I've slipped from bed to record this while it is still fresh in my mind, even though I might wake her. I imagine she would be appalled to find me setting down the intimate details of this night, but I'll be damned if I will let that stop me. I have very few fine and lovely things to recall, and I'm loathe to let a single detail of this one slip away.
It was her laughter that pushed me over the edge, I think, and her ready acceptance of my inability to play the love-sick swain, spewing promises of devotion and avowals of desire. I hadn't planned to give in to this urge tonight, although I have been anticipating it in moments of weakness -- when I lie awake nights in a strange country, missing her desperately. The little interaction we had in the course of our duties had, at first, been enough to keep my longings at bay. But the stress of juggling both teaching duties and the more active role I now perform for Albus' cause has stretched me thin, and it's become impossible to tolerate the three together.
This is not wise or safe. It is by far the most rash action I have taken in a very long time. But my only other option, for the sake of my sanity, is to repudiate her -- and I will not do that. I have sacrificed quite enough for this wretched business, as has she.
She is slender -- far too slim, in fact. She was healthily built when she first came to Hogwarts, before her nephew's death and the stresses of last year made the flesh melt off her frame. Her ribs were easily counted when I skimmed my fingers up her body, and I reminded myself to go far more gently than I felt inclined. So I took her lips savagely instead, and she responded most gratifyingly, though with a faint hesitation born of surprise. I didn't inflict this on her that night in the Quad, or at the lake -- the former was strategic, and the latter a deliberate test.
She cannot have known how much I desire her -- how desperately my body has urged me to possess her utterly, every bit as much as my mind craves the company of hers.
I left her lips and moved to the column of her throat, finding that spot which I knew would make her jump and cling to me -- and she did, and further rewarded me with a shaky, indrawn breath. No serious objections -- good: she understood that I was 'entirely serious.' She simply didn't know quite how serious -- still does not, just yet.
I am looking forward to the moment when she does. I've prepared the surprise, providing she doesn't wake when I return to bed.
I stripped her teaching robe from her shoulders, and divested her of blouse and underpinnings. This time my roughness earned a token protest, which I stilled by the simple expedient of exploring collarbone, sternum, and lastly, teasingly, her breasts --
-- and I realised with considerable shock that I had lost all capacity to express myself in my own words (what little capacity I possess), for suddenly Donne came spilling past my lips, between caresses and teasing kisses. I was not averse to expressing my appreciation for this gift -- I had certainly intended to. I'd planned my words carefully, wanting to avoid hackneyed, saccharine phrases -- above all, 'Love.' I would not defile this act by protesting love in the usual, puerile manner. I'm not capable of that mendacity, at least. Donne was undeniably a cheat, and I hoped she could forgive my cowardice later.
She shuddered and gripped my shoulders, painfully, even through the thick broadcloth of my coat -- and I knew that she was responding not only to my touch, but to the sentiments, borrowed or not. If I needed any further confirmation that she desires me as well, this was it.
It is a new experience, to have a woman shiver in my arms from uncoerced desire. Fear has been the rule.
I took advantage of the moment to give her a last warning. Donne gave me the perfect opportunity.
'Take heed of loving mee, At least remember, I forbade it thee; Not that I shall repaire my 'unthrifty waste Of Breath and Blood, upon thy sighes and teares...'
-- and then she stopped me. It was amazing I was capable of halting: I heard her through a fog, and it was as though she was speaking a foreign tongue, though it was my name. (Severus often sounds as such, on her lips, when, distracted, she falls into her native dialect -- she slurs the harsh consonants, and make the name something antithetical to its more literal interpretation.) Then her hands were on my face, cool against my burning skin. She held me in thrall, her eyes searching mine as she pushed the hair back from my face and cradled my jaw in her palms.
Her eyes are green, I gave myself permission to finally acknowledge -- not Harry-Bloody-Potter green, but a soft, warm green flecked with brown. I looked for rejection or pity in those eyes, and found none: only desire and longing, a tinge of amusement (not directed at me -- I know she's incapable of looking at almost any situation without humour), and a faint trepidation, but no reserve.
Good. The trepidation was good, as was the warning thrill it excited in me. She should go into this with no illusions. I am not, as she has admitted, a 'nice' man. She will do well to remember that. There are more ways to torture than to wound and maim. I am adept at some of the more ostensibly pleasurable, and I'm not entirely certain I shall be able to restrain myself, given the hunger I feel for her.
I had convinced myself that that way was the lesser of the evils, when I was given the choice. Malfoy, Avery, Nott -- they chose the more mundane, pedestrian form. They gave in to simple animal bloodlust, with no delicacy, no subtlety. They fed on fear.
I preferred humiliation -- in all its forms, but sexual as well. It was not my primary duty to Voldemort, of course -- even he would not utilise Europe's most promising Potions Master as a mere sexual sadist and torturer -- but he encouraged me to explore the darkest, most sinister aspects of my nature as a means to keep me bonded to him, and I did not object. There was no greater sense of power, for me, than to take a terrorized or defiant subject, whether male or female, and to push them to the point of abject surrender, begging for degradation. Not by brute physical coercion -- though I was not above that, when the situation called for it -- but by more insidious, psychological means. The objective achieved, Malfoy or one of the others would happily indulge themselves and then despatch the victims for me, save for the odd occasion when Voldemort insisted I do it myself.
If truth be told, at the time it bothered me not a whit, no more than the forthright attacks on victims in their homes. Even after I returned to Dumbledore it was necessary to continue, to maintain my position in the ranks. Not until the Potters did the violence truly sicken me -- not until I snatched that screaming child from his cot and fled the burning house, forcing his face into my shoulder so he shouldn't see Lily's dead, staring eyes, or the mangled remains of his father's body.
I wonder if Miranda would look at me with such... grace had I been absolutely truthful with her as to the particulars? Perhaps a session with my first Pensieve... for I have kept it to remind myself of what I am capable, as if the nightmares are not enough.
But her next words -- quiet, husky, deliberate -- scattered the unwelcome memory to the winds, and with it any resolve I might have had to enlighten her.
'Don't bother with the poetry. Show me.'
I must have her.
Never mind that she doesn't truly understand the degree of evil to which I've aspired, or that she may flee from me if she learns. Never mind the distinct, nagging sense that I don't deserve this, and that I shall pay for it in future.
Because there's always a price. With her usual acuity, she hit the nail precisely on the head her first day of class with the Slytherins. I stood outside her classroom door and listened to her spar with Malfoy, praying that he would understand what she was saying.
For every Action, there is a Consequence. And the consequence for me, the price, is vulnerability -- to her, to Voldemort. Either could take her from me, by distance or by death. And I must be truthful with myself and admit that that would cause me greater pain than anything, perhaps even more than Albus' death.
I don't fear Black's interference -- he is not a serious consideration. She was amused by his antics, his transparency and utter lack of subtlety -- flattered, perhaps, by the attentions of an admittedly attractive man, though I doubt she realised the extent of his interest until that day in the staff room. But she is not at all attracted to his mind, and she, as I, find that of paramount importance.
Black's juvenile competitiveness is simply my justification for what I have intended to do since the end of last term.
After that heart-stopping moment when she urged me on, I wrenched my face from her hands and buried it against her belly, breathing in the spice of her cologne -- no cloying florals, thank the gods -- and tasted the savoury-sweet of her skin as she steadied herself against me and, obligingly, unbuttoned her skirt and pushed it down. (She doesn't wear skirts often, and I suspect she only owns one or two -- she favours those execrable female Muggle trousers.) I vaguely wondered if she wore it in anticipation of this encounter.
That didn't stop me from pulling it the rest of the way down, and drawing her underthings over her hips to join it on the floor. I grasped her hipbone, bruisingly, and my other hand found its way up the back of her thigh to first caress, then knead the smooth flesh of her buttocks.
'Licence my roaving hands, and let them go, Before, behind, between, above, below...'
She didn't tolerate it for long -- I suspect my sudden lamentable tendency to recite poetry had made her impatient. She pushed me away, stepped out of her shoes and the clothing littered at her feet, and joined me, kneeling, on the hearthrug, fingers moving to my coat to remedy what she obviously regarded as a disparity in our conditions.
She wasn't wasting any time, impatient, but I did nothing to help as she tugged at the long row of buttons -- in fact, I did my best to distract her. I'd never willingly allowed someone to unclothe me, but at the time her annoyance with my armor was quite amusing. And I wanted her to have to work for this -- I needed her to be as heavily invested in this act as I. I needed proof that she wanted it as much as I.
It may help alleviate my guilt, should it all go to Hades in future.
She pushed the coat from my shoulders, and I shrugged out of it as she worked on the waistcoat. Tired of this phase of the game (where had my much-vaunted patience gone?), I pulled loose my neck-cloth, then the shirt over my head, and pulled her to me, shivering at the sensation of her skin on mine. I had never allowed this before, either. Nor another's lips on my body, but she proceeded, oblivious, her hands stroking my shoulders and back, smoothing over the scars left there by Malfoy and others.
It was nearly unbearable. The torturer had become the victim, and I was the first to break. I rose and dragged her to her feet, pulling her with me into my bedchamber and tugging her down onto my narrow bed, covering her body with mine as I kissed eyes, cheeks, lips, and downwards....
I pulled away only enough to remove the rest of my clothing -- what had been unbearable contact was suddenly unbearable by its absence, and I needed to feel every inch of my body against hers. To her credit, her eyes never left my face. She's neither an innocent nor a voluptuary, and her frank and primary interest appeared to be what was going through my mind.
It was fairly obvious, after all, what my body intended. I'd been quite painfully aroused, and she couldn't have failed to notice -- I made certain she hadn't.
I hesitated just long enough to fix the image of her, waiting for me, in my memory: her skin made golden in the firelight; cheeks flushed, her lips parted as she tried to steady her breath; the angry, red welt on her left breast, near her heart, where I briefly lost control and bit too deeply; taut belly; long thighs, one badly bruised from some recent mishap. I know she still feels weakness in that leg, and before proceeding I again reminded myself to take care.
I should have healed the bruise for her, but there was little point. Even if I could have found the patience to do it, I intended to leave my own marks on her, looking forward to reviewing each of them in my mind later when she and I appeared in public, still apparently separate, uncommitted, uncaring. I suspected she wouldn't object to a few mild bites and bruises -- the reaction to the one at her breast was a breathless 'please,' and an instinctive arch of her hips into my body. The memory sent another surge of blood to my cock, and I had to give over my observation and touch her.
But not too much. I began again where I left off, stroking and suckling her nipples into hardness, but with my mouth only -- I pinioned her wrists to the bed, and I avoided any other bodily contact save for the occasional brush of my cock against her thigh. She determined soon enough that that was deliberate, and expressed her ire with the tactic in concise, fluid, Irish invective.
I so enjoy pushing her to that point -- all her carefully-cultivated reserve vanishes, and what is left is pure passion -- usually rage. But I thought I could turn it to other uses.
It appears I was correct.
It is not that I want her in bondage, submissive, spiritless. But I do want her unmistakably bonded to me, by whatever means necessary short of the Dark Arts. I refuse to expose her to that kind of coercion -- bad enough that the sweet fool's willing to sully herself with me, branded as I am with the remains of the Mark that brushed against her skin.
I worked my way down her body, attentive to the things that seemed to please her most, cataloging for future reference, and when after much provocation I reached her sex she was trembling uncontrollably and slick with desire and need.
My semblance of control was a farce. I simply couldn't wait any longer.
She was tight with tension when I tried to enter her, and I stopped to calm her, and myself. I could have taken her forcefully -- delightful, painful friction -- but that was not what I wanted for her, not this first time. Time enough for that later, perhaps, when I have initiated her into rougher play, and when I can trust myself not to hurt her. She relaxed under my touch and kisses, and I slowly pushed into her, watching the pleasure spark in her eyes as I filled her: we lay there a long moment, joined, and her face registered something like contentment, or completion.
I envy that. I've never known either. Although I'm going to have to seriously consider if that wasn't precisely what I felt -- what I still feel now, after the fact. I don't recognise it at all.
She became totally aware of me again, smoothed my hair behind my ears, and ran her fingers over the planes of my face. I withstood the scrutiny though it made me shudder, and I dropped my head to her shoulder. It was a lovely and terrifying thing, that closeness -- to feel as intimately and deeply a part of her soul as my body was in hers.
She, then, was the first to move, tilting her pelvis to draw me further into her. It was nearly my undoing, but I managed to control the impulse to thrust too deeply, too fast, and instead pulled away slowly, hesitated, and returned to her just as slowly, forcing myself to watch her face all the while. There is a spot just where my cock lodges against her cervix which seemed intensely pleasurable for her... thank the gods, for it was much the same for me. I kept to a slow, gentle pace, and I found with some surprise that I liked it.
Perhaps my tenderer feelings are not dead, after all. Perhaps they've only been lying dormant, and she's wakened them.
Nevertheless, I knew I shouldn't last long at that rate -- despite the involuntary release my dreams of her have provided, they couldn't compare to the sensation of actually being with and in her. But I wanted to feel her climax at least once before I, while I still had the wits to observe her face, feel her convulse around me; to understand what manner of sounds she is capable in abandon. So I pulled away just enough to fit my hand between us at that exquisite spot above the point of our joining.
It did not take long, and gods, she was so responsive to my touch -- she strained against me, all tension and soft, shuddering cries, and it took every ounce of the will I still possessed not to end it then, buried as deeply and violently within her as I could get. I covered her body with mine again, and she pulled me closer still, so closely that she willingly bore my weight. She would have pulled my body into hers if she could, I think, and she turned her head to kiss me -- first sweetly, and then with a passion of which I'd suspected she's capable, but had never yet felt.
And though I managed to restrain myself until the very last, when I could not bear not to thrust savagely, again it did not take long -- but then it was I who cried out and convulsed, my face buried in the curve where her neck joins her shoulder as I released, spilling all the pent-up need and desire of the last year.
It was a good thing I waited, this first time. I was totally oblivious to her reaction, blinded and deafened, and so unaware that I don't even know if she followed me.
I will have to make certain, next time. For there will be a next time, as soon as I am able. From her responses, I suspect she'll not object.
It felt more than mere physical release. I wonder if I will always feel this, with her. It's never been like this before, even with the one truly simple and happy experience I'd had. Certainly not with the others.
Dear gods, let me be worthy of this. Of her.
She didn't cling to me afterward, although I sensed she would have liked to. She knows me well enough to know my impulse is to pull away, to distance myself, and so her touch was light, ready to loose me. Fortunately, I had not given myself that option. I might have Transfigured my ascetic's narrow bed to something more suitable, but deliberately did not. I would not give myself that excuse, and I wanted no hint of magic or craft to sully the moment.
I dragged my weight up from her body though gods know I longed to stay there, in the gentle circle of her arms, pressed into her -- I was exhausted, but there was one more thing I had to do before I gave in to it. She looked drugged, as though I'd given her a potion -- and there are potions that will accomplish that ecstasy, but I'd done it with voice, hands, lips alone, and I took vast pride in the fact.
I took her face in my hands -- trembling, they were, and I had to make an effort to still them -- and I forced her glazed eyes to meet mine as I said the words. The Latin is quite poetic, and she would assume it to be Ovid or Sappho, given my earlier lapse with Donne. (I know from watching her work with Finnegan that she has next to no Latin, and that is precisely what gave me this idea in the first place. It's a fortuitous gap in her knowledge.)
The ritual is an ancient one:
Iucundum, mea vita, mihi proponis amorem
hunc nostrum inter nos perpetuumque fore.
di magni, facite ut vere promittere possit,
atque id sincere dicat et ex animo,
ut liceat nobis tota perducere vita
aeternum hoc sanctae foedus amicitiae.
Her gaze softened as I spoke. She knew -- she must have -- that this was no errant bit of doggerel. But she has a regrettable tendency to trust me for which I'm profoundly grateful, at least tonight.
She smiled, quizzically, and her fingers tightened on my shoulder and ribs.
The problem is that the ritual requires an actual, verbal response. Not even I could manage a way around that.
So I bent to nuzzle her ear, murmured "Placetne?", and pulled away to look at her -- praying she'd recognise the negative ending if not the word itself and respond properly...
...and she smiled once more, and whispered back, "Placet."
Placet: it pleases me.
In other words, yes.
She said yes.
I bent again to take her lips to seal the contract, and in promise that I would not violate it, nor give her any reason (in future, at least) to regret it.
She could not feel the sudden upswell of magic as is gathered around us, but I did. The ancient stones of Hogwarts recognized the words and the power of the commitment. It conferred another layer of protection on the castle's occupants -- another obstacle that Voldemort must find a way around or through.
I hadn't anticipated that, though it suddenly occurs to me that Dumbledore did -- and had slyly planted the idea in my brain, in fact, though I did not recognise it at the time. I am convinced that this is precisely what he intended in throwing us together. One of his intentions, at any rate.
Damn and bless him.
It was much later when I woke -- the fire had burned quite low. I'd slept remarkably well, considering the unfamiliar sensation of another body wedged against mine.
No nightmares. I hope that is a lasting aftereffect.
Even as my mind wrestled with the novelty of the situation, my cock stirred against her warmth, intent on repeating the previous pleasurable experience (with a few interesting variations, of course). But I was not ready to indulge, not just then, and I carefully drew away from her, the better to observe my new possession.
No -- that's not right -- I can't possess her, not in the way I've always casually assumed one could, the way I always did.
I winced at the realisation. Old patterns of thought die hard.
You cannot take by coercion what is freely given. You can only hold it in trust, and you take it for granted at your peril.
I shoved the thought and my uneasy, intruding memories back, and firmly locked and barred the door against them. I'll examine them later, when I don't have a far more attractive and alluring object of interest before me. I sent a trickle of magic across the room to refresh the fire, and settled in for a long, leisurely perusal.
She is not beautiful, and it's no crime to say as much -- she'd be the first to mock anyone who dared make the observation. Her face is too square, the cheekbones too strong and high for the shape, and she usually does nothing in the way of cosmetics to distract one's attentions to her eyes. They are stunning, on the rare occasions she's relented and tastefully augmented herself. She is remarkably free of vanity. I meant what I said that day in the Infirmary, though I couldn't stop my habitual acidity from turning compliment to insult.
She is not, as I noted earlier, as reserved as she would like others to believe, or as she would like to think herself -- though I think I can persuade and instruct her to unleash even more of that passion, certainly physically. (Although she's not sexually inexperienced, it's obvious her lovers -- I assume more than one but not many, although I've no way of knowing -- have never bothered to teach her the joys of absolute abandon. I restrain myself from cursing them for their clumsiness, admitting a perverse gratitude for the opportunity to enlighten her myself.)
I resisted the urge to run my fingers across her brow, where I know she was scarred in the accident that took Ian Neill's life. I am far more interested, at any rate, in what lies beneath, in the intellect which has coped with the trials and pain of life -- those leaving more potentially lasting, deadening scars -- and which has brought her soul through stronger, tempered, whole.
Her mind is tough and resilient -- it would have to be, to deal with her nephew's predicament with the strength and grace she managed, before bringing him to Hogwarts. And she can balance purely emotional reaction and cool logic in a way I envy, when she chooses to -- when she doesn't jettison logic altogether in favour of instinct and intuition. (I should have flattened Malfoy, had he given me half the provocation he did her.) I confess that this dichotomy is not the least alluring thing about her.
I fancy I can read her far more easily than anyone else. I can tell from the set of her lips whether she's in pain, or repressing the urge to lay into someone. (She is almost as good at verbal lashings as I.) I can tell from the tilt of her head whether she is tired, or so deeply absorbed that she is utterly unaware of everything and everyone around her. The slightest change in the timbre of her voice tells me what twists that agile mind is making.
I have studied her for two long years, and I have learnt the cipher. Black could not, would never have done: he would have been confounded by the complexity of it all, and, vaguely insulted by his own inability to comprehend, would have resented her for it.
But then Black is an idiot. I am not. And just to guard against the day I might forget these things, take them for granted, I rose and pulled this Pensieve from its hiding place to record this.
I can see her now, there in my bed. She lies quiet, curled up in the light of the fire. My eyes trace the silhouette she makes on my pillow: a Classical nose, slightly thickened at the bridge -- a very old break, though well healed, surely before the boy; the curve of a thin shoulder, spotted with freckles. She has none on her face or breast, so somehow she's burnt her back badly. Her left arm is tucked under her, hand and forearm lax on the pillow next to her cheek.
Her skin there, where my own is disfigured with the scarred Mark, is nearly translucent, and even in this flickering light my eyes can trace the veins and arteries.
I know too well what lies under the thin veneer of skin -- the tissue, sinews, blood. I know well how those miraculous instruments function when left alone, and precisely where interference can most effectively, devastatingly, cause the delicate organic machine to function with great pain, or to cease to work altogether. But for a long time it never occurred to me what a crime it is against nature and whatever deities exist to do so. Her body brings home to me, in a shockingly visceral manner, just how much a crime. How the human body is sacred in its fragility.
What a pity I never realised it before. So much could have been avoided, if I had... but then I should likely not be here, with this woman, at the centre of a universe comprised of two.
She stirs and sleepily smiles, equally tired and unconsciously voluptuous, and any thoughts I have but of holding her, pleasuring her, spilling myself into her again, instantly flee my brain as she turns and slips her arm across the bed, reaching for me, and mewls in discontent when she finds it empty of me. Best to return now, before she fully wakens. I shall make time tomorrow to add more to this entry.
First, though, I believe it's time to Transfigure us a more comfortable bed.
Exit the Pensieve