Disclaimer: JKR owns it all. I'm just having fun.
o0oApril 7, 1998
She raced along the garden path, the red-haired man following close behind. Her heart was pounding in her ears, the steady rhythm thumping in time with her silent footfalls.
She had to hurry; she could not be late.
The wind whipped her cloak about her legs, and she pulled the hood forward in a vain attempt to protect her face from the cool night air. She hastened her steps; the sooner this was done, the sooner she could return to the cottage and her warm bed.
The path forked, and she stopped, turning to face her companion.
He looked as if he might protest, but then he nodded. "I'll be waiting."
She gave him a brief smile and then continued on, taking the path to her left, her gait steady and determined.
She did not look back.
When she drew near the cliffs, she stopped, careful to remain just inside the boundaries of the Fidelius Charm. Now that she had reached her destination, she turned around. She could just make out the small cottage in the distance. Drawing her wand, she cast a Disillusionment Charm on the surrounding area to ensure they would not be seen. She knew from experience that any one of the current residents could be up at any given hour.
A man appeared a few metres further down the path, his dark-as-night cloak billowing around him like a woollen cloud as he made his way to where she stood. She could not see his face, but she knew it was him.
Her stomach churned, and her body shook. She had weighed and measured every argument, every consideration in order to convince him that she wanted to do this. Now that the moment had come, she wondered if she was doing the right thing.
He stood before her and lowered his hood, his dark eyes gleaming down at her with unspoken gratitude, and she breathed a sigh of relief. She had been right after all.
"Are you ready?" he asked as he reached for her.
She placed her trembling hand in his and offered a nervous smile. "Yes."
His face was impassive, but she knew him well enough to notice the smoothing of the lines about his mouth and brow. He was pleased.
They walked a bit further down the path, moving into the shadows, until he finally stopped near the edge of the cliff. The roar of the waves filled her ears, and she turned her head toward the sound. The view of the sea was breathtaking, but there was no time to consider such trivialities.
"Are you certain you wish to do this?"
She looked up into the face that she had once reviled but now held so dear. She smiled and nodded; she would not turn back now.
"Very well. Let us begin."
He removed his cloak, inclining his head to indicate that she should do the same.
She followed suit, turning away from him as she swallowed down her nervous jitters at being so inadequately clad before a man. Yet she allowed the cloak to slip from her shoulders, and the fabric slithered to the ground, revealing the thin white shift the spell required her to wear. She shivered as the wind picked up, and the salty tang of the sea air filled her nostrils and coated her tongue.
With a steadying breath, she faced him once more, her eyes widening at the sight before her. He stood as though braced for battle, his legs spread, his arms at his sides, and his wand in hand. His pale skin seemed to glow in the moonlight and appeared as pure as the white, loose-fitting garments which fluttered about his thin frame.
His eyes locked on hers, and he beckoned her closer. Unable to look away, she jerked forward as though mesmerised, stopping when she was within arm's reach.
Slowly, as if to allow her the opportunity to flee, he raised his wand.
He cast the spell.
"Ingravesco," he intoned as he moved his wand in an intricate pattern. Suddenly, a ribbon of glittering light burst from the length of wood, winding and rippling its way around her once, then twice before doing the same to him.
The incantation left his lips again, louder than before. "Ingravesco!"
The spell began pushing them toward one other as the streams of magic tightened their hold. Tighter and tighter, the magic squeezed until she stood so close, the tips of her breasts brushed his ribcage. She gasped at the unexpected jolt of pleasure that shot down her spine.
His breathing was as laboured as her own, but somehow, he gathered enough air to complete the spell.
The magic compelled them even closer, until they stood as if in a lovers' embrace, and she lifted her chin until her eyes met his. The ribbons tightened again in a burst of magic, and she felt the sharp sting of it deep within her. Her eyes remained steadfast on his, and for a moment, the world stopped and fell away, leaving only them and the magic.
In her peripheral vision, she could see the frozen glimmers of light which surrounded them, and a small part of her marvelled at the visual manifestation of such powerful magic. The rest of her was acutely focussed upon the man in front of her, the man she had come to know and to befriend—to love.
Her breathing quickened as the magic pulsed around them yet again, encouraging, prodding, demanding. It wanted something, and she despaired at her lack of knowledge. What did it want? Her eyes pleaded with him—did he know?
She blinked, and his mouth lowered to hers. Her heart leapt within her chest, and she parted her lips in welcome. The magic pulsed in response and exploded around them in a dizzying array of shimmering light. She had never felt such power as she did in that moment, with magic and passion coursing through her veins. She felt his fingers grip her head, angling it to deepen the kiss, and the magic responded yet again, flaring and twisting about them until the very air was saturated with its raw power. Her hands pressed against his back, pulling him ever closer as her own inherent magic cried out for more.
Unfamiliar sensations flowed over and through her body, and she felt as though they were racing toward a precipice. She knew she would fall if she continued onward, but she did not care. The spell was guiding her now, and she would willingly follow, even to the very end.
Suddenly, she felt a stinging pain at the top of her spine, and then she was there, soaring over the edge and convulsing in wave after wave of magic and pleasure. He was with her, their bodies locked together by the spell and by their kiss.
And then it was done. As quickly as it had begun, it ended.
The spell was complete.
He held her in his embrace, lingering for just a moment, and she thought she heard him murmur her name into her hair. His arms lowered, and he took a step back, his eyes resolutely on the ground.
She felt strangely bereft, and she could sense the echo of her magic calling out to his. They stood in silence for several minutes as their breathing returned to normal, and their magic stabilised.
"Are you well?" he asked stiffly.
She could not help but smile at his familiar return to formality. "I am well."
He nodded sharply and then finally met her gaze again, his eyes softening as he looked upon her.
"Thank you, Hermione."
After a lingering look, he turned on his heel and Disapparated.
She was left alone, the tingle of magic still whispering along her skin.
May 2, 1998
The Shrieking Shack
Hidden in the tunnel, Hermione's eyes closed as the order was given. She wanted to scream, cry out, but she could not. She must be silent. No. No!
She watched as Harry peered through the tiny crack in the wall. His breathing had quickened, and he had bitten down on his knuckles until they bled. "Harry!" she breathed as he pointed his wand at the crate and moved it from blocking his way.
She was frozen in place as he pulled himself out of the tunnel and into the room. She didn't want to see, she didn't want to know, and yet she followed.
When she emerged into the room, Harry was kneeling beside him. Severus! From where she stood, she could only see him in partial profile as he turned his head toward Harry. He seemed to be trying to speak.
Hermione's ears strained to listen.
Suddenly, he grabbed the front of Harry's robes and pulled him closed.
"Take … it …. Take … it …."
A silvery blue substance gushed from his mouth and his ears, even his eyes. Hermione realised what he was expelling—his memories. Thinking quickly, she conjured a flask from thin air, and shoved it into Harry's shaking hands.
She took a step back. She wanted to be in Harry's place, kneeling at Severus' side. She wanted to whisper words of comfort, to tell him goodbye, but she could not. She remained standing behind him, her eyes fixed upon Harry in the effort to contain her agony at watching the man she loved die before her eyes.
When the flask was full to the brim, and Severus looked as though he had no blood left in him, his grip on Harry's robes slackened.
"Look … at … me …." he whispered.
He breathed his last breath as he stared into the eyes of Lily Evans, the only woman he had ever loved.
And Hermione felt her heart break into a million pieces.
A/N: Portions of the second scene are taken directly from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 32, pages 656-658.
This story was written for acadia elle for the Winter SS/HG Exchange. It is complete, and I will post two to three chapters per week. The prompt will be given at the conclusion of the story.
My unending gratitude to my very own golden trio, Subversa, DeeMichelle, and LettyBird, my beta readers and Brit picker. I also owe a huge debt to GinnyW for her cheerleading and brainstorming. Thank you so much, all of you!