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Chapter 45 : 44 - Happy Anniversary
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The knot at the back of my skull worked its way up the tendons of my neck, into the base of the cranium, splitting to rise behind each ear, and throb, particularly, in my left temple. It affected my vision, making me squint in the dulling light of early evening. Resting in the cosy armchair in the sitting room, the wings of the seat securely encircled me, blocking out the thunderous ticking of the mantel clock. I didn’t want to move, so I sat, listlessly staring out the front window to the rolling meadow that surrounded the remote little safe house. Not even a sheep grazed in the short grass, just beyond the stone fence. Pinky had brought a warm cloth for my eyes, and I had taken a strong dose of Willowbark and Feverfew Potion, and the tension was beginning to ease, but still, I sat. The cauldron waited on the heavy, wooden kitchen table, ritual tools placed inside for easier carrying. It was just getting dark, and the fenced-in backyard was secluded enough to perform the rite of Beltane, but still, I sat. I had never missed Beltane ritual, although there were times when it was not as in-depth as it should be, but tonight I just couldn’t get moving. Maybe it was because I was so tired. Maybe it was the headache. Maybe it was because I was here alone on our anniversary. Maybe it was all of the above. It wasn’t like we hadn’t missed anniversaries before, we’d missed the last two, but this year, I was here, and he wasn’t.
By ten o’clock, it was dark, and my headache had nearly subsided. Finally heaving myself out of my comfortable position, I headed to the washroom to soak in a purifying bath before dressing in a light shift, gathering the cauldron and drifting outside. Pinky, bless her heart, had prepared the bonfire, ready to be lit, in the centre of the yard. Swinging the incense from the hanging receptacle, I walked clockwise, consecrating the land. Meeting where I had begun, I placed the pot on the ground and turned to face the pile of wood. With a chalice of water in one hand and a palm of salt in the other, I raised my arms to the goddess and the god, continuing to bless the earth, invoking the deities and inviting the guardians to join the ritual. Feeling the power rise within, I extended my projective hand to cast the circle, a glow of purple light spill forward as I made the rotation.
“Not starting without me, are you?” a silky voice drifted into my concentration.
“Join me,” I softly invited, not breaking the rhythm.
I felt the circle disrupt slightly as a new presence arrived. My lips turned slowly upward as I felt his power join with mine, the aura intensifying around us. Raising our wands simultaneously, we cast “Incendio” and had the bonfire blazing gloriously toward the star-studded sky. He was on one side. I was on the other, and the glow of the flames danced in his ebony eyes as I let the music of the night fill my senses.
Severus was not Wiccan, but for some reason, the Goddess allowed him access whenever he chose to join me in ritual. I think it was because Beltane was our special night. This night had been an affirmation of our love, the night of our bonding, the night of Saxon’s conception. I looked past the fire to the man on the other side. His strength and commitment, his loyalty and bravery never ceased to amaze me. I was blessed to be part of his life. My dance continued, and he moved to join me, together offering our praise and gratitude to the goddess and god, reaching to the shining moon with clasped hands and full hearts.
As a pale pink aura rose from the ground, Severus turned to run a long, elegant finger over my shoulder and down my arm. His breath was shallow but controlled, his features intense. He stepped to meet me face to face, barely an inch a part, and I reached for his fingers as they brushed against my hand, clasping them gently, gazing at him lovingly. We both breathed deeply, pure contentment and acceptance filling our souls. As if in slow motion, he bent his head to stroke the side of my face with his majestic nose, inhaling my scent and pressing closer. I could feel his heart pound through the thick layers of fabric as he nuzzled my earlobe, drawing it seductively between his lips. I raised my head in response, nipping the tender underside of his jaw and working my way to meet his mouth. Lifting my hands slightly as our lips finally met, I began to slowly unbutton the long row of black discs that fastened his frockcoat. Working from the bottom up, the back of my hand inadvertently brushed his swollen groin, and he inhaled sharply, straightening his posture, and closing his eyes. It had been so long. Spanning my hands across his thin chest, I pushed the coat from his shoulders and let it fall to the grassy floor, pulling the white, linen shirt from the edge of his trousers next. He stood still, permitting this privilege of intimacy that he allowed no other. When his torso was bared, I closed my eyes and moved to nuzzle the spattering of fine, dark hair, brushing my lips across his pectorals, and gently suckling a flat nipple as my hands wrapped around his waist to brace his lower back. He shuddered under my touch, raising his hands to tenderly move the straps of my shift over and off of my shoulders. Caressing my neck, the tips of his fingers danced across my collarbone to my chest, feather light touches grazing my hardening nipples. The contact was so delicate, the precision of a Potion Master’s hands. Letting the shift slide to my ankles, I unfastened the waistband of his trousers, noting that he had lost weight. They slipped off easily, and he stepped back to toe off his boots and kick aside the pants. Standing naked before the fire, we raised our arms to the heavens, stretching to the deities, silently counting our blessings, then lowered to the soft ground.
It was slow and sweet, tender and loving, gentle and passionate. We loved with every fibre of our bodies, hearts and souls, completely lost in each other, completely devoted to each other, a bond that could never be broken. Tantalizing caresses and subtle touches stroked our frayed nerves, easing us into unadulterated bliss. Straddling his hips, I set the motion while he guided me, our breathing in steady rhythm of utter peace. As we felt the heat rise and the motion intensify, he raised his hips for greater contact sending me arching into ecstasy, bright red stars exploding behind my eyelids, his release following closely with a groan that reverberated within the circle. With his hands cupping my breasts, I was braced in a sitting position until he gathered himself. Then, opening one eye as I waited, he smiled at my situation, wrapped his hands around my waist and lowered me to his side, surrounding me in the warmth and care that was often considered foreign for the foul-tempered professor.
The aura tamed, and eventually, I released the circle. Gathering our clothes and ritual supplies and allowing the fire to die out, Severus and I made our way into the house, crawling under the warm, down covers of our bed. We lay there for a while, resting in the comfort of each others arms until the clock in the sitting room chimed midnight.
“Happy anniversary, cara,” Severus whispered to the top of my head. “Ti amo.”
I smiled broadly against his chest. I couldn’t remember the last time he had said, “I love you” in English. “Ti amo, caro,” I responded pulling him closer. “Happy anniversary.”
My eyes flickered open, struggling to focus in the dull light of early morning. Rolling onto my back toward a warm mass, I found Severus lying on his side, head propped up by his left arm, eyes gazing intently at me. I smiled and shifted closer as the back of his right hand stroked my cheek, following the line from my temple to my chin.
“How, of all the celestial bodies, was I blessed with yours?” he asked reverently.
“Just lucky, I guess,” my lips twitched upward in a seductive smile as I snuggled against his torso.
His countenance remained serious. The tips of his fingers slowly caressed the length of my body, gently brushing over my chest and ribs, palm opening to span over my hip. “You are my light, my reason for living,” he whispered as his lips brushed mine in the semblance of a kiss. Moving his hand to the tight muscle across my abdomen, he tenderly stroked the smooth skin, occasionally poking a finger into my navel. “In the circle last night…” he began hesitantly, “we didn’t cast an Infertility Charm.” He paused, looking into my face. “Saxon would be fifteen now, and I’ve seen you with Adrianne. I know what it must mean for you to be without a child.” He paused again, measuring his words carefully. “Now is not the time, Daniella. This war will be worse than the last.” I could see his eyes glitter as if with unshed tears, and I knew that he felt the pain of Saxon’s loss, and the delay of any other children, and I understood what he meant about the war.
I placed my hand over his on my abdomen, squeezing it gently. “The Goddess knows that now is not the time. She knows that it would be too dangerous. The child would be at risk.”
“But she knows our hearts. Wouldn’t she follow our hearts rather than our common sense?” Severus rolled onto his back to stare at the cream coloured ceiling, his right arm tucked under his head
“The Goddess is wise, Severus. Have faith. Don’t worry,” I nestled my head against his chest and our fingers toyed together. “Things always work out in the end. What will be will be.”
We lay there in silence for a few moments, the distance tick of the mantel clock joining the rhythm of our beating hearts as we dosed back to sleep.
“Oh, Gods…yes…there…harder…YES!” My body arched hard against Severus’ chest, my legs wrapped over his buttocks pulling him as close as possible. He was braced above me, arms shaking with the strain, a look of sheer concentration on his face. He was holding back. The condensation on the windows indicated the rise in temperature that had occurred in the last twenty minutes. The top covers where on the floor, and the sheet was tangled in our feet. I kicked it away, and Severus took the motion as a desire to change position. He pulled back and grabbed my hips, flipping me onto my stomach, pulling me to my knees. Oh Gods, I thought again. That’ll work. Losing all sense of myself, we were one, moving toward a common goal. The motion became powerful as he drove deep, and my head knocked hard against the headboard. Severus’ right hand smoothly moved from my hip to my shoulder to hold me safely in place. With a last intense thrust and a loud groan, he spilled into me, shuddering as he bent over my back, his arm wrapping around my stomach, holding me in place. Letting my arms give way in the aftermath, we collapsed in a sweaty, panting heap; Severus still firmly planted behind me. After a moment of silence, I felt a slight shake and twisted my head to see what was wrong. He was chuckling. A raised eyebrow from me got the answer.
“I was afraid I’d knock you unconscious. Are you alright?” he placed his hand on the top of my head, smiling broadly.
“Well worth the stars,” I grinned as I rolled over, feeling the strong beat of his heart through his chest.
I was drawn into a tight embrace as his smile filled the room. “Breakfast,” he stated firmly, “then, I have to go.”
A short hunt for our clothes had us playfully “bumping” into each other in the small bedroom, delaying our emergence into the kitchen, and by the time we arrived, Pinky had prepared a spread food fit for Merlin himself. As she served the scrumptious meal, the tips of her ears turned fuchsia.
Severus’ took notice, and his lips twitched mischievously. “Did we make too much noise last night, Pinky,” he teased, “Or was there too much noise this morning?”
Pinky’s ears turned a definite scarlet, but a wide grin emerged as she ducked her head. “Master can make as much noise as he is wanting. It is good to see Master stay the night.” She, then, grabbed an empty plate and disappeared with quick “pop”.
Severus and I chuckled and finished our meal privately, not wanting to disrupt the peace and contentment of our rare time together. But, as with everything, all good things must come to an end, and Severus stood to leave. Pulling me into a crushing hug, I buried my face in the coarse wool of his common frockcoat, wrapping my arms around his waist as if he were my lifeline.
“Be safe,” I whispered, holding my voice steady so that it wouldn’t crack.
“Always,” he replied pulling back to gaze into my eyes.
I cupped his cheek feeling the stubble against my palm. “Until we meet again,” I said, kissing his warm lips.
He leaned to tenderly kiss my forehead before moving back. “Until we meet again,” he repeated.
Stepping into the bright sunshine, he Disapparated from the patch of Dragon Weed by the back fence. There had been no discussion of the war, no strategizing, not even small talk of our efforts. This had been our time, and it served to fill us with a new sense of determination and commitment. We wanted the war over. We wanted a life together. We wanted a family. We knew all would be difficult to get.
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