FIC: "Amorous Birds of Prey" for kelly_chambliss Recipient: kelly_chambliss Author/Artist: ??? Title: Amorous Birds of Prey Rating: R Parings: Minerva McGonagall/Severus Snape Word Count: 3,000 Warnings/Content Information (Highlight to View): * None* Summary: They were agreed: a simple arrangement that suited them both. No drama, no turmoil. What could possibly go wrong? Author's/Artist's Notes: Many thanks to V, beta extraordinaire! And also to Beth H for running a great fest. The title and quotes in the story are from "To His Coy Mistress," by Andrew Marvell. There's so much fantastic Minerva fic out there, this was a bit daunting. I hope you like it, Kelly!
This was a mistake. She had known it was. She had not cared. She was a Gryffindor, after all. She saw what she wanted and went for it, consequences be damned. But now . . .
She was not certain when she had come to care for the man sleeping beside her. Perhaps around the time he relaxed enough to fall asleep in her bed. She watched him, her gaze caressing the line of his eyebrow, the curve of his jaw, secure in the knowledge that he was oblivious and she was free to observe unselfconsciously. He was different tonight. She had never seen him so still. Even in the stillness that seized him just before he pounced on some inanity from whoever was unfortunate to be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts, he was so . . . vibrant. Now, with his body relaxed, his eyes closed, his breath even, there was none of what initially drew her to him. No eyes snapping with intelligence and wit, no energy fairly radiating from him in suppressed waves . . .
"Och, Minnie. You're no Robbie Burns. Leave off," she whispered to herself and gently laid her head down next to his shoulder to drift to sleep herself. Recriminations could wait.
Minerva woke to a solitary bed, an indentation in the pillow next to her the only indication she had not slept alone. She stretched languidly, luxuriating in the feel of the cool sheets sliding against her bare skin.
This was her favorite time of day: the quiet calm that too often preceded a storm. The time that was all her own. Evenings sometimes allowed an enjoyable discussion with Filius or tea with Pomona, but more frequently meant drama in a castle filled with teenagers and late-night skirmishes with Severus as he marched into her rooms, indignant tirades about rule-breaking Gryffindors spewing from his lips.
Her own lips curved in a small smirk as she rolled over on the sheets, recalling the first time she had seen something more worth pursuing. Just a few years earlier, it now seemed a lifetime ago.
Severus had stormed into her office, vivid spots of colour high in his pale cheeks. "This is it, Minerva! You cannot refuse to punish the little bastards now!" he proclaimed triumphantly.
She sighed inwardly as she wondered what imagined slight obsessed him this time. "Exactly which 'little bastards' are you trying to expel now, Severus?"
His eyes narrowed as he hissed, "Weasleys." He began to pace around her office, his steps falling faster and faster as he related how the twins' latest prototypes had landed several of the more gullible Hufflepuff firsties in the hospital wing. He was rather impressive when he got going, she thought.
Still, she didn't have all night and interrupted dryly, "Why, Severus, I do believe that what is really irritating you is your difficulties in identifying an antidote." He stopped mid-tirade, mouth agape and eyes widening as she continued, "All this energy surely could be put to better use, I would have thought."
As his mouth snapped shut and his eyes narrowed to slits, the traitorous thought popped into her mind: What would it be like to have all that intensity directed at her? Or more precisely, at a physical release with her?
She shook off the slight shiver that wound languidly up her spine and continued briskly, "I do not see how I could possibly condemn such a clever project, when it stumps even the experts at Hogwarts. Now, if you will excuse me, I must be going." She ushered Severus out the door and walked away in the opposite direction before she could say anything she might actually regret.
Still, the damage had been done. Over the following weeks, she watched him. She admired the way his eyes shone with intelligence. When he repressed a laugh with a quick quirk of his lips and a quiet huff of breath at something particularly amusing, she wondered how that would feel against her bare skin.
Some might consider her old, but she was, after all, not dead yet. In fact, she was in the prime of her life, sexually. Had her formal relationships not ended tragically, she would still be considered active and vibrant. She had received other offers. It was only her own reluctance to pursue another relationship — to render herself emotionally vulnerable once more — that had stayed her desires.
And so, she had made her proposal. Or should she say, proposition. It began strictly as an issue of convenience, of mutual release with the assurance of no emotional entanglements. She was no fool; she knew that he carried a torch still for Lily Evans Potter. She had seen enough damaged men to know that he was probably not capable of a healthy relationship. But she had not wanted an emotional relationship. She wanted, in fact, to avoid one.
At first, he had seemed reluctant to understand the subtle signals she sent, perhaps suspecting a hoax or outright mockery. And she was similarly reluctant to be more direct, for another reason that had been bedeviling her and halting her suggestion for months. Perhaps he found the idea repulsive. There was a significant age difference, after all. She had no false modesty, and knew perfectly well that she was generally fit. Yet she had for years cultivated a stern, forbidding image to her students. Perhaps the combination would be too difficult to overcome.
Finally, however, she steeled her courage, reminded herself that faint heart never won fair lady . . . or stout man . . . and all but ordered him to tea in her chambers.
"You know, I presume, that my life is not my own," was his short reply to her plain-spoken, rather bald statement that they both had needs and she saw no reason why they should not satisfy them together. He continued bitterly, "I am paroled to Albus, and have virtually no say in my associations or activities." Here, he favored her with a raised eyebrow and crooked smile, "Extracurricular or otherwise."
She had spent enough time around Slytherins, however, to hear the unspoken question.
"I see no reason for Albus or anyone else to concern themselves with my private life," she asserted firmly. "And that extends to you as well. Voldemort has been gone for years." She raised her own eyebrow in warning and continued before he could interrupt, "I am well aware that Albus believes he will return and therefore anything may happen. Whether or not he does, is not something we need concern ourselves with at the present time. I see no reason we should not enjoy ourselves in the meantime."
She suffered a moment of misgiving at whether she should be quite so straight-forward (and rather frighteningly cold-blooded) in proposing a quite hot-blooded activity. Then again, she was dealing with the consummate Slytherin, who appeared to have frozen himself in stasis and would not hazard any action at this point without reassurance. And she was only human, after all.
So when he gave her a small smile and replied softly, "Now let us sport while we may?" it was with some relief and no small satisfaction that her reply followed: "Though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run."
She stood and, taking his outstretched hand, led him into her bed chamber.
Minerva gestured, and the candles were reduced to a few emitting a faint glow. She suddenly felt awkward.
This is ridiculous, she thought. I'm an adult. I've been married. I've had sex plenty of times. Still, she felt suddenly rather uncertain.
She reached up to remove the pins from her hair and Severus said shortly, "No. Let me." He gently removed each pin from her hair and ran his fingers through her hair, his eyes partially closing in pleasure.
Relaxing, the brief uncertainty gone, she reached out and began undoing his buttons. "Merlin, Severus! How do you manage to sleep at all with all this buttoning and unbuttoning."
He lowered his hands to hold hers gently. "Let me," he replied, his own nervousness barely betrayed by the trembling of his hands. He turned away from her, slowly undoing row upon row of buttons without removing any clothing.
He was insecure about his body, she realized. She could understand that. To be brutally honest, his physique paled in comparison to either of her husbands. But, she thought bitterly, neither of them are here now, are they?
She shed her clothing quickly and slipped between the sheets, as she quietly said, "Nox."
After a moment, the sheets on the other side of her bed rustled and he tentatively slid onto the bed. He was still, and after a tense moment, she reached to place a hand gently on his arm. She winced as he grasped her hand too firmly. She rolled onto her side and softly stroked his chest with her free hand. His grip loosened and then gradually, he began to stroke her hand. His breath began to quicken as he gradually worked his way up her arm and over to her own chest. His hand ghosted over her breast, barely grazing her hardening nipple before settling on the other. He traced the contours of her breasts, first softly and then gradually his touch firmed. Her own hand moved restlessly down his torso until she traced gently over his cock, and was rewarded with his sharp intake of breath and convulsive tightening of his hand before he rolled on his side to face her.
He gently pushed her shoulder until she was lying on her back and moved over her. His hand slipped between her thighs and she groaned as his thumb grazed her clit. He answered with a groan of his own as he moved between her thighs and slid into her. He did not seem to realize how long it had been for her (not that she had cared to admit it to him) and did not pause to allow a moment of adjustment. Soon enough, though, her hips rose to meet him and then settled into a familiar and satisfying rhythm until, with a shout, he came right before she did. They remained quietly tangled together for a moment until Severus hastily removed himself from the bed.
He returned from the bathroom a few moments later and awkwardly shifted on his feet as he cleared his throat. "Thank you," he said hesitantly.
Minerva had never felt so uncomfortable in her life.
She had known, of course, that it would get better. They rarely spoke of it, but they gradually learned each other's bodies, their respective likes and dislikes. It all became more satisfying.
But she had never expected, especially after that horribly awkward first night, that after so much time, she would fall in— develop feelings for him.
The castle was in an uproar. Rumors swirled through the corridors and the common rooms buzzed with gossip to the point it sounded like a plague of locusts. Minerva had seen no sign of Severus since the rumors began. She had managed just enough conversation with Filius and Pomona to know that neither of them had even a smidgen of reliable information.
All were consistent on one thing: Dumbledore was gone. Minerva was furious. Dumbledore had left the castle with no word, no explanation, no plan. And instead of the Deputy Head stepping seamlessly into the breach, Hogwarts faced a power struggle with Umbridge claiming authority through the Ministry.
"It would help," she grumbled to herself, "if Albus bothered to tell me anything." Instead, she was left to stumble around in the dark. Gryffindor House especially was in an uproar, with half the students lauding Harry and the other half distant. She was frustrated, anxious to assert her authority against Umbridge, yet reluctant to take steps which might undermine whatever plan Albus had set in motion.
Minerva entered her office to the sight of Fawkes trilling urgently. She Accio'd her cloak, grasped his tail, and disappeared with a flash of light from Fawkes and a muttered "Finally!" from her.
Minerva landed on the etched stone floor of a circular room. Fawkes made one circuit around the room and vanished with another flash. Minerva rounded on Albus, who stood in the middle of a lodestone placed in the exact center of the room and etched with the symbols of the four Founders. Before she could utter a word, however, Albus exclaimed brightly, "Now that you are here, we may begin!"
"Albus—" she began with a warning tone before Albus interrupted.
"My dear, we must act quickly. The Ministry will no doubt be planning to install Delores Umbridge as the primary authority in Hogwarts. However, if we reinforce the wards now, before they act, we can head them off and bar Delores from making any significant changes, not to mention my office. It would of course be better to have all the Heads present, but Filius is distracting Umbridge, Pomona is handling the more delicate wards around the grounds, and Severus has not yet returned from making his reports to Voldemort."
Minerva was annoyed and uneasy at Albus' cavalier reference to Severus and his mission. Had he always spoken so? It troubled her to realize that he probably had, to complete indifference on her part. It was not that she had ever actively wished Severus ill. Before her realization the previous night, however, she had not thought it would matter much to her personally if some day Severus failed to return. These were the last things she wanted to focus upon with Albus keenly watching, however, so she nodded and responded firmly.
"Very well, Albus. Shall we begin?"
They both raised their wands and in unison recited the ancient chant that restored, reset, and strengthened the wards. Wards finished, Albus conjured his famously cushy armchairs and they began a review of the more mundane issues facing them, until finally Minerva stood to leave. Before she could go, however, Albus continued heavily, "There is another matter we must discuss."
"Another? At this point, we have covered Dolores Umbridge and the Ministry, Hagrid, whether Filius will be next in their sights, Harry's activities in the Room of Requirement, and — not insignificantly to me, at least — the actual education of our students. What have we missed?"
"Severus?" A frisson of alarm struck, as Minerva wondered how much Albus knew of her dalliance. Her alarm was unfounded, Minerva realized as soon as Albus favored her with a particularly annoying knowing look. Decades of working with the man had acquainted her with his foibles, and resorting to that version of his "knowing look" meant he was completely clueless but fishing for details and hoping to intimidate. Accordingly, she pursed her lips in a show of annoyance and asked, "What about Severus?"
Albus sighed. "You know he is paroled to me?" At her nod, he continued, "I am concerned that with my appearing to leave Hogwarts, the Ministry may seek to revoke that parole. I have contacted Amelia Bones, who will monitor Ministry correspondence and alert us if she detects a threat. Also, he has some protection from his association with Lucius Malfoy." He shook his head.
"Nonetheless, we need to be vigilant. I frequently held meetings with Severus in the early evenings under the guise of reviewing his teaching performance and whether he was complying with Ministry restrictions. It might be advisable for you to begin those."
Albus looked apologetic. "I know you are like oil and water, my dear, but if you could see your way clear to spending an evening hour or so with him on a regular basis, it would help him maintain his position, and so you would be benefiting the Order."
Minerva frowned. "Very well," she grumbled before continuing crisply, "Is that all, Albus? I do need to check on the students."
"Yes," Albus replied. "Only do try and see to Severus this evening as well, if at all possible."
Minerva rolled her eyes in a show of annoyance and left, her steps ringing crisply on the stone floors of Hogwarts' sub-dungeon corridors. Finally, she emerged into the castle's upper dungeons and stopped in her tracks at the sight of Filius and Severus in earnest conversation. Severus wore his traveling cloak and a most annoyed expression, while Filius spoke urgently.
"Minerva needs all our support, Severus. You especially owe it to her to be honest with her." Severus glared at him.
Minerva drew back a pace, curious to hear the disagreement between one of her closest friends and the man -- she swallowed hard before even thinking the word to herself -- the man she loved.
"Really, Filius," he drawled. "Just what makes you think you know anything about a Slytherin's honesty?"
Filius glanced up and, noticing Minerva standing in the shadows, smiled gently. "A blind man — Albus aside — could tell that you love her."
Severus' expression hardened and he hissed, "Do not presume to meddle in what you don't understand."
Filius looked pointedly past him as he said, "Oh, Severus. It appears you are the one who doesn't understand."
Severus turned to follow Filius' gaze. His eyes met Minerva's and a myriad of emotions flitted across them. Hope followed quickly upon embarrassment and surprise, to be followed in its turn by doubt hardening into cynicism. She could not seem to help herself, and she smiled at him, her affection clear for even the most jaded doubter to see.
Years later, people talked about "That Day," the day Albus Dumbledore fled Hogwarts. It was the day people could no longer ignore the rifts separating Dumbledore's faction and those in the Ministry who opposed Voldemort. With Dumbledore's departure, the rifts burst into full and horrifying view. In the eyes of many, "That Day" was the day the Second Voldemort War began.
To Minerva and Severus, however, it carried a much deeper connotation. Because for them, after That Day, came That Night.
That Night, Severus came to her. He walked silently into her bed chamber. As their eyes met, she silently pulled down the sheet from the corner of the bed.
They had together enjoyed sex before, at first awkwardly and then with increasing comfort and enjoyment. But it had always been sex; physically satisfying, yes. But with no emotional resonance.
But not That Night. That Night, they made love for the first time.