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AN: This is kind of a sequel to my supposed oneshot “Pent-up.” I don’t think you have to have read that one to appreciate this one, but some of the context will certainly be missing. It’s definitely a different genre than the first, super angsty… I started writing it just before election day here in the states for… reasons. Wish I could have finished it and posted it then, but……… reasons. Anyway, I hope y’all enjoy!

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This was a big blow. They could all feel it. The room was still, the air fraught with tension. Only the sound of something bubbling on the stove broke the silence in the little kitchen. 

Everyone was here, it seemed. Dumbledore had wanted everyone to hear the news. Rufus Scrimgeour was dead. A known Death Eater was in line to take his place. The Ministry was taken. 

“We must not panic,” Dumbledore was saying. “It is a grave loss for our side, to be sure, but there is still hope.”

Is there really? In that moment, Hermione wasn’t so sure. For the first time, doubt needled at her thoughts as she tried to listen. For the first time, her certainty that Good would prevail was tainted by fear. 

When the meeting adjourned, several Order members left without a word, perhaps unable to voice their thoughts at present. Hermione was one of them. She slipped past Harry and Ron and Ginny and the twins, and drifted without thought toward her refuge. 

The Black family library was dark and unseasonably cold. It didn’t cross her mind to light a fire. Nothing could break her concentration from the sinking dread that had taken up residence inside her. Nothing, that is, until the door opened and closed behind her, and a hand came to rest on her shoulder, jarring her from her reverie. 

She flinched away from him when she saw his face. In place of the solemn mask he usually wore, concealing emotion from prying eyes, his sharp features were twisted with an echo of her fear. 

“Granger,” he choked out, “would you, perhaps, like to return that favor?”

They hadn’t spoken since the day she’d come to him, asking him to fulfill her need. They had both been busy, in their own ways, preparing for the war that was to come. He rarely left the bedroom at the top of the stairs at all, and when he did the sightings were brief. It was only during the Order meetings that she’d been able to study him and to watch his face for any sign he remembered their time together at all. Much less whether he wanted to repeat it. 

In one desperate movement, she was on her feet and in his arms, grasping at the front of his frock coat as he met her mouth with anxious need. He pulled her tight against him, clinging to her as if he might lose her otherwise. 

Their kiss was greedy, anxious, almost violent with their need. She wanted to disappear into that kiss. 

When he stepped back, she followed him, unwilling to break the spell even long enough to find a more appropriate place. “Shhh,” she hissed against his mouth when he tried to protest. “No one will bother us here.” Then her hands were at his buttons, making a clumsy, desperate effort to bare him to her. He threw a hand behind himself, wandlessly and wordlessly warding the door against intrusion before turning his attention to the front of her blouse. He worked at her buttons as she struggled with his and all the while their mouths warred with each other, tasting and exploring each other with a need that bordered on desperate. 

Her blouse and then his frock coat fell to the floor, followed quickly by her plain cotton brasier. But when she tried to push his white button-up shirt off his shoulders, he stopped her with his hands on her wrists. 

At last, she pulled away. Staring up into his eyes, she implored him, begging him without words to bare himself fully to her this time. His grip relaxed and she held his gaze as she slowly pushed her fingers beneath the stiff linen, tracing the contours of his shoulders as she rid him of this final layer. White linen fell to the floor and her eyes began a slow descent, caressing his pale, scarred body and the trail of dark hair that dusted his chest, before turning to the stain on the inside of his arm. 

The muscle jumped under her inspection, but he did not move to hide it from her. Reaching out, she traced the back of his arm with her fingers before gripping his wrist and lifting his arm to her view. 

The Mark was a dark blemish against the pallor of his skin. It writhed like something alive; like a demon trapped within his very flesh. But she did not look away. He began to withdraw, clearly uncomfortable, but she held him firmly, turning her eyes up to his once more. She knew it was her sorrow that he saw when he met her gaze, and he winced but managed not to pull away. Releasing his wrist, she stepped into his embrace once more and pressed her lips against his in a tender gesture that she hoped he understood. 

He clung to her like a man in pain, his arms wrapping around her, pulling her close so that her bare breasts were pressed against the sticky warmth of his naked chest. Their need grew raw, blistering. From tenderness, a carnal hunger bloomed. Soon, it seemed as if he might devour her. 

She yanked off her trainers and shoved her jeans down her legs as he kicked off his dragonhide boots. He made quick work of his own thick trousers and knelt before her, pressing his lips low on her stomach before dipping down to bury that infamous nose in her curls. 

She gasped and clutched at his shoulders to keep from stumbling backward as his tongue darted out to taste her. Gently, he nudged her legs apart far enough to press his face against her there. She moaned and rocked against him as he nuzzled her flesh so expertly. 

She had never known such need, such pleasure. He caressed her with his open mouth; hot and wet and tender like she’d never imagined he could be. When he slipped a finger inside of her and growled against her flesh, she came apart, crying out as she bucked against him, fisting her hands in his hair. 

He pulled away enough to look up at her and the heat in his eyes was enough to light the fire inside her once again. Clumsily, they found their way to the floor and he covered her body with his own, meeting her mouth with a desperate need. 

Moaning, she wrapped her legs around his waist. “Please,” she whimpered. 

He drew back far enough to look down at her, his eyes flitting across her features with a peculiar expression. She had the feeling he was trying to memorize her. Then he shifted his weight and reached down to angle his cock, shoving himself inside her to the hilt. 

They groaned aloud and for a moment he was still, squeezing his eyes shut in an expression of surrender. Then his mouth met hers once more in a tender brush as he began to rock against her. Kiss after kiss he brushed against her lips with a tenderness at odds with the increasing fervor of his rhythm. She gasped and cupped his face in her hands, wishing she could hold him here in this moment forever. 

Soon his movements grew anxious and he buried his face in her hair as he thrust harder and faster against her. She could feel his desperation; his need. And she wanted to fulfill it for him. “Yes,” she began to murmur like an invocation. “Yes, yes, yes. Oh… Severus.

He growled at the sound of his name on her lips and pulled back to look down at her. “ Gods. I’m going to come.”

Her breath caught at the look of naked desire in his eyes and she found that she, too, was tripping over the edge, crying out in abandon as her body convulsed with the strength of her release. He was slamming into her now, staring down at her in rapture. Then he was groaning like a wanton beast, thrusting erratically against her a few more times as his eyes squeezed shut in ecstasy. 

“Yes... yes... yes,” he whispered as he collapsed on top of her, brushing his lips against her forehead, her jaw, and finally her lips. “ Gods… Hermione.” 

Tears pricked at the corners of her eyes and she clutched at him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and burying her fingers in his hair. She wanted to hold him to her forever. 

But soon enough, he was pulling away.

They dressed in silence, not looking at each other. Hermione wondered if he was just afraid to show his cards. When they were finally dressed, they stood awkwardly, facing one another, not quite looking each other in the eye. 

“Thank you,” he said, offhandedly, and her eyes snapped to his. There was a spark of humor in those pools of glittering black. 

She smirked at him. “Anytime.” 

It was late that night when she allowed herself to admit that he might satisfy more than just her sexual needs. After all, there were physiological components to emotional wellbeing, as well. And that was just what she told him when she crawled into his bed in the middle of the night and curled up against his side. "I didn't think it would come to this," she whispered against his shoulder. 

"I always knew it could, but... I admit I did hope..."

She nodded, trusting that he could feel her response against his skin. A long moment passed before she spoke again. "Is there any hope left?"

His breath caught and he hesitated before turning to her and wrapping her up in his arms, settling his chin on the top of her head. "There is always hope," he told her. "As long as we are willing to fight." 

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