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Chapter 13 : Lightening Crashes
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Valora crept along the halls and effortlessly unlocked the library doors, walking between rows of dusty books until she came to the gates of the restricted section. As a professor she could easily walk through them without setting off the alarm. Walking further back her heartbeat quickened and her blood raced. She bit her lip, trying to will her body into a calmer state, but as soon as she saw Severus it proved impossible. He was standing near a window, watching the rain pound against the glass. Valora walked right up beside him, neither acknowledging the other until Valora finally spoke, as a bolt of lightening illuminated both their faces.
"I love storms." She said, trying to smile, but nerves kept it from fully reaching her eyes.
"I know." Severus replied quietly. Her turned to face her slightly and Valora mirrored the action. Severus slowly and carefully wrapped his arms around her and held her close to him. She could hear his own heart hammering in his chest, and she forgot about her own fears, more interested in assuaging his. He might still tell her 'no'. It was entirely possible. Even if he still loved her, Severus was nothing if not reasonable, and he might think that the negatives outweighed the positive. Valora still allowed him to hold her, unable to rbeak away from the sweet torture. Severus leaned back and looked at her very seriously.
"I never thought we'd be back here like this." he admitted.
"When you walked out I thought I'd lost you forever, and I couldn't forgive myself. I should have gone after you. I shouldn't have turned to drinking, I should have turned to you."
"We've both made mistakes, but we can't fix them so we'll just have to live with the consequences." He said quietly. Valora took in a short breath.
"I understand.' She said, going to disentagle herself from him, but Severus kept a tight grip on her.
"You don't. I love you, I'm just worried. Things are worse and I just need to know..." He trailed off, searching her eyes for an answer to the question he hadn't asked.
"What?" She asked, tightening her own grip on his arms.
"Can you do it again, Valora? It will be worse than before, you know. The sneaking around, lying to everyone you love. Not to mention that we simply can't pick up where we left off. It'll be extremely difficult. Are you going to be able to handle this?" He asked, looking over her, making sure she understood what he was saying. Valora tilted her head to the side and leaned up, planting a sweet kiss on his lips.
"I'll do anything to be with you." she said, the honesty making her words that much sweeter. Severus allowed the corners of his mouth curl upward in his own way of smiling. Valora began to play with the edges of his robes as she tried to sort out the words in her head.
"Can you...will you still be able to love me like you did?" She asked, fresh tears glistening in her eyes as she looked up at him. Severus's eyebrows pulled together.
"Valora, I never stopped. Every day with you has been a living hell. It was like like I-"
"-couldn't breathe?" she asked with a sad smile.
"Precisely." He said. Valora could no longer hold herself back. She threw her arms around his neck and pressed her mouth hungrily against his, tears streaming down her face. Severus held her against him, relishing the feeling of having her in his arms again. He pulled her back slightly and kissed every part of her face her could reach, tasting her tears. Valora was ecstatically happy in her strange mixture of crying, laughing and kissing. The lips fit together prefectly and worked in a gentle rythym, erasing every bad memory. When they finally stopped for air the rain was pounding on the window even worse than before.
"That's quite a storm outside." Severus noted, his arms still securely around Valora.
"That's not a storm." She said with a smile. Severus raised an eyebrow and looked down at her.
"Oh no?" he asked.
"It's a hurricane." She said, before reaching up to kiss him again. She ran her fingers through his hair and down his face, until they rested aginst his chest, his heart drumming beneath her fingertips. Severus pressed her against the stone wall and allowed his mouth to travel form her mouth down along her neck.
They both wondered how they lasted fourteen years without each other. They didn't need to speak. Their bodies communicated naturally, they laced their fingers together at the same time and crept along the halls until they came to Valora's room. Inside Valora threw off her teaching robes and slipped Severus's off of his shoulders and her fingers set to work unbuttoning his shirt while he smiled down at her and wrapped his hands firmly around her waist. Valora laughed softly before glancing up at him, running her hands over the smooth alabaster of his chest.
"Do you remember that time-" she began, but Severus put a gentle hand over her mouth.
"I don't want to remember anything. I just want to be in the present, in this moment, with you." He said. Valora smiled up at him and then allowed him to slip her own shirt over her head. It fell to the floor noiselessly. Severus pulled her close again, pressing every inch of himself against her, the heat from his skin adding to her already burning desire.
He pulled her backwards onto the bed and she climbed on top of him, smiling down at him. He brushed her hair out of her face, admiring the spark of life that had returned to her eyes, and feeling happier than he had been in a long time knowing he had put it there.
"I love you Valora." he told her. Valora smiled sweetly.
"I love you Severus." she told him, reaching down and kissing him again. He easily flipped her onto her back which made her laugh. He slipped a hand into the waist band of her pants, undoing the clasp before easily sliding them off. He did the same for himself and Valora crawled beneath the covers, her head resting on the pillow she had spent so many nights crying on. Severus doused the light and climbed in beside her. She felt his warm hand travel across her stomach and pull her closer to him. She responded to his touch the same as she always had, with passion that would rival Aphrodite. Her hands pressed against his back and she could still trace down the familiar paths of muscle. Leaning up a bit she slipped her bra from her shoulders and leaned over top of Severus, pressing the length of her body against his, feeling every inch of him.
Severus's hands traveled over her breasts and down to her hips making her moan softly in a contented bliss. Valora's eagerness was completely disorienting to Snape who was trying to be gentle and respectful, then Valora gripped his bottom lip her teeth, reminding him that making love to her was anything but gentle and respectful. She pushed him back onto his back and straddled him again, sliding herself over the two, very thin pieces of fabric that were seperating them. Severus let out a low growl and flipped her one maore onto her back this time pinning her arms above her head with one hand while the other reached for his wand, which he'd left on the bedside table. With a flick of the wand her knickers quickly joined the pile of discarded clothing on the floor. His own boxers followed suit. He put his wand back down and slipped a rough hand between her thighs and she writhed beneath his touch, whispereing his name in ever increasing ecstasy. Severus was close to losing all control, and Valora knew it and broke free of his grasp, brushing his hands aside and forcing him down on her. Valora bit down hard on her lip to keep from crying out. She had never been especially quiet. Severus kept his mouth on her neck and her lips but even his own low grunts were audible against her skin.
All the time Valora could only think about how much time she had wasted, how big a coward she had been and then how lucky she was that he still loved her and when the waves of pleasure became too much to handle he mind became perfectly blank for a moment and both she and Severus stayed perfectly still, gripping each other tightly. A tear leaked out of the corner of her eye and she let out a long tired breath. Severus rolled onto his side and wrapped his arm securely around her, burying his face into the nape of her neck. She still loved him and she had come back to him, and for the this one night nothing could touch them.
"So, we're back together then?" She asked with a coy smile. Severus laughed and leaned over to kiss her cheek.
"Yes, love." He said, tightening his grip on her. She snuggled herself against him.
"I missed you." she admitted, her eyes half-closed.
"I missed you too." He said. Valora squirmed in his arms and turned to face him, her eyes barely finding his in the darkness.
"Let's never do that again." she said seriously. Even in the darkness she saw his eye bulge.
"What? Why?" He asked, getting a little upset. Valora laughed lightly realizing how he took her request.
"I meant let's never break up again." she clarified. Severus let out a relieved breath and flipped onto his back while Valora rested her head on his chest.
"You actually scared me there." He admitted and Valora laughed out loud, then snuggled closer against him.
"Are you tired?" she asked sweetly.
"No." he said, his eyes narrowing in the darkness at her, trying to see her expression.
"Good. Let's do it again." she said kissing him again. Severus smiled and rolled on top of her once more.
Valora rested her head against Severus's chest while he twisted a strand of chocolate brown hair around his finger. It was only 1:00 am; they had hours before Severus had to sneak back to his own rooms. Valora smiled to herself and fought the urge to cry again. She had never been so blindly, blissfully happy before. Just lying here in his arms was more than she had ever hoped for. This was redemption at it's finest.
Severus rested his lips against the silk of her hair, focusing on her steady heartbeat echoing his own. He didn't understand why he'd made the mistake of not going after her fourteen years ago. So much time had passed. His hands tightened their grip on her and he could feel those ancient scars beneath his fingertips, but instead of the guilt he normally felt it was a sense of nostalgic peace. She belonged to him again, though according to her she always had belonged to him, and separation hadn't changed that. Valora tilted her face up to look at him, tracing her finger across his lips.
"So much for taking it slow." She said with a tiny laugh. Severus smirked and bent down to kiss her gently. Valora positioned herself so she was on top of him once again, looking at him square in the eye.
"So what have you been up to since I left?" she asked. Severus frowned at her.
"What kind of question is that?" He said, pushing her gently off of him and sitting up a little. Valora raised an eyebrow and sat up too, wrapping the sheet gracefully around her bare chest.
"A normal one." she told him flatly.
"I haven't done anything of significance since you left." He told her, avoiding her gaze by looking out the window at the slowing rain. Thunder was still rolling while random bolts of lightening illuminated the bedroom. Valora picked up his hand and traced circles on his palm.
"I'm in too good a mood to attempt tackling that lie, so we'll save it for another day." she said quietly. She listened as Severus sighed in a resigned fashion, knowing he was agreeing with her.
"I'm going to Grimmauld Place for the holidays." she said as she let go of his hand and snuggled beneath the warmth of the covers. Severus grabbed his wand and pointed at the fireplace, casting them in a cozy, warm orange glow.
"Does this mean you'll be rejoing the Order?" he asked, again without looking at her. Valora shrugged.
"I don't really have a choice now do I? The only legitamate reason I have to stay away from it is a secret only you, Sirius and Dumbledore know. If I don't re-join the order it will only make everyone more suspicious. Remember, nobody else knows where I was for the year before Voldemort's fall. Moody probably thinks I'm a deserter. I wouldn't be surprised if most of them hated me."
Severus heard the sadness in her voice and crawled closer beside her, wrapping his arms around her again, comforting her the best he could.
"Just keep in mind while you're there, not to mention me. If I have to stop by you act like nothing has changed. Don't bring up the past unless you can't help it and if anyone asks about where you were for the years between Hogwarts and now-"
"- make something up or stay silent. Darling, I have done this before." she said tapping his arm reassuringly. "And may I remind you that the only reason anyone knows about 'us' at all is because of you?"
"Me?" he asked, sounding offended.
"You." she said, smiling while she snuggled closer to him, fully prepared to go to sleep. Severus roughly turned her to face him.
"That, my dear, was all your fault." He said, before leaning over the bed and pulling his boxers back on. Valora scoffed loudly, and when his only response was reaching for his pants she angrily stood up and put on her own knickers and bra before shoving him.
"Stupid prat. You were the one who said 'Let's go in the classroom. Nobody ever uses this hallway anyway. It's perfectly safe.' remember?" she demanded as she pulled a pair of sweatpants on. Severus turned to look at her, bare chested with only his black pants hanging loosely on his hips.
"It WAS perfectly safe, until you opened that mouth of yours." He said, leaning non-chalantly against the bed post. Valora's shoulders tensed and she put her hands on her hips.
"And what is THAT supposed to mean?"
Severus sighed. "As I've said before: you're very 'loud'." he explained with coy smirk. He noted her movements with easy reference. The way her hands fell to her side, her eyes narrowing. All the tell-tale signs of an attack, one he was quickly prepared for. When she lunged at him he caught her in mid-air, sending them both tumbling onto the bed. Valora had half-expected this and so easily manuevered herself overtop of him, smacking him repeatedly until he flipped her beneath him where she continued to claw at his back until he held her hands above her head. She glared up from beneath him, while he gazed down at her with a smug expression on his face.
"I'm not saying it." she said defiantly.
"Oh, yes, you are."
"You have to. Those are the rules."
"They're stupid rules."
"You made them up." he countered.
"Ah, yes. So I can dismantle them as well."
"Nice try, but you still have to say it."
"Severus, we're a lot older now. Isn't it silly to stick to those stupid rules we made up when we were 16?"
"Not nearly as silly as trying to tackle someone for stating a fact."
"Not a fact." she growled.
"C'mon, say it, or we'll be here all night."
"I rather like the sound of that."
"Valora..." he warned.
"Fine. I, Pardus, submit my will to the 'Half-Blood Prince'. Happy?" she asked acerbically. Severus laughed and leaned down to kiss her sweetly. Valora didn't respond when his lips touched hers which only made him chuckle.
"Such a sore loser." He said, leaning up off of her. Valora smiled in spite of herself and leaned against him, running her fingers up his arms until they brushed over the dark mark. She traced the outline with her ring finger. Severus twitched slightly under her fingertips.
"Does he know I'm still alive?" She asked softly, her eyes on the insignia seemingly burned into her lover's flesh.
"Of course." Severus said, his voice laced with bitterness. Valora nodded.
"And you're the one who told him?"
"I figured." she said sadly.
"-don't." she said stopping him by laying a hand on his chest. "I understand, Severus. I'm not angry. It's fine, really." she said lying back down on her side.
"No, it's not." he said, staring into the fames that were dancing behind the grate. Valora looked at him, the way he was resting his mouth on the knuckles of clenched fists, and realized how badly this must be tearing him up. To get her back only to out her at risk again. It really wasn't fair. She reached up and grabbed his shoulder, pulling him back down beside her.
"Stop thinking about it. He won't get me. He didn't before and he certaintly won't now." She whispered, pulling his arm across her and pressing her fingertips against his. She felt Severus press his lips against her bare shoulder. He was scared, so was she. They both knew those words were hollow. Neither Valora or Severus were certain they would survive this war.
"I'm sorry, Valora." Severus whispered again. Valora bit her lip and squeezed her eyes shut to avoid tears. As scary as this whole thing was, it all paled in comparison to the relief she felt to be back in his arms.
"I love you, Severus." she said, taking a deep breath she smiled as his arms tightened around her.
They lay like that for a long time, listening to each other's heartbeat mixing in with the thunder outside the window. Eventually the sound of Severus's steady breathing lulled Valora to sleep.
Sunlight peeked through the open window and Valora groaned, stretching her arms above her head. Opening her eyes she looked behind her. No Severus. Had she dreamt the whole thing? She sat up frantically, partially questioning her own sanity, partially looking for proof he had actually been here. She got her wish. Turning to her side she saw something different on her side table. The picture of her and Severus, wrinkled and torn in places, was now sitting safely behind a frame. There was a note beneath it.
I didn't want to wake you when I left. I'm sure I'll see you sometime today, and it will take all my self-control not to drag you right back to bed. Have a safe trip and a Happy Christmas. I'll miss you. Be good. I love you.
Valora smiled but raised an eyebrow at 'be good'. What did that mean? She was always good. Sort of. So it wasn't a dream. It was real. She had Severus back. Valora smiled wide and jumped out of bed, spinning around dancing a bit. She just couldn't contain her happiness, and it was probably better to get it out of her system now before she went to Grimmauld Place. Besides it was only a matter of time before they fell into routine. Her and Severus that is. Last night had probably been the most romantic thing they had ever done together. Usually they fought and argued. Always trying to 'one-up' the other. Enemies until a common threat made them allies. It certaintly was a strange relationship but it was theirs. Besides if Severus ever did something as dumb as send her flowers she would probably hex him for being a sap.
The bells rang, calling everyone to breakfast and Valora laughed a little to herself. She would have to sit next to Severus and act like nothing had changed. Nobody else would know their secret. She felt very much like a teenager again. As she dressed she glanced over at her desk, where her torn letters to Sirius were still sitting. She half-wondered if Severus had seen them, read them. Of course he probably had. That was one area she had no wish to revisit. Severus's obsession with Sirius. It was ridiculous. Valora looked at Sirius like a brother almost. The one time they had kissed was right before he was going to Azkaban. The man was about to be incarcerated for life, so of course she was going to let him get a last hit of testosterone out. God knows when or if he would have any kind of woman again. Other than that, there had been harmless flirtations in their school days, but he flirted with everyone. Severus was just paranoid. Valora didn't usually mind it. Severus wasn't exactly a 'ladies man' and so he gave her no cause for worry.
She glanced back at the picture, now safely behind a frame and smiled. Little things like that were better to her than flowers. He wasn't romantic, but he didn't need to be. After fourteen years the understanding between them hadn't been lost and it was a comfort. The bells tolled again and Valora ran a brush through her hair before rushing down.
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