Comrades in Arms
AN: While wrestling with my Muse, who hasn't been speaking to me much lately, (Whatever I did, I'm sorry! Chocolates? Flowers? How can I make it up to you?) I came up with this one-shot. This alternate reality diverges sometime after HBP. At this moment Hermione is of-age, and the war rages on with no clear end yet in sight. She and Severus have not had much contact since school, save for a horrific battle they have just fought together, during which the reality of his loyalties and the burden of the life he has led on their behalf has become clear to her.
Special thanks to my beta, Heartmom88. Any mistakes are mine, because I messed with it after her meticulous read.
"There," Snape rasped in her ear, his sonorous voice excoriated by fatigue. "We'll rest there."
Hermione could just make out the outline of the forlorn cottage he'd indicated far below them when Snape's arms went limp around her, and they began to fall from the sky.
The cottage was decrepit, mean and structurally questionable. But at this point, Hermione was not feeling particularly choosy about their accommodations. Any shelter, any safety would be welcomed, no matter how fragile it might be. They both needed rest. She kicked open the door and Levicorposed Snape's unconscious body over the threshold.
Given the scuttling sounds in the corners, she threw down a quick vermin repelling spell, closing her eyes so she wouldn't have to watch as rodents and insects alike beat their hasty retreat. She reset, locked and warded the flimsy door she'd just come through. She reinforced it one more time for good measure, and nodded with fierce satisfaction. It would take more than a kick to come through that door now.
She transfigured the croft's narrow lumpy cot into a double bed, layered on a cushioning charm to offset the lumps, and embedded a time-released warming spell. Her endurance nearing its end, she dumped her professor's exhausted body onto its still dubious-looking surface. It would have to do.
The diagnostic spell she'd run after they'd tumbled from the sky had indicated that he was fine; her Arresto Momentum appeared to have saved them both from any breaks or internal injuries. They were both bruised of course, Arresto was an inexact spell at best, but that was all the damage the fall had wrought. The diagnostic had revealed other issues. A rune indicating malnourishment had flashed, as had one that typically denoted the chronically stressed; no doubt these were perpetual elements of his physical state. He showed nerve damage from extended Crucio, but then so did she, albeit to nowhere near the same degree. Something to look forward to, then, she thought with gallows humour, as she pulled his boots from his passive feet.
The diagnostics had given other evidence of the life he'd led in recent years, showing a variety of organ damage typically associated with exposure to dark curses, as well as the usual symptoms of overwork…But thankfully none of these seemed acute at the moment. Snape's major problem was he was magically depleted. He had, quite simply, used it all up, almost to the point of permanent damage. No wonder, with him flying her halfway across Scotland, particularly after the day they'd had. All in all, he was in better shape than she'd expected; there was nothing pressing that seventy-two hours of rest and six thousand calories of food wouldn't cure.
Of course, they didn't have seventy-two hours. With the apparition ban in place across Britain, they had some respite ahead of them. At least the blighters couldn't just pop up outside the cottage. It would take them a few hours to even find their trail, and another few to evade the nasty traps Severus had laid in for them along the way. That would take a few of them out of the equation, thin the herd so to speak. Then, the survivors would have to get here. They'd have to get through her wards. They'd have to get through the door, or blast their way through the walls. And then they'd have to get past her wand. But, she knew, get past it they would, and likely well before Snape could possibly recover the use of his magic. Without the professor's knowledge and keen skills, there seemed to be little chance that either of them would survive to see another sunset.
For a moment, a bleak moment, she considered leaving him. Intellectually, she knew that would be what he would want. Why had he suffered so much and for so long, if not to widen the chance that Harry might succeed? Without her guidance and steady temperament, Harry's chances of success would plummet. But it was hard to care. To leave Severus now, like this? After all he'd endured? A vision of what a dozen Death Eaters might do to his utterly vulnerable body turned her blood to ice water. It was simply unthinkable. She quickly replaced that image with the vision of herself, frizzy head and all, standing between him and that danger. It would end the same, of course, but it was a more fitting finale for a man who had given his entire life to their cause. And she was no longer untried in battle… she might just take one or two of them with her.
She cast her final wards around the cottage. They would not keep anyone with skill out for long, but they would buy them a few more minutes of time. Time. She laughed at how she had once felt there was so much of it. Funny how precious it seemed now. Too tired for further philosophy, Hermione crawled up on the cot, transfigured his cloak into a down comforter, tossed it over the both of them, and was instantly sleep.
She awoke in the middle of the night to find her body pressed spoon-like behind his. Reflexively, she cast her mind out for a quick check of her wards. Nothing yet. She told herself sternly to go back to sleep. It was too soon for anyone to have found them. If today was to be her last day of life, at least she should have these last few hours of comfort.
She buried her face in her former professor's back and breathed deeply. Beneath the odours of battle, the blood, smoke, the sour sweat, she identified something deeper that was obviously his. Primal and earthy. Intriguing. Male. She filled her nostrils with it.
The sound of her deep inhalation registered in his sleep, it seemed, for he shifted backwards, grabbed her hand, and drew her arm around him.
Even as she drifted off, Hermione grinned. In sleep, it seemed, even the prickliest warrior wanted to be held.
When she next emerged from slumber, the sun had risen. Her body felt intact, but rather like it had been beaten with a two-by-four. A two-by-four named Bellatrix. She grimaced. Couldn't say she was any fonder of Crucio the second time around than the first. At least this time she knew that particular board would never beat her again. Nor would Mulciber, nor Doholov. She'd counted at least six that Severus had ended in their mad flight.
And she? Well, she'd done her part. Protected his back when others would have attacked it. Helped them fight their way through the crowd. In the crush of it all, she was fairly certain she had taken her first life. The curse hadn't been intended to be fatal, but she'd seen the soul leave that man's eyes before he'd crumpled to the ground. That curse had been an act of desperation and survival. She didn't regret it. But a person who had been alive was now no longer, because of her. It was a weight, there, just below her sternum. If, somehow, they survived this, she suspected that weight would be with her for all her days.
So be it.
Rather than dwell upon it, she propped herself up on one elbow to look at her bedmate's sleeping face. He had tried so hard, bless him. Had fought so bravely, so tirelessly. He'd given everything he had in his bid to buy their escape. So what if it hadn't worked? They, both of them, had done their very best. That was something. It had to be. If she had to leave Harry and Ron with their task yet undone, at least she would go into that good night knowing that she'd left nothing on the table. And neither had Snape. They'd given their all. Both of them.
She pressed a gentle hand to her bedmate's cheek.
"You did well, Severus." She said, her lips inches from his skin, "You did well."
He still slept, and yet he whimpered and pressed his face against her hand, rubbed his cheek against it, much like Crooks did when demanding attention. She instinctively complied, then smiled at herself. If someone had told her that she, most annoying swot ever to grace a potions classroom, would be petting the sleeping,-and-yet-formidable Professor Severus Snape like some kind of overgrown kneazle, she would have laughed herself silly.
But war changes all the rules, doesn't it?
If this man, this noble man who had risked his cover, his life, and his last drop of magic to save her, if this man took simple pleasure from her touch, then the rest of the world could go to straight to hell if they had a problem with it.
Now that she had begun to pet his face and hair, she found herself curiously reluctant to stop. No one would ever call it a beautiful face. But it was a good face. A real face. A face that had lived. She'd always quite liked it, despite, or perhaps because of its prominent nose. Next to that nose, she'd thought, her detested hair might seem, well, proportional. It seemed petty now to even think that way, but there you have it. She'd liked his face, even when his mission in life had seemed to be making her cry. Thankfully, his interest in that particular hobby had waned as the war had waxed. Not that that mattered. None of it mattered anymore.
And his hair. Funny how disgusted she'd been by its greasiness when she was a kid. It had been easy to judge the man for so simple a thing, not knowing the nightmares of his daily life. But now, having seen what she'd seen, having done what she'd done, she noted no disgust in running her fingers through it. Instead, she felt pride in his obvious sleeping pleasure. That pleasure was real. That pleasure mattered. Maybe it was the only thing that mattered now.
She allowed her hands to run down the column of his neck, and noted, with interest, how the skin there pebbled beneath her fingers. She could see the passage of her fingers upon his flesh. To see the physical reaction of his body to her touch made her feel suddenly powerful, like she had an impact, even upon this man. And when the tenor of the small sounds he was making shifted, when they changed from childlike calls for comfort to something deeper, less innocent…when that happened, that feeling of power in her body became something much older and more basic.
She resisted for a moment, and then figured, what did it matter? If this was to be the end, then let her do what she wanted, for once. And what she wanted was to be closer, to feel his body with her own. She inched forward, letting the curve of her breast press into his side, and her thigh drape over his. The heat of his leg through his trousers seemed suddenly searing, a fact that he seemed to note as well. He moaned at the contact, and she felt the sound pull something deep inside of her, flooding her with warmth and a thick viscous desire.
Oh, she wanted him to wake up.
She'd felt desire before, certainly, but not like this. Not like she'd been starving and suddenly there was a meal ripe for the taking. It made her less cautious, that desire, so that her explorations grew firmer, wandering across the broad muscles of his chest. Less curiosity, more intent. To make him feel. To give him pleasure. To have the pleasure his response elicited between her own thighs.
Lower. She roamed the ridged plane of his belly. Combed through the trail of hair at its center, skimmed over the jutting angle of his hipbones. Resisted the temptation to touch what she most wanted to touch, settled for moving down the hard muscles of his legs.
Wake up. She thought to him. Wake up.
Her breath had quickened, but then, so had his. Had she been more aware, she might have wondered at that, suspected that he was waking by the tenor of that breath. But she was too overwhelmed by the fact that her own body ached and swelled as if it were his hands on her flesh and not the reverse. His need and hers seemed woven together, a knot too snarled to unravel. She wanted. How she wanted.
Wake. She thought to him with increased urgency. Wake.
This time, he did. He woke, froze for a moment, as if assessing the situation, then took her hand in his and without delay placed it directly where she wanted it to be. His moan at the contact was lost beneath the cover of hers. She grasped and stroked him through his trousers, the fabric already damp from his arousal.
A moment, two. They continued that way before she could stand it no longer. As if he felt her urgency, they were suddenly shifting, tugging, pulling at the clothing encircling them with mounting frustration. His velvet voice growled, still rough around the edges.
"Hermione, you must perform Divesto." He enunciated. "For I cannot."
And so she did, wandlessly casting away the layers of fabric between them, sending all of their clothing flying about the room, so that when he flipped them over so that his weight was upon her, there was nothing to prevent the astounding pleasure of his skin on hers.
He nudged her legs open, settled between them, placing himself just at her entrance. Here he paused, stared down at her with eyes dark and unreadable. "Clever, clever witch." He rasped. And then, more softly, "Are you sure of this?"
Her answer, as her fingers dug into the meat of his ass was half moan, and half sigh.
" Oh, gods. Yesssss…."
Then, he was inside her. Around her. Everywhere. She felt his motion deep in her body. It was pleasure, it was pain, it was everything. So much sensation, so much need, so much aching within her. It was everything and it was still not enough. His mouth on her breast was a brand, the edge of it so keen she was sure that he was slicing her open, so that her heartbeat would be visible to him, as naked as the limbs that writhed beneath him. Let him consume her. In this moment, she wanted nothing more than for the two of them to burn up in flame, a conflagration of lust and life and feeling.
His hands entwined with hers. They were her only purchase, and she clutched at them, a safety line in what had become a disorienting sea inside her. Had this always been here? This need? This depth of feeling? How had she not known?
It was all so much, so overwhelmingly huge and vast that she felt she might be swamped by it, she might be bowled over with sensation and never find the surface of it again. As the pleasure of her crest began to build she felt an accompanying panic rise with it, so that she could not have one without the other. It was terror. A primal need to back away, to run from the inevitability of these rising waters.
But then his eyes were upon her, and he was speaking.
"Now." he ground out, his hips pumping, his face trapped in a rictus between pleasure and pain, "Witch, let go now. I will protect you, but it must be now!"
At the need in him, the fierce desire in that ravaged voice, she tossed her fear aside like it was weightless. Instantly, she was coming, helplessly coming, her body, her emotions, her magic shuddering, then swirling out from her in a tidal wave of pleasure. It pulsed and swirled and coursed through her body and her mind and catapulted into the space beyond…
…where she felt him take it, all of it, pull it into him even as he wordlessly groaned his own release, as his rhythm shattered into three last thrusts of his body into hers.
It should have been awkward. The two of them, covered in their own fluids, panting and twitching from the echoes of their pleasure. But it wasn't. She drifted on a cloud of their remembered pleasure feeling weightless, without a care in the world, utterly content. He looked at her, chuckled, pressed his swollen lips to her mouth.
"Clever, clever witch. Rest, while you can," he said, and rose gracefully from their bed. "I will make us safe."
It should have been awkward. He, walking about the cottage with his beautiful lanky body, his genitals uncovered, collecting their clothing, unashamed.
It should have been awkward, how she lay there in a drugged stupor, watching him, wanting him, even with his semen still running between her thighs.
But it wasn't.
It was awkward, for a moment, only when she asked him. Asked him with halting, languorous words about what THAT had been, the pulling, the sensation of him taking at the end of her release. Awkward, when she watched a parade of emotions flash over his habitually unreadable face. The only moment of that cascade she understood was the end, when his face seemed to soften in an unexpected way leaving him less Severus, and more hers. He ran a hand over the bushy tangle of her hair, petted her as she had petted him, told her to rest now. She would be better soon, and he would explain everything then.
It should have been awkward, when he wandlessly dressed her sated body. A distant voice in her head seemed to think there was no way he could have done this, not so soon, not when he'd been so fully depleted. But somehow, she was still blissfully unconcerned. In this reality, Severus Snape was her lover, and he'd found some way to make it all work. Clever, clever wizard.
It should have been awkward when he called in his wand, wrapped his arms around her, and lifted them both into sky and safety. But, gratefully, she found as she buried her face in his neck, it wasn't.
AN: I've left this all a bit purposefully vague, hoping it inspires some of you to fill in the blanks. If any of you feel so inspired, and wish to write what comes next, or turn the whole thing into a proper story, I'd be delighted. Seriously. As in Thrilled. If you do, I ask only two things: 1. Give the story a credit, and mention my name in your Author's notes, and 2, For Merlin's sake, let me know about it so I can read it!
And remember, all good reviewers get a visit from Alan Rickman in the afterlife. You know what to do…