speak it. He nodded instead. To distract them both, he moved faster again, sucking at her breasts softly as he forced his pain down. The pleasure her body offered tore through his as he fought to regain control of himself.
Her limbs held him tightly; her hands in his hair touched the sides of his face. When the knot of need deep in his groin released, he cried out the old nickname in a ragged breath and collapsed heavily onto her.
In the silence as she stroked his hair, he felt the horror of what he’d done. I spoke her name, the pet name she never knew, though others did. After all these years… Then his fear sharpened. Did this one hear it?
“Uh … Severus … you’re not light…”
Not trusting himself to speak, he moved away from her. Lying on his back, his hands rose to cover his face. Did she hear it?
A gentle hand touched both of his, caressed them and slipped down his forearm to settle on his stomach. “You know, if I do have a little crush, maybe you do too. Or wasn’t that Carine’s name you said? Mine starts with an A after all.”
Carine. Yes. She would think that. Relief flooded through him, allowing him to look at her smiling face. “Your pardon, a true sin against the spirit of romance; I’d dock points from myself, but I don’t think it would count.”
“I forgive you,” she teased, “but you could just ask her. It never hurts.” She winked and he raised an eyebrow at her. “I assure you she wouldn’t mind.”
“Perhaps not. For now, I appreciate the restraint of natural female jealousy.”
Arelia leaned down to kiss him and he responded more ardently than he expected. “You’ll find out I’m not the jealous type,” she whispered against his lips.
“A refreshing trait – but not a common one.”
“Yes, well… Carine and I share everything. Maybe the Sorting Hat can tell the future, and it wanted to keep us apart for fear we’d plot to take over the world.”
Severus smiled. “If you did, and required soldiers, I might have to consider it. The pair of you would put the Dark Lord’s recruiting practices to shame.”
Arelia’s shock turned into laughter. “I hope so – and thanks for the disturbing image.”
“Your welcome.” He studied her as physical release pleasantly turned his limbs to lead. “Not many cope with my rather dark sense of humor.”
“I feel better for finding out you have one.” She moved closer and touched his chest. “May I stay here a while longer?”
“Tomorrow is Sunday and my time is free, but your housemates might notice your absence.”
Pushing the curtain of dark hair away from her face, she laid her head on his chest. “They’ll probably cheer. At least the ones who bet I’d finally do this in seventh year.”
“That’s true. Perhaps I should cheer. I put in a few Galleons in your sixth year.”
Arelia sat up sharply and aimed a teasing strike at him that he caught easily. She didn’t let his lips on her fingers distract her. “How did you know about that stupid bet?”
“I overheard your pompous Beldon asking Silas in class if he wanted in. You’ll be impressed to know he refused. I’m not certain exactly what he called the boy, but it must have been effective. As I am on occasion a bastard, I spoke to Beldon about it after class. Only because I thought it best that you – how did Miss Lachlan put it? ‘Expand your horizons’? For the sake of your education, of course.”
She smiled. “Of course – only the noblest of intentions for Professor Snape. You might not be eligible to collect in your current position, though. We’d have to check the rules the idiots drew up.”
“We won’t be reporting the consummation of the bet. Unless you fancy someone else you can publicly declare. Silas, for instance – as you say, he wouldn’t mind.”
Arelia frowned. “Who is Silas?”
Amusement improved his mood. “Ah, how perilous it is to tilt at feminine windmills. Poor boy. Silas is your partner in my class this year; the strapping Hufflepuff of Quidditch legend to be.”
“Oh!” She lay back down and stretched her body against him. “I’ve been trying to figure out his name for about two years now. I get easily distracted and studies have always been more interesting than boys. I think Carine was right – you eclipse them entirely.” She fell silent and her lips kissed his chest.
“I should hope so.”
Severus felt her smile against his skin but she didn’t speak again.
Wisdom whispered that he should get her up and out, but his body was tired and sleep edged in on his concern.
~ ~ ~
“What’s with the memento mori?”
Severus woke fully and stared at her. She had noticed his Herrick tapestry. “I acquired that before I came to teach here.” He shrugged and reached for his bathrobe. “It appealed to me, image and sentiment.”
When he emerged from the bathroom, she was still admiring the tapestry. “The verse is in runes I should know, but the threads are too faded. What does it say?”
He quoted it from memory. “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a-flying: and this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying.” He sat on the edge of the bed and tightened the sash of his robe. “Penned by Robert Herrick, a seventeenth century poet; it’s titled, To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time.”
Arelia studied him in silence a moment. “So I’ve made much of it; what now?”
“Now, I plan to bathe and ignore breakfast. You should escape before the hall fills with curious Slytherins.”
“Once I do, we’ll be back to being Professor Snape and Miss Galen. Is this a once only harvest or can I be gathered again some other time?”
“I hadn’t thought that far.”
“Then you’re the one underestimating your talents.” She crept up to him, pulled the bathrobe back from his shoulder and kissed it.
“Miss Galen, do not assume the situation has changed.”
Her hands slid into the robe and pushed it from his body as she caressed him. “I know nothing’s changed. I’m not going to fall at your feet and you probably aren’t going to stop being crass and rude. I’ve decided I don’t care if you are. However, since you might not invite me a second time, I’ll have you again now.”
“You assume I am in agreement?”
Her hand came forward and gripped his growing erection gently. “Yes, I do.”
“You don’t know much about men. That is a regular morning ritual for most male bodies, with or without company.”
“I would hate to be accused of being demanding. So … do you want this?” She kissed him and her hand squeezed him slightly.
He would have to refuse her, but even as he made that decision, his mouth responded eagerly to hers. As he dropped the robe and slipped over her body, his teeth nipped her throat. “I may regret the loss of your fear, Miss Galen.”
She gasped as he entered her again. “I’ll pretend to be afraid later if that’s what attracted you.”
Author’s Note: I’ve been having fun editing, improving, and adding things to this story as I go. There is also a big fanged plot coming along later – there be (non-literal) dragons. Thanks for reading! – AnonGrimm (@MET_Fic) (anongrimm.tumblr.com)