Before The Fire

Hermione Granger was starting to realize that there were a lot of things she wasn't expecting. Expectations didn't seem to matter, however, because events happened regardless of how one predicts.

It was almost as if there was such a thing as fate.

She hadn't expected him, for example, to step out of line and get down on one knee before her. That was not entirely accurate, however. He knelt before a victorious dark lord, whose red eyes shined with a malevolent and dark triumph.

The girls were like chattel before the cloaked and masked Death Eaters. They huddled together in the shared intimacy of fear. Some were praying for the Avada, while others were vaguely hoping to be rescued, though by who or what they couldn't quite say. Hermione, who had already felt dead at that time, was vaguely trying to figure out why they bothered with the masks. It's not like she couldn't tell who they were.

Lucius Malfoy was especially obvious. His white hair loosely fell past his shoulders and his trademark cane was held in an oddly tight grasp. She wondered if he felt the loss of Draco, who had jumped in some blind panic and rage against Voldemort just a few seconds after Harry fell. Maybe he didn't, though. Malfoys were not known for their compassion.

So too obvious was Severus Snape, on one knee, head bent, sibilant whisper cutting through the air as painfully loud as Voldemort's high, cold laugh.

Of course, he would be rewarded. He was favored by the Dark Lord. Had he not murdered Albus Dumbledore, bane of evil? All Snape had to do was ask and receive.

One must imagine her shock when he requested her.

All of the girls were auctioned off like that – spoils of war. Lucius Malfoy took Ginny Weasley. It was rumored that he made her dance before him, naked, her long red hair shining like a courtesan. The Patil twins were given to Macnair and Dolohov respectively, who appreciated beyond words their knowledge of the Kama Sutra.

Oddly enough Voldemort kept Luna Lovegood for himself. There were unfounded rumors flying about acts behind doors between the red-eyed tyrant and the dreamy blue eyed youth, but none could really be proven. The girl would sit at his feet humming to herself, odd little lullabies and psalms, while the dark lord sat regal on his throne, one long-fingered hand stroking her hair.

Not that Hermione knew of any of this. Severus Snape was surprisingly possessive. He kept her in a small mansion, another gift from Voldemort, far in the lonely country.

It was a year before he let her leave her room.

That first night, when he had apparated in with her, he set her on her bed and left in a hurry, as if he could not stand the sight of her. House elves appeared immediately, handing her vial after vial of healing potions and tonics. She was ordered to rest, eat, and bathe, which she did listlessly. Sometimes they brought books for her to read, but her requests for a paper were always ignored.

He came to her again after a week, dressed in black trousers and a crisp, white shirt. It was the most undressed she had ever seen him.

When he stood before her, a pale hand reaching out and touching her shoulder, then moving up towards her cheek, her hair, she backed away instinctively, though somewhere in the back of her mind a calm voice was telling her to accept the inevitable.

His other hand reached out and grasped her upper arm, holding her still. Though his face was set in that familiar expressionless mask, his eyes were somehow softer, a pleading, perhaps. It struck her as funny. She might have laughed if she remembered how.

"Hermione," he whispered, gathering her into his arms. He carried her bridal style towards the bed and sat her near the edge. He knelt down before her on the floor, and she did let out a startled laugh then, but it sounded hollow and distant to her ears.

He asked her why she laughed, as his hands trailed down and up her thighs.

"Do you always kneel before mudbloods?" she asked quietly.

"Only you," he whispered.

She turned her face away and gathered the thick comforter into her fists. He began to undress her, and she put up no resistance. When she was naked he started to explore her, taking in each expanse of skin with his eyes, hands, and mouth. She had a sensitive and lovely neck. She moaned when he bit her there.

Eventually he was naked and on top of her. He whispered her name over and over, like a mantra, and hissed in pleasure when she returned his kiss, even if it was to bite his lower lip in a parody of how she had always bitten her own. She wrapped her cold feet around him, and ran her hand over his back, feeling the criss-crossing of scars.

He entered her gently. She screamed anyway. She was a virgin. She bit down onto his shoulder in an attempt to share the pain, and together they bled. Severus felt a pang of remorse then, because he had thought that Ron Weasley had had her first. It almost made having killed the boy in a fit of jealousy a bit overzealous in retrospect.

The remorse was quickly covered with a rapturous glee. He was her first, and, if he had his way, he would be her only.

They moved with a strange grace, considering she had never done this before and he had made a habit not to do this often. Hermione made inarticulate noises when she reached her climax, another first, his fingers knotted in her hair and his mouth close to her ear, telling her that she was his his his. He soon followed her and thought he would weep with happiness because he had imagined this on so many occasions. To finally have it come to fruition was almost painful to him.

He slid off her and gathered her into his arms, stroking her shuddering body and kissing her forehead. He made sure not to sleep until she did first.

Many nights passed like that, in various states of the same activity. Sometimes, however, they would sit in front of the fire, reading, or discussing journal articles. When he had finally let her out of her room (an incident brought on by a violent outburst of her own, where she threw everything in reach at him, demanding to be released) they would spend hours making potions in his lab. She begged him to teach her the wolfsbane, even though he told her it wasn't used anymore. Werewolves were free to indulge their nature under Voldemort.

He never did let her go. Or allowed anyone to see her other than himself and his house elves. She still requested it from time to time, where he would revert back to the sardonic and cruel man she had known from her school days. Sometimes he would belittle her until she cried, or shout, his voice losing all sibilance, that she was his mudblood, and she had no rights but the ones he bestowed on her. And he would never, ever bestow her with freedom. Other times he was gentle, holding her in his arms while she cried, or sitting patiently through her own tirades where she would usually break everything in the room.

She knew that he loved her, but could not say why. He never told her he did, but that much was obvious, if by the time he spent with her was enough to go by. She could also tell by the way he would stare at her when she was doing the most mundane of activities, particularly reading, with such a haunting intensity that she felt devoured between the those two black holes.

"Hermione," he said, causing her to look up from a book of Donne's poetry he had gotten for her, as per her request.

"Yes?"

"Was there any way, if he had not won. . . " he started and fell silent abruptly, staring into the fire with a forced intensity.

No need to say who he was. If Voldemort had not won . . .

"What?" she asked quietly, before lowering her own eyes to her hands. "Would I sit with you before a fire, reading poetry?" she asked, knowing that he wanted to know if she would have been with him at all if he had not forced her.

Severus did not look at her, but the slow bobbing of throat apple gave him away.

Words failed her. Instead, she reached out a hand and grasped his own firmly. They sat silently for long minutes before she leaned over and gave him a chaste kiss on his cheek.


A/N: Just another scene that popped into my head and kept me from sleeping. I'm fond of Voldemort Triumphant scenarios, and the idea of a possessive Snape is, well, a fond one. I'm definitely going to write a comedy next, though. All this angst is making me thirsty. Thanks for reading, please leave a review.