Story: Harry Potter

Pairings: Severus/ Hermione

Rating: M

Genre: Romance/ Drama/ Self Discovery

Author's Notes: Sorry it's taken me so long to update! I do want to keep this story going. I hope you'll let me know what you think of this latest chapter.

The Marriage Bed

Chapter 8: On Thy Cold Gray Stones

She dreamed of Severus nightly. The first time, it was kissing. Nothing more than one human finding solace in the embrace and nearness of another human. Comfort, understanding and the budding yearning for exploration. Soon after she closed her eyes and the next night, the exploration began. They touched with hands, the next night with lips, the next with words. They laughed, they talked on so many subjects that Hermione swore her dreams were educating her. Potions, creatures, magic- both light and dark. Some nights he was her teacher, but often, she was his guide and his muse.

After several weeks of dreaming these intimate conversations, the touches - some innocent, some lecherous, they began to make love. At first, with their hands, then with their bodies in different states of undress and finally, in full nudity, neither the professor embarrassed of his scars, nor she of her lithe figure.

At this zenith in the dreams, Hermione awoke with an orgasmic scream, her body covered in sweat. Breathing deep and fast, the dream was so real, it took her a few minutes to realize that it was Ron snoring in her bed and not Severus- her dream lover. Padding in the darkness to the washroom, she stripped her clothes and welcomed the cleansing heat of a long, hot shower.

How much longer could she hold on living two realities? Her dreams more alive and more pleasureful than her waking life with Ronald. One thing was certain, she loved Ron, but not as a lover or husband; only as a friend. Their lives, which had once grown like an entangled vine now grew apart. His branch content in its reach, her's desiring to reach the sun, pulling and stretching to breathe and thrive in a new direction. She would have to tell him soon. Their end was drawing near...

"Damn it!" Severus cursed. Another ruined potion because he couldn't stop thinking about those damn dreams and that witch. Hermione. For the past three weeks, the dreams had been growing in their intensity and last night he'd woken up with wet sheets. He hadn't had a wet dream since he'd been a young man and the knowledge of a woman's body still a mystery. Worse than that, his ministrations with Helen were going nowhere. They had made no further progress than gentle kissing.

Clearing the ruined potion with a flick of his wand, he made a decision. Tonight either they consummated their relationship or he'd end it. He couldn't go on without a witch in his bed and if it couldn't be Hermione then he would have Helen.

Helen's House

Knees bumping as they faced one another in front of the fire, they kissed.

Severus knew it was time. "Helen," he began with serious intent.

"Shhh..." The witch quieted him with a finger against his lips and stood, taking his hand. "Come up stairs," she bid with soulful eyes.

Blushing like a schoolboy, he followed her. The house was so quiet, it seemed like every step they took on the aged floor boards squeaked with condemnation of the act they were about to commit. In silence, he followed her up the narrow staircase and into a bedroom of soft colors. She dropped his hand to lock the door and light the fire.

Glowing in the roar of the firelight, Helen asked, "This is what you want, isn't it?"

But before he could answer, she pushed her lips against his and they began kissing again and he was left only to hum an answer. He was growing hot and hard. Lifting his hands to her shoulders, he traced her form with his palms; waist to hips.

Pushing him back slightly, "Sit." She commanded, leading him to her vanity stool. Then standing in front of him, silhouetted by the amber firelight, she began to undress.

As much as he knew it should please him to have Helen reveal her beauty in such a manner, it instead made him extremely uncomfortable. She slowly took off her blouse, vest and skirt and stood before him in tight corset and virginal lace edged chemise. Her pale skin reflecting the flames of the fire. Yet, the flame inside him began to quell. It was not that he didn't find her beautiful, but not like this. He didn't want a show for his pleasure, a sacrifice for his lust. He wanted what he'd shared with Hermione.

As her fingers moved to the stays of her corset, slowly revealing her bosom, Severus stood and in one step, stilled her hands.

"No." He said, voice raspy.

"No?" Her chest heaved, their hands bound together at her breast; eyes wide with shock.

Letting go of her fingers, he knelt to retrieve her blouse from the floor. "I don't want you like this."

"Like how?" Her words barely a whisper.

"You're not a gift to be unwrapped for my amusement." He replied standing and putting her blouse into her hands.

Blue eyes welled with tears. "But, you've done so much for me and I care for you." She looked away and he could see the tears fall from her rosy cheeks.

He wasn't good with females, perhaps this is where he should embrace her; unsure, he gently placed his hand on her arm, "I care for you, too. That's why we can't do this."

Looking at him with red, watering eyes, "I don't understand."

"I had thought once to make you my wife," he lamented. Turning from her, voice low, "And I will not make you my whore."

The witch broke with sobs. "I don't mean to make you feel unwanted or that I'm ungrateful for your friendship." Pausing to sniff and then whispered, "It's just I...I.. haven't been with a wizard besides my late husband. I thought I was ready... But I'm not. I'm sorry... You're right, I can't do this."

Then pausing, she smiled at him through her tears. "But you've been so very patient with me." Then sobbing again, "Please, Severus. Please let me give you pleasure... There are other ways..."

"No... No, that's not what I want." He replied coarsely, pacing the floor boards away from her. "Get dressed." He quipped with distain, stalking over to the fire.

Fingers playing against his collar, he felt some relief that he hadn't had to show her his damage flesh and yet, he was angered that he'd go home unsated. His relationship with Helen as impotent as ever; his dreams of Hermione more realistic and unobtainable than ever. Sitting in a side chair, he rested his head as he mused mirthlessly that at least his conscious would be clear. Now he could lust over two women he couldn't have! One young and engaged, the other frigid and beholden to a dead husband. Why should he be shocked. Crossing his arms, sullen, he thought, 'this is always how it ends for Severus Snape'.

Suddenly, without warning, he felt warm brandy-soaked lips sucking on his. Hotly, she whispered in his ear, "One more try?"

Before he could give a breathless 'no', she was in his lap, lips pressed against his; hot and moist with sweet liquor. There was no cure for cowardice like drink, he understood more than most. There was a brief moment when he though he should (as a gentlemen) resist and then like a puff of smoke, the thought was gone and his body was responding to her heat. No, this wasn't who he wanted, but it would do, he thought as his hands traced her arms and tangled in her silken hair.

He felt her fingers leave his shoulders, skim his chest and travel lower to his fine, wool trousers. Flattening her palms, they pushed and rubbed against his growing need until he bucked slightly and growled. "We're past teasing, witch. Enough!"

"Shhhh..." She cooed. Then sliding off his lap and kneeling in front of him, she ran her hands up and down his thighs. Eyes dark and haunting, red flames danced in her black hair from the firelight. Was she woman or succubus?

Now understanding her intent, Severus closed his eyes and fought for one last shred of fortitude. "Helen," he said lightly, brow knotted. "This isn't necessary..."

She stroked and squeezed him and he audibly gasped for air. Long fingers gripping the arm rests as his body surged and crackled with an electric desire. He was at her mercy.

And as she unzipped his pants, and parted her angelic lips, Severus Snape cringed with an unbidden thought. Everything beautiful I touched turns to filth. But as her tongue touched him with gentle pleasure the thought slipped away and she slicked his lust like the most trained concubine.

When the act was over, she stood and turned from him as he regained his mind and began to tidy himself. He felt like an awkward school boy as he buttoned and adjusted his trousers hastily. In all his years of manhood, he'd never received oral sex from someone he didn't pay.

"Helen," he began, but she did not move. He stepped closer, brushing her hair with a tentative hand. "Are you okay?"

Arms wrapped around herself, she looked over her shoulder with tear stained cheeks and smiled. "Of course, I'm okay."

He kissed her shoulder. She turned from him at this show of affection. "Is there nothing that I can give you in return?" He might not be a deeply experienced with relationships, but he knew he wished to be a gracious lover if she'd allow him.

"You already have."

"Have I?" He asked, mind blank.

"You've been bringing me my potion for several months now and haven't asked for payment."

Dropping his hand, he stepped back. Apparently, there were other ways to pay a woman besides coins.

"I see." He answered quietly as her cold words buried into him and took meaning. Pausing in his departure to pick up his robes, he chuckled darkly, "You would have made an excellent Slythern."

Without further words, he left into the night, alone.

Author's Note: I promise- Sev and Hermione get back together in the next chapter. Just needed to put in some distance between old lovers. Please review!