Challenge: By The Sea
Rating: Soft R
Team: Death Eaters
Length: 10 X 100
A/N: No money, no beta, blah blah blah. For those interested, you can find out all about Dungeness from our good friend W.K. Pedia
There is a place in Kent called Dungeness. It is a bleak little spit of shingle on the coast, where two dying nuclear power stations lived. It is quiet and dull and harsh, and even on pleasant days, there is something ominous about it, as if Dungeness is holding its breath, waiting for catastrophe to strike.
Visitors come because it is a curiosity; but once there, they are filled with a sense of urgency to leave, as if the malignant power that pushes the turbines can somehow reach out, and turn living flesh to decay, and joy to helpless sorrow.
Watching him leave, she supposed that she should feel anger, or disgust. It was strange to feel so bereft, especially when he’d hurt her so much.
“I don’t love you. I don’t have it in me,” he said, repeatedly; usually right at the moment when she was panting beneath him, chasing her climax to fruition.
“I can love for the both of us,” she’d once retorted.
That was a lie. Even the deepest love will wither from neglect. She had tended their relationship too long; it was a garden of roses with thorns dipped in nitroglycerine, volatile in its loveliness.
She bought a cottage by the sea, at Dungeness, far away from prying eyes. It was rather onomatopoeic; dungeonesque, a prison sitting on the tiny spit of Kent, ostracised from civilised society. No one thought to look for her there. The placed both depressed and comforted her.
She opened the windows and looked out onto her world; Dungeness was drab and colourless, even on sunny days. She wondered if it was the nuclear reactors which had leeched the colour out of the world. If she stayed, would she, too, turn grey and colourless and overlooked? Was that a bad thing?
And so it was from Dungeness that she first read about his struggles to rejoin the world. She invited him to tea. The first time he visited, she watched him striding toward the cottage, the gunmetal landscape framing him like a portrait. She thought he looked at home.
“This is the creepiest shitehouse in Great Britain,” he said, by way of salutation. “Azkaban-lite. What in Merlin’s name are you doing in Dungeness? And what do you want with me, Granger?”
H glowered at her, cold, bored and uncomfortable, robes billowing in the winter wind. Hermione only wanted one thing: him.
He stayed long enough to sneer at her proposal, then left. The next day, he returned with ten reasons why their partnership wouldn’t work. The day after, he brought biscuits.
He never Apparated directly into her house. Every day, she would watch him walk the long path to her door. It finally occurred to her that he simply couldn’t resist making an entrance. She forgave him his small vanities; they were too much like her own. The desire to be noticed, admired, to belong somewhere in the world. They became partners; a good team, the reclusive potioneer and his manager.
It was not easy; nothing ever was with him. He was too used to disappointment to ever fully enjoy even the possibility of happiness. Hermione cursed herself for being such a masochist; most people would have given up on him long before now.
Most people would have never given him the chance, after all he’d done. Sometimes she wondered why she did. Then one day she realised it was because of the rare moments of quiet, possible contentment, the intense softening of his gaze, the increasing regularity of his warm familiar hand on her back as he moved around her.
The storm battered futilely against the walls of her cottage, and the pewter rain fell on the slates with monotonous insistence. Thunder crashed against the walls, making them shudder. “Gods, what a soulless place,” he muttered, drinking his tea, peering out of the window. “Why don’t you move, Granger? I lose a little more will to live every time I come here.”
She rolled her eyes. “We could always go to Spinner’s End.”
He snorted. “Why? Dungeness is a bouncy castle filled with laughing gas compared to my illustrious abode. If we worked there too, I would assuredly kill myself.”
“You’ll have deformed babies, you know, living in Dungeness,” he said morosely, apropos of nothing. “This place is a death trap. People who live here get cancers no one’s heard of.”
From him, this was high humour. “Why, Severus, does this mean you care about me?” she teased. “And these imaginary babies you’re so worried about—I suppose you’ll be the father, because no one else comes to see me except for you.”
For the first time since they’d become business partners, he looked frightened. “Don’t ever joke about that,” he hissed, and turned away. “That isn’t fucking funny, Granger.”
He took her during a storm. One minute they were standing together, watching the rain; the next they were fused together, tearing at clothes and moaning into one another’s mouths in a way that frightened them both. He took her virginity as the lightning split open the sky. She would forever come to associate thunder with her torn hymen; they were soulmates, the product of a force greater than she could ever overcome as he shuddered and whispered profanities in her ear.
As time passed, she taught him how to please her, but not that first time, nor the second.
He never apologised; she knew he never would. He didn’t know how. He only knew to flee when frightened, like a wild animal. Which was what he did, when he realised he was in love with her.
“I don’t love you. I don’t have it in me.”
She cried when he left. She closed the shutters so she wouldn’t have to look at the path he strode, or the rain he’d watched, or the power station he’d vilified. She turned inward and let Dungeness be, trying to learn to live without him.
One day he would return. Just not now.