A/N -- Written for the 2009 HP Dark Fest on LJ, this story is grim; I wanted to explore how war can force even the strongest people into situations that offer no exit, no way to keep their humanity fully intact. What do they do then? What, if anything, can they salvage? It all ended up being rather over-the-top, I'm afraid, but then, I imagine such things often are.

Something kinder to come next week.

Warnings: non-con, violence

Many thanks to my generous betas, The Real Snape and Miss Morland.

The Lesson

By Kelly Chambliss


"Severus, please. . ."

They were the first words Minerva McGonagall had spoken since she'd awakened to find Severus Snape in her bedroom, pointing his wand at her. In the few seconds that it had taken her to come to consciousness and register his presence, he'd blasted her with a body-bind spell and a transformation block.

Then he tethered her hands to the head of her bed with magical cords and took her wand from under the pillow.

For a moment he stared at her and then flicked his own wand to remove the immobilization jinx; she felt her limbs relax and sink into the softness of the mattress beneath her.

He stood silently, eyes narrowed, dark hair half-concealing his pale face. In his hands he held her wand, and he was stroking and flexing it almost absently as he watched her. It was a gesture somehow full of menace, and Minerva's initial shock at his intrusion now deepened into fear.

Nonsense, she tried to tell herself. This was Severus, someone she'd known for almost two-thirds of his life, a man who had once seemed to regard her as one of his very few friends. She was also one of the very few who refused to believe that he'd murdered Albus Dumbledore.

She knew Albus, knew his ways: he would not have died at Snape's hand unless he'd planned to. He'd used Severus for his own ends, she was sure of it, although when she'd said as much to Severus, he'd responded so viciously that she had not raised the issue again.

But she believed that the Severus Snape she used to know, the man she could respect and like, was still there, still living within this black and bleak Headmaster.

She rarely tried to find that man now, though, and it was a measure of how completely things had changed that she didn't consider responding angrily to this invasion of her rooms and bed and self. Six months ago, when Albus was alive and her world had still been a place she recognised, she would have been livid and shouting, demanding to know what the hell he thought he was doing. She would have been threatening him with Azkaban and worse.

But now. . .everything was different. Now when she spoke to Severus -- to the Headmaster -- it was always as a supplicant; she seemed to be constantly begging him for something: to rein in the Carrows, to spare the students, to lessen their punishments (she'd given up asking him to stop their torture completely). No one who heard her address him now would recognise the once-sharp, confident tones of Minerva McGonagall.

"Severus, please . . ."

Innocuous, unthreatening words, yet such a stranger had Snape become that she was not altogether surprised when he responded by hurting her. She was surprised, though, that he used his hand, not his wand, sending his palm across her face with a crack that echoed loudly in the quiet room. She bit her lip against the pain and fought down a moment of panic.

"If you're wise, you'll be quiet and listen," Snape said, pocketing her wand. "You're a teacher, Minerva, but this time, you're the one who has a lesson to learn, and I am here to give it to you. Consider it a form of detention, if you like. You've committed a number of offenses, you know: You have been interfering in the Carrows' discipline. You have been encouraging student rebellion and unrest. And you have been trying to undermine my authority."

He stopped and again regarded her silently, inscrutably. Minerva said nothing; he wouldn't want to hear whatever she might say, and in any case, he was right. She had been doing all those things, and what's more, she planned to continue.

Snape drew a breath and went on, "You have displeased the Dark Lord, and he wants you to be taught what happens to those who oppose his wishes. You may be assured that if you continue to defy him, your next punishment will be worse. Negative reinforcement. I'm sure you'll recognise the pedagogical approach. You've used it yourself."

This was too much. "Children are being tortured, Se. . .!"

A second slap, delivered with the same methodical calm as the first.

"I said, be quiet. The sooner we begin, the sooner this lesson will be over, and even though you are a Gryffindor, I hope you will not be so foolhardy as to ever need it repeated. For one thing, I can't imagine that you will care for the teaching method." He paused. "I am going to rape you, Minerva."


"I think you heard me."

"You can't be serious!"

"Only too serious, unfortunately. You seem to have forgotten that I am in charge at Hogwarts. The Dark Lord wishes you to be reminded who's on top. Literally. And Imust show you that I will not tolerate challenges from my subordinates."

Though she'd been determined not to give in to panic, Minerva found herself pulling against the charmed bonds, fighting this enormity. "You. . .Severus, this is madness! I'm old enough --"

She felt her lip split with the third blow; the tang of blood filled her mouth. But Severus's voice remained cool and even.

"Age is irrelevant. As the Muggles are fond of pointing out, rape isn't about sex. It's about power. I need to make sure that you understand my power, Minerva. And your lack of it. This is not, I assure you, the way I would have chosen to deliver this message, but on the other hand, my more benign methods have so far been insufficient to show you how seriously you are endangering everything, yourself included. So I am going to take you by force, and maybe the experience will help you bend your stubborn Gryffindor mind around the fact that there is no resisting me or the Dark Lord."

With a wave of his wand, he Banished her nightgown, leaving her naked before him.

"Oh, god, Severus, please . . .please don't do this!"

This time when he hit her, she cried out despite herself.

"Don't beg," Snape said. "It's demeaning, and it won't change anything. You see, Minerva -- " She drew back as he reached towards her again, but this time his touch on her cheek was soft. "You see, we all have our orders to follow. These are mine. You would do well to heed yours. The alternatives are worse. Believe me."

He stood looking down at her; she made herself stare back defiantly, and he shook his head to see it. "Always the Gryffindor, for all the good it never did you."

Abruptly, he turned away, twisting his fingers together almost nervously; the stiff set of his shoulders suggested reluctance, and Minerva felt a brief surge of hope. But then he turned back, his face stony. "Now," he said, "I. . .there's something the Dark Lord insists on knowing. . ."

Putting his hand on her temple, he closed his eyes, and she could sense the tendrils of his Legilimency snake into her mind. With all her effort, she resisted him, and he gave a bark of mirthless laughter. "I see you're a much better Occlumens than Albus gave you credit for. But you're no match for me. No match. . ."

The tendrils became more insistent, and though she tried to build mental boxes around them, head them off, he was too strong, and she felt him break into her thoughts with the force of another slap.

After a few minutes of violation, he stood back. "Ah, Minerva. The Dark Lord will be disappointed. He had hoped I'd be defiling a virgin. But he's curious about you; he will be interested to hear of your various partners. Alastor Moody, of all people. Calixta MacMillan. Amelia Bones. I certainly would never have guessed."

Fear or no fear, Minerva was suddenly furious. Her most intimate memories. . . How dare he? "Enough, Severus," she snapped, sounding like herself for the first time in weeks. "Just. . .do what you have to do. Follow your damned orders and then get out."

"Suffoco," whispered Snape with a jerk of his wand, and instantly her throat began to close. The fear returned in force as pain knifed through her, she was choking, struggling. . .

At last Snape released the pressure but kept his wand pointed at her as he hissed, "You don't seem to understand, Professor McGonagall. I am in charge here."

Lowering his wand, he went on, "And now I know your secret. Somehow you've managed to keep your current lover hidden from all of us. But no longer, I'm afraid, because I've seen her. In your mind. I saw the two of you in this very bed -- you and Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank."

He stood for a moment, smacking his wand into his palm and considering her. "Well, well," he said finally. "Wilhelmina. How convenient. If the Dark Lord knew about it, he would use it, make no mistake. He'd make sure that if you stepped out of line again, she would die. Very unpleasantly."

Minerva was still breathing in harsh gulps, but she found voice enough to fight him. "You'll never find her, you cowardly bastard. She's gone into hiding, and even I don't know where."

With a snarl, Snape ripped into her mind again. The pain was excruciating. She realised that he had been gentle the first time; this time, he was brutal. Her memories flashed and pounded inside her head, their light blinded her, she was screaming. . .

When she came back to herself, she was still lying naked on the bed, her hands still tied. The pain had mostly faded, leaving just a bruised memory of itself, and the room was dark and quiet once more. The only light now came from the banked fire and from the single candle Snape had lit, not from her own past.

Severus was standing at the window, his back to her. Trying to keep her mind blank, Minerva gathered the energy she needed for a wandless, non-verbal petrificus totalus. . .

He turned at the same moment she cast; she could feel his Shield Charm rise, could hear glass shatter as her own spell went wide.

She had missed.

Her spell had missed, and the disappointment took her breath away as effectively as any suffocation curse.

Snape, instantly back at her bedside, was angry in a way he had not been before, and it was all she could do not to look away from him. Grabbing her hair in both hands, he pulled until she gasped with the pain of it. "Damn it, what will it take to get through to you? You have no options here. This is a warning, Minerva -- the only one you are going to get. This is your only fucking chance."

The horrible aptness of this phrasing must have occurred to him, for he gave another bark of ironic non-laughter. But then immediately his anger returned. "And don't you ever," he gritted, twisting her hair harder, "call me a coward again."

Minerva felt a sudden flash of understanding for the difficult double life he'd so long led. "You're right," she said, speaking carefully through swelling lips, trying, hoping, to reach him somehow. "You are a man of courage. In so many ways. But, Severus, raping me isn't brave. It's unworthy of you. And you don't want to do it; I know you don't. You aren't a Death Eater."

She braced herself for another blow, but instead, he narrowed his eyes in sudden interest. "Oh? And what makes you say that?"

"The Order. You know all about us, all our secrets. Yet I'm still alive."

Snape shrugged. "The Dark Lord's orders. He wants continuity at Hogwarts."

She shook her head, glad to keep him talking, glad for this glimmer of the old Severus, the one who'd liked to debate with her for hours. "No. I don't believe that. Why would he want the students influenced by someone like me, an Order member, a 'blood traitor'? But even if he did want me here, it doesn't explain why Molly and Arthur are still alive. Or Remus. If you were really the Dark Lord's man, Severus, Remus would be dead. You'd have killed him yourself. With pleasure."

To her dismay, it was the new Severus who answered. "I shall certainly take pleasure in reporting to my Lord that his enemies remain delusional and ineffective. Because you couldn't be more wrong. Yes, you're all still alive. For now. Just take it as a given that the Dark Lord has his reasons. But if you want to stay alive, do not question my allegiance again."

Then he changed the subject. "At least you were telling the truth about one thing," he said, his customary sneer nowhere in evidence. "You don't know where Wilhelmina is. Very well. I'll make a bargain with you, Minerva. I won't go looking for her. I won't even let the Dark Lord know about her; I can hide her in my mind or put her in a pensieve. But in return, I expect your unquestioning obedience, no matter what you're told to do. It's important. I don't care if you have to crucio first-years. Is that clear?"

Tears of frustration pricked Minerva's eyes; she tried to turn her head to hide them, but Severus caught her chin and brought her back to him. "You need to agree," he said, "because if you start defying me again, I will have to hunt Wilhelmina down. And you'll have to live with the knowledge that the only thing your pitiful resistance accomplished was your lover's death. You can't beat me, Minerva. Accept that.

"Now, I repeat: You will follow my orders to the letter. And the Carrows' orders. Is that clear?"

"Yes," she whispered, closing her eyes, hating him, hating herself.

It was wrong, it was selfish, but she knew she would do whatever it took to save Wilhelmina. Part of her still had trouble believing that Severus would actually kill her, but she couldn't take the chance.

"Good," Snape said. "I'm glad even Gryffindors see reason eventually. And now," he went on, leaning over her, "the time has come."

He lifted himself onto the bed and knelt before her, unfastening his trousers.

"But. . ."

"But what? You thought that if you agreed to obey me, we could skip the lesson? Oh, no, I'm afraid not. You need to learn this simple fact: the worst not only can happen. It will."

He took hold of her hips with icy fingers as he positioned himself, and she saw with a start that he was already fully erect. He must have taken a potion, she thought distractedly.

And then he began. Minerva dug her fingernails into her palms and concentrated on the task of staying silent -- not because silence mattered, but because it was something else to focus on beside the reality of Severus Snape's cock between her legs, of his black-clad bulk on top of her.

Vaguely she registered that he was moving slowly, giving her time to adjust to him, but soon his hands were pressing down on her shoulders, and he was thrusting and grunting, and not until she felt the sting of salt on her bloodied face did she realise that though she was soundless, she was crying.

Finally Snape finished and lay motionless atop her, his ragged breathing in counterpoint to her own. Once they were both still, he spoke in a near-whisper directly into her ear.

"He wanted you to be taught a lesson, and he wanted the marks of it to be visible to everyone. So you are not to heal your face. You shall be at breakfast, and you shall teach your classes, and to anyone who asks what happened, even first-years, you must say that it is your punishment for disobeying the Headmaster. Do you understand?"

A nod was all she could manage; he accepted it and climbed off her, adjusting his clothing.

She hoped desperately that he would leave then, but he drew the duvet over her and spoke once more, this time in his normal tones.

"If you have to be punished again," he said, "you'll look back at this encounter with nostalgia. Because being raped by me is nothing compared to what will happen to you next. A night with Amycus Carrow and a couple of other Death Eaters will be just the beginning. It's what the Dark Lord intended this time, but I convinced him it would be more effective to hold that plan over you as a threat. So he assigned me tonight's little episode instead and is keeping the other idea in reserve. But if he decides you need another lesson, nothing will save you. Or Wihelmina. I won't. I can't."

He leant back over her, and Minerva forced herself not to flinch. "Look at me," he said, and waited until she did. "Now listen carefully. This is war, and we both know what that means. Learn from this. If you have any sense at all, you'll give over your idiotic Gryffindor ideas of defiance and resistance, and you will protect yourself. Do you hear me? Protect yourself, damn it. Minerva, just. . .protect yourself."

His eyes as he gazed at her were unreadable. Then with a wave of his wand, he removed the cords tying her to the bed and placed her own wand on the mantel.

"Goodnight, Professor," he said as he turned to go. "I will see you at breakfast."