Based on the song Rocky Took A Lover, by Bell X1.
Severus Snape was standing at the window of his bedroom, looking out at the city below him as the sun began to creep over the horizon, streaking the dawn brilliantly pink and orange. His flat was small, and cramped, but it was in the centre of downtown London, and just walking distance from Diagon and Knockturn Alleys.
I wish I could shine, for once. Become something better than me, something worthwhile. Something that I can be proud of. But I gave my soul away a long time ago, he thought to himself.
"Hm?" a sleepy voice inquired from his bed, sitting up. He hadn't realized he'd voiced the thought aloud, and he certainly wouldn't have done so if he hadn't been half-asleep and hung over.
"Nothing. Nevermind," he said snappishly.
Hermione sighed. "What a wonderful way to wake me."
He didn't respond, turning to look out at the city once again.
"You know, you weren't very nice last night," she said, curled on her side facing him. Looking at his pale, scarred back, his narrow waist, his beautiful bare skin. "You're an asshole when you're drunk."
He didn't turn around when he responded, didn't look at her. Maybe he couldn't.
"At least I'm okay in the mornings," he said sarcastically.
The stars were still visible, but they were slowly fading as the sky grew brighter, more orange, traces of brilliant blue sky showing around the edges of the apricot haze.
"Do you see that star?" Severus asked some time later. Hermione stood, wrapped the blanket around her shoulders, and came to stand next to him. Not touching.
"Which?" she inquired, sleepy and still irritated from the night before.
"That one, the bright one," he said, pointing.
"They say that three men followed it once. To find the baby, the Son of God. They brought him gifts, they showed him he was loved as he lay, poor and dirty in that barn. In Bethlehem," he said softly, wistfully. He wasn't sure if he was feeling so despondent because of his own lost potential, or his lack of feeling about everything, his frustration with being so useless after the war. Or maybe because he had been alone, poor, and unloved, and no one had ever come and saved him. He knew he was taking it out on her, which was unfair, but he didn't ask her to come here every weekend. He didn't ask her to take care of him or kiss him or hold him when he felt so alone.
She tilted her head to the side. "I don't believe in Jesus. Or God."
He wasn't sure why her response disappointed him so, because it wasn't as if he did either, wasn't as if he were looking for any sort of religion. He didn't even believe in God, or any god, because what deity would wish such awfulness on all of his people? But he felt that she should believe, that this girl over twenty years younger than him, who transcended him in every imaginable way, should transcend him in this. She should believe, she should preach to him. She should know that God was there, even when he didn't, even when he was so sure that he was utterly alone.
"Why not?" he asked, his voice slightly hoarse.
Hermione looked up at him, but he just stared out the window, stared at that star. She followed his gaze, watching as the light morning blue began to overtake that star, began to fade it away to nothingness.
"Well… I suppose I don't know why all this shit stuff happens to people. If there were a God, I don't think life would be like this. I think it would be peaceful, and calm. And we would be able to love, without hurting," she said, trailing off thoughtfully.
Severus looked down at her then, at her mussed brown curls and the red imprints of the wrinkled sheet on her skin. He saw where he had marked her neck the night before, saw her perfectly polished nails as the held the sheet loosely around her shoulders. She glanced up and met his gaze, holding it until he looked down, marveling in the way their feet looked next to each other on the carpet. His were bony and long, while hers were perfectly feminine, the nails polished. A thin silver bracelet hung about her ankle, and though he knew what it was and where she had gotten it from, he didn't say anything.
He raised his head and met her eyes again.
"I wish I could shine for you," he said quietly, but either she didn't hear him or she didn't want to acknowledge the sentiment of the statement, what it implied, what it left hanging in the air.
Severus looked back out, up, at the stars again.
"The stars are closer than they look, you know," he said, trying to distract himself from what he had just said, what he had insinuated.
She said nothing, still looking at him, studying his collarbone, his shoulders.
"And we're in a gutter, staring at the stars," he said scathingly, quietly, painfully, alluding to a playwright he didn't realize she knew.
"Fuck off, Severus."
He looked down at her. She continued, raising her chin slightly. Defiantly.
"All you would say to me last night was how the stars were so hopeful, how much you wanted to believe in them. How much they didn't believe in you. You cursed them, said they were mocking you, that they hung low in the sky and taunted you. Dared you to reach them."
He rubbed a hand along his jaw, feeling the scratch of his beard from not shaving in a few days.
"What would you rather?" he responded. "That I try for things? Maybe get them? And then have them wrenched away from me? I'd rather not. Everything ends some day. Every great empire falls. Every star burns out. Everyone gets hurt."
She was still looking at him, but now there was a glint of understanding in her eyes, of comprehension. Maybe he was easing her pain.
"I'd rather have something and lose it than never have it at all," she said softly. "I don't want to have regrets when I die. I don't want to stay the same, forever, and be placid but unfulfilled. I would rather burn out. I want to feel. I want to be that star. Even if it hurts me in the end."
He turned away from the window, leaving her standing there. The sun now coming in, turning his silver moonlit haven into a golden, glowing world that he hardly recognized. He didn't deserve golden, nor glowing, and he sure as hell didn't deserve her. He didn't even want her, if she was going to be torn away from him. Or worse, he didn't want to give her the ability to leave. He was sick of breaking.
They had been sleeping together for weeks. It had started with her walking home with him after running into each other at a crowded pub. He had awkwardly asked if she wanted to come in for a drink, and she acquiesced.
It might have been the whiskey from the bar, or the bottle of deep red wine that they had shared while sitting at his kitchen table, but it didn't matter. It didn't dull what she had done.
She had stood, setting her almost-empty wine glass on the table, before walking over and straddling his lap. Just like that. No hand-holding, no flirtatious smiles, just whiskey and wine and a very chaste kiss that had taken him completely off guard.
He had wrapped his hands around her ribs, feeling how she was thinner than she should be, sliding his hands up under her shirt. She had pressed closer to him, running her hands through his hair, taking his mouth possessively. He responded, biting her lip lightly before delving his tongue into the mysterious mouth that belonged to his former student. How wrong. How immoral. But it felt so right, and she had begun unbuttoning her shirt, and honestly, what was he supposed to say. He was a man, and she was gorgeous, sitting in his lap and promising with her eyes everything he had never been given.
Her hair spilled around her shoulders as she took out the clip and shook her head. She pulled her shirt off, revealing a navy lace bra, and set to work on his shirt buttons. The bra was amazing, but it also made him think about whether she had been planning all along on going home with someone. Anyone. But he was glad it was him.
His shirt falling off his shoulders, and her bra properly disposed of, he carried her to his bed, with its green flannel sheets and broken box spring. But she hadn't said anything, just smiled at him, that quirk of her lips belying the nervousness she had been trying to hide. Gryffindor bravado.
He had stripped her, then himself, then crawled over her and pressed her back onto the bed. Her lips found his again, and her hands were doing unimaginable things, things he hadn't felt in years, and never for free. He returned the favor, and before long he had her shuddering in his arms. Let it not be said that Severus Snape was a bad lover, regardless of amount of practice.
Then she was positioning him over her, in her, and he filled her, watching her face as he did so. Her eyes were shut and he pushed the thought aside that she was thinking of someone else. And she let out the most glorious moan, throaty and sensual, and she opened her eyes and smiled up at him.
Later, when they were coming down from their not-quite-simultaneous highs, he had pulled her close and held her. She had curled into his arms, and they slept. He felt... almost peaceful, for once. Almost safe.
But their relationship didn't progress. It didn't regress, either, but they found themselves in a rut that they couldn't break out of. For whatever reason, he never showed emotion to her outside of his bed. And she never pressed him, knowing that having even this little sliver of him was better than having him throw her out the door.
And now, he turned back to face her, the golden light falling on her bare shoulders as he sat down on the edge of the bed, her hair curling around her face, the sunlight shining through it, making her look like an angel, or a hallucination, or maybe both. He wasn't sure which was worse.
"I can shine for you, if you can't on your own. I can hold you. I don't care if you can't love me back, I just want you to know that I do love you. And that I'm here for you, and I won't ever leave of my own volition, and I hope you don't ask me to. I want this, need this. So do you," she said, coming to sit next to him on the bed.
He couldn't quite meet her eyes, but he faced her and ran a hand down the column of her neck, along her collarbone, down her arm, before bringing it back up to trace the planes of her face.
"I wish I could be that for you too," he whispered, never before having felt as inadequate as he did now. "I wish I could shine for you."
She leaned forward and kissed him slowly, softly.
"I wish you saw, Severus. You already do."
She kissed him again, longer this time, lingering.