Disclaimer: I'm not muscling in on JK's turf - just gambolling on it, like a spring lamb, having fun working out the literary and psychological puzzles which she is having fun setting us
He broke away from the kiss at last, shivering and breathing hard. "You're quite sure - absolutely sure you want to go ahead?"
"Yes." Hermione put her hand up and touched his cheek, opening her mind to him and willing him to see that her own shivering was due to anticipation and sheer desire rather than to fear. Allowing for a touch of first-night nerves, of course. "Completely sure." She embraced him and drew him into another kiss and they rolled over together, until she was pinned down under the warm weight of him, and his dark hair hung down in curtains around her face.
Severus lay over her, pressing her down into the mattress even as his mouth pressed down over hers, feeling the smooth skin of her belly against his own scarred stomach and her hot tongue sliding against his. He tried to take some of his weight off her, but it was difficult to do so one-handed, and he wondered distractedly if it had been a mistake to attempt to manage without the prostheses, unaesthetic though they were.
He hoped it hadn't been a mistake to allow the stone snakes around the hearth to slither back into his life, either: but he had felt that allowing them to be present for this momentous step would be some sort of apology for having banished them for so long. And they were not - he knew that they were not - Nagini, who functioned as an extension of Tom Riddle's will: they were a fragment of the castle which cradled him, given individual life. Something like life, anyway.
Crippled as he was, with only the one knee, he could lift his pelvis off Hermione for a moment but he was too unstable to keep it there for long. Unable to rise up and support himself on his knees as a whole man could have done, he had little choice about pushing his hips against hers with every movement and the tight hot pulse of his own desire made him dizzy. His nerve-endings felt super-charged everywhere his skin touched hers and with almost the whole of himself he wanted to give way and fall, to be welcomed and accepted by her, to express his love physically by sinking into her like an otter sliding down into the encompassing river - and it was only a small, treacherous shard of pain which insisted that he was about to do something murderously dreadful to someone he cared about and, worse, was responsible for.
He knew intellectually that Hermione was a virgin and that there would probably be some pain for her; he knew that she had turned down the offer of an analgesic potion in case it dulled sensation generally. He thought he had braced his mind sufficiently to deal with it and he was honoured, he truly was, that she wanted him - him! - to be her first and perhaps her only full lover. Her tongue slicked across his again, insistently, making the pulse in his groin jump until he groaned aloud, and he started to slide into her as one drawn on by inevitable force, as she gasped and tilted her hips up to welcome him and her legs clamped round him to urge him further in.
He nerved himself to make the extra push and break through the barrier of her virginity, burying himself in her, and felt her stiffen almost imperceptibly at the sudden sharp sting - and he smelled the iron taint of blood and then her limbs were a vice, holding him in place to hurt or to be hurt and he broke away from the kiss and froze, rigid with shock. Seeing the fear in his face Hermione pressed her hands against his back, trying to hug him closer in reassurance. With a strangled cry he jerked himself away from her, breaking her hold. He threw himself as far away from her as he could without falling off the bed and curled into a tight ball, his arm raised to shield his head. Through the roaring in his ears he could hear his own teeth chattering with terror.
Hermione bit her lip, pausing for a moment before shifting towards her lover. Carefully, slowly, she laid her palms flat against his back, not touching him anywhere else, making sure even the slightest move would free him from the contact if he wanted it to. "Severus?" she whispered, fighting back the urge to cry. She shouldn't have rushed this, should have given him more time.... "Shhh... it's all right, love. It's all right." She wanted to cradle him in her arms and comfort him, but that would probably only make things worse.
Indeed, even that slight touch seemed to do more harm than good. After a frozen second he twitched his bare skin away from her touch and curled up even tighter, whimpering like a whipped dog and shaking his head from side to side in desperate denial.
She pulled away quickly, taking a wobbly breath. Stay calm, Hermione. You can do guilty crying later. She eased off the bed, moving around to kneel on the floor where he could see her if his eyes opened. "It's all right, Severus," she murmured, keeping her voice gentle and soothing. "It's all right... I'm sorry, dearest, I shouldn't have rushed you, I won't again, I promise...." He whimpered again, and she crooned wordlessly, reaching over very slowly to draw a blanket up over him. He'd always been denied any covering, while a prisoner, and it seemed to reassure him sometimes, and she couldn't think what else to do if she couldn't touch him without hurting him more....
That seemed to be a moderately positive step, at least. He jerked in fright as he felt the blanket slide up over his body, but when he realized what it was he snatched at it, clenching his hand into a tight fist around the crumpled fabric, and pulled it close around his shoulders. He stopped the dreadful, broken whimpering and began to rock silently, tears running down his scarred cheeks.
Hermione's own eyes filled, and she wiped them hastily with the back of her hand. "It's all right," she repeated, clasping her hands tightly together to fight the temptation to reach out to him. "It's all right, Severus.... I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I should never have asked this of you... I never wanted to hurt you, not ever...." She gulped as her voice wavered, and forced it into soothing calm again. "Shhhhhh.... it's all right now, you're safe...."
But nothing seemed to help - even the sound of her voice made him flinch and jerk as if he thought she was going to hit him. Unable to help herself, or him, Hermione let out a muffled sob and at that, instead of flinching again Severus put out his hand blindly and awkwardly, lying on his right side as he was, somehow found her arm and gave it a gentle pat. "Don't," he said thickly and almost inaudibly. "Please don't cry" - although tears continued to stream down his own face and soak the pillow under him.
"I c-can't help it," she said softly, another sob escaping as she scrubbed at her eyes. "I love you so much, and I hurt you, and I didn't mean to...." She found herself leaning into his touch, and clasped her hands tighter to keep them away from him. "Severus, I'm so sorry...."
"Hush now, there's a good girl." He patted her arm again, more firmly this time. He had at least stopped crying himself, now, but his eyes were still closed and he seemed to be operating on auto-pilot. Hermione wasn't sure whether he knew who she was or whether, in his dazed state, he thought she was one of his Slytherins in need of comfort.
She reached up tentatively to take his hand, brushing it lightly against her cheek. "I'm sorry," she whispered again, taking a deep and wobbly breath. "I'm stopping now." Although it did seem to have helped, for some reason, it probably wouldn't do any good for her to keep weeping all over him.
He grasped her hand back firmly, giving it a gentle squeeze, and his eyes drifted open and he nodded vaguely towards the drawer of the bedside table and murmured "Handkerchief." Hermione dutifully fetched it out and started to wipe her eyes, and he said "Blow!" very firmly and almost sternly. Then recognition started to flow back into his eyes like water and he shut them again, tightly. Still clutching her hand he uncurled enough to roll away from her and lie on his back with his head tipped back, his beak of a nose pointing at the ceiling. "Oh... shit."
She blew anyway, and then fetched another handkerchief, offering it to him. "Are you back with me?" she asked quietly. She was shaking, she realized rather belatedly. Being unable to help him felt horrible, far worse than being attacked herself. Still, she'd remember this for next time, should there be one - crying herself might actually be more of a help than not.
"I think so - worse luck. I don't mean my bad luck" he added hastily, hearing her suck in her breath; "I mean yours. What a - bloody - you might have known I'd find some way to foul up." He blew his nose on the proffered handkerchief, impressively loudly, and then stared at the flickering shadows the candles cast across the ceiling. "Why do you bloody put up with me?"
"Because I love you," she said quietly, shifting up to sit cautiously on the very edge of the bed beside him. "Severus, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked this of you, I should have known I was rushing this...." Tentatively she reached out to brush the backs of her fingers against his cheek.
He put his own hand up to press her hand against the side of his face. She could feel the beginnings of stubble starting to come through, and the faint bare line of the scar that bisected his cheek, still damp with tears. "It wouldn't matter how fast or how slowly we took it, and it wasn't any fault of yours. There was always going to come a time when - it was the blood and, and knowing I must be hurting you. Even though I knew it was what you wanted, I was still too much of a bloody coward to face my own - experiences and give you what you needed. I am so very sorry. You deserve to spend your first time with somebody who is whole, in body and in mind, not with this - wreckage."
The blood and... oh, damnit. She should have thought of that. "If whole in body and mind was all I wanted, I could have had Fred or George Weasley for the asking," she said firmly, in the hope that that dreadful mental image would lessen the hold of some of the others. "As could any girl with a pulse, as long as she wasn't a Slytherin. I wanted you. Because I love you quite desperately and the thought of being with someone else makes me feel rather queasy." She leaned down to kiss his forehead lightly. "I love you," she whispered, her eyes stinging again. "I knew this wouldn't be easy, but I didn't care, I wanted you."
He reached up and brushed her hair out of her eyes, then cupped the side of her face and drew her down lightly into a proper kiss, slow and gentle and careful on both sides. An answering pulse in his groin reminded him of unfinished business - if he would ever be able to finish it. When her mouth finally lifted away from his he lay gazing up at her. Tears prickled in his own eyes, as in hers, but the corners of his long lips twitched upwards slightly. "I refute your description of the Weasley twins as 'whole in mind' - they barely make one half-wit between them. But I wouldn't wish being in love with me on anyone, let alone on someone as - as brave and unspoiled as you are." He made a sudden convulsive effort and somehow managed to push himself up to a sitting position. "What I need - need - " He stopped, feeling his teeth still chattering. Took a deep breath. "...cup of tea," he finished in a rush.
Hermione laughed suddenly, a slightly hysterical laugh, and stood up. "The universal panacea for all ills," she agreed, smiling at him. "I think I could use one, too." She padded over to the tea-service in the corner. A few minutes later, she rejoined him on the bed, handing him his mug and cradling her teacup between her hands. "I wish I could do more to help. I know you keep telling me it's silly, that I do a lot... but I still wish I could do more. And whether you'd wish it on me or not, I adore you and nobody else could possibly do."
They sat side by side in companionable silence, him under the blankets and her on top of them and both of them mother-naked. Severus sat sipping his tea and looking at Hermione under his lashes; bare though he was, the shivers which chased across his skin were caused not by cold but by lust and its uneasy, inevitable shadow: raw fear. Her own shivers, he assumed, were due to cold, and he was a selfish bastard for enjoying the sight of her unselfconscious nakedness on such a chilly evening. As if to point the moral, a gust of rain blew against the window, and the same gust sent the surface of the lake rising and slapping against the glass. "You should get back under the covers," he said, replacing the emptied mug on the bedside table with a definite click.
Hermione smiled at him rather unhappily, stood up and leaned forwards to place a kiss on his hairline, laying her cool hand lightly on his shoulder. Then she padded round to the other side of the bed and he felt her slide in between the sheets at his back.
Severus sat hunched at the edge of the bed with his back half turned to her, steadying himself with his hand against the mattress, his head hanging. "I know you do," he said quietly. "Adore me, I mean. But that just makes me the more culpable, for ruining your first time by my fucking - weakness. It's supposed to be the experienced older man coaxing the reluctant virgin, isn't it?" he said bitterly, and Hermione knew the scorn in his voice was for himself, not for her. "Not an eager virgin and an older man who can't stop bloody shaking because he's much too bloody experienced in all the wrong ways."
Hermione laid her hand gently on his bowed shoulder again. "Well, technically I'm not an eager virgin any more - not that I'm not still eager," she added hastily, seeing the old bitter, closed look settle over his face like a mask, "but I think technically I stopped being a virgin about twenty minutes ago. So you don't have to worry about it being my first time any more, because now we're just going to go ahead nice and quietly for the second time. Much less pressure."
"Much less," he agreed, with a flash of a rather wobbly smile. "But I can't promise not to panic again. Part of me - part of me automatically associates penetrative sex with rape, now. Since I never... since my experience of consensual sex was pretty sporadic that - horrible - what happened last year has become the dominant sexual experience in my life, I suppose."
"Despite all my extensive course-work aimed at getting an Outstanding in foreplay?" Hermione asked, her own smile equally wobbly and slightly hurt.
"No penetration, you see. It's been - lovely, but it doesn't feel much like anything they did to me, so it doesn't really help me to get past what they did to me."
"You must know - I'd never hurt you."
"That's not really the point, though. The problem is that part of me thinks that I'm going to hurt you - that by having full sex with you I'm - somehow doing to you what they did to me. Which, intellectually, I know is ridiculous, and I do - desire you. Very much. You can see I'm still - " He sat up straighter to free his hand, and gestured helplessly at the evidence of his own arousal. "Not that that proves anything, really, because so I was when they...."
"It is. Ridiculous, I mean. I know you'd never deliberately harm me, and far from doing something against my will you'd be doing what I want very much indeed." She laid her hand along his jaw and turned his head towards her, and he permitted himself to be kissed gently, sighing.
"Come on, love" she said coaxingly. "Practice makes perfect." He quirked an eyebrow at her. "I mean if, if the only way you can overcome the - the bad associations those - creatures beat into you is to have so much good sex that it outweighs the bad, we might as well make a start. I imagine we have a long way to go."
"Considering how many fucking times they - and how much they fucking hurt me we'd have to be screwing about five times a day from now till next Easter to make much of a bloody difference" he said bitterly, his anger and pain making him deliberately coarse.
"Sounds good to me!" Hermione replied cheerfully, placing her hands on his shoulders and urging him to turn and face her.
Severus gave a throaty little chuckle. "If it comes to that, it doesn't sound too bad to me either" he admitted, and allowed himself to be drawn down gratefully into her embrace.
Afterwards they lay curled tightly together for a few moments, gasping for breath... and then, reluctantly, he lifted his head. He would have been quite content to lie there still entwined with her, his face buried in her soft hair, but he should move off her at least...
"Don't!" Hermione whispered pleadingly as she felt him move, her arms tightening around him. "Don't... leave me, please, not yet...."
He looked down at her in surprise. Far from wanting him to get off her - and he knew he must be heavy and that there must be at least some discomfort for her - she looked ready to cry at the prospect. "Er... why?" he asked, not moving. The thought of being held in place was deeply unnerving, even now, but she didn't actually have enough leverage to keep him in place if he didn't want her to....
She bit her lip, loosening her grip on him and burrowing her face into his neck. "I just... don't want it to stop," she whispered. "I've wanted this for so long, just to... to be with you like this, I don't want you to leave me yet...."
He swallowed hard. It was still... difficult, but he reigned in his unreasoning fear with less effort than usual. The prospect of just... staying like this, curled together as intimately as the human body could be, not because she wanted pleasure of him but because she wanted HIM... was not a frightening one, although it might have been with someone else.
He kissed her, gently, and nestled against her. "Let me know when I get too heavy," he murmured, smiling a little. "Until then... I don't really want to move, either."
"Good." She sighed contentedly, and kissed the side of his neck. "I love you, you know."
Eventually, of course, he did have to move, not only for fear of crushing her but because her hips were starting to dig painfully into his own. Hermione settled down comfortably at his side, with her head resting on his shoulder and his arm securely tucked around her, and sighed contentedly. "In case my great enthusiasm earlier didn't properly convey this," she murmured, kissing his collarbone lightly, "that was bloody marvellous. Absolutely worth waiting for... and I promise, I don't feel even the slightest bit hurt or taken advantage of." She paused. "Well, except for where I bit my lip trying not to scream in your ear, but I assure you, that was entirely worth it."
"You should always let your lover know if he makes you want to scream," he growled, "always provided it's with pleasure. As it was, the noises you were making were very - gratifying to my masculine ego. And I'm sure I made quite a few noises myself - and I don't just mean when I threw a panic-fit, dramatically embarrassing though that was. I certainly felt like making plenty of noises." Hermione felt and understood his slight flinch as he brushed off the memory of the noises he had made under other, much darker circumstances. "That was - electrifying. I'm looking forward to the re-sits already."
"I'll make as much noise as you like, as often as you want to do this again... I was trying to restrain myself from getting too noisy in case it bothered you," she admitted. "Not that I was really succeeding. You utterly destroyed my self-control, and I enjoyed every minute." She kissed his shoulder. "Except for the panic-attack... which I'm still sorry about, I knew this probably wouldn't be easy for you...."
"Having your self-control destroyed like that by somebody you trust and want is, is liberating, and I'm flattered that you found it so with me. It's a lesson that I re-learn every morning that you lay hands on me, and make me wriggle and gasp when I had intended to be all darkly smouldering and mysterious. But it is - ghastly - to be driven through those sort of barriers by somebody you don't want."
He sighed and kissed the corner of her eye, that being all he could reach without disturbing her from her comfortable nest in his embrace. On one level he still had a deeply-ingrained conviction that if she truly knew how abjectly they had degraded him, what they had reduced him to, she would recoil: but he also had a strong suspicion that his deeply-ingrained conviction was pathological, part of the damage that had been done to him, and a libel on Hermione's common-sense and compassion.
"When I was - last year -" he began thickly, his tongue stumbling in his awkwardness, "they-they broke down my barriers so hard and so often I forgot I was allowed to have bloody barriers. Between the, the assaults and the sensitizing potions and the bloody Cruciatus I was so - overloaded that every time they, they took me I howled and jumped and climaxed without any kind of mental or physical defence. I was just - an instrument for them to play on, to see what kind of sounds they could get out of me this time."
Hermione made a sad noise of sympathy and cuddled down against his side, resting her small hand on his ribs like a benediction. And he knew, he did know, that this was a strange and sad conversation to be having with his young lover, on a night which would be one of the memorable milestones of her life; but he knew her and trusted her well enough by now to know that she would value his trust, his willingness to confide, he trusted that she would want whatever was good for him and that it would be patronising for him to "spare her", as if she were a child. Their lovemaking had left him feeling as if his belly and loins were almost dissolving into a kind of tingling languor, and here and now, safe in her warmth and her accepting regard, it suddenly seemed possible to talk about the sexual invasion he had suffered without choking or freezing with embarrassment. Here in her arms he could let the memory flow and, perhaps, begin to let it go.
"Given which," he resumed in his best dry, classroom voice, "it would I think have been remarkable if I had managed to get through my first experience of penetrative sex since, since all that without throwing some sort of fit. And at least we got through it comparatively painlessly and without too much embarrassment. At least I didn't vomit down your cleavage, or wet myself. And now that I've done the screaming terror and the rolling up into a sobbing pathetic ball and seen that it was all right, that you didn't hurt me and I didn't hurt you, I'm much less likely, I think, to have a similar attack in future."
Technically, of course, she was in his arms - or arm, at any rate. He hugged her, hoping she wouldn't take his next words as a criticism. "But if I do start to panic and pull away from you, let go of me - take your hands off me and don't try to restrict me. Only Minerva can get away with holding me tightly when I'm actually in the throes of a panic-fit - and that's only because she can do The Voice, which reaches straight into my hind-brain and makes me think I'm eleven again, and trying to explain why and how I just hexed the legs off of the staff dining-table in front of the whole school. The words 'Mr Snape - in my office, now' still bring me out in a cold sweat, but at least it gets me babbling excuses instead of whimpering, and once I remember that I can talk it makes things - easier."
"I will. I'm sorry I didn't realize quickly enough, this time... although in my defence, that was a fairly distracting moment." She smiled ruefully, snuggling against him. "It... hurts... to see you so distressed," she said softly. "I want so badly to reach out to you, to comfort you, but I can't... I felt so guilty for putting you through that. I should have thought, damn it... it would have taken five minutes to take care of the technicalities with a transfigured sex-toy or a conveniently sized carrot or something, and it wouldn't have made you any less the first, for me... but it would have made it a lot easier for you. I'm sorry I didn't think of it in time to be useful...."
"I should have thought, and not put all that - trauma and guilt onto you on what should have been a wholly happy occasion. But I thought - well, I expected that with all that - hands-on experience things would be more... um, stretched. I didn't think there would be enough blood to notice. But I was forgetting that smell is such a powerful emotional trigger that even a little blood, coming unexpectedly and under such circumstances, might be enough to...." He coughed slightly. "And of course I should have considered that I am - somewhat over-endowed in the olfactory department. And perhaps also somewhat, um - more generously proportioned than the average carrot" he added, blushing rather.
"That you are," she agreed, smirking in pleased memory. "And in all ways much better. And I feel rather the same... I mean, that I made you so distressed and frightened on what should have been a happy occasion. I knew it wasn't going to be easy for you, I should have been more careful... but despite the rocky start, I think we did eventually manage a very happy occasion indeed. I know I, for one, was extremely happy towards the end, there."
"I was positively ecstatic." He tilted her chin up and bent to kiss her, slowly and deeply. Hermione turned into his embrace and put her arms round him rather cautiously. When his back didn't stiffen at the touch she hugged him and kissed him back with interest. Severus felt like laughing and shouting - like falling asleep in her arms and waking up in them in the morning, and never going anywhere else ever again. Past the haze of her hair and the fine curl of her ear, he glimpsed the stone serpents around the fireplace, hissing to each other in what looked like amused approval of his prowess, and he supposed that they liked to know that the master of Slytherin was as skilful in bed as in deviousness and debate.
He went on kissing Hermione until it was stop or smother, and then a few seconds more just in case, and then flopped back against the pillows breathless and triumphant and already half erect again. "Five times a night might be a bit much in my condition," he gasped, "but if you want to try again in an hour or so I'm sure I should be able to rise to the occasion. Bearing in mind that you don't have classes tomorrow, and can sleep in. And we'll have to re-arrange the rota so you can spend the morning - or indeed the day. I want to have a long, leisurely breakfast in bed with you and then maybe do a bit of - practical revision. If I am up to it."
Hermione made happily incoherent noises for a moment, then buried her nose in his shoulder. "Mmmm.... and I thought I was impressed before. You are truly amazing, my love, do you know that? I am so very lucky to have you...." She trailed kisses up from his shoulder, along his neck, until she could kiss his lips gently. "And believe me, Professor McGonagall is going to have to drag me out of here bodily to make me leave you before I absolutely have to. Breakfast in bed sounds wonderful... and then we can... what was it you suggested earlier? A re-sit?" She pouted at him, and kissed the tip of his nose. "I hope that doesn't mean I didn't perform satisfactorily in the first exam."
"Oh no," he said earnestly. "Yours was a flawless exercise. Speaking of which, Adrian is always telling me that I need more - exercise, that is - and I can't think of a nicer way of getting it. But I feel that there were several aspects of my own performance which I need to work on. As often as possible."
She sat up, giving him a long, searching look. He appeared to be serious. "Severus Snape, are you actually trying to tell me that it can get better than that? Because I'm not sure I believe you, but you are very welcome to try to prove it!"
"Oh, I mean to - often. Wake me up in... about an hour and we'll make a start" he said drowsily, sliding down into sleep.
May Day is the First of May, the day of which Beltane is the eve, and one of the four traditional Celtic quarter-days. Beltane is associated both with fertility and sexuality and (in continental Europe, under the name Walpurgisnacht) with witchcraft.
The word "Mayday" is also an international distress signal, similar to "SoS". It is believed to be derived from the French m'aidez or, more correctly, venez m'aider - "Come to my aid".
My next project will be to update my Fanfiction.net How-to page to take account of the latest update to the site. It should be up-to-date by mid May.
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