This story was written for Dallirious during the on LiveJournal.
I tried to address, albeit somewhat obliquely, several prompts: "every now and then I fall apart," secret handshakes, masquerades, Muggle artefacts, and "bonus points if you add a baby (even if they lose it)."
The title is stolen from Shakespeare's The Tempest.
I've drowned and dreamt this moment.
~ Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth, "Skyfall"
Even hours later, she could feel the brush of his skin against hers.
She hadn't just imagined it.
The way her nipples had hardened when it happened—she hadn't imagined that.
Surely, he meant nothing by it. It was just an accidental touch as he released her after their dance. He wouldn't have done anything inappropriate with the entire school and Headmaster Dippet watching. She was the Head Girl, and he was her teacher, and there had never been anything more between them than that.
Years later, she'd think of it—just the lightest feathering of his fingertips against the back of her neck—as their secret handshake.
She didn't look at him as she slipped off the Muggle dress.
They didn't dare use a Warming Charm—any magic so close to Grindelwald's stronghold might give them away—so they huddled together for warmth under the blanket in the Muggle tent, she in her slip and he in a pair of Muggle boxers and a vest.
The clothes wouldn't fool any of Grindelwald's henchmen, but the area they'd come through had been crawling with Muggles after the Soviet army had swept through, spreading both jubilation and terror in their wake. In the event, by the time they'd been travelling for six weeks, they had blended in perfectly with the ragged and blank-faced refugees that poured both ways across the Byelorussian border.
With the aid of a bit of Arithmancy and a distinctly non-magical Enigma machine to break the Knights' code, they had traced Gellert Grindelwald to this sliver of poor, ravished Poland. And now that they were closing in on him, the danger was palpable. The excitement of being part of the adventure had been replaced, first by gnawing hunger, and then by an acid fear that spoiled her appetite for what little food they could scrounge up.
She wondered how the others were faring. It had been three weeks since they'd seen another member of the hit team. How many of them had made it here to the Białowieża Forest? Or were she and Albus the only ones?
She was both surprised and not when he pressed up against her and put an arm around her waist.
"It's the best way to stay warm," he said.
She tried to sleep, but her awareness of his body against hers made her heart thud dully in her chest and her thoughts careen from place to place. Gradually, she became aware of a nudging sensation against her buttocks. As it grew firmer and more insistent, she realised what it was.
In years to come, she'd try to decide if he would have done it anyway it had she not pressed her bottom back against him, but she never came to a conclusion.
In the event, he didn't say a word, and the arm that was around her waist pulled her closer, and his hand worked its way under her slip and into her knickers. She was self-conscious at first, and unsure what to do, but eventually his probing, stroking fingers made her wanton, and she bent her top leg and allowed him the room to do as he pleased with her.
The tensile sensation coiling in the pit of her belly grew almost unbearable, then released in a burst of pulsing joy, and she pressed and bucked against his hand, unable to stop herself. As she recovered the power of thought, she felt him still hard against her arse, and realised that the hand that had brought her her first orgasm—for that's what it was—was now trying to work her knickers off.
She helped him by lifting her hips from the pallet and shifted her legs apart as he rolled on top of her. Then came a feeling of terrible pressure, then a burning and rending, and she thought to herself, He's inside me. The idea added a furtive sort of pulling sensation on top of the burning, and she liked it. She wished she could see his face. He was grunting and panting, and she could see the shadows of her thighs around his hips. She thought, He's fucking me. It was a word she'd never said aloud, had rarely even thought, but it was a fine word, she decided. It was brutal and raw, a good word for what they were doing, with its animal sounds and the hot, moist feeling down there that made her think of primeval jungles.
He was pounding into her harder. She heard herself make small squeaking noises with each thrust, and she couldn't quite work out if it was because it hurt or felt good.
A strangled cry, and he was finished.
He didn't collapse on top of her, for which she was grateful, but she found she didn't want him to leave her just yet, so she let her hands come to rest on his arse and hooked her ankles around his legs. Shortly, she felt his spent cock slip out of her, followed by a flow of moisture that cooled quickly on her bottom.
He climbed off her and slid his arm under her head. The scent of his sweat was strong but not unpleasant, and there was a slightly sweet, meaty odour underneath that she supposed was sex.
She felt his fingertips playing with the curls at the nape of her neck and knew she hadn't been mistaken the prior year at the ball.
She never told him about the baby.
She didn't have to; she miscarried in her fourth month—likely a sequela of the curses she'd taken in the battle, said the overly sympathetic Healer, who plainly thought she'd been raped—and that was that. It was just as well, her mother said, although why that should be was a mystery to Minerva, and she said so.
She collected her Order of Merlin, Second Class at a Ministry ball and wondered what they'd have said if she'd shown up with an enormous belly.
Albus danced with her again, but this time he didn't touch her bare skin.
They hadn't spoken of what occurred in the forest after that first morning, when he'd enquired about the bloodstain on the pallet as he went to roll it up.
"You should have told me," he'd said.
"Would it have made a difference?"
They went back to their separate lives, he at Hogwarts and she into a junior position in the Department of Mysteries. She had other lovers and only thought of him occasionally when she bedded them.
In due course, he became Headmaster, and she became a teacher.
They became friends in a way they hadn't been during the weeks of their adventure. War had painted everything—people, places, actions—with a patina of unreality; nothing could grow or thrive normally under its veil. Once it lifted, you became either more or less yourself. She wondered which it was for him.
The next touch happened in the darkest hours after the next war, when he had to bargain for the soul of one bad-but-useful man with that of another, less useful one, and they both watched good men stand accused of unspeakable acts.
His fingers brushed across the skin at the nape of her neck as she sat in his office afterwards.
She was older now, so she asked him outright, "What do you need?"
He looked unutterably weary. "Will you make me ask it? After all this time?"
She put down her drink and took him to her bed, two friends made lovers by grief and fear. It was a cliché she recognised, but a comfort just the same.
It happened again from time to time. Once after Diggory was killed and it became clear that another war was in the offing. Once, carefully and slowly, after she'd been Stunned and recovered. And then again that last year, for no particular reason she could discern. They were comfortable afterwards now, and talked quietly in the dark of fears that were better unnamed in the light of day.
Then the sky fell.
She ran her fingers across the name engraved in the white marble, wondering how to give a name to what she felt. Grief didn't cover it; the word had become cheap during the last war, as loss piled upon loss.
Then it came to her: it was the thing under the bed, the monster in the closet, the Boggart in the cupboard.
There were times, during the waking nightmare that was the last year of the war, when she could have sworn she felt the soft brush of fingertips at the back of her neck.
But it was just her imagination.
This work of fiction is based on characters and settings created by J. K. Rowling. All recognisable characters, settings, and plot elements are copyright © J. K. Rowling.
The author believes this work falls within the scope of the Fair Use Doctrine as a transformative work. For more information, see the Organization for Transformative Works.
All original characters, settings, and plot elements are copyright © 2013 Squibstress.
This work of fiction is available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license.
The works quoted in the story are in the public domain, with the following exceptions:
"Skyfall" © 2012 Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth.