“Knocking is one of the good manners!” hissed Severus before he even knew who entered. He bit his lips before adding another barbed remark about detention when he realized who stood in the room, pretty to look at, with tight muggle jeans and a pale blue blouse, the cloak loosely hiding the shape of a slender body. He was caught off-guard.
Severus stifled an urge to tell Leonor how good she looked, surpassing all his expectations. There stood a woman with a history, no schoolgirl, no pampered lady or an evil bitch. The enquiring eyes framed by dark-brown hair got him once more hooked. Tanned skin in the colour of milk chocolate implanted the idea of a day at the seaside into Severus’ mind, sitting somewhere on the beach, conjuring a coffee and listening to the waves and the wind — in company.
He heard of Leonor’s return a week ago and knew that they would meet again on one or another day. Severus believed himself better prepared for that moment, instead he stood silent with a lump in the throat. Heat tingled his neck and he knew he flushed. All those fantasies of his mind, a dream of peace and a life other than being torn up between two masters knocked Severus off his feet. He liked to rest in peace with the long-lost love of his childhood, twisted between Lily and the one passion that came at the wrong time. Instead of hiding it all, Occlumency rocked all private thoughts into the forehead, ready to be picked out. Severus turned quickly to stir the cauldron hiding the weakness of having missed that woman every day since she left the country.
“Good evening, Severus! Are you about to give me detention?” scoffed Leonor acridly.
“Should I consider it?” croaked Severus hoarsely and continued to add ingredients to the simmering liquid. Working on that simple potion cleared his mind, slowly. Minutes passed; he listened to the blowing bubbles in the boiling liquid, occasionally interrupted by swishing of fabric and even steps. Leonor was close now and waited at a sleeve length.
“Look at me!” demanded Leonor quietly.
Severus cleared the cauldron away and turned, seeing the freckles on Leonor’s nose and cheeks. He failed to intimidate her; too much of him wanted to look at her face. He spotted a bit of a silvery necklace, but it could be any jewellery of course. He must have deluded oneself.
“What do you want?” pressed Severus through gritted teeth.
“Insult me! I want you to repeat each sentence of what you said about me,” said Leonor coldly.
“Hasn’t it been enough at that time?” taunted Severus sardonically and walked around the woman. His teaching robes were suddenly too tight. He strode to the door, closing the same, placing the cloak on the hook and winning time.
The witch demanded again, “Repeat it!” and she added with a whisper, “If you can — look me in the eyes when you say it!”
“I hardly remember what I’ve said,” lied Severus unbuttoning his collar, a volcano of manhood began to boil, he was in control. “It wasn’t that important to me.” He brushed that tweak inside his body away with a bit more of malice.
“Where is the promised and pure bride? Tell it to me! You are not married yet.”
Severus propped up his hands on the workbench. His mind was empty of all keen ideas. The ability to stay calm vanished and anger flooded his midriff. Usually, women only contacted him again if they wanted to use his potions skills, but Leonor didn’t need that.
“Why would you care about it?” shot Severus, nailing the wall opposite the workbench with his gaze.
“Because you never disclosed yourself to a woman, living your life in solitude! Lily Potter obviously died without a clue of your romantic feelings,” snarled Leonor, provoking him to fury.
“She didn’t listen to me anymore, Gryffindor’s pride,” roared Severus.
“You saved Zora, but she has no idea about the saviour.”
“Tell a prostitute your secrets; how smart!” mocked the wizard.
“And you sent me away to do your job!” shouted Leonor outraged. “You cannot save me; I’m back! I know you lied to me about your Death Eater status and everything else!”
Severus’ fists banged to the tabletop. He swept abruptly around. Leonor found herself pressed against the workbench.
“Don’t you dare to call me a liar! You’ve no clue how it is to be me! I wish I would be dead instead of Lily Potter! There would be no pain, no grief. I am the one who deserves to die,” screamed Severus bitterly.
“You hurt me,” winced Leonor.
Severus released the grip on Leonor’s wrists, taking a step backwards. The sense of guilt washed him away.
“It is my fault that Lily died, and she won’t come back no matter how many others I can keep save.”
“Does only that dead woman matter?” Leonor raged, jealousy and sorrow compressed her insides. She was beside herself that Severus wanted to die. He was needed even if he couldn’t be with her, or another woman than his childhood crush. Dumbledore told it to her.
The simple question shocked Severus already. He’d never seen Lily Potter as a dead person. The fact sent a shiver down his spine. Lily mattered — still, but she was not the only one. The living proof scolded him rightly. Saving the wizarding world was worth every effort. He had understood the false face of the evil, the delusion vanished long time ago. The deceased provided visions, memorials, a general guideline to improve the survivors. Lily gave him purpose, only the forgotten are dead.
Severus knew only one answer to the question. He swallowed the surprise about the self-awareness and spoke in a low voice now, “Of course not.”
The response calmed Leonor and she added intelligently, “It was the fault of the person implementing the killing curse and if it is true what Dumbledore says, then that were the end and the beginning.”
“Of what?” Severus listened suddenly.
“Voldemort left something with the boy.”
“Something that gives him the ability to fight the Dark Lord. It was the end of James and Lily Potter and so many others before, but it’s the beginning of his defeat. It is hope born from love. The wizarding world has one more possibility to fight the evil.”
“I hate their day of death. On Halloween, soon, my general existence is a farce and I’m forced to celebrate the most glorious feast at Hogwarts.” Severus’ complexion turned slightly sallower, almost sick now.
“You have great potential to right the wrongs. Don’t waste that bit of life what is left. A second chance, Severus,” whispered Leonor softly.
“What do you really want?”
“You know it. You’ve been the one hesitating, dwelling in the past, pushing me away, suffering from being alone, regretting bitterly the own actions, running away from a new life. If I am wrong with my assumptions, then hurt me like you did it before and you won’t see me again.”
“What if I do not agree to follow your plan?” snapped Severus back.
“Show me that cussed arse in you!” Leonor put everything on a map.
“I don’t!” spat Severus with a twisted grimace and letting out a sharp breath. The slur cut deeply into the ego.
“Explain yourself!” replied Leonor angrily. “I’m not leaving this place otherwise! I need the truth about us.”
Severus’ mind was blank, the overall tactics and prudence forgotten, only his body reacted, moved forward and reached out to satisfy that one strong eternal desire. “I cannot say it, cannot let you go, not again,” breathed Severus into Leonor’s face against his own rationality.
Severus pushed Leonor back against the workbench. He touched skin, smelled the seductive perfume. Lily of the valley allured all the senses. He uttered her name and lost the control over all the long-oppressed emotions. His dry hot lips found her mouth. He burned inside when she answered willingly. The feeling of a new loss was eating him up and a dive into a never-ending kiss was the only solution. Severus’ hands roamed about the soft body; whatever part was in reach without breaking that kiss. They dropped to the floor entangled in a half-loose frock coat, magic unbuttoned it and freed them to continue kissing in another position.
The time had stopped when Severus lifted Leonor to set her gently to his desk. He pushed her softly away, running his thumbs along the button border of her blouse, their breathing calmed slowly.
“Leo,” Severus said with a low voice.
She watched Severus’ hands, twined her legs around his knees and brushed the sweaty hair away from his pale face. They looked at each other.
“Stay tonight,” begged Severus.
Severus picked the frock coat from the floor, collected some fallen papers and quills. The order in the office was quickly restored. Leonor sat again at the desk after putting the cloak around the shoulders. Palpable tension made the air a little colder. They were silent, watching each other. It would be difficult working here tomorrow; too many distracting pictures run through Severus’ forehead.
“I can bring you to Hogsmeade now, if you like!” offered Severus nervously.
“I agreed to stay,” whispered Leonor, watching her feet.
“Then we better go to my room,” concluded Severus hoarsely. The situation was more difficult now than in the heat of action. The thinking mind formed an obstacle.
“Will Dumbledore know?” asked Leonor following through the open door and stopping before the alcove leading to Severus’ chambers.
“I won’t tell him. He is not the same recently, I mean not the same about that kind of things. Matters of the staff are not important to him anymore.”
“You mean because of the blackened hand?”
Severus nodded. “You’ve seen it?”
“I visited him tonight.”
Severus looked at Leonor with a stern expression.
“Never tell! Not even Minerva understands the implication of the blackened hand, but the Dark Lord does if it gets to his attention.”
Severus took her face in both hands. She leaned back and the invisible door in the wall gave way. They tumbled into the narrow passage, coming to a halt on the opposite wall.
“Not so wild,” smiled Severus, holding Leonor closer, kissing her ear and moving down the delicate neck.
“I hoped you stay in Brazil,” he said after stopping the gentle kisses.
“You show the contrary,” teased Leonor, smiling.
“Why did you return?” repeated Severus when they walked upstairs, and he opened his quarters.
“It felt not right to stay in Brazil. I met my past there. My present, my home, everything is here.”
“You threw me off kilter. I had to find myself again, sorting my life and eventually decided to come back.”
Leonor stood now in the room with the unusual warm colours for a Head of the House Slytherin. The ruby-red carpet, the sofa and the armchairs brought back many memories. She felt save here, knew it all. Nothing had changed. She embraced Severus, resting her head against his chest.
“I’m sorry to cause you trouble,” he said with his deep velvety voice, kissing the top of her head. “You would have been safer abroad, although, it was wise returning later. The Dark Lord lost interest since school started and Greyback was upgraded with leading the Snatchers.”
“You mean they were still after me?”
“Yes, the Dark Lord might still request your service. Nobody ever knows what comes to his mind. But right now, you are alright if you keep a low profile. Lucius regrets that he spilled the beans; he was in Askaban with other Death Eaters for the failure in the ministry. The Dark Lord uses Malfoy Manor as headquarters now. Narcissa is distressed. Draco is frantic and planning something to kill Dumbledore. He doesn’t trust me anymore. But most of it has been created by his father’s arrogance. Be cautious if you meet Draco! He is unpredictable.”
“Is Draco a Death Eater?”
“Yes, he wanted to right the honour of his family. It doesn’t work. The Dark Lord is using them, punishment of the parents while watching the foreboding failure of the son.”
“Of course, it makes Narcissa sick.”
“I promise to do everything that the Dark Lord does not come after you again. I knew that you wouldn’t leave me without being harsh to you. I had to do something.”
“It took me a while to understand that. A friend found the white rose and the necklace in a box; then it clicked in my head. I don’t even know how both came into my trunk.”
“The rose is hexed to follow you and blooms right before the full moon. It were better days when you teached at Hogwarts,” replied Severus, pulling Leonor to his favourite armchair and into his lap. Having her that close created more of that unknown and steamy sensation in his limbs. She liked him, after all this time and after knowing the dark spots of his past.
“Why is it the full moon?” Leonor cuddled closer, moving and pressing her body innocently against his shirt and trousers.
“Do you want to talk all night?” said Severus, his insides prickled with every touch.
“You started.” Leonor run her fingertips along his shirt, opening the buttons with unspoken magic. Her tanned hands created a contrast to his pale torso when she removed the fabric. “I am sure the sun burns your skin darker than mine. Have you ever tried it?”
Severus moaned, just wanting a deep kiss, but Leonor moved her lips away.
“You might be right,” came the quick impatient answer, causing Leonor to grin, caressing Severus’ waist and feeling the swelling arousal.
“Why the moon?” braved Leonor.
“Because we met two days before a full moon.” Severus moved suddenly and brought them both back to their feet, filching the kiss he was waiting for.
“And why does the rose follow me?” stuttered Leonor being moved with soft pressure towards the bedroom.
“To remind you of me. Maybe that idea wasn’t so good. You are back and in danger.”
“You knew that I would flee?”
“I knew that I had to give you away once the Dark Lord raised to power.”
Severus pushed Leonor to a sitting position on the bed, kneeling in front of her. The unsmiling expression broke the relaxed talking. They looked into each other’s eyes. He was grave.
“Don’t scare me, not now.” Silky hands found Severus’ face and a sweet whisper lulled into his ears, “I’m getting lost in your eyes. They are so deep, incredibly dark, grey like the ocean.”
“Listen, it is important,” breathed Severus heavily.
“I do,” frowned the witch expectantly.
“Do not interrupt me, please.” Severus stared down to the floor.
“I am not an ordinary man, friend, husband, mentor or whatever you see in me. Whatever you wish from me, it will be risky at best. Constant danger is your companion. Even a masked relationship is never entirely safe.”
Leonor swallowed it, hanging on Severus’ words.
“I promised to keep Potter and Draco alive. I am bound to make that Lily didn’t die in vain, fighting the Dark Lord to the end. Dumbledore knows it and counts on me to perform his final wish, meaning to kill him when the time comes. I’m bound by Narcissa’s unbreakable vow, witnessed and executed by Bellatrix Lestrange.”
“What?” gaped Leonor speechless.
“They want me to help Draco to satisfy the Dark Lord. If the boy cannot kill the headmaster, then the task falls to me. Without the vow I would have blown my cover. It fits perfectly to Dumbledore’s strategy, but I didn’t tell him about the vow. In either way, I will be a doomed man. Therefore, swear to save yourself first, always. I am likely lost, whoever wins the war. You can survive it, I cannot.”
“You can make it alive,” protested Leonor.
“Maybe, but they will haunt me, squeeze me out for my motives, judge every of my miserable decisions. Dumbledore will not be able to vouch for me at the Wizengamot, not again.”
Severus was quiet for a moment and continued when the goose bumps on Leonor’s skin lessened.
“You should never come to rescue me or look after me in case I am hiding. Let me do what I must do. That will make it easier to keep you safe. Do you understand?”
Leonor was numb. “Is that the only way?”
“Yes. Swear it!”
“And if there is no risk that it will harm me?”
“Then you can help, but only then.”
Leonor hesitated, still, thinking hard. It was her turn. “It seems logical, your logic, of course. You care for me. I care for you, but I don’t want to be a burden. You must do what was promised, what your heart requires to be happy or you are never really mine.”
Severus winced slightly, still torn between past and passion.
“I swear it. Alright?”
Severus entwined Leonor’s hands with his fingers and begged softly. “Promise to let me go if the moment comes and live your life without me, will you?”
“I will,” sighed Leonor and all colour drained from her face. A wet glance built up in the eyes and at that moment she understood why Severus loved solitude. He gave it up to make love to her, tonight.
Severus fingers brushed the tears in Leonor’s face away before opening the first button of her blouse. “We cannot go back from here.”
“I don’t want to go back,” she said composed.
They kissed, heating up the passion. Blouse, shirt and trousers fell to the floor, only underwear separated them still from complete nudity. Her hands caressed Severus face, entangled with his hair, but he wanted to look at her, shoving her back until she rested her body on the elbows. He breathed kisses to her belly, massaged her breasts through the thin fabric.
Leonor moaned, “Take that bra off!”.
Severus just needed seconds to unclasp the white piece of shining lace. He groaned, taking in the lovely sight, pausing and pushing her further into the bedsheets.
He murmured, “Relax!” She hesitated, insecurely. “Lay down!” Severus needed time now, time to keep that memory forever. His thumbs touched the beautiful breasts gently. He continued to draw small circles on the delicate skin. It remembered him of ivory, painted forbidden apples. The light colour made them more prominent against the summer body, they were a bit more than a hand full of pleasure, enough to concentrate and forget date and time. It was hard to believe that these minutes were real.
His deep voice demanded determinedly, “Close your eyes!”
She obeyed, whispering softly his name, enjoying his touch. He continued to massage the taut breast with the palms, adding more pressure along the way and including step by step the whole body. His lips wandered further south, removing the last piece of underwear.
Leonor shuddered, moaning quietly, reaching for him and his cover. He undressed his black muggle pants too, before embracing his love warmly. Touches and kisses ensnared all senses, desire made them moist and sweating in balance.
“We are close,” breathed Severus, sucking the swollen nipples like sweet red drops before sitting upright and taking Leonor with him. They looked at each other, caressing and investigating their aroused limbs.
“Stop a moment,” groaned Severus under the welcome pressure of gentle fingers. “Come here, sit on my lap, now.” That position kept them perfectly tight, entangled, connected, until they melted into each other, embracing the top with deep and tender moves.
Severus leaned against the headboard and Leonor rested her head in his arm band. They had not spoken for a while. The moment was too fresh, fragile, unique. Their heartbeat remained still in the same rhythm. The fine white-golden chain with the little diamond rested peacefully around Leonor’s neck. The simple sight gave Severus that unknown feel of unconditional acceptance. Leonor was a gift he never dreamt to receive.
The back of his hand skimmed over her cheek, along her neck and over the feminine curves. Leonor’s skin felt cool. She shivered a bit, and Severus covered their bodies with the blanket. He turned slightly to wrap his arms closer around her waist. She looked at him and tears moistened the long lashes.
“You cried. Are you alright?”
“I’m happy, positively tired. You are a good man.” Leonor smiled at him genuinely, touching his sensitive area ever so slightly under the white sheets. It added a bit of suggestiveness to the statement.
“You are brave, braver than me,” breathed Severus on Leonor’s rich lips. He didn’t deny that her compliment made him proud, kindling the wish of discovering the willing body better whenever there was a possibility.
“I know why it’s good to have no portraits in a room,” she teased him now, running her index finger down his chest and stopping right above his navel.
Severus laughed and snatched her hand from that ticklish area. “The peepers would all blush seeing your body!”
Leonor opined beaming, “You laughed out loud. It sounds masculine, strong. I like to hear that often.”
They both knew that it was a rare moment of innocence, no mask, no shield, no Occlumency.
“I missed you, Leo.”
“I missed you too, Sev.”
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