A story by Anette S

Disclaimer: Jo is the boss here; I, a faithful subject, am here only to entertain you.

Author's note: It has been a while... I hope you like this.

Of course, as always, this is brought to you with the wonderful and much appreciated help and advice of my dearest beta dancesabove.

Love, Anette

Chapter 26

The private lives of Slytherins

Severus Snape was a very private man. Generations of his students witnessed his reclusive, hermit-like nature, using it to excess as a point in conversations more than just mildly offensive.

No one ever bothered to ask themselves why the quiet-voiced Potions teacher always wore his sleeves tightly buttoned. He considered it a relief. It was easier if no one asked, and so… he made sure no one ever asked.

He had been a generous lover, in those rare moments of peace when he'd enjoyed the company of a woman. He'd given his heart away a long time ago, and any deep emotional tie he might have conjured with a lover was simply... impossible. There was always, only, Lily.

As a young man of seventeen, he'd never been with a woman before, never even knew a girls' touch other than a hug from Lily. His inexperience was too soon noticed and then... and then came Voldemort. He'd had nightmares of that night, the night when he took his Mark and was 'rewarded' with no less than five women, all under the watchful eye of his Lord and the Inner Circle of his followers.

The moments of that first and last revel he'd been Imperioed to participate in had left wounds he could never truly heal. He'd been forced to climax, to enjoy himself with these women, his will taken away from him with the Imperio. Never after did he allow his mind to become so weak.

For years after, any human touch was simply abhorrent to him, and too difficult to endure. After the initial blow his character and masculinity experienced that night, his body simply could not trust another being, woman or man. The trauma that first forced experience imprinted on him was too much for a young man already hurt and disappointed in love. Not even the Imperio curse was able to force his anatomy to perform again. He felt relief more than anything else when they taunted him about his impotence.

It was years later, one summer after Voldemort fell for the first time, that he'd met a woman in Portugal. A muggle who invited him into her bed, seduced him into feeling safe there, and taught him how to bring her pleasure. His own climax was to this day reserved only for moments of solitude, but he'd learned that summer that he could function as a sexual being. After being completely impotent for years, it came as a surprise. Still, the shame he felt for enjoying that first revel, even if he had by then reasoned with himself that it was against his will, left him unable to climax with a partner.

When Voldemort rose to power the second time, he'd made sure no one from the Death Eaters ever found out of his change in circumstances. No one ever knew about his Portuguese lover, no one even thought about him having someone special in his life. Not even Dumbledore knew. It was best that way. But by then, any notion of having time for a private life had firmly disappeared. It would have been unfair to the woman, even had he found the time. Still, with his renewed ability to become stimulated, he had made it a point to brew and keep in stock an impotence potion he'd used religiously. And again—only this time by his own design—he'd become as unresponsive as they all knew him to be. The only good that ever came out of it was that he'd been spared having to attend any subsequent revels, and put to "better" use by spying for both sides.

But now... Hermione had changed him. She'd changed everything. She was his light, and they were finally in their own home. More than a month had passed, and they were settling in comfortably. She was slowly but surely turning back into the bossy, quick-witted young woman he remembered her being. As the object of her affection, and hence her bossiness, he was privy to the transformation and he loved it.

He smiled softly as he moved to get out of said bossy woman's embrace as gently as he could without waking her. It would not be right to rouse her from her sleep only because of his... need.

Severus Snape was a very private man, and still his dear Hermione somehow knew more than any other woman dared to know about him. Since they had moved in together a subtle but noticeable shift had occurred in their bedroom. She dared to ask the questions, and he was brave enough to answer them as truthfully as he could without revealing too much of his own painful past. It was too soon for that, but if he could ever imagine admitting to anyone the full extent of his past experiences, it would be her.

Minding the creaky floorboard, he reached to get his wand from the bedside table. A non-verbal Silencio was too much of a bother on a Saturday morning.

Closing the door and casting the necessary enchantments, he leaned his back into the heavy oak and closed his eyes with a deep sigh. His groin throbbed after last night's explorations of his young love's body, and he reached to touch the hardness of his cock through the silk fabric of his pyjama trousers.

Yes, there had been a noticeable shift in their bedroom activities, but it did nothing to relieve him in—and in fact it only increased—the burning passion he felt for her and still could not express by worshiping her body.

Their progress was remarkable, but they were a long way away from making love in the normal sense.

His hand rubbed slowly along his shaft, still staying on the outside of his trousers. He didn't rush the moments of his own solitary release. He'd learned to savour them, imagining her hand on him, her body over his.

He did not feel shame in his actions. The choice of not telling her served only to keep her from feeling inadequate to his pleasure. There would be no point in her having such feelings of inadequacy. He was only ever able to feel pleasure when he could assume the outcome, making it quite a solitary task. But she did not need to know that yet. Although pleasure was a territory they were slowly threading toward, it was a conversation that would ultimately lead to a greater reveal, that of the reason for such a solitary choice, and he was not ready yet for that conversation.

With a laboured sigh he slipped his hand into his trousers and hissed at the contact of his palm with the hot, slippery head of his cock. He rounded it gently, preferring the attention on the head rather than the length of it.

His Portuguese lover sucked him before, and as much as he enjoyed it, he was rather particular about it. It always needed to be under his control, with careful instructions. Like everything else in his life, and for the same unfortunate reason, everything had to be carefully controlled.

His partner in bed had had no objections. He chose her wisely to make sure of it.

As his hand repeated the well-rehearsed movements, he let go and the images of Hermione started flashing in the forefront of his mind. Hermione kissing his chest, Hermione leaning over him, her nipples brushing against his thighs as she leaned lower, a mischievous eyebrow raised in question as she wet her lips...

He cancelled the silencing spell after vanishing the seed from his tired hand, and promptly stepped under the shower, thus giving himself the perfect alibi for his absence should she wake up, as well as removing the scent of sex from his skin.

He didn't know that she had waked the moment he closed the bathroom door. Every time, as soon as the lock clicked, she would open her eyes, knowing what the long silence before the shower started meant.

She didn't understand why he felt that he had to hide it from her. After all, the things they had done in bed recently rid them of any squeamishness about each other's nudity and sexual needs.

She still had a long way to travel, but they were getting very creative.

Still, he hid in the bathroom to give himself relief, and Hermione was becoming a bit puzzled by it. And a puzzled Hermione was soon to become a determined Hermione.

Turning to his side of the bed as she heard the shower start, she pulled the sheet up over her naked body, a soft smile flitting over her face as she remembered the reason for her nudity.

"A new year," he said as he sat on the edge of the bed, watching her slip the satin robe off of her shoulders.

They had chosen to celebrate at home, only the two of them, the novelty of being all by themselves still terribly attractive.

An evening with champagne, candles and a picnic by the fire was arranged, and Severus didn't snort in disgust once over the romantic tone of the tableau.

"A new year indeed," she echoed, stepping between his legs, the edge of her satin nightgown fluttering against her thighs.

His arms were there to welcome her in as she leaned down to meet his lips with her own.

"Mmmmm... again," he whispered, a simple request he dared to place now. He was rewarded promptly.

"I could kiss you forever," she sighed against his lips.

In a practiced routine, he moved into bed first and watched with hungry eyes as she climbed in over him. She lay against him, her thighs brushing his, her head nestling in the crook of his neck.

Closing her eyes, she let her palms wander. His naked chest was a balm to her skin, and with each night she dared to wear less, only to be able to feel more of his skin beneath hers.

And it had been a very pleasant night so far.

His arms, by no means idle, encircled her, pulling her into him, his palms gently moving down her back from the tips of her shoulders to the smoothness of her hips and back, inscribing soothing circles into her bones and muscles.

She tipped her head back and he was there to meet her lips with his, their hands continuing their relentless explorations. Pulling her up until she was straddling him, he continued to map out her body, touching the bare skin only in the places she chose to bare for him.

But tonight was about to become different.

With a firm push of her tongue she reclaimed dominance of their kiss and tangled her fingers at the base of his head, pushing into him, and his hands met her waist to find balance.

Never before had she kissed him as hungrily, and he was surprised to say the least, but let himself be steered by her and enjoyed it greatly.

She pushed him down into the bed and ground herself against his straining cock, watching in primal satisfaction as his eyes shut and his brow furrowed.

"Sweet Merlin, woman..." he hissed as his hands reciprocated the attention of hers and pulled her into another scorching kiss.

Rising on her hands above him, sheets of her auburn curly mane curtaining their gaze from the world, she paused.

His lips pulsating from their latest kiss, he tried to read her eyes as he struggled to calm his breath.

She was spread above him, over him, in clear control of their sensual rhythm, and there was a question written on her face, as clearly visible as the light sheen of perspiration endearingly accumulated above her upper lip.

His palms slipped down to her sides, his thumbs gently rubbing circles into the sides of her breasts and she moaned, her head leaning back in a primal gesture.

He almost came at the sight of her.

"Severus..." she panted as her eyes met his again. "I..." she paused, and he repeated the earlier gesture, this time making her drop her lips next to his ear.

"I want your hands on my skin," she rasped, and he could not choke back the groan that rumbled deep within him.

She rose on her palms just enough to meet his eyes and, if he needed a translation of her words, which he did not, offered a clear phrase; one that blew the air out of his lungs.

"Take it off," she whispered, her eyes on his, her tone sure, her hands the next moment on his as she rose into a sitting position.

She held each palm of his up to her lips and kissed it, then led them both to the rim of her nightgown. "Take it off," she repeated, with certainty and love in her eyes.

It broke her heart how his hands trembled under her gentle attention, affirming her decision and scattering away the last remnants of fear of being seen by him, like this, knowing what it would mean.

He dared not say a word. He didn't trust himself to speak; indeed he would not have trusted himself to act if she hadn't placed his palms effectively where they needed to be.

All it would take for him to see her skin—all of it—was to move his hands.

And yet he could not. Holding completely still, their eyes connected, he simply absorbed the moment, his mind paralyzed by the sheer trust in her eyes.

A gentle nudge, a leading pressure on the top of his palms, finally made him resume.

She led his hands over the tops of her thighs, his fingers collaborating in collecting the fabric along the way, but no more.

When they reached her hips, she inhaled deeply, and they stilled. It was a small moment, but enough to wake him from his trance.

He slowly rose to her until they were equal, both sitting, her body too close in his embrace for him to see her, but not too close for his palms to continue their path.

Her eyes locked onto his and her hands abandoned his for the safety of his neck.

With a nod and a deep breath, she gave him permission to continue in his task.

He slipped his fingers under the satin first and then slowly, ever so gently, slid up until the fabric draped over his forearms and he could feel her breasts under his palms.

With a soft sigh of surrender she closed her eyes and lifted her arms, the garment floating off of her in the tenderest of touches. She let her arms fall against her torso as she heard the sound to her nightgown fluttering next to them on the bed, but she could not open her eyes.

And then there was silence.

He slowly lowered his arms until he mirrored her pose, complementing her in every way but one, that of keeping his eyes open.

Softly as her breath on his face, he let his eyes roam over her closed eyelids, over the tiny freckles at the tip of her nose and the perfectly shaped eyebrows. He let his gaze wander over the magnificent landscape of her face, the magically created valleys and hills of her lips, her mouth, her chin. How he adored this woman, this creature unlike any other he'd ever met in his life. So different, so rare was she to him, and the courage with which she sat here, still and open in all her fragility, resting calmly in the eye of the storm. It simply stole his breath away.

His fingers brushed against her sides, travelling lightly over the skin he dared not see yet. Not until she opened her eyes to him. In an unspoken agreement, he knew he could touch, but not look.

The touch travelled further up, over the side of her breast, but this time daring to venture inwards rather than continue on its vertical path. The sharp intake of breath told him he was dancing on yet another knife blade, but she was a willing partner.

His palm finally dared to cup the soft flesh of her young breast, and as the tip of his forefinger brushed her nipple, her eyes opened, and he was lost once more.

Her mouth opened, but no sound came out. No word, no sigh. But her eyes had never before been this communicative.

With a deep breath and a warming gaze from the woman in his arms, he dared to pay equal attention to her other breast, taking his time to reach it, just as before.

The spiderlike fingers danced over her skin, tingling, buzzing, awakening the surface of it, making her aware of it as she'd never been before.

With a deep, primal groan he let the palms of his hands slide deep over her shoulder blades as he pulled her into a soul-crushing embrace, and only then did she dare to breathe.

"My love... my darling," he whispered into her hair as his palms slid down her back, worshiping her gloriously nude skin, reaching deep over her muscles and back up until the curious fingers once again found their safe harbour in her untameable curls.

She smiled, a shy, unsure little laugh escaping her throat as he pulled her away only enough to meet her teary gaze with his own.

Her palms travelled to his chest, and with deep love she leaned in and met his lips in a soft flutter of a kiss, as tender as the touch of her fingertips on his chest.

"Lean back," she said softly, her words accentuated with a more noticeable push against his chest. "See me."

And he obeyed.


Hermione smiled as she curled into the warmth she could still feel from his side of the bed. He hadn't been up long, and the shower had just been turned on. It had been two weeks since he'd undressed her for the first time in their bed, the memory still causing butterflies to dance in her belly.

She was so sure, so forward with him that evening, and so proud of herself, that it took her a couple of days and repeats of the same welcoming caresses to realize how affected his own body was.

Looking beyond pure sexual excitement, she noticed a more important issue... He was almost afraid of touch—almost as much as she was. Saddened by it, but at the same time determined to relax him as much as he'd relaxed her, she explored every exposed inch of his own beautiful body, just as he'd done to her.

Which led them to the events of last night.

She blushed and covered her face with the sheet, which still held the scents of mint and cloves and her Severus.

But there was no time to dwell on the wonderful details that had led to her complete nakedness for the first time. The shower was still running and he had been rather stubborn last night about reciprocating in the removal of clothing.

After the experiences of her past, Hermione found almost childish excitement in exploring the body of her lover, and his loving examination of hers. Only… he would not be convinced to remove his pyjama trousers, silencing her quite efficiently with the power of his feather-light kisses. And when a man like Severus Snape was on a mission to bring pleasure, there was not a woman alive, not even Hermione Granger, who could keep her mind working.

She shivered at the memory of his lips tracing alluring patterns over her hipbone, for the very first time, as his breath tickled the newly exposed skin. How she wished to do the same to him, to feel all of him, to slide her hands over his body slowly and with as much care as he'd done to her. She was unsuccessful in persuading him to let her touch him as he had touched her last night.

But it was a new day now, and she had a mission concerning the man behind the heavy oak door—the man hiding his need for pleasure from her in what she speculated was his misguided concept that the knowledge would hurt her.

With one final deep breath to encourage herself, she rose slowly from their bed, letting the sheets fall behind her as her feet hit the warm carpet. One determined foot placed in front of another, she closed the distance to her goal and pushed the door open.

He felt her presence the moment she entered the bathroom, and he could not say he was surprised. He knew her well enough to be aware that, even though he had tried his best to distract her last night, she would eventually have her way.

He could not blame her for being curious, and he'd fought his own fears to inspire such freedom in her, to dare to be curious about a man's body. Still, it did nothing for his own fears, the fears he still kept firmly shut inside.

And now she was here, in the room, standing behind him, with nothing but a sheer curtain of steam blocking her view of him.

Thank Merlin his back was turned to her. Those moments granted to gather his courage were very much needed.

She let her eyes wander over the strong, wiry muscles spreading over his shoulders down his arms and back to his shoulder blades, obviously tense and highly aware of her inspection. She would kiss them first, she decided. Her eyes travelled lower then, to the small of his back and the tangle of nerves hiding behind the little cleft there to his soft backside, the muscles just barely visible beneath the pale skin. And his legs... the legs that carried him, carried her so often, with the spidery web of dark coarse hairs scattered over the well-defined muscles of his thighs... so many places to kiss and touch and worship.

Her Severus. Her love. How scared he must be, to stay turned away from her still. Her heart clenched in love and adoration as she walked steadily into the shower.

"You are so beautiful..." she murmured as she wrapped her arms around him, letting the spray of water soak into her curls as she lay her first promised kiss on his left shoulder blade. "...So brave, my love," her voice danced over his skin as her lips travelled over his spine to reach the right shoulder.

All this time he stayed still, silent, frozen. A leap of faith of previously unfathomable proportions was required of him, and he was not ready. But was a man like him ever ready to show himself to a woman like her? And did he need to be ready?

She pushed a soft kiss into the middle of his back, and a knot released somewhere deep inside him, letting out an avalanche of emotions he'd so diligently tried to suppress for so many years.

His darkest fears, his deepest secrets had been destroyed with a single kiss by a knowing woman. A woman who saw him, saw through him. What a fool I was, he thought, to think the moment was far away, especially after the intimacy we shared last night... I should have known.

Her palms now travelled from his shoulders, down his sides, and over his hips until they curled inside and rested on his stomach, pulling him into her.

He could not move, his arms dangling like limbs of a broken puppet at his sides as she connected their wet bodies together, his skin touching her, her belly expanding and pushing into the soft skin of his lower back with each breath.

He was lost.

An animal-like cry rose from his gut, half-groan, half-plea, as his hands found hers and clutched at them in despair.

"I see you, Severus Snape. And it's all right," she cooed into his back. "It's perfectly all right."

"It's not... you don't know what—" he began, but she silenced him with another kiss between his shoulder blades.

"You will tell me, eventually. Not now," she decided. "Now I want to look at you," she said confidently, pushing her left palm on his hip until he started to turn. "All of you," she specified, as his body obeyed her hand's guidance, turning until he stood facing her, the shower running down his back now, slicking his hair away from his face.

He closed his eyes.

"No. Look at me," she demanded, and he took a silent breath before he did as she told him. It was a demand, but a fragile one, and he knew the moment was too precious to avoid any longer.

So he looked at her.

She smiled.

He smiled back.

And the chains of another crime of the past started to rattle, to loosen their hold on an innocent soul diminishing under the power of a loving gaze.