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A More Merciful Man by Berkana [Reviews - 13]

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After the events of the evening, it came as no surprise to Snape that he could not sleep. He lay there in his narrow bed, cursing himself, tossing and turning and fighting vainly to get some rest. Finally, as the clock chimed midnight, he resigned himself to the inevitable, and sat up. He considered a Sleeping Draught, but they had a tendency to make him groggy the next day, a sensation Snape found very difficult to endure.

“I might as well get something done…” he grumbled at last. First he took a shower. A cold shower. Snape always took a cold shower before he had thinking to do (which meant that he took quite a lot of them). He toweled off, willfully trying not to shiver as he set out fresh undergarments and robes. Then, he headed towards the library. He had a paper to write for a symposium in June, on Chinese potion-making during the Xin dynasty, and now was as good a time to start as any.

Snape did not often visit the library during regular hours. During the day he did not have any time to do so, and in the evening he was disinclined to spend more time in the company of his students. It was at night, when the library was closed, that he went to do his research.

He was heading toward the section on ancient Herbology when he heard a woman talking. There was someone in the library, talking to herself from the sound of it, as there was no answering voice. Snape cocked his head, listening for a moment, and within seconds his face crumpled in frustration, and he lowered his head into his hands.

Flintrammel! Damn, it, Flintrammel!

It seemed to him that fate was determined to place her in his path at every turn. More likely was that Snape was just more sensitive these days to her presence, but he did not think of that. What he thought was that he would have to pass her to get to the section on ancient Herbology, and Snape did not want to pass her. He did not want to have to go near her, to speak to her, to see her, or most especially smell her. He was emotionally exhausted after his earlier meeting with Malfoy, and this was the last thing he needed. But there she was, in the section on ancient languages, staring up at a shelf crammed with books. It was a perfectly logical place for her to be, though Friday after midnight was not exactly the most logical time for her to be there. Or him, either, he supposed.

Snape stopped still as stone, and melted into a shadow as he considered what to do. She had not seen him, so intently was she perusing the stacks, and for a while he contented himself simply to observe her as he thought about his options. He watched as she adjusted her tortoiseshell glasses, and on tiptoes reached for a largish book and pulled it down. Go to a different part of the library? He watched as she furrowed her brow and began to leaf through it. Hide close by until she leaves?

“What kind of idiot only devotes one chapter to Italic?” Jane said softly to no one in particular, as she replaced the book on the shelf. “One chapter!” she repeated in frustration.

At this Snape actually had to smile to himself. Ancient languages held no particular fascination for him, but they certainly interested her. It always amused him when someone had an unfathomable devotion to a topic he found uninspiring.

Jane continued to stare at the stacks, murmuring to herself. “Balder and Dorthright… Barncape… Bestino… Bevins… Bevins… Bevins… where’s the Bevins? Who’s got the bloody Bevins?" Then Jane snorted. "Granger, no doubt.”

Snape’s amusement deepened. Bevins, if he was not mistaken, had written a near unfathomable tome on Indo-European. Jane’s intense dedication to such a fusty subject was downright funny, he thought, as was her no doubt dead-on appraisal of why the book was not on the shelf. Snape’s late-night research had been thwarted by Hermione quite often as well. In time he discovered that the more arcane the subject, the more musty the tome, the more likely Granger would have it. That swot would move the whole library to her quarters if Pince would let her…he thought, as he watched Jane grow more and more frustrated. He was just about to come to the conclusion that he didn’t want Jane anymore, that he had never wanted her to begin with, when her face suddenly softened, and she made an approving noise as she pulled another book down.

“When did this come out?” she said quietly, with a tinge of awe. “And why didn’t Madame Pince tell me?”

As she leafed through the book, her hand went to her neck, and she began pulling absently at a pendant hanging there, stretching it out, sliding it along the length of fine gold chain, back and forth, back and forth. Her eyes were wide, and her lips pursed, and he could just barely discern the soft hollow of her throat. Dropping the pendant, she let herself gently fall back against the stacks as she read.

Snape felt the warning in the back of his mind immediately. Leave! Go! Don’t watch her anymore! And he was just about to heed it when, as she read, Jane began to softly trace her collarbone with the nail of an index finger. Back and forth, back and forth.

Snape suppressed a moan as he felt the familiar bloom of arousal between his legs, the warm and pleasant tension of his awakening flesh. It was a moan of yearning, yes, but more so a moan of terrible fatigue. He was so very tired of this. Tired of wanting her. Tired of not knowing why he wanted her. Tired of conniving ways to avoid her. Tired of enduring Lupin’s increasingly persuasive encouragements to succumb to her. Most of all he was tired of feeling like he was not in control of anything anymore, least of all himself. Of this his attraction to Jane was the succulent proof.

Were he in a different frame of mind perhaps he would have pitied her in her innocence, as she did not want to do this to him any more than he wanted it done to him. But Severus Snape suddenly found himself furious. Lupin was right. He was angry with Jane, whether she deserved it or not. He was perceptive enough to understand that his anger was completely irrational, however at that point he did not much care. No one had the right to make him feel this way. He had not asked for it, had not consented to it and he would not allow her to make him feel helpless for one second longer. He would have control of this, or nothing else would end up in his control either. He could feel it.

And so Snape decided to make his presence known. His eyes narrowing, he slowly drew the heel of his boot against the floor. At this Jane started, looking up surprised, and in truth he could see even from where he was that she was also a bit afraid. She doubtless knew that flouncing about the castle at midnight was not something she should be doing. It was not entirely safe, for one thing. Most especially for a Squib.

“Mr. Filch?” she called, tensing, pulling the book to her chest. “Is that you?”

Under the cover of shadow Severus Snape smiled to himself, a smile that did not reach his eyes. He was as Slytherin a wizard as ever there was, and he understood, like all other Slytherin, the essential element that truly defined their house. Not pure blood. Not a lust for money, or for power. What united Slytherin was that within the chest of each one of them, male or female, old or young, beat the heart of a predator.

Snape waited for her to call for Filch just once more, and then stepped out of the darkness.

“No, not Mr. Filch,” he intoned, as the light fell upon him, “though he might be displeased to find you here at this hour.”

Jane seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. But then she frowned. “Professor Snape. How long have you been standing there?”

Snape did not answer, but walked towards her slowly, pinning her with his stare, until he was nearly on top of her. As he approached, she gasped, and he could see her steeling herself against her natural response to run. In this mode Snape knew he was quite frightening. In fact, he had frightened many a student into fleeing in distress merely by fixing them with a steely glare and stalking towards them. It was actually something of a hobby of his. But there was no place for her to run anyway, even had she wanted to. The stack she had chosen for herself was blind. There was no way out for her but around him. He found that the thought thrilled him, because mixed in with the fear in Jane’s eyes was something he had never seen in the eyes of a student. Anticipation.

Snape stared into her eyes, giving her a wisp of a smile before he spoke. Jane could only hold them for a couple of seconds before she looked down, flushing visibly.

“Research, professor, at such an hour is ill-advised, for a Squib,” he said silkily. “You never know who or what might be about, waiting to…pounce on you.”

Jane bit her lip nervously, finally looking up at him. “You’ve made that most obvious…now if you don’t mind, I’d like to be left to my book.”

Ah, she was going to fight. Well, she would have humiliated herself, shrieking and dropping her silly book, and running off. She never would have lived it down.

“Your book…” he said, plucking it out of her hands and taking a good long look at it. It was a volume on Old French surnames. He found himself chuckling softly as turned to slide it back in its place.

Then he looked down at her again, with an expression of dispassionate appraisal. “You do give the initial impression that you are a great, dreary priss, do you know that, Flintrammel?” he said slowly.

At this Jane merely stared at him, frowning, as she crossed her arms over her chest. “That’s because I am a great dreary priss, Professor Snape,” she said at last. “I thought you had figured that out by now.”

Snape chuckled again, a low, warm sound that somehow managed to hold a tinge of threat as well. “I beg to differ.”

“Oh, do you?” Jane said, making a small, dismissive sound.

Snape gave one measured nod. “You, Professor Flintrammel, are a sensualist.”

“What are you talking about?” Jane said, blinking.

Letting his eyes rove over her, Snape leaned in, watching her tense again. “You attempt to hide it, but it is perceptible to a…discerning observer.”

Christ, she smelled good. Damp and warm and sweet.

“I fail to see how I could be both a sensualist and ‘a great dreary priss’,” Jane said.

Was that insult in her voice? Snape hoped so.

“I said you give the impression of being a great dreary priss,” he corrected. “The truth of the matter is quite different.”

“How would you know anything about it either way?” Jane replied airily.

At this Snape paused, staring into her eyes again. She did not quite know what she wanted, he could tell. She was afraid, and intrigued, and aroused all at once. As he tried to fathom what she was thinking, Snape let the backs of his fingers barely graze her hair, which was up as usual in plaits at the top of her head.

“Your hair…soft and scented,” he said, his voice low, “facts you cannot hide even in those abominable braids.”

Jane’s breath caught in her throat, and a flush spread from her cheeks down the pale plane of her chest, disappearing under the scooped collar of her grey woolen dress.

“Then there is your predilection for long baths,” he continued, his voice nearly a whisper, “and ginger soap, and chocolate.”

Snape tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear, and as his fingers touched her there he could feel her shiver. Then he pulled back again. “And of course there’s the way you caress those books,” he said, “as if the skins were still attached to the sheep.”

Jane’s hands immediately went behind her back and she looked down, flushing even more deeply. Her breath was coming more quickly now.

“What on earth are you talking about?” she managed to stammer at last.

Snape allowed himself a thin, indulgent smile. “I believe I have made myself perfectly plain.”

At this she did look him in the eye again. She was angry, now. “You, Professor Snape, are and always have been about as plain as a Turkish rug!”

Snape raised an eyebrow in mock surprise. “Ah, well perhaps this will clarify things for you then, Flintrammel…” he said. Then, taking her shoulders quite firmly in his hands, at her first murmur of protest, he kissed her, hard, for a very long time.

Jane stiffened against him at first, probably mostly out of shock. She of course was not a Legilimens, and thus despite her own desire for him she had absolutely no way of knowing he wanted her in return. But then the little resistance in her began to melt, and she kissed him back. Her hands slowly fisted in the front of his robes, and she whimpered something against his moving mouth that he couldn’t quite make out but understood explicitly nonetheless.

And it was absolutely fucking marvelous. What Snape felt wasn’t just pleasure, the feel of her soft mouth under his, the taste of her at last, tea and sugar and moist yielding flesh. What he felt most of all was a flood of relief, relief and triumph. Because she wanted him. He had seen it in her mind but he had not felt it, not until now. A fresh, victorious flood of lust coursed through his brain and his body at once, and he took her in his arms completely, his kiss becoming hungry, made hungrier still by her chorus of soft, submissive moans as his mouth claimed hers, as his body pressed against her, pressed her back into to the stack of books, as his hands went to her hips and with a rough yank, pulled them to connect blissfully with his.

Finally, after what seemed like a blessed eternity, the kiss broke, and Snape slowly buried his face in her neck, inhaling her. Quite remarkably he suddenly felt more composed than he had in a long while, but as for Jane she was near gasping now, her fingers still entangled in his robes.

“Wh-why did you d-do that?” she stammered.

Snape put his mouth to her ear, just breathing for a bit, feeling the beat of her heart as it hammered in aroused expectation.

His voice was a low whisper. “Because I wanted to,” he said. Then he took the tender lobe of her ear between his teeth, and bit down gently.

“Ah!” she cried, her hips giving an involuntary buck forward.

He kissed her again, more softly this time. Her lips felt bruised under his, hot and yielding.

“Not a dreary priss at all, no…” he murmured. Then he looked into her eyes (blue, they were blue) and knew with utter finality that she was his for the taking, totally and completely, right there on the library floor if he so desired.

Then suddenly under his newfound calm there was a tiny niggling doubt, a minuscule pang of guilt that began to percolate in the back of his mind. Snape had restored his composure for the time but at what cost? He had misjudged her attraction to him, thought it far more ephemeral, which is perhaps why he had felt so helpless in her presence. She was not nearly as disciplined as he, and she would not be able to set the kiss aside as a mere midnight dalliance. She would no doubt seek him out after this, and he did not trust himself to resist her. He would succumb, and despite a passionate beginning he knew how such a liaison would end. With recriminations. With embarrassment. With tears. With misery. The way all such associations ended, from what he could tell.

So Severus Snape reached inside his robes, and as Jane watched him, first curiously and then with some confusion, he pointed his wand in her face.

Softly, and with more than a tinge of regret, he spoke.

“Obliviate…” he said.

As Jane stood there blinking stupidly as the spell took effect, Snape buried his face in her neck again, breathing her in one last time.

He retrieved her book from the shelf and carefully replaced it in her hands. Then he left her to her Old French surnames, and he went back to his rooms and immediately fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.

A More Merciful Man by Berkana [Reviews - 13]

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