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He’d always wondered why the person apparating could hear the pop just like those in the location in which they appeared. Surely if one was passing through the dimensional barrier one shouldn’t actually be able to hear the shifting of the barrier. He shook his head, the black hair falling slightly into his face. It was a clear sign that holidays had begun if he was sparing thought for such a trivial tangent. He stood for a moment and looked up at the house. The modest stone façade was misleading. To anyone passing it looked like a small country cottage, however those rare individuals who had passed its threshold knew its secret. Charmed by the master and mistress of the dwelling, both exceptional wizards, the interior bore more resemblance to a large country manor house.
The young master did not feel the pull at the corner of his lips that this moment had always afforded him. He usually arrived home after the end of the final term at the school where he taught with great anticipation of returning to the private life few of his students could guess he lived, and those who did were far too loyal to him and the House he lead to divulge his secrets to inferiors. Only one of his students knew where his home was and had not only seen it, but been one of the few to pass under its lintel.
But this day too much weighed upon him and not even the comfort of what awaited, the peace and rest that she would ensure would be his this night, could tempt a smile from him. Too much had happened during the past year, so much during the past month since he had last crossed into this house. Too much waited to occur and he knew with the certainty of a weary soldier that there was no glory in what was to come; no one would truly win and everyone, he included, could lose. He stood there contemplating for the hundredth time that week the horrific loses, he personally, could suffer.
A long fingered, pale hand turned the knob on the front door and he entered. The house was quiet. The soft glow of candlelight and oil lamps lit the entrance hall and added to the glow coming from the salon to his left. Unclasping his cloak he let it drop from his shoulders with the assurance of one long practiced in the art of privilege, never entertaining a doubt that the faithful house elf would be there to catch it and attend to it, though he had as yet not spoken a word. He stepped away from the hall and entered the sitting room. No heat rose from the white flames that gently lit the room, and he began to unbutton the long black jacket. He shrugged it from his shoulders as he rounded the side of his armchair. He laid it across his lap as he sat, reaching absently for the tumbler of whiskey that she always had ready for him. House shoes sat on the ottoman and he removed the boots he wore and replaced them with the soft comfortable fabric. As he leaned back, he did allow a small smile to edge his mouth. It was always like this. She always had everything perfect for him upon his return. She spoiled him unapologetically and quite contrary to what others would believe of his character, he liked it.
His head was leaned against the chair back and his eyes were closed. The fear of the future and the stress of the past months still etched themselves across his sharp angular features. She watched him silently for a moment, noting he had lost weight and registering the new lines that fanned from his eyes and the deepening of the crease between his brows. Life outside this house was so hard on this man, her husband. She promised him again in her mind and heart that life inside these walls would only ever bring him comfort or at least, distraction by pulling him back into the simple domesticity of this other role he played.
He was focused on his breathing as he willed the tension to leave him. The soft touch of her hand on his hair came not as a surprise but pulled forth a sigh of relaxation from him as if the final barricade blocking his path had been released. He reached up and took the hand that stroked at his hair. He pulled it around to his face and pressed his lips to the soft skin of the palm. He felt her lean over and the wave of individual strands of pale gold silk fell over his face and shoulder. He held her hand to his cheek for a moment before finally speaking. “Come, my love.”
He still held her hand and she rounded the side of his chair. He reached for her and pulled her down onto his lap. Her face nestled into his neck and he lowered his cheek to press against the top of her head. They remained there silently for several minutes as the remaining anxieties and fears eased away from him.
Stroking his hand down her hair he spoke quietly. “Where are the girls?”
“Where they always are last day of term,” she replied softly. She felt his tension return and knew he wore a frown. Lifting her face, her silver grey eyes searched the obsidian depth of his. “Severus, you know fully well I wouldn’t send them unless I was sure they will be fine. Mother loves them. Even if full scale war broke out she’d never let anyone and I mean anyone near those girls. Not even Lucius.”
Her mother did love their two little girls. Morganne was right; she would defy even her own son, even Lucius, to protect those girls just as Morganne had defied him when she had insisted on marrying Severus fourteen years ago. She had been expected to marry Evan Rosier, closer to Lucius than Severus because his family was of like social status; not new blood, and even at ten generations, Snapes were new blood. But Rosier died and Morganne had pressed the opportunity with her mother to marry the other man who was constantly at Lucius’ side, the man she had truly loved.
Loved. Severus sneered contemptuously at the thought of those who he risked everything to protect, but yet uniformly believed him incapable of such an emotion, and certainly incapable of engendering it in another. His private life was a closely kept secret. He spoke of it to no one, not to the other teachers, the other members of the Order, no one. He doubted most even knew he was married, let alone that he had children. Selena, his eldest, had been sent off to Beauxbatons Academy of Magic at the age of 11. In France she was away from the growing influence of her Uncle and the danger posed by her father’s secrets. No way was he letting her be exposed to those fools at Hogwarts. He didn’t trust the boys of his own House and didn’t trust himself not to harm the first one of any house that… well…
He shook away the thought and found himself looking into a smiling face. “Go get your bath, Severus. You have time for a good long soak before dinner and it helps you relax.” She lifted off his lap as he muttered his acquiescence.
Moments later he sank into the hot steaming tub and laid his head back. The heat seeped into the taught lean muscles of his body and began to loosen the knots the whiskey and her embrace had not yet released. God this was good, if he wasn’t careful he could easily fall asleep. ‘Not exactly the most heroic way to die, Severus,’ he thought. ‘Imagine your students’ faces at that headline: Hogwarts’ Professor Drowns in Own Bath.’ Again a smile tried to climb his face, but failed.
He didn’t hear the door open. Severus started when her hands touched his shoulders. Her musical voice chuckled slightly. The sound of that voice was sweeter than anything even the angels could have produced. He loved to hear her talk, it didn’t matter what she was saying. She could be prattling on about the high price of school robes or how their youngest had finally managed to tie her own shoes, it didn’t matter. He loved it.
Like he loved her hands. The soft skin covered the strongly muscled hands that began to move over his skin. Softly at first, then with more and more pressure. He responded instantly when she whispered for him to sit up and lean forward. The talented fingers gently kneaded the sinewy, tight muscles of his shoulders and upper arms. His body sagged and he let himself dwell on the feeling of surrender her touch created in him. Down his back she moved, thumbs pressing circles into the flesh on either side of his spine and moving in outward circles toward his sides. She left no place on his back or arms neglected.
He wasn’t sure when the nature of her touch changed, but it most definitely did. Her hands moved over his shoulders and down his chest, easing him back against the tub. He could feel the warmth of her skin against his upper back and finally he did smile. He reached up and caught the white blonde hair that fell over his shoulders and floated on the surface of the water. He pulled it to his face and breathed in deeply. Nothing in this world smelled like her. It was indescribably unique, undeniably enticing, and unforgettably intoxicating.
Her fingers were playing over the surface of his chest, sliding easily over the wet skin. She traced the outline of the pectoral muscles and abs, still amazingly defined though he was no longer the lithe young man he once was. Palms flat, she moved in soft circles edging teasingly closer and closer to the darker circles of flesh she knew would respond powerfully to her touch. Her lips pressed to the skin of his neck and he tilted his head to allow her greater access. Her kiss passed over the tight cords of neck and he lifted his chin, encouraging her to press her mouth to the sensitive area of his throat. When her hands finally brushed against the raised skin he shuddered and drew in a ragged breath.
She got to him. He loved how she could undo him so easily. He would have been incapable of staying stiff and unresponsive with her, even if he had been fool enough to try. She pulled away from him and his body cried out its objection. Opening his eyes he saw her standing beside the tub unfolding a large towel. Her robe was partially unfastened exposing a great deal of skin from her throat to the swell of her breasts.
He lifted himself from the water and stepped into the waiting arms of this beautiful woman. The rough fabric of the towel in her hands awoke the nerve endings as she moved it over his body, drying first his chest, then back. As her hands moved lower on his body his breathing grew momentarily strained and his need for her flared from a gently burning fire to a blazing conflagration.
Severus caught her in his arms and pulled her tight. His hand cupped the back of her head as she turned her face up to him. Lowering his face slowly to hers, he watched the familiar look of hunger rise in her eyes. As his mouth covered hers, her arms twined about his neck urging his kiss deeper. The softness of her lips always caught him off guard during these moments of renewal. The aching velvetiness of their touch tightened the pull deep in his gut.
Pulling back from the kiss, he drew a labored breath and again lowered his head to her. His lips pressed to hers and parted. His tongue flicked out and teased her mouth. He moaned slightly as he felt her lips part and the answering stroke of her tongue against the tip of his. Both hands rose to frame her face and he let his tongue be led into her mouth. It never failed. Every time he sought the warm depths of her kiss she tasted so sweet, so perfect.
Severus moved his hand down her neck, fingertips touching lightly. He felt the tremor that shook her as his easy touch slipped the robe from her shoulders and it fell down her arms, exposing the rising and falling swell of flesh that called to his hands to explore. He felt her press hard against him, her head turning away from his kiss and her lips seeking the sensitive skin behind one ear even as her fingers traced a tormentingly light trail down his back and over the rise of his hips. He lifted his head and her mouth parted against his skin. The flickering of her tongue moved to the lobe of his ear and was followed by a gentle nipping.
So she wanted to play. He stepped away from her and smiled wickedly at her. With deliberation he removed her robe and let it drop to the floor. He laughed at her cry of shock when he lifted her into his arms. He hadn’t done this in several years and was surprised both by how easily she still fit in his arms and by how good she felt clinging to his neck, chest pressed against his. He would most assuredly have to do this more often.
Severus carried her into the bedroom they had shared as husband and wife for the past 14 years. Fourteen years of exploring, knowing and pleasing one another and he still found her as exciting as the first night he held her to him and asked her to defy her brother and join her life to his. He had half expected her to laugh in his face. Morganne Malfoy, pureblood of purebloods whose family had so much wealth they really had no idea of their total worth, this was the woman he expected to marry a man with a small inheritance and unimpressive prospects that seemed to be limited to a teaching position since he had neither money nor prestige enough to bully the world into overlooking his Death Eater past. But her eyes had filled with joyous tears and her arms had clung to his neck then as they did now. Her beautiful, angelic voice had barely managed to choke out a broken, “Oh yes, Severus, yes.”
He lowered her to the bed. This was the same bed they had shared since their wedding night, the same bed that had seen the birth of their daughters. It had been the one place that Severus Snape could say he had never known hurt, sorrow or rejection. Never in her arms had he felt anything but adored and loved. These feelings had been new to the 25 year-old who found in this woman someone who seemed to see in him what no one, not even he himself, could see. Value and worthiness. He could honestly say he had repaid her with as much tenderness and love as he could find inside himself; so much feeling that at times it roared up in such a flood it stunned him and threatened to drown him.
He lay his body against hers, his need hard against the softness of her body. He rose up on one elbow to look down into her eyes. He watched her hand reach up and felt the touch on his face. His eyes closed slightly and he lifted his chin as she turned her face into his shoulder and pressed her lips to the skin, rolling up on her side to trace his collar bone with her kisses. If the silkiness of her mouth made his breathing increase, the movement of her hand made his heart race. Fingertips moved down his chest and stroked the skin of his abdomen. They traced a circle around his navel and then moved lower to smooth the soft black down that was the only hair visible, just above his waistband, on those lazy Sunday mornings when he would stretch out on the bed in pajama bottoms only, cup of tea in one hand and Daily Prophet in the other, until she distracted him totally and both tea and newspaper would be hastily abandoned.
As her touch made him tremble, he lay there drawing in ragged breaths trying to hold on to his control. With a suddenness born of the faltering of that control, he lifted her mouth to his and pressed her onto her back. His hand covered hers and pulled it up to rest against his chest. Stilling the fingers that immediately began to stroke the hardened circles of flesh just within reach of her fingertips, he held her still in his arms, only his mouth moving over hers. Her kiss was one of the few things he believed he could not live without in this life. The way her lips parted for him, the way her tongue met his boldly, the way she would moan softly against his lips; these had taught him just how beautiful such a simple thing could be.
He released her hand, eased the embrace, lifting himself slightly and the touch he craved came from her as she lowered her head to his chest and her tongue darted out, softly, tauntingly toying with his flesh. Slowly he trailed his hand across the skin of her stomach feeling her shudder at his touch. Deftly he removed the lace and satin that separated their bodies. He moved his hand up her ribcage and cupped the fullness of the curves her body offered him. Her head lifted from the pillow pressing the kiss deeper and he obliged her, tangling the hand from the arm he rested on in her hair and leaning over her. His thumb moved across the excited skin and she pulled her face from his kiss to touch her lips to his neck, her breathing rapid. Lowering his head to her, he was rewarded by the gasping cry that he loved. His tongue now repaid the sensations she had given him moments before a hundred fold. Her fingers tangled in his hair and her voice groaned out her delight.
His head swam from the feeling of the skin of their upper bodies as they touched and he lowered his weight into the cradle of her hips. That voice, that voice of hers moaned his name against the skin of his throat sending a burst of sensation through his skin that seemed to travel instantly to the center of the shameless passion he felt for her. He looked down into her face, willing her to read in his the love, respect, adoration and admiration he felt for her, feelings that had taken root and grown through the years. He clung to the purity of the love that seemed to shine from those silver eyes. Abandoning all else he gave himself over to that love and to this woman, reuniting their minds, spirits and bodies.
His weight supported on one hand while his other slid down over the length of the skin of her thigh, pulling her closer. He watched her face. Nothing fueled his need for her like seeing her own need, her own pleasure. The tensing of her body beneath him, the way she cried his name, her hands clutching his back, nails digging slightly into the flesh; wiped away all fear, all thought, everything but the moment. For this he loved her more than all the rest. For her ability to still the voices inside him, to drain him of the anger, of the hate. For her ability to fill him with such peace and the knowledge that he was truly loved.
A smile rested comfortably on his face where it pressed against the curve of her breast. Severus lifted his head and pressed his breathless lips to hers, then to her neck tasting the salty wetness born of their passion. Her breathing was becoming more steadied now though he could feel the wild pounding of both their hearts against his chest. Lifting his eyes he watched her face as her eyes opened and focused on him.
His smile shifted from one of contentment to one of devilish delight. “You did say your mother was keeping the girls all night, didn’t you?”
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