Continuing Tales

Chasing the Sun

A Harry Potter Story
by Loten

Part 38 of 60

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It turned out that the entire Order wanted to celebrate Harry's 17th birthday in style, even if it would have to be a few days early. Rather unfairly, in Hermione's opinion, they set Molly Weasley to achieve this, via a Floo call; she was pretty sure that was against the rules. Severus had been trying to agree for the past fifteen minutes, but Mrs Weasley hadn't paused for breath yet and hadn't heard, and he was starting to look a little harried. Evidently even he wasn't enough of a bastard to lose his temper with her – either that, or she scared him, which was quite possible. She could be a very scary woman at times.

Finally Ron took pity on him and moved closer to the fire and all but screamed, "Mum!"

"Don't you take that tone with me, Ronald Weasley!"

"Sorry, Mum. But Professor Snape gave up ages ago. You can stop nagging him now. He said yes."

There was a pause; they could hear laughter in the background from the other side of the Floo. "Oh. I'm sorry, Severus. I... didn't hear you."

Severus rolled his eyes, looking torn between amused and irritated. "I gathered. It's fine, Molly. Take the three of them for the night. It'll be nice to have some peace for once. And not to have to feed the bottomless pit you call a son."

"You're not coming?"

"To Harry Potter's birthday party?" Severus asked; the sarcasm in his voice was almost thick enough to choke on. "No, thank you. I would rather gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon."

"Oh, Severus, don't be like that."

He rolled his eyes again. "I don't do parties, Molly. Besides, even you can't possibly pretend that anyone else wants me there. I'll be fine."

After the Floo call ended, Harry grinned. "Why don't we just set her on You-Know-Who? I bet she'd have him apologising for not wiping his feet and promising to clean his room inside half an hour."

"The woman is a force of nature," Severus agreed wryly.

"Why do we have to celebrate early?" Hermione asked him. "What happens when Harry turns seventeen?"

He blinked at her before scowling. "Why am I surprised that Dumbledore didn't bother to explain that to you? It's to do with the protection on his blood, and the reason why he had to stay with the Dursleys for as long as he did. As long as you live with an adult blood relative, Potter, the protection your mother's death gave you severely limits what can be done to you; that's why you were never attacked in the summer holidays, except for the Dementors by accident. One second past midnight on your birthday, Potter, that protection ends, and it's open season, although frankly I never really understood how it worked. I find it hard to believe your mother was the only woman to ever die for her child, but there we are. You'll be more at risk than you were, although given how much you attract trouble anyway I shouldn't think it will make much of a difference."

"What makes this house safe?" Ron asked interestedly. "I asked around, and nobody in the Order knows what you've done to it."

He snorted. "Hardly a surprise. It's nothing to do with the Dark Arts, if that's what you're thinking. At least three generations of my father's family have owned this house outright – no rent, no mortgage. It belongs to the Snape family on a deep fundamental level. As a wizard, I can take advantage of that; it only took a couple of basic blood wards to set up the protection. It's the only reason I still live here, or I would have torched the place years ago," he added darkly.

"Could we do the same thing to the Burrow?"

"I don't know. Probably, but it's not really necessary; there are plenty of other protective spells around the Burrow. Besides, so many other Order members use it as a temporary safe house that it wouldn't be practical. And if Minerva paid attention to my report, nobody will be living there at the moment."

Hermione had been doing a lot of thinking during the following day, although she didn't make her mind up for certain until they were almost ready to leave for Grimmauld Place. As they prepared to light the Floo – Severus was down in the cellar again – she cleared her throat. "I'm not going with you."

"What? Why?"

"Because I want to spend some time with Severus," she replied quietly, before giving them both a stern look as they both started to blush. "Oh, get your minds out of the gutter, both of you. We've never had a chance to spend some time together, just the two of us, not since finding out we both feel something for one another; it's been weeks since I've been able to talk to him, and I miss it. I love you both dearly, you know that, but I really want you to be a long way away for a little while. I'll see Harry on his real birthday anyway. I'd like to see everyone else, but it's going to be absolutely insane there, and I'm not much of a party person either really."

Ron shrugged. "Your party, Harry. What do you reckon?"

"I reckon she's mental," Harry said dryly, grinning at her. "If you'd really rather spend time with him than us, then go ahead. I guess it can't be much fun for the two of you trying to sort everything out in between Horcruxes with me and Ron hanging around," he added innocently, and she nearly started laughing, certain that neither he nor Ron had any idea how often they had accidentally interrupted something. "What do we tell everyone else, though?"

She shrugged. "Just tell them Severus and I are working on something important. It's true, as far as it goes; we still need a way to get at Nagini and we've been trying to come up with a list of the defences we might find on Bellatrix's vault. Or say I'm not well, or something. It's your party, Harry – I doubt most people will even notice I'm not there after the first few minutes." She flapped a hand at them. "Go and have fun."

"Okay. We'll see you sometime tomorrow. Bye, 'Mione."


Once they had gone, she heaved a sigh of relief, listening to the wonderful silence of the house, before glancing in the direction of the kitchen and the cellar and biting her lip. The boys hadn't been far off the mark, gutter minds or not... she did genuinely just want to spend some time with him, but at the same time she was acutely aware that this was probably the only privacy they were likely to get until the war was over and there was no guarantee that they would both survive that long. She knew she would never have the confidence to initiate any sort of seduction – she wouldn't even know where to start, beyond kissing him and hoping they would both get carried away without being interrupted, which seemed to lack elegance – but if something did happen, she wasn't going to say no. Her dreams had been growing rather vivid recently and she was tired of waking up in a sweat, restless and aching. If something didn't give way soon, the tension was going to drive them all insane, and although she was still a little nervous about this next step, it was residual nervousness now rather than anything genuine.

Padding into the kitchen, she hopped up onto the worktop and settled down with her book in full view of the door leading to the cellar, listening with half an ear to the sounds of him pottering about. She wasn't sure what he was doing down there, exactly, but occasionally the vent in the overgrown garden produced some very strangely coloured smoke.

About an hour later Severus came up the stairs, humming absently under his breath, at least until he saw her and swore. "Bloody hell, Granger! What are you still doing here?"

"Charming. Thank you for that."

He gave her an annoyed look and flicked his hair out of his eyes. "You nearly gave me a heart attack. I didn't realise anyone was still here. You're lucky I didn't hex you before realising who it was. Why aren't you at the party with your little friends?"

She put her book down and smiled at him. "I decided I'd prefer to spend some time with you than be slowly deafened while watching the Weasley brothers teaching Harry and Ron how to drink until they puke. It's going to be absolutely insane there and I'd rather be here. If that's all right with you, of course," she added archly.

He seemed surprised but pleased, as far as she could tell; it wasn't often she managed to catch him off guard. "I... well, yes, of course. If that's what you want."

"It is," she told him firmly, sliding off the worktop. "What have you actually been doing?"

"Restocking, mostly. There wasn't time to collect anything from Hogwarts, so the Order's stock of healing potions was virtually non-existent, and I used up most of what I had left here in those first two or three days."

"You could have let me help. I've been going insane with nothing to do, and you know I like watching you work."

He shrugged. "I told you, I don't want you going anywhere near the cellar, at least not until I've neutralised or removed some of the worst of the cursed stuff. I've been trying to sort through all the crap that's accumulated down there over the years, but it's slow going. Anyway, I think better when I'm brewing. Not that I've had any flashes of inspiration recently."

Hermione gave him a critical look. "You've been spending too much time down there, anyway. You look exhausted. And you need a shower."

"Thanks," he replied dryly, before shrugging again. "True, though, I suppose. I was done for today anyway."

"So what did you have planned for the evening that I've managed to spoil?" she asked.

Severus smiled at her. "Absolutely nothing. Let's see what food there is left and make a start on dinner, then I'll go and take a shower. Assuming they haven't left the bathroom in a state again," he added darkly.

"I did have another discussion about house training with them the other day. It shouldn't be too bad."

"I'll believe it when I see it."

This evening was definitely a lot more fun than watching the Weasleys avoiding their mother's stern eye long enough to get drunk, Hermione reflected cheerfully as she helped clean up after dinner. An odd thought occurred to her and she laughed softly. "I just realised... why do you do the washing up and the laundry by hand? I always have because it's what I'm used to at home, but you're not Muggleborn."

Severus smiled at her; over the past couple of hours he had relaxed for possibly the first time in months and seemed calmer and more willing to talk than she had ever really known him to be, and he was obviously appreciating the chance to talk without anyone else around – he had apparently missed their conversations as much as she had. "Partly out of habit, since I clean all my Potions equipment by hand for safety's sake, but mostly, if you want the truth, it's because I'm terrible at domestic spells. I can just about manage to clear dust away, but anything that actually needs cleaning properly, I have to do by hand."

She mimed a gasp, confident enough to tease him now. "Are you telling me that you're not brilliant at everything?"

He snorted. "What on earth could possibly have made you think I was?"

"Your grades, for a start."

He blinked at her. "You looked up my exam results?"


After a moment he chuckled softly and returned to drying the last plate. "I don't know why I'm even surprised. You never did do anything in half measures. I hope you realise that you are expected to beat my record?"

"I can't. I only got an E for my Defence OWL. And it doesn't look like I'm going to take my NEWTs."

That earned her another snort. "You've looked forward to those exams since the moment you heard about them, Hermione. It's going to take more than the Dark Lord and his army to stop you. You will. And you'll get Os in both Defence and Potions, or I'll know the reason why," he added sternly, drawing a reluctant giggle from her – she had the feeling that he really meant it.

"But my teacher has been distracting me," she teased, making him smile. "Do you really think I'll be able to take them?"

"As soon as the school reopens," he assured her. "Assuming we win, of course. I wouldn't be surprised if you were made Head Girl, either."

"I used to dream about that, as sad as that sounds," she noted, moving around him to put the clean glasses and cutlery away. "Now, though, I think I'd rather not."

"Well, I'm sure you can name whatever terms you like," he told her, closing the cupboard. "You could take your NEWTs tomorrow and get a passing grade in every subject, even without the seventh-year material, you know. I doubt you'll need to sit the whole year. A term at most. Then you can take your exams and get on with the rest of your life."

"Doing what?"

"Anything you like." He smiled a bit lopsidedly at her. "If we pull this off, you'll be almost as famous as Potter. You can do literally anything you want."

"And what about you? What will you do, if we win? Will you go back to Hogwarts?"

He shook his head emphatically. "Hell, no. I'm sure it will come as absolutely no surprise to you to learn that I utterly despise teaching, and the Headmaster is certainly not going to be in a hurry to welcome me back even if he lives that long. My Potions contract isn't in force any more and my Defence contract was only for one year, so I am under no obligation to return. As for what I will do..." He paused for a moment, and then said quietly, "That, Hermione, rather depends on you, I think."

His black eyes were intent and unwavering, and the look in their dark depths sent a little shiver through her as her thoughts cleared and her emotions crystallised with almost painful clarity. Suddenly absolutely certain of her feelings, she smiled a little shakily at him in response, moving closer to him. "Good answer," she whispered, looking up at him.

She could feel the warmth of his body, smell his soap and shampoo. Slowly she raised a hand, touching his cheek gently before resting her palm on his chest, feeling his steady heartbeat under her fingers, and moved closer still until their bodies were only a hair's breadth apart and her breasts brushed his chest as she breathed.

His pupils had dilated, his nostrils flaring slightly as she licked her lips, and his voice was deeper than usual as he said quietly, "Hermione, you are making it very difficult for me to behave myself."

Gathering her courage, she gave him another shaky smile and whispered, "I'm rather hoping that you won't."

A moment later she was in his arms, his lips coming down on hers. This kiss pulled no punches; he wasn't holding back at all now, his tongue thrusting deeply into her mouth as his arms tightened possessively, crushing her body against his. Clinging to him, as much for support as because she wanted to touch him, Hermione kissed him back as fiercely as she could, finally absolutely sure that this was what she wanted.

When they broke apart to catch their breath, Severus stared down at her with burning eyes and said raggedly, "I'm giving you one chance to say no, Hermione, because after that I can't guarantee that I'll be able to stop."

"Don't talk rubbish," she gasped breathlessly. "Of course you'd stop if I said no. But I'm not going to. I don't want you to stop. I've wanted you for a long time now, Severus."

He almost growled and pulled her to him once more, kissing her hungrily. It was almost impossible to think, but although she didn't have any real expectations about her first time she did know that she didn't want it to be on the kitchen floor, and fought her way through the fog of lust threatening to utterly destroy her reason to pull away from him again. Breathing hard, she smiled at him and reached to take his hand, feeling a very strange blend of confidence and nerves as she turned and led him out of the kitchen and towards the stairs.

Neither of them spoke again until they were actually in the bedroom, when she let go of his hand and turned to look at him once more. Now they were here, she admitted to herself that she was terrified, simply because she hated facing the unknown. She wasn't too worried about the act itself; she knew the mechanics of it, she trusted him to know what he was doing, and given that he could set her blood on fire with just a kiss she was sure she would enjoy it, but she didn't want to disappoint him.

It didn't look like Severus was worried about that. His eyes were filled with black fire as he stared at her, heated and intense, and since he wasn't wearing his usual robes she could see clearly just how aroused he was. Taking a step closer, he wrapped his arms around her and drew her to him, more gently this time, brushing her hair back from her face as he bent his head to kiss her again; closing her eyes, she gave herself over to the moment, to the taste and feel of him, and tried to stop thinking so hard.

Turning, he backed towards the bed without breaking the kiss, wavering when it hit the back of his knees before lowering himself to sit on the edge of the mattress and pulling her down to sit in his lap. No longer having to worry about her legs giving way, she snaked her arms around his neck and wound her fingers into his hair, vaguely surprised to hear herself moaning into his mouth as his tongue slid against hers. His hands stroked down her back to her arse, pulling her more tightly against his erection, and she felt an answering pulse of heat between her legs at the feel of him pressing against her through their clothes.

Breaking the kiss, he pulled back to look at her for a moment, breathing raggedly. He cupped her cheek in his hand, his thumb stroking along her lower lip, his eyes softening slightly behind the burning excitement that filled his gaze, before he slid his fingers into her hair and gently tilted her head back, leaning in to kiss her neck. His breath was hot against her skin as he nuzzled at her throat, nipping at certain spots under her jaw and over her pulse, each tiny bite making her shiver with little sparks of pleasure.

"People always said you were a vampire," Hermione said breathlessly, because it was that or moan again and she was a little embarrassed by some of the noises she was making. He laughed in genuine amusement, his eyes dancing as he pulled back to look at her, but instead of answering he simply kissed her again, his hands worming their way under her top; his fingers felt hot on her skin, leaving trails of fire along her back and sides as he started slowly pushing her top up, in contrast to the seeming coolness of the air on the exposed skin.

The faint thrill of nervousness helped cut through the desire a little, not enough to make her want him any less, but enough to help her think straight. Returning his kiss, hearing his breath hitch for a moment as she caught his lower lip gently between her teeth, she reached down blindly and tugged his shirt out of his trousers before starting to undo the buttons, needing to feel his skin against hers.

She had to stop for a moment to let Severus pull her top up and over her head, shivering as the air washed across her now overheated skin, freezing in momentary uncertainty as she looked apprehensively at his face, but the look in his eyes destroyed the last vestiges of self-consciousness long before his gaze made it back to hers once more. He had to swallow before he could speak, his voice slightly huskier now, but it didn't hide the teasing note in his voice as he asked lightly, "Are you going to tell me to stop staring now?"

Laughing, she shook her head. "No. Now you're allowed."

"Very generous of you," he growled, dipping his head. His breath tickled across her skin as he kissed her collarbone. "But I intend to do a lot more than just stare." He licked the hollow at the base of her throat before his lips brushed across the end of the scar on her chest; if it was anyone else she would have been very embarrassed at that point, she hated the scar, but he was the one who had healed it in the first place and if she didn't mind any of his scars he clearly didn't mind hers. Besides, she was more interested in undoing the last few buttons of his shirt before finally being able to push it off his shoulders and watch him impatiently struggle out of it.

By now she had seen him shirtless countless times, had even touched him once or twice – most recently when it seemed like every inch of skin was soaked in blood, and he was cold and barely breathing – but not like this. Now he was hers, and there was a wonderful possessiveness in touching him, as her hands skated across his still too prominent ribs and rather tentatively into the sparse black curly hair on his chest, exploring the wiry strength of his narrow shoulders and roaming down his scarred back before he pulled her closer, both of them drawing in sharp breaths at the first shock of skin to skin contact.

It was absolutely impossible to think under these circumstances. Hermione didn't even realise that he had undone her bra until he started drawing the straps down her shoulders, and even as she sat back to give him enough room to take it off she was struck by painful nervousness as reality returned and she once again felt like a seventeen year old schoolgirl, half naked for the first time with a man and suddenly very unsure of herself once more. The fact that it was her former teacher whose lap she was straddling at the moment was making it worse, if anything.

Severus wasn't looking at her face, so it took him a few moments to notice, and a few moments longer before comprehension cut through the burning lust in his eyes, but slowly his expression cleared as he regained some sort of control over himself. Licking his lips, he cleared his throat, before smiling gently at her, his eyes softening as he reached to touch her face. "Oh, Hermione," he said softly. "You still have absolutely no idea what you look like, do you?"

He wrapped his arms around her and drew her against his chest in an embrace that was more comforting than sexual, nuzzling at her neck, his breath warm on her ear. "I don't know what anyone else would say," he murmured, "but right now, it's my opinion that counts, and I think you are very beautiful." He nibbled on her earlobe, sending shivers racing down her spine. "I also think that I am far, far luckier than I deserve. And that I want you so much it hurts. And that you have truly terrible taste in men," he added with a hint of humour in his voice.

She tried to argue with him about that last point, but as soon as she opened her mouth he was kissing her again and she rapidly found that she didn't have the breath to argue. A moment later she didn't have enough brain cells to argue, either, because his hands were cupping her breasts gently and the shock of his touch dissolved what scraps of reason she'd had left. And when his thumbs brushed across her hardened nipples for the first time, all she could do was whimper and squirm against him as her whole body reacted.

Hermione was starting to appreciate why everyone made such a big deal about sex now; neither of them were even fully undressed yet and this felt far better than anything she had ever managed to achieve on her own. She just wished she had had the courage to approach him earlier. Then that thought dissolved along with the rest, as his arms supported her at the small of her back and she leaned back automatically and he brought his mouth to her breasts, his hair brushing her skin and his breath raising goose bumps before he kissed her nipple and flicked his tongue across it. Her fingers dug into his shoulders as she urged him on wordlessly and whimpered again, and she felt the faintest pressure of his teeth before he closed his lips around the hardened peak and started to suck.

She was pretty sure there was no nerve directly connecting her nipples to her groin, but that was what it felt like, a current of electricity going straight to the pulse between her legs and making her cry out and squirm in his lap, his erection digging into her almost but not quite where she wanted it. Almost in disbelief at just how good this felt, she stared down at the top of his head, as he moved to her other breast and continued to suckle, his hand coming up to the one he had just left and his fingers teasing the nipple.

When Severus finally lifted his head, he looked almost drunk, his dark eyes hazy and not quite focused but blazing with a need that matched her own. Almost desperate now, she squirmed against him again, shifting her weight as she tried to find the right angle to get some friction where she needed it, and his eyes went a little further out of focus before he laughed breathlessly, digging his fingers into her hips. "God, stop that," he gasped, shivering. "You don't know what you're doing to me."

"Serves you right," she retorted, equally breathless, drawing another shaky laugh from him before he kissed her again, eager and hungry and completely uncontrolled now. They were going to have to move if this was to go any further, but she didn't want to lose contact with him, even briefly. Finally he twisted to one side and she slid out of his lap onto the bed beside him, both of them trying to catch their breath as they pulled off shoes and socks before he pushed her back and stretched out beside her on the narrow bed to kiss her again, her breasts crushed against his chest and his erection pressing into her thigh.

Tangling a hand in his hair to keep his mouth on hers, feeling it still damp at the roots from his earlier shower, she closed her eyes and kissed him deeply, letting her other hand roam blindly down his chest and stomach until she could touch him through his trousers and feel the heat radiating from him. Boldly she wrapped her hand around him, as much as she could through his clothes, squeezing experimentally, and he groaned into her mouth and pushed his hips against her hand, making soft noises of pleasure.

It proved to be very difficult to undo his belt and buttons with only one hand when she couldn't see what she was doing, especially since they were still kissing a little frantically, but she managed to get his trousers more than half undone before registering that he seemed to be doing rather better with her jeans. Hermione promptly stopped what she was doing and arched her body off the bed to try and help him, reaching down to push them over her hips before kicking them away. She didn't feel self-conscious now, the ache between her legs put paid to such silly feelings; about all that she was certain of right now was that if he didn't touch her there soon she was going to lose her mind.

His hand slid up her thigh, tantalisingly slowly; she thought he was teasing her deliberately, but when she looked at him and attempted to find enough breath to tell him off she was no longer sure. His eyes were closed, and from the expression on his face he was teasing himself as much as her, taking his time and savouring every moment as he slowed the pace. When his fingers finally brushed between her legs, stroking through her knickers, and they both became aware of just how aroused she was, his mouth opened slightly and he made a low sound in the back of his throat, opening his eyes to stare at her as her whole body quivered under his touch.

After a long, breathless moment, his expression cleared and he smiled slowly, his eyes beginning to glitter in a way that said he had thought of something. Hermione didn't really feel capable of doing anything at the moment except lying back and waiting to find out what it was; it was all she could do to keep breathing, trembling with desperate anticipation as he sat up and hooked his fingers under the waistband of her knickers, slowly working them down, scratching lightly at her hips and thighs as he did so until she lay naked under his hungry stare.

For a long moment he stayed motionless, only his eyes moving; she could almost feel the weight of his gaze as he slowly scanned her body, absorbing the sight. She saw him swallow, his chest rising and falling a little more rapidly, and he unconsciously licked his lips. When his eyes met hers, the raw heat and need she saw in the black depths made her heart skip a beat, before he slid off the bed completely and knelt on the floor, leaning over her. It took her a moment to realise what he was about to do; all Hermione's knowledge of sex up to this point was in the abstract and from what she'd overheard from various sources – most of them admittedly probably not much more knowledgeable than she was – most men didn't like performing oral sex, and the few who could be persuaded to make the effort weren't very good.

Apparently, Severus wasn't like most men. His breath tickled her skin, his long hair brushing her thighs as his hands gently eased her legs apart; he kissed the inside of her thigh and bit softly, whispering something too quietly for her to hear before leaning closer, and a moment later she cried out as she felt his tongue slowly licking her.

Had her life depended on it, she couldn't have said specifically what he was doing; the sensations jumped and blurred together as he kissed and licked and sucked and teased and kept pushing her higher and higher. The world spiralled down to the slowly building tension and pressure as she drew closer and closer to the edge, whimpering and shaking. Just at the point where it all became too intense to bear, he slid a careful finger inside her and his mouth found just the right place and everything broke; ecstatic pleasure roared through her and she all but screamed his name, clenching her fists around handfuls of the bedclothes and bucking her hips.

When she could see clearly again, Severus was just getting to his feet, half-smiling and half-smirking as he watched her recovering from what had been the most intense orgasm of her life, far beyond her few fumbling solo efforts. His mouth was glistening, and when he saw her looking at him he slowly and deliberately licked his lips, sending another shiver through her. Managing to drag herself into a sitting position, she wordlessly beckoned him closer, and his eyes softened as he moved to rest a knee on the edge of the bed, leaning forward and allowing her to pull him down into a kiss. She could taste herself in his mouth, something sweet and musky that was nothing like she had expected. Drawing away, she smiled shakily at him, unable to think of anything to say and hoping that he understood what she was feeling at the moment, because she wasn't sure that she did.

He stood up again, returning her smile, and she slowly looked him up and down. His trousers were still half-undone, his erection still straining at the fabric, but if it was uncomfortable he didn't show it. Nobody could really call Severus attractive; he was still too thin, his ribs visible, but there was muscle throughout his frame as well, lean wiry tough muscle that had been earned throughout a harsh life rather than created in a gym or on a sports field, and it was somehow enhanced by his scars. No, he wasn't attractive, but she didn't care; he was what she wanted.

By the time her eyes made it back to his face, his smile had turned decidedly predatory, hunger sparking in his gaze once more, and just that look in his eyes was enough to renew the aching between her legs and stir her own need again despite how hard he had just made her come. Moving to sit on the edge of the bed, she reached out to rest her hands briefly on his hips before slowly continuing to unfasten his trousers, easing them down until he could step out of them. With only the thin fabric of his shorts left, she could see the full outline of his erection more clearly, and something tightened low in her body; she had nothing to compare him to, admittedly, but she had a feeling he had more to offer than the average wizard.

Severus stepped back a pace, watching her intently as he reached down and slid his fingers under the waistband of his underwear, finally shedding the last of his clothing and letting her see him for the first time. Her mouth went dry as she tried not to stare too obviously, caught somewhere between nervousness and lust before lust won. Looking up at him, she scooted back on the narrow bed to give him some space and he came to sit beside her, leaning in to kiss her again; he was trying to be gentle, but she could feel him trembling and sensed that his self-control was growing thin. Twining her arms around his neck, she kissed him in return and lay back, drawing him down with her; he made a low sound in the back of his throat as their naked bodies pressed together, his arms tightening before he broke the kiss, breathing raggedly.

Holding his gaze, she rested her hand on his chest and slowly trailed her fingers downwards over his stomach and the curve of his hip bone, hesitating for a moment before touching him gently; his eyes closed and he let out the breath he had been holding in a long sigh as she did so. The unbelievable softness of the silky skin was something of a surprise, as was the way he twitched under her fingers when she touched him, and she explored his heat and hardness curiously, drawing shivers and gasps from him. Reaching between his thighs, she cradled the warm weight of him experimentally in her palm before she wrapped her hand around his shaft properly and he moaned, his head falling back.

"God, Hermione, please, stop," he said shakily.

"I'm sorry..."

"No, no, don't be." Catching her hand as she let go of him, he brought it to his lips, kissing her fingertips and smiling at her. "You weren't doing anything wrong, quite the opposite in fact, but it's been a very long time for me, and if you keep touching me like that I'm not going to last," he explained a little breathlessly. His eyes darkened as he looked at her, his voice deepening to almost a growl. "And I'm not done with you yet," he promised huskily, pushing himself up on one elbow and leaning in to kiss her again.

Very happy with that idea, she returned his kiss eagerly as he moved over her, revelling in the weight and strength of his body as he gently pushed her back against the pillows. Shifting under him, she ran her hands down his back as she spread her legs and he settled between her thighs without breaking the kiss, moaning softly into his mouth when she felt the head of his erection pressing so intimately against her. Bracing himself on one arm as the kiss came to an end, he reached down between their bodies, his fingers sliding teasingly through her damp curls before he shifted and began to carefully guide himself inside her, his brows furrowed slightly in concentration.

Settling his weight on both arms again, his eyes met hers as he slowly pushed deeper, trembling with the effort of holding back. Hermione was about to tell him that she wouldn't break when she felt the first twinge and was suddenly glad that he was being so careful; she must have tensed, because he stopped moving instantly, his hand smoothing her hair back from her face as he leaned down to kiss her once more, slow and deep and thorough. He continued kissing her, making no attempt to move, and she relaxed slowly, focusing on the taste and feel of his mouth for an unidentifiable length of time, before without warning he suddenly jerked his hips and thrust hard.

She gasped sharply, stiffening under him, but it was done now; for a few moments the pain was intense, but it began to fade almost immediately, as Severus hunched his shoulders a little and leaned down further to nuzzle at her neck, kissing her throat gently. Relaxing, she concentrated for a moment; no, it hadn't hurt as much as she had expected. He started to move again, shallow rocking movements of his hips, slowly working his way deeper, and by the time he was fully inside her, the discomfort was almost gone. It felt strange, admittedly, an odd sort of pressure that wasn't quite uncomfortable, but it didn't really hurt very much now.

He kissed her again, gently. "Are you all right?" he asked softly, releasing the breath he had been holding.

Relaxing a little more, she smiled up at him; with the pain gone, she could feel him buried deeply inside her, feel her body pulsing around him. The sense of connection was wonderful. "Oh, yes," she breathed.

Even so, for a few moments longer he stayed still, searching her gaze until finally she half-laughed and reached up to touch his face. "Severus. I'm okay. Really. You're not going to hurt me." More than that, if he didn't start moving soon, she might hurt him. Experimentally she tilted her hips a little, tightening her pelvic floor muscles, and watched his eyes go out of focus as he groaned softly. Filing that away for future reference, she gave him an innocent look and he smiled at her before slowly starting to pull away; she felt one last twinge, but it wasn't really pain now, and when he began to push into her once more there was nothing but pleasure even though it still felt a little strange.

Briefly a thought flittered across her awareness, rather later than it should have done. "I'm not... on anything," she told him, her breath hitching for a moment as he moved. She had never taken birth control, Muggle or otherwise, and the chances of her remembering how to cast a contraceptive charm right now were less than zero.

"I'm safe," he assured her hoarsely. "I have been for years." Taking his word for it, she relaxed again; one less thing to worry about.

Gradually his movements were becoming less slow and gentle, his breathing growing heavier, and she could feel the tension building again as she drew close once more. Moving under him, learning how to match the rhythm of his body, she cried out softly as he touched something inside her that sent a jolt of electricity through her; something flared in his eyes in response and he shifted, moving with more certainty. He found the angle he needed, and her eyes widened as she felt him sliding over the spot he had brushed before; every thrust pushed that coiling pressure a little higher, her body tightening. "Oh, God," she whispered hoarsely, shaking, arching her back and straining against him. "Severus..."

He made a sound somewhere between a groan and a growl in response, breathing hard now, and thrust again, his eyes burning as he stared down at her. His black eyes were difficult to read if you didn't know him, but she could see just how expressive they were, so much raw emotion in his gaze that it made her catch her breath. Then he pushed into her once more, and for a moment she was teetering right on the brink before something snapped and she cried out, digging her nails into his shoulders as her hips bucked, throwing her head back as fire blazed through her and the world dissolved into nothing.

Severus slowed down through her climax, prolonging the pleasure with easy rocking movements that drew out every last little shiver of sensation. Leaning down, he kissed her gently, before pushing himself up on his arms and really starting to move in earnest, putting more force behind his thrusts as he drove into her. As the last vestiges of her orgasm subsided, she relaxed, shivering in the aftermath and watching him reaching the peak of his own pleasure at last; he cried out wordlessly in a strangled voice, his expression twisting as he shoved himself into her one last time before dropping to his elbows and shuddering violently, and she felt the surging heat of his climax inside her.

Utterly exhausted, she raised her head enough to kiss his sweaty neck before sinking back against the pillows, shivering. His forehead rested against the pillows by her shoulder before he very slowly lifted his head, his eyes hazy and tired, and his gaze searched hers briefly. She managed to smile and saw his answering smile in his eyes before he slowly pushed himself up onto his elbows and knees again, rolling off her and into the wall with a soft groan.

It took a bit of drowsy squirming on the narrow bed, but finally they were settled side by side and snuggled down under the blankets. Nestled against his chest, Hermione listened to his heartbeat slowing to its usual steady rhythm and relaxed. She wasn't thinking about the war, or the uncertain future, or worrying about her parents, or anything else, just the fact that she was in Severus' arms; it was the happiest she had ever been.

He nuzzled closer with a sleepy sound in the back of his throat, burying his face in her hair, and relaxed with a contented sigh. Things weren't quite settled between them, there had been no overt declaration of feeling on either side, but Hermione was quite happy to not be a Gryffindor for once. In his own way, Severus had made his position quite clear, and she was certain he understood what she hadn't said. Everything could wait until the morning; right now she was happy, and satisfied, and very, very tired – sentiments that it seemed Severus shared, since by the sound of his breathing he was almost asleep already. Cuddling closer, she closed her eyes and let herself drift.

When Severus woke up, he was utterly disorientated, and for a moment his sleep-hazed mind couldn't work out where he was or what was going on. It was dark outside his closed eyelids, and after a moment he recognised the all too familiar feel of the sagging mattress under him and the roughness of the wall against his back. Spinners End. But... another moment of sleepy confusion, before his brain finally woke up and presented him with a startlingly intense flashback of the previous few hours as he became aware of the smell of sex in the air. Hermione. He woke up properly, opening his eyes to the very strange sensation of someone else cuddled up against him, blinking slowly as his mind slowly caught up and sorted himself out.

Once he was reasonably sure what day it was and who he was, he took stock. He never seemed to feel warm here, but it was the height of summer now and even this damp house wasn't cold; besides, with two of them snuggled in bed like this, even he felt comfortably warm. Hermione was very deeply asleep, as far as he could tell, half lying on him with the loose heaviness of total relaxation, her insane hair fanned out across his chest, and he could hear her slow and even breathing.

He still couldn't quite believe it had happened; even though he had known she wanted him, something in his brain hadn't let him think that this was possible. For her to have given herself to him the way she had was... he didn't even have the words to describe what it meant to him. It had been so completely outside his experience that he couldn't think about it clearly yet. Severus had never known anything like last night – he'd had sex before, known other women, but he'd never been with a virgin and he'd never been with anyone who actually wanted him. Nobody who knew who he was and what he was had ever wanted to touch him with a twenty foot pole, let alone...

It was too much to think about now; he hadn't had anywhere near enough sleep for his brain to cope with anything beyond physical sensations at the moment. On a purely physical level, he felt... utterly exhausted, actually, he reflected, his lips curving into a slight smile as he allowed himself to enjoy the lingering ache radiating from his groin throughout his body. He concentrated on the warmth of her body, surprised at how peculiarly natural it felt; this was more physical contact than he had ever shared with anyone. It was pointless cuddling up to a woman you knew would kick you out in the morning as soon as she realised what she'd done, and he'd never wanted that degree of intimacy with any of them anyway. Hermione was different, but it was still a surprise to find that he seemed to be adjusting so well.

Shut up, he scolded himself sleepily, closing his eyes and tightening his arm around the young woman snuggled up against him. For once, he was going to let himself enjoy something good in his life, and stop picking at it until he ruined it. He'd never been so happy in his life, and it was about time he stopped being his own worst enemy and just let it happen. Besides, he was too tired to do anything except go back to sleep.

Chasing the Sun

A Harry Potter Story
by Loten

Part 38 of 60

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